Rethinking Technology Accessibility in Higher Ed

  • 21st Jul'21
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We are in the tech age, the one created with tools, research, and connectivity. Many platforms have combined education with technology. The pouring of online classrooms, e-learning materials, computer-based instructions, educational apps, and podcasts are examples of technology-infused education. What's more important to discuss now is rethinking such technology accessible to all student groups for higher education.

As we delve into the broader aspect of accessibility, it's significant to note that the meaning of the term "accessibility" is different to different people. For students with low-income groups, accessing expensive programs is challenging, whereas a disabled student finds a course designed for ordinary people challenging. The right to cater to the needs of all students rather than individuals is an urgent necessity. Universities' focus must be, therefore, on the outcomes before designing solutions to existing problems. 

 

Rethinking Tech

 

The Reality

Unless you face the issues that a disabled person faces in the educational pattern, you will never understand the reality. The disability services for students who have dyslexia are deaf or blind, are clumsy and confusing. It takes more out of them than giving them the benefit of using reframed technology. So, universities must associate with instructors and focus on creating content that serves every individual student, irrespective of his group. The diverse meaning of accessibility will then stand true to its identity.

 

Varied Learning Platforms

Microsoft Office has a unique built-in accessibility feature with a checker to improve reading aspects by any user. The colour contrast in Powerpoint and the Google Workspace with cloud-based tools and diverse learning systems have started addressing the major concerns of any student. AI-enabled tools and chatbots are also successful in innovating methods to reach different student groups. With such varied learning platforms, we are getting close to stop discriminating against our population with their handicaps and grow as a developed race.

Here is a look at some of the platforms focusing on change and certain suggestions to go with them.

 

Technology

 

Ebooks

The EdTech industry has already bowed down to the invention of ebooks: a better version for readers.. Many coursebooks have enrolled and have their PDF versions. These ebooks are portable, accessible to anywhere, weigh less, and are priced lesser than their physical counterparts. 

 

Educational Apps

From Google classroom to edx, Duolingo, Blackboard App, these educational apps are developed to provide a relief to students. Some of them are even free for some users. They can access coursework, view course contents, submit assignments and tests, all at the comfort of their homes. Remote learning is the option in many socio-economic classes, and given the pandemic times, it's a consolation.

 

Speech to Text Options

Virtual assistants are intelligent as they are created to help people ease work processes and speed up the job.

 

Audio Tools and Podcasts

Students who are blind and depend on audios or podcasts can easily access those at their convenience for free or at a reasonable rate. Assistive listening systems are developed for students with auditory issues. There are also some online tools for recording students words or phonemes.

 

Sip and Puff Systems

They are designed for students with challenges in mobility. They use a joystick-like device that the student can move through his mouth. It has applications while drawing or designing on a computer.

 

Proofreading Software

It comes with different features that help to correct misspelt words.

 

Math Talk

It is another math tool that recognizes students' speech with a range of disabilities and helps them solve even Ph.D.-level mathematical problems.

 

Draft: Builder

It is a tool to organize written text and conceptualize the whole process. It uses TTS technology as well as a dictionary to assist students with different needs.

 

Tech Accessibility

 

Change is the Only Constant

Education itself has the purpose of reaching people and enrich them with information, prudence, and judgment. The human race is diverse and can't be questioned. However, technology accessibility in the ed sector must be sincere because a large audience will impact an even larger generation. Through digital inclusion, there will remain no barriers in the learning institution. 

The focus on the quality of the online education system and technology research is already paving the way to a great future. What remains is addressing the multidimensional issues of accessibility by rethinking several modules and bringing a change. In the words of Judy Heumann, American Disability Rights Activist,

For most of us, technology makes things easier. For a person with a disability, it makes things possible.

 

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Sources/References:

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About the author:

Supriti Tripathy, OpenGrowth Content Team

A believer of good things and pursuer of diverse avocation, she is a fiction lover and a simple writer. Supriti has a number of professions to her list and she feels challenges are the only answers to failures.


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