[Approximate Reading Time : 4 mins]
Education publishing plays a critical role in any society in establishing high educational standards and delivering effective learning to students across the board. It cannot be overemphasized how educational publishers have been central to creating content that is designed for all children including the ones in need of special support.
However, as the industry continues to transition to digital content for teaching and learning, educational publishers need to strengthen their focus on creating accessible educational resources to ensure an inclusive learning experience for all.
COVID-19 forces digital learning acceleration
Educational publishers have been developing tools and technology to embrace digitization and publish content in digital formats to meet the evolving learning demands, albeit at a varying degree and pace. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a cataclysmic shift by compelling education to go completely online and forcing educational publishers to accelerate digital transformation. With public education being one of the most impacted sectors, the rapid shift to distance learning revealed gaps and accessibility challenges.
Returning to schools still remains uncertain and challenging, with schools and educational institutions squarely focused on the digitization of education. Educational publishers should take this opportunity to remove barriers and make digital content accessible so that teachers can ensure continued learning for children with special needs.
The rising need for accessible educational content
As the digitization of education continues to pick up steam, the educational publishing sector needs to double its efforts in providing accessible, high-quality, and engaging content. It becomes paramount to design and develop content that can help educators, in every classroom, meet the diverse special needs of children with physical and cognitive disabilities.
Making educational content accessible should not be an afterthought; instead, it should be integrated throughout the design and development process. Born-accessible content is user friendly and helps deliver a better and more engaging learning experience.
Policies governing accessible education for differently abled students
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 mandates that students with disabilities be entitled to free appropriate public education, where education services are designed to meet the individual needs of such students. Despite defined regulatory standards, educational institutes have been floundering to ensure ADA compliance. In 2019 two blind students won a disability discrimination lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), and the list of discriminatory lawsuits is on the rise.
Despite the mounting need for accessible academic content, the chief innovations officer at DAISY, George Kerscher, feels that the K–12 market needs to scale its efforts in creating born-accessible EPUB 3 content to remove any potential barriers to inclusive education.
Leading the change
Top educational publishers including McGraw-Hill, Cengage, and Pearson are leading the change by working toward making digital resources accessible to users with special needs. Creating accessible content can be daunting; however, educational publishers can now take advantage of educational publishing services that can help them design and develop accessible content that is not only user friendly but also ADA/WCAG compliant.
Amnet offers cutting-edge publishing and content solutions and services in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Connect with us to know more about our education publishing services.