Celebrating GAAD: Accessibility Resources for Educational Communities

Office of Ed Tech
4 min readMay 1, 2023
Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages, CC BY-NC 4.0

Digital accessibility is critical to ensure all learners can access their education. In partnership with the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Technical Assistance Center, the Office of Educational Technology (OET) is celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 18, 2023, and throughout the month of May. The purpose of GAAD is to educate and build awareness of the importance of digital access and inclusion- an issue that impacts over one billion individuals with disabilities. Several agencies across the U.S. Government offer a variety of free resources for educational communities to learn about, train, and implement digital accessibility. Take a few minutes to learn about a new resource below!

Resources for creating digitally accessible materials

Educators (certified and classified) are becoming increasingly more accustomed to creating and implementing digital materials, such as collaborative documents, multimedia, and online resources. Now it is time to make sure ALL users can access these materials. The following resources are designed to help creators understand how to improve their digital accessibility with simple changes that make a world of difference.

Resources for educators and families to use with learners

Today’s classrooms leverage a variety of digital tools and materials to enhance teaching and learning. With the number of tools available, it is important to select and implement those that are accessible for all learners. The following resources provide information on how to bring accessible technology into the classroom, community, and home.

  • Assistive Technology Act Training and Technical Assistance Centers (AT3 Centers): The Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration supports at least one AT3 Center in each state where educators and families can receive personalized support to learn about assistive technology (AT) devices, request demonstrations, borrow a device for trial use, and even learn about financial loan options.
  • EdTech for All Webinar Series: OET and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) co-host a webinar series on free or low-cost educational technology (edtech) designed with learners with disabilities in mind. Recordings of the webinars are posted on the OET YouTube channel.
  • Technology for Special Education: The Institute of Education Sciences’ National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) funds evidence-based edtech for learners with disabilities, educators, and families. Use this search engine to learn about these tools and projects.

Resources for educators

Educators are the core of the educational system but can often be forgotten. The following resources provide information on how to support and accommodate staff, offer learning opportunities and trainings on accessibility and leverage existing funds to create more accessible opportunities for learners and educators.

  • How to Leverage Funds for Educational Technology: OET’s Dear Colleague Letter provides an overview of various federal funding streams, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), to purchase accessible edtech and provide training to staff on implementing accessible edtech.
  • A to Z of Disabilities and Accommodations: The Job Accommodation Network offers this resource to support and accommodate staff with example accommodations based on disability.
  • Disability Policies: The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) disseminates policy strategies, effective practices, and provides technical assistance to government agencies, service providers and non-governmental entities.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Resources: The ADA National Network disseminates many free resources to educate people on providing individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in all services, programs and activities. The ADA Action Guide includes ADA requirements, FAQs, best practices, and quizzes for staff to review and complete. The ADA National Network also has free webinars on Accessible Technology and 508 Best Practices for staff to review.
  • Section 508 Course: The Department of Homeland Security offers multiple free courses on Section 508 for information technology (IT), procurement, and instructional design. Section 508 requires federal agencies and organizations that receive federal funding to ensure their information and communication technology (ICT) is accessible to individuals with disabilities.
  • Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA: The Department of Justice provides resources on the importance of accessible websites and instructions to create accessible webpages so all users can access information.
  • ICT Resources: The U.S. Access Board provides information, trainings, and webinars to educate staff on the importance of accessibility of ICT.
  • Section 508 Resources: The General Services Administration shares FAQs and how-tos for digital accessibility policies, procurement, content creation, design and development, testing, and tools.

Looking to learn about even more digital accessibility resources? Check out this GAAD blog post from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services!

We hope these resources provide you a great starting point to learn more and join the GAAD celebration in May!

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Office of Ed Tech

OET develops national edtech policy & provides leadership for maximizing technology's contribution to improving education. Examples ≠ endorsement