Any classroom teacher will tell you the importance of differentiating international journal instruction and materials for students’ diverse needs. It’s also crucial that when you introduce a new digital learning tool into your classroom, you make sure it will be accessible to your students. That means that a student with a disability (cognitive, physical, or learning) will be able to engage and interact with the content in the same way a student without a disability can. Simple things like closed-captioning or voiceovers can go a long way to helping students access content. The next time you introduce a new digital learning tool, consider these three key questions to help ensure you’re meeting all your students’ needs.
- Is it easy to operate?
The definition of “easy” will depend on the target age. An app for young kids, for example, should have large buttons and not too many options on the home screen. Some guiding questions to determine operability:
Does the digital learning tool have a clear, consistent, and intuitive navigation menu and path?
Can the learner pause, go backward, go forward, and go back to the home page easily?
Can the learner log into the digital learning tool interface independently?
- Is the content understandable?
Users should be able to access the content in multiple ways and without distraction. Use these tips and questions to determine understandability.
The text should be legible and in a clear font that can be enlarged. Contrast between the text and background should be high, with a dark color font on a light background being the best option. You can also check for dyslexic-friendly fonts.
A learning tool should have few or no distractions. Is there too much movement? Are there flashy or distracting ads? Can background noises or sounds be turned off?
Can the learner access the content in various ways? (Examples include through the audio or the visuals, an option to print or read a transcript of text, a magnifier on the text, or through access to information from the images.)
- Can the content be interpreted by assistive technologies?
According to the Assistive Technology Industry Association, “[a]ssistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.” Some examples are: screen readers, prosthetics, specialized keyboards, wheelchairs, timers, reading guides, seat cushions, FM listening systems, pencil grips, graphic organizers, or closed-captioning.