WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 29, 2023) — Last week the U.S. Department of Education held its 9th annual ED Games Expo, Sept. 19-22. The annual event showcased game-changing education technology (EdTech) created through more than 50 programs across the government to the public.
During the Special Education & Technology Showcase, speakers emphasized the need for accessibility and inclusion considerations at the beginning of product development and discussed available tools and products used to help ensure accessibility.
“Technology and education can be the game changer that truly levels the playing field and helps all students show who they are and what they can achieve,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Katy Neas, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS).
Neas also referenced the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which celebrated its 50th anniversary Sept. 26.
“The Rebab Act provides the framework for how people with disabilities access the fundamentals of American life,” said Neas. “Over the last 50 years, the Rehab Act has empowered millions of people with disabilities to plan and create their own destinies by ensuring that services are individualized to meet their unique needs and by guaranteeing the opportunity to exercise informed choice in all aspects of their life. What you [technology developers] are doing is making that even more real for more people in ways we could have never imagined. Technology really is the factor that contributes to the success.”
In addition to speakers, developers were onsite to provide demonstrations of their products, including developers and centers to which OSERS provides funding support. The following includes the centers and technologies present at this year’s ED Games Expo:
- Accessible Education Materials (AEM) Pilot.
The AEM Pilot, from CAST, Inc., is a self-assessment and progress monitoring tool for states and districts to use in the implementation of the Quality Indicators for Providing AEM and Technologies.
- Accessible Media Platform.
The Accessible Media Platform, from Described and Captioned Media Program, is a niche video-on-demand platform designed for PreK-12th grade students with sensory disabilities. Comprised of over 13,000 educational videos from hundreds of the world’s leading producers and made accessible via captions, audio description and American Sign Language.
- American Printing House for the Blind.
The Monarch, from the American Printing House for the Blind, provides students with 10 lines of braille and the capacity to show tactile images on a single display surface. The Monarch will also support other modern applications to support access to STEM content. Video
Bookshare, from Benetech, is a free repository of accessible education materials for students with print disabilities. People with dyslexia, blindness, cerebral palsy and other reading barriers can customize their experience to suit their learning style and find virtually any book they need for school, work or the joy of reading. Video
- Bridge Multimedia
Bridge Multimedia, a New York City-based accessibility enterprise, works with commercial, education, entertainment, government and corporate sectors to make the 21st century media (and social) landscape equally available to all people.
- Center on Inclusive Technology & Education Systems.
CITES, from CAST, Inc., offers professional learning kits (with videos, guides, slide decks, materials) that share specifics on how to engage with district leaders and staff on inclusive practices for students with disabilities.
Clusive, from CAST, Inc., is a free, customizable flexible and adaptive digital learning environment to support middle school students in building and expanding their reading skills. The tool adapts over time, making recommendations and adjustments based on the activity and choices learners make. Video
Corgi, from CAST, Inc., a suite of graphic organizers that supports students to develop content-specific practices and habits of mind. By engaging with Corgi, students develop patterns of thinking and reasoning in a format that is accessible for all.
DeafVerse, from the National Deaf Center, is a choose-your-own-adventure online game created just for deaf teenagers, where they can learn important skills for success in high school and beyond. Players get to make their own choices, stand up for themselves, and build confidence and skills they can use in real life. Video
- Future Quest Island-Explorations.
Future Quest Island-Explorations, from the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts – Boston, is an online accessible college and career awareness curriculum. It uses gaming strategies to motivate and support improved self-concept, social and emotional competence, and early college and career awareness for upper elementary students with and without disability in grades 3-5.
- Gallaudet University.
Gallaudet University and SignAll have formed a partnership to develop an automatic sign language translation software. Video
ibestt (Integrating Behavior Support and Team Technology) is an online coaching and collaboration system that guides school-based teams in the implementation of individual-student behavior support strategies in elementary and early childhood settings. Video
My STEM Adventure.
My STEM Adventure, from STEMIE and Bridge Multimedia, join Leila Diaz in this accessible app as she guides young children and their families or other caregivers to explore the world of STEM both indoors and outdoors and create a storybook that details their investigation. Video in English. Video in Spanish.
- National Technical Institute for the Deaf Center on Access Technology.
The NTID Center on Access Technology investigates, evaluates and reports on the most effective and efficient use of access technologies and train individuals in their use in order to accelerate the widespread implementation of best practices within deaf education at the post-secondary level. Video
- National Technical Institute for the Deaf Regional STEM Center.
The NTID Regional STEM Center, a collaboration between Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB) and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) housed on the AIDB campus in Talladega, Alabama, promotes STEM educational initiatives and career awareness for students who are deaf or hard of hearing in primary and secondary grades. Video
Numbershire is an internet-based, educational game with an intensive focus on critical whole number concepts and skills for students with or at risk for mathematics difficulties in kindergarten through second grade. Video
The digital Science Notebook and a Universal Design for Learning Environment (SNUDLE), from CAST, Inc., focuses on the science inquiry process and is grounded in the framework of UDL.
Virtual Reality Opportunities to Implement Social Skills (VOISS) from the University of Kansas, is a virtual reality experience that uses social situations and scenarios to effectively teach social skills. (Video)
WEGO-RIITE is a technology-based graphic organizer that aims to promote an effective integration of a technology-based graphic organizer. WEGO-RIITE integrates embedded evidence-based strategies and universal design learning supports, video models, and opportunities for data-driven decision making. The graphic organizer works to improve the quantity and quality of persuasive essay writing by students with and without high-incidence disabilities struggling with writing in elementary, middle, and high school grades.
Check out the Special Education & Technology Showcase agenda and overview to learn about other accessible education-related technologies at ED Games Expo who received funding from other ED and federal government agencies.
Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees, and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. Articles do not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.