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Steven KennerBy Frances West

Designing for the user experience is an important component to the success of any app or technology, but it’s critical when creating those intended to help students with disabilities overcome physical barriers.

According to the NationalCenter for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), there are 2.4 million American public school students identified with a learning disability, representing the largest segment of students receiving special education services.  

To address this segment, the NCLD identifies several benefits of accessibility to enable these students to become more independent learners, improve speed and accuracy of work, strengthen skill development and increase motivation to achieve their goals.

We at IBM work with many organizations that are making an impact with accessibility to drive positive outcomes. For example, New Jersey-based Bancroft is a leading nonprofit provider of specialized services for individuals with autism, brain injuries and other intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Our collaboration with Bancroft focuses on developing innovative teaching programs, investing in what it calls “technology-infused classrooms.” These classrooms include technology ranging from iPads to SmartBoards to drive greater student engagement, while enabling teachers to create more individual learning programs that are measurable and can track each student’s behavioral and academic progress.

Frances West, Chief Accessibility Officer, IBM

Frances West, Chief Accessibility Officer, IBM

Programs like Bancroft’s are having a tremendous impact on students and their families – with  technology fueling significant social and educational breakthroughs. In fact, research shows that students using iPads or similar devices demonstrate learning gains after as little as 20 minutes.

Continuing to place accessibility at the forefront of the app design and development process is a priority for IBM. In fact, accessibility as an integral function of IBM’s design thinking is meant to help designers develop empathy for users and a deeper understanding of how physical, cognitive and situational disabilities affect the use of a product.

By improving accessibility for students of all abilities, we can break down barriers to learning and develop a new generation of confident learners.

Learn more about IBM Accessibility, which works to establish IT accessibility standards, shape government policies, and develop human-centric technology and industry solutions so that all people reach their highest potential in work and life.

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