Steve Noble, Accessibility Research Consultant (Guest Writer)
Earlier this week, a new report from a blue-ribbon panel convened by the Council on Foreign Relations sounded the alarm that U.S. schools are failing to prepare enough scientists, mathematicians, and engineers needed to promote continuing national prosperity and global leadership. The report, “U.S. Education Reform and National Policy,” specifically cites that many students "are growing up deficient in vital math skills, including knowledge of number properties and operations, measurement, geometry, data analysis, statistics, probability, and algebra."
One issue of concern which seldom gets raised in such discussions--and is not mentioned at all in this report--is the fact that students with disabilities typically score at the bottom of the pack in math and science, and rarely go on to get advanced degrees in these fields. There are many underlying causes which contribute to this problem, but one critical issue which is often overlooked is the fact that science and math educational materials in our schools are not accessible to students with disabilities. Getting the education community to take note and demand that educational content is created (by textbook publishers and others) in accessible digital formats can help to open new doors for all students—both students with learning or visual disabilities, as well as struggling students without disabilities who simply don’t connect with print textbooks and chalk boards. Contact your State Department of Education and local school district. Make sure they know how important it is that all students have equal access to math and make sure they require math accessibility in textbook adoption and software selection policies.
For more ways you can get involved check out, What can you do to help promote math accessibility?
Steve Noble is a research consultant with a core focus in mathematics accessibility and assistive technology. Currently he serves on grant-funded research projects with both the University of Kentucky and Bridge Multimedia, and previously served as Director of Accessibility Policy for Design Science.