Shining a light on inclusivity for Global Accessibility Awareness Day

A special education teacher working one-on-one with a student on a tablet.

As we gear up to recognize Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 16th, 2024, we at SMART reflect on our commitment to empowering inclusivity and accessibility for all. At the heart of our mission lies the belief that every student, educator and professional has an inherent greatness in them.

The purpose of GAAD is to spark conversation and awareness about digital access and inclusion in the classroom, and highlight the urgent need for accessible technology to support over one billion people with disabilities or impairments worldwide.

As we celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we recommit ourselves to the ongoing pursuit of accessibility and inclusivity in the classroom and the office. Through continuous innovation and collaboration with educators and accessibility experts, we strive to push the boundaries of what's possible and ensure everyone has access to the tools they need to succeed.

Committed to making classrooms inclusive

At SMART, accessibility isn't a feature we make available in our SMART solutions — it's baked into every interface, interaction and activity to support teachers and students at every moment of their learning journey.

We build hardware and software solutions with inclusivity in mind, empowering teachers and professionals to increase access and engagement for all. Whether through our interactive displays or learning software, our tools are meticulously crafted to give voice and opportunity to all participants.

Our products are grounded in Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a framework that emphasizes flexibility and customization to meet the diverse needs of learners. By incorporating universal design principles into our solutions, we ensure that students, educators, professionals and participants have the opportunity to engage with content in a way that suits them best.

Promoting engagement, representation, and expression

At SMART, we recognize that every student is unique and may learn and interact differently. That's why our features are designed to promote engagement, representation, and expression in the classroom:

  • Engagement: Our interactive displays and gamified learning experiences captivate students' attention, making learning an immersive and enjoyable experience for all.
  • Representation: We believe in the power of diverse representation in educational materials. Our software offers a wide range of content formats, ensuring that students see themselves reflected in their learning materials.
  • Expression: From audio recording features to text-to-speech functionality, our tools empower students to express themselves in ways that align with their strengths and preferences.

We’re making great strides in understanding how technology can support neurodiverse learners. Through our partnership with The University of Melbourne, we’re actively researching the types of accessible technology that support neurodiverse learners while focusing on engagement and student outcomes.

Dr. Matthew Harrison, senior lecturer and lead researcher at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, and his team will take this commitment to the next level by researching the lived experiences of students with ADHD and autism so that the findings drive the conversation and selection of technology in the classroom. By using the UDL framework, they follow an evidence-based approach to correlate positive student outcomes with the best technology choices.

Read more about our partnership and how we’re building inclusive education with The University of Melbourne on the blog.

The impact of inclusivity

The impact of accessible design extends far beyond the classroom walls. By providing equal access to education, we're not just leveling the playing field — we're opening doors of opportunity for students with diverse needs. Whether it's a student with a visual impairment accessing digital content through screen reader technology or a student with dyslexia utilizing text-to-speech features, our solutions empower every learner to reach their full potential.

Enabling students to see themselves in the learning is one of the most important steps in ensuring inclusive learning environments. By integrating accessibility supports, offering a variety of ways to engage and participate, as well as considering representation in learning environments, we can truly inspire greatness in each and every student.

As we embrace the spirit of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we invite educators, students, and advocates to join us in bringing inclusion in the classroom.

How you can get involved in classroom inclusivity

You don’t have to be a special education teacher to get involved in Global Accessibility Awareness Day. In fact, all educators, leaders, parents and community members can become involved in accessibility.

We’re challenging educators across North America to showcase how they’re championing inclusive practices and UDL within their classrooms with our Inclusive Classroom Challenge. Educators are encouraged to highlight innovative strategies and initiatives that foster inclusivity and accessibility, and get students involved in UDL.

The winner of the Inclusive Classroom Challenge will be announced LIVE at ISTE 2024 and invited to speak at the Global Education Technology Summit in Banff, Canada. You will have the opportunity to be taken to the beautiful mountains of Banff, in Alberta, Canada to pitch your idea at a two-day event, Global Education Technology Summit (GETS), July 7-11th.

Learn more and begin preparing your submission here: