New Survey Indicates Need for Inclusive Tools for All Learners
Special education administrators across the U.S. share insight into what is needed in classrooms to create inclusive learning environments
Woburn, MA — October 19, 2022 — Today, Texthelp, a global leader in literacy and inclusive learning tools, released new survey results that reveal the need for district-wide, universal access to inclusive learning tools. The survey, conducted in June 2022, reflects responses from 400 special education administrators across 388 districts in the U.S. Respondents shared insight into how educators can support all types of learners and create inclusive learning environments.
In response to the pandemic, teachers, parents, and students moved quickly to find and implement digital solutions. Ninety percent of educators say that they plan on continuing to use digital learning tools as they offer new possibilities for learning. Martin McKay, CEO of Texthelp, shared, "The pandemic brought to light issues of access and equity, and the importance of recognizing the unique learning needs of all students. Today's students are more diverse than ever before, which is why making sure that all students have the tools they need to learn is critical to the future of education."
Inclusive learning tools create the potential to design a more accessible and supportive learning environment for all students. When these types of tools are used widely across the student body, they can enhance student collaboration, expression, and productivity. They promote a more inclusive classroom environment and create better learning outcomes for all students.
"As an assistive technology administrator, I have experienced the impact inclusive learning tools can have on student learning and success," said Julie Bassett, Assistive Technology Intervention Specialist at Cincinnati Public Schools. "With the current school year underway, it's important that teachers, district leaders, special education educators, and assistive technology administrations continue to advocate for all types of learners. Universal access to inclusive technology tools allows all students to choose how they prefer to learn in a way that is most natural to them."
Key results from the survey include:
Universal Access Can Bolster Inclusive Learning Environments
- In one of the survey's multiple selection questions, respondents identified that they would like their district to provide reading and writing accommodations (26%) and better ways to identify and address student needs (25%)
Making sure that students have the resources they need to learn is critical to the future of education. Providing learning tools that can be of use to all students, whether they require specific accommodations or not, means that all students can reap the benefits. Technologies that are built with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in mind can support students and their preferred method of learning, including for reading and writing. These tools create the potential to design a more accessible and supportive learning environment. They can help to normalize different ways of learning for all students, including those who need accommodations. In addition to empowering students to take charge of their learning, a universal design for learning approach opens access to leveling the playing field in the classroom, ensuring no students feel left out or less than.
All Students Should Have Access to Inclusive Tools
- 43% of respondents said their district only provides assistive reading and writing accommodations when a student shows a need.
Globally 1 in 7 people live with a disability. Of those individuals, 80% (nearly 1 billion people) are living with a non-visible disability, such as dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and more. By only providing tools to students who visibly 'show' a need for accommodations, many will go unsupported. This includes students who are not diagnosed, misdiagnosed, or choose not to disclose their diagnosis or what accommodations they need. Providing edtech tools to all students can reduce stigma in the classroom, bolster inclusivity, and welcome all types of learning accommodations.
Well-designed Tools Can Support All Learners
- In another of the survey's multiple selection questions, respondents shared that better identification of student needs to match with tools (36.72%), expanding access to tools (36.21%), and school/district embracing UDL (31.03%) would be most impactful for inclusion efforts
Providing all students access to tools can promote a more inclusive classroom environment. It can also create better learning outcomes for everyone. Today, there are 53 million K-12 students in U.S. schools who are more diverse than ever before. The way each student learns and communicates is diverse too. Digital tools that leverage UDL principles can take the pressure off of trying to find different tools to match students' needs. Well-designed tools will have the capabilities to help all students learn and express their knowledge in their own way.
"Inclusion is a part of everything we do here at Texthelp. My team and I are always looking for different ways we can support our educators and learners, which is why research studies like this are important to us," said McKay. "All learners have the right to understand and achieve in their own way. Providing inclusive technology tools to all learners creates an inclusive classroom environment where all different preferences in learning are accepted."
Founded in 1996, the Texthelp Group is a global technology company helping people all over the world to understand and to be understood. It has led the way in creating innovative technology for the education and workplace sectors for the last three decades.
Texthelp believes in a world where difference, disability or language are no longer barriers. It is focused on helping all people learn, understand, and communicate through the use of digital education and accessibility tools.
With over 50 million users worldwide, the Texthelp suite of products includes Read&Write, Equatio®, WriQ®, OrbitNote®, ReachDeck® and FluencyTutor® which work alongside existing platforms such as Microsoft Office and G-suite, enabling them to be integrated quickly into any classroom or workplace with ease.
In 2021, Texthelp acquired the Lingit Group, Wizkids and Don Johnston Inc. By combining capabilities and knowledge across the group, Texthelp can now provide a whole suite of literacy and numeracy support to a greater number of end-users across more geographies. To learn more about Texthelp, visit www.texthelp.com.