Education has become more digitized, relying on the internet, virtual and mobile platforms. Federal legislation also outlines access to telecommunications, such as wireless phones, videos, and messaging services. While individualized instructional plans are still the keystone of each student’s education, there is a growing move toward universal design for learning. Universal design ensures instructional materials are accessible to all students, allowing meaningful learning opportunities.
Federal statutes concerning access to materials and modern communications include:
- IDEA, Part C: Section 1474 considers assistive technology, educational media, telecommunications and universal design for students
- Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA): A federal communications law that focuses on increasing access to communications due to emerging technologies, e.g., improved web browser viewing, audio descriptions and hearing aid compatibility.
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) provides resources and technical assistance to promote access to the internet by individuals with disabilities via their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
Students and families are encouraged to review classroom materials and technology to determine access and accommodations needed prior to their IEP meeting or the start of the school year. Teachers, school administrators and other educational staff should also consider universal design principles before selecting materials or technology for classroom and extracurricular usage.