If technology is to live up to the promise of transforming the way in which we learn, then we need to make sure that our innovations are inclusive, not exclusive. And so I was pleased to see a number of announcements this week regarding the accessibility of technology tools:
Google Chrome: Google Chrome announced on Wednesday that it had added a new category of featured Chrome Extensions under the label "Accessibility." Included in the list of featured extensions is gleebox, "a keyboard-centric approach to navigating the web. It provides alternatives to actions that are traditionally performed via the mouse such as clicking, scrolling, selecting text fields, etc."
You Tube: On Wednesday, Google also updated the YouTube blog with a list of "YouTube Ready" captioning vendors - a project undertaken with the support of the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP.org). At launch, there are 12 vendors who have demonstrated that they're qualified to provide captioning services for YouTube videos.
The Departments of Education and Justice & E-Readers: The Departments of Education and Justice co-authored a "Dear Colleague" letter, reaffirming these agencies support for ADA and reminding schools that implementation of e-readers cannot exclude students with disabilities. The Kindle, for example, has no text-to-speech functionality and is therefore inaccessible by the blind.
"Technology can be a driving force in making equal educational opportunity a reality," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "Given what technology now makes possible, no student should be denied the opportunity to benefit from an enhanced educational experience based simply on a visual disability."