Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a great time to learn how new technologies can help make information accessible to everyone. As e-readers and e-books become more common, these technologies have the potential to open doors for people with disabilities. This is especially important in schools and colleges, where technologies can enable students with print-related disabilities to easily read the same materials as their peers. For example, students who are blind can listen to text using the e-reader’s built-in capabilities. Students with reading disabilities can make use of this same feature.
Unfortunately, many digital materials are not accessible. This lack of accessibility can make it difficult for students with disabilities to fully participate in educational programs. To address this problem, schools can turn to some new resources published by CAST, a Massachusetts organization internationally recognized for its expertise in this area.
CAST is suggesting that schools assert their power as purchasers to ensure that e-book developers design their materials for all users. When schools include accessibility as a decision factor in purchasing, developers will have no choice but to listen and take action. As a result, schools will have a greater variety of high quality materials to choose from, and students with disabilities will benefit. As an added bonus, many students without disabilities will also benefit from the supportive features included in accessible materials.