Students with Disabilities Partnering with Technology Companies to Develop Accessible Educational Technology

This presentation will share the results of a unique yearlong partnership between four large technology companies and a group of 28 high school students with disabilities who worked side-by-side during the technology development process to ensure that the end products (educational hardware and software) be accessible. Experiences of both students and engineers who participated in this partnership will be shared through a qualitative lens. After this presentation, attendees will be able to: (a) Identify accessibility barriers in educational hardware and software. The topic of federal mandates such as Section 508, as well as universal design for learning will be explored within an easy-to-understand lens that is applicable to inclusive educators. (b) Understand why it is important for students with disabilities and engineers to collaborate. As Mankoff, Hayes, and Kasnitz (2010) noted, people with disabilities are often not active participants in the technology development process, which may lead to inaccessible products needing to be modified and/or people with disabilities needing to be accommodated. (c) Incorporate accessible technology into their inclusive classrooms. Considering that inclusion is predicated on access, it is important for educators to ensure that all students can use the technology (i.e. books, curriculum, other materials) used in the inclusive classroom.

Scott Kupferman, Wilson Buswell