In the July 2021 CIDDL Research and Practice Brief, we interviewed Cynthia Curry, who is the Director of Technical Assistance and Program Director at the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials at CAST.
In this brief, Cynthia discusses how accessibility is a key entry point into the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework. Educational materials and technologies should be perceivable, operable, understandable and robust. By following these four “POUR principals,” educators can help ensure accessibility for all students, regardless of their individual learning needs. When teachers are well-trained in the use of accessible education materials (AEM), it creates changes in their teaching practice. The responsibility for the provision of AEM does not fall onto any one individual, however. Cynthia explains how this knowledge should be a part of preservice education for both special and general education instructors.
Cynthia goes on to provide useful resources for K-12 and higher education agencies. Quality indicators as well as self assessments and progress monitoring tools can help with planning, implementing, and evaluating a coordinated system for the provision of AEM.
Finally, Cynthia discusses areas for further research. In particular, we need more information on how teacher education programs infuse instruction around accessibility and technologies are doing so as well as on what strategies lead to more change in the field.