Inclusive Learning: All Students, All Pathways, All Abilities [Webinar Recap]

Inclusive Learning: All Students, All Pathways, All Abilities [Webinar Recap]

We sat down with educational leaders to discuss the importance of accessibility, considerations when choosing a future readiness software, and the power of promoting all pathways.

See the Full Webinar Here 

Our Panelists

  • Matthew Hines: Youth Services, Washington State Department of Services for the Blind
  • Melissa Gillard: K-12 Administrator, Reading School District in Pennsylvania
  • Maureen Ariza Paredes: Director of Experience Research at Xello

The Importance of Accessibility

Every educator wants to create an engaging experience for their students, but that can be difficult when curricula and software isn’t accessible or inclusive. While Xello research shows that processes and learning usually take longer in the special education world, Matthew Hines fully believes that “students with intellectual disabilities still have a great capacity to be successful with the right support in place.”

Accessibility Compounds Impact

“In special education, students already take more time on average to complete things. When something’s not accessible, a student, teacher, and family have to engage on that accessibility, putting the student even more behind. And if you imagine that happening not just one instance, but several instances throughout a student’s experience in the public school system…there’s a lot of delay and backsliding with their learning.” -Matthew Hines

The solution is to research and invest in accessible resources to engage and meet the needs of all students to help them build future readiness skills and plan for a successful future.

Choosing the Right Software

When most people think of accessibility tools for technology, they think of overlay tools that claim to detect and fix web accessibility issues. The problem, says Hines, is that “they are cheap and quick to fix some issues, but are not a long term solution to improve foundational accessibility issues.” Moreover, many of these tools can’t meet everyone’s needs, so even if software is still 90% accessible, Hines notes “that’s not really a true sense of accessibility.”

Luckily, Maureen Ariza Paredes says, Xello knew that overlays were never the solution. Instead, she reveals that “Xello set out to meet WCAG (Accessibility Standards) from day one,” including color contrasts, screen readers, and translations. 

That translation piece is very important to Melissa Gillard, whose district is comprised of 30% of English Language Learners. She looks for software that helps increase student engagement – especially in the future readiness process – for all kids and “in a language that they feel most comfortable.” 

Gillard recommends for educators to look “at programs that are not intimidating for kids to engage in” to help foster an inclusive learning culture. She speaks of her own district’s students using Xello: “They see themselves in it; they can access it without a lot of support and guidance from the adult in the classroom.”

Promoting All Pathways

Ariza Paredes explains that there’s “hard accessibility” –  usability features such as incorporating white on dark colors for students that are color blind, or using deeply saturated colors on white for students who are visually impaired and need a screen reader, or ensuring closed captioning on videos or audio resources for students who are hard of hearing. 

And “soft accessibility” – such as equal billing for all post secondary pathways. She says that “whether kids are thinking about going to work in the military, to enter a community living space, or entrepreneurship, these and many other pathways are given equal importance to what would be the traditional college pathway.” 

Promoting all pathways is incredibly important for Gillard, who always chooses resources that reflect the population she serves. She explains, “It’s so important to our students to be able to log in and look for careers, colleges, and options that reflect who they are, their backgrounds, and their priorities and values.”

Speak to a Xello rep about how Xello is WCAG compliant. Contact us today.