Boston Public Schools Access Technology Center: A Promising Practice of Universal Design
The Boston Public School system is known for its commitment to incorporating technology and universal design into its public institutions and classrooms. In 2001 the Access Technology Center (ATC) moved into the Boston Public Schools' Office of Instructional Technology (OIT) to expand technology access and training opportunities for teachers. The ultimate goal is to create an enriched learning environment that enables students to meet the Boston Public Schools' learning standards.
The ATC acquires recommended tools and assists with problem solving, conducts research, and offers professional development opportunities with respect to assistive technology and universal design in education. ATC and OIT staff work together to encourage innovative uses of technology that promote student success and independence both in school and in the community. In addition, the ATC offers follow-up support to teachers and students in the form of study groups, site visits, phone support, and email communication.
Examples of combined ATC and OIT efforts described at the Consortium for School Networking's Best Practices website include:
- An AlphaSmart portable word processor grant that provided training and devices to both regular and special education classrooms;
- The adoption by the English Language Arts Department of ATC's Literacy Software handout for distribution to schools;
- Selected elementary and secondary grade math programs that involve AT training as well as professional development from other math and technology experts.
The work of the Access Technology Center and the Office of Instructional Technology is a promising practice on promoting the use of assistive technology and universal design in K-12 education. The ATC and its collaborators help create an enriched learning environment in which students with all levels of abilities and disabilities can succeed.