EDUCAUSE & Verbit: Leveraging Technology to Improve Higher Education Accessibility

By: Danielle Chazen

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Digital transformation is making waves in higher education across the world. It changes how leadership manages the campus, it makes data-based automation possible for improving campus operations and student wellbeing, and it differentiates institutions for top tier students who seek innovative education that trains them to succeed in tomorrow’s workplaces, just to name a few of the exciting developments. But perhaps the most exciting shift happening thanks to digital transformation is in growing levels of accessibility to students with disabilities, who have traditionally found it challenging to tap into the benefits higher education That has been presented able-bodied students for generations.

To keep following through on our commitment to making higher education an equal-opportunity space, 

Our team here at Verbit is excited to partner with the EDUCAUSE conference on October 14-17, 2019.  We are exhibiting at booth #752 and would love to see you and answer the questions you have about improving accessibility with AI-based transcriptions and captions.

Here are some other ways the EDUCAUSE conference can help you meet your digitization goals:

EDUCAUSE Annual Conference: Explore New Boundaries in Teaching, Learning and Transform the Student Experience

The EDUCAUSE Annual Conference is all about helping professionals and organizations in higher education expand their impact with IT. The conference produced by the EDUCAUSE nonprofit association, which has over 100,000 members from more than 2,300 higher education organizations across 45 countries. Members include teaching, learning and IT professionals, academic leaders and campus executives, among others. The conference will, therefore, allow you to interact with professionals from all these fields, plus corporate and startup technology leaders.

Digitizing to Increase Accessibility Creates Learning Paths All Students Benefit From

For high education organizations, digitization is often right about accessibility for visually impaired, hard of hearing, wheelchair-bound students. Leveraging innovative technologies, from electronic Braille to AI-based captions, open the doors to higher education to students who have traditionally been left behind. When that happens, surprising benefits appear from additional directions. Yes, campuses meet compliance requirements, but it’s more than that. They end up serving a larger sector of their student population, who seems adaptable to traditional learning methods on the surface but secretly thrives in personalized learning experiences and paths that are tailored to their specific needs.

As the EDUCAUSE Review reported, for example, when students requested that a course gets recorded, those who chose to study remotely were able to feel vicariously connected to the in-class experience. EDUCAUSE Review explained that this is likely thanks to students being accustomed to social media interactions with friends and celebrity influencers. It is also a great exercise in staying committed to doing the necessary work while performing it remotely, as many teams do in today’s global workforce.

For many higher education organizations, recording classes is a part of their accessibility strategy, aiming to serve students with disabilities better and meet regulatory demands. Many are moving away from being reactive to random student requests. Instead, they are choosing to record and transcribe all classes with the understanding that Universal Design for Learning (UDL), known as classroom experience design for students previously left at the margins, creates a positive impact for all students. Adding captions to serve hard of hearing and deaf students, for example, could end up serving visual learners and students who study in a language that’s different than their mother tongue as well.

The recordings alone might serve students who struggle to juggle university and work and have multiple commute hours a day, or those who retain information better when they can learn it in private. Students’ positive feedback for the recorded course reported by EDUCAUSE Review showed that they were able to enjoy and benefit from the class recordings, and from the flexibility to learn in the way that supported them the most.