Digital education platform Blackboard recently hosted its second Fix Your Content Day Challenge in honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, producing impressive results. In one day, competitors from 115 universities "fixed" 108,000 course files, according to Campus Technology. Events like these bring real impact and awareness and they deserve our attention.
The work was performed using Blackboard Ally, an award-winning accessibility solution described as "a revolutionary product that integrates seamlessly into the learning management system and focuses on making digital content more accessible."
While using a software product that is designed to create more accessible content doesn't mean that content shouldn't be tested and remediated by accessibility subject matter experts, the volume of course files and participants are incredibly encouraging. This effort is strong support that dedicating resources to accessibility can lead to measurable impact, sometimes very quickly.
Making educational content accessible for all learners has always been important but maybe never as timely, given the state of distance and hybrid learning. That storyline is not unique to this article, but what's less-reported is that even with entirely in-classroom learning expected to return in many places soon, the accessibility of digital learning content is just as important. Fewer textbooks and more laptops mean heavier reliance on digital solutions. It's imperative that educators, school districts, universities, and everyone who influences learning content understands that accessibility is an essential requirement to educate all children and that failing to make course content accessible is failing to provide students the basic materials for success.
Congratulations to Blackboard on a successful event. Hopefully this challenge inspires everyone in education to question if their materials are accessible and, if not, what they need to do to change that.
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