Monday, December 12, 2016

Accessibility is Everything

 Dylan's Voice

At the wonderful FCIS (Florida Conference of Independent Schools) conference, many of our faculty were able to attend one of the best learning events I have ever witnessed, 3 amazing hours with Luis Perez, Apple Distinguished Educator and accessibility evangelist. Luis is one of those rare educators who has the knack of making everything he speaks about relatable. You cannot leave one of his workshops without feeling that it is  imperative for you to implement and educate your students and parents on accessibility features. Apple, of course, is the king of accessibility. It is part of their DNA and Luis showed us over 3 hours just how important these accessibility features are to learning. It is all about equity not equality. After the conference, I had a chance to read Luis's book, Zoom In. While this book is intended for teachers who may work with students with low vision, I found it to be a tremendous inspiration to use with all students. In Zoom In, you will find a wealth of material that will change our perspective on how you present everything. I highly recommend reading it and rethinking everything from how you write on the board, to classroom decorations to handouts and presentations. It is truly an opening book. At NBPS, we have a school within our school called Lighthouse Point Academy, for students with mild to moderate learning disabilities. We also have about 350 students from around the world who speak over 42 different languages. So accessibility is a game changer for us. I thought our August PD addressed this area, but Luis's session was so powerful. It was truly his influence which inspired our faculty to really pay attention to this issue and I cannot thank him enough.
From the FCIS program with my highlights :)

Several months prior, we had once again included an overview of the accessibilty features available on the iPad and on our Mac computers. We crammed a lot into 45 minutes but what we did differently this year is that we also met one on one with every student and parent as part of our iPad distribution over the summer. Each appointment was about an hour where most of that time was dedicated to showing off these accessibility features. Parents are our partners in learning so it made perfect sense to include them in this communication. During these appointments we mainly focused on three areas of iPad accessibility: read to me feature, dictation and visibility. Parents were amazed to see that they could use these features on their iPhones as well. It was a win win situation for all.