Context: Instructional materials adoption, purchase and use is an important and ongoing process. However, far too frequently those who are charged with purchasing instructional materials and content delivery systems for schools mistakenly assume that a digital purchase is an accessible purchase- yielding products that are designed to be useable by all students.
Problem!: Not all digital materials are accessible! A widely understood example of this is the inability of iPads to use Flash formatted content. If you’re a district with a 1:1 iPad initiative, then purchasing an online curriclum that uses Flash files is problematic. If you’re a student that has a reading disability with an IEP (legal document) that requires “accessible instructional materials in a digital format” and in a district that has a BYOD policy, then curriculum should be formatted to work on any device…
Solution?: Before making purchasing decisions be sure to include special education and assistive technology coordinators. They can help forward the conversation and ensure procurement language around accessbility. Publishers/vendors are required, should, and indeed can deliver accessible materials from the start.
Benefits of purchasing digital materials that are accessible from the start
- Supports inclusion: Purchasing accessible materials helps provide students with disabilities access to the general education curriculum using the same instructional materials, provided at the same time, to all students.
- Benefits all students’ learning: Many of the supportive features and scaffolds available in accessible materials can be of benefit to a wide range of students.
- Benefits teachers: It is easier to plan instruction when all students use the same accessible and flexible materials rather than when individual students use different materials.
- Reduces complexity: When accessible materials are purchased, complex questions around copyright, timely delivery, and student eligibility are reduced.
- Reduces costly accommodations: Schools don’t have to provide different sets of materials or provide accommodations for inaccessible materials, which can consume valuable fiscal, human, and infrastructure resources.
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