In an effort to determine the best ways to promote the use of accessible information technology (IT) the Southeast Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center formed an Educational Leadership Team (ELT). The ELT is composed of 21 key stakeholders in educational information technology throughout the southeast region of the United States. Each fall members meet in Atlanta, Georgia, to discuss initiatives and to plan new approaches to promoting accessible information technology.
During its initial meeting the ELT identified fourteen key areas where members of the ELT could work together to support the use of accessible information technology in education. These fourteen areas are:
- Establish expectations for access by creating an educational environment where full technology access for all students is expected in K-12 schools.
- Encourage self-advocacy by improving parents' and high school students' knowledge of technology access issues and encouraging them to self-advocate for increased accessibility.
- Improve access to facilities at community colleges and universities by making classrooms and computer labs physically accessible to all students; making websites, educational materials, and distance education more accessible; and providing training to faculty, support staff, administration, and students.
- Improve technology access and computer literacy for students in other educational settings by creating activities targeted at students who did not graduate high school, students who attend community-based learning centers, and students of all ages who participate in vocational, technical or adult education.
- Improve understanding of accessible technology by increasing knowledge about how to make IT more accessible for people with disabilities across all targeted audiences.
- Use access checklists within K-12 and post-secondary schools to help remove barriers to technology access.
- Educate K-12 school principals by developing training in accessible technology and working with them to improve access, including teacher training and support, on-site technology staff, and classroom/laboratory accessibility.
- Include accessible technology in teacher licensing and recertification by having states require teachers to have training in accessible technology before receiving a license or recertification.
- Support changes in policy that increase access by working with state and local policymakers to implement changes to policies, procedures, and budgeting to insure technology access, including increased budget allocation for accessible IT across educational environments.
- Apply Section 508 standards through having all websites of targeted audiences meet the Section 508 standards for access, as well as a 50% increase in the use of web authoring tools that promote access.
- Create and maintain a resource directory of experts in accessible technology and promising practices developed by organizations and schools.
- Develop promising practices by identifying, documenting, and replicating promising practices across educational environments through the Southeast.
- Create alliances and collaborations within a network of education professionals in targeted audiences, as well as promoting collaboration among Education Leadership Team members and the Southeast DBTAC to provide training, develop materials, and distribute information about accessible technology.
- Establish model institutions, having at least one school, community college, university, state department of education, and model community learning center in the Southeast region be models for others in access to IT.
Working together, ELT members provide information, technical assistance, and training about universal design and accessible information technology for people with disabilities. Drawing on the unique strengths of its members throughout eight states, the ELT represents a promising practice for promoting the widespread use of accessible information technology across educational entities.
For more information about the ELT and its mission contact the Southeast Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center.