“VoiceOver is on the iPhone. They did it. They did it. They did it.”

“Here in one, one day, in one fell swoop, they’ve changed everything.”

“I went to the AT&T store and I bought myself an iPhone, and I was so mesmerized,” Sawczyn says. “I was able to do this at the same time as other people were buying their phones. I didn’t have to wait for a new version of software to come out, or an update to be made, or someone sighted to help me. I could just go to the AT&T Store, buy my device, go home, plug it in, and with iTunes, I could start up VoiceOver and the thing just worked great.”

“The accessibility of the iPhone changed my life, because now I’m working as a professional software developer,” Quinn says.

Source: 36 Seconds That Changed Everything – How the iPhone Learned to Talk

Great piece on the addition of VoiceOver to the iPhone ten years ago.

Instead, the college admissions scandal should draw attention to a different problem: That the companies that develop and administer standardized tests have no empirical basis for placing such an emphasis on speed. Yet these companies do put a terrible premium on speed, even though the notion that faster is better has been debunked: In fact, a student’s scores on such exams correlate in a perfect linear relationship with socio-economic status rather than with a student’s ability to solve difficult problems.

Stringently timed, high-stake tests have an adverse impact against racial minorities, women, those with low socio-economic status, non-native speakers of English, older applicants, and people with disabilities. Of course, that adverse impact is further exacerbated when the ultra-wealthy cheat to inflate their children’s scores.

Source: What the College Admissions Scandal Reveals About Disability, Speed, and Standardized Tests – Pacific Standard

Resources on everyday digital accessibility framed for teachers? Looking for stuff that covers ground such as: using Cmd|Ctl+a within your weekly newsletter to find un-selectable (and thus screen reader inaccessible) text, enabling and invoking Speak Screen to test classroom materials.

The moment schools decide they – and not the students – must choose the personal technology the young will use in the classroom they forgo any hope of assisting grow the nation’s young being digital, having the digital invisibly underpin all school learning, of moving the school from an analogue to digital operational mode, and having it join and assist grow a networked society.

The decision relegates the school to the digital backwater.

In announcing its unilateral control of the technology, the school is proclaiming that it intends to maintain its traditional ‘control over’ ways, and that any use of the digital must fit within those ways. It is saying to the students and their families that not only do we know best, but we distrust you, are not willing to empower you, and we don’t value or recognise the lead role you have played – and are playing – in learning with the digital.

It is saying being digital is unimportant, and that a digitally empowered young – working with their teachers – are incapable of using the digital astutely and creatively in enhancing their learning in all areas of the curriculum, at all stages of learning.

Schools and governments worldwide seemingly don’t appreciate the very powerful messages they send when they make seemingly innocuous management decisions about the control of the digital technology.

Digitally empowered young are never going to going to embrace a highly structured ‘control over’ approach to learning with the digital where they are disempowered, devalued and subservient.

Source: The Importance of Students Using Their Own Digital Kit. | The Digital Evolution of Schooling

See also,

No child within the Albemarle County Public Schools should need a label or prescription in order to access the tools of learning or environments they need. Within the constraints of other laws (in particular, copyright) we will offer alternative representations of information, multiple tools, and a variety of instructional strategies to provide access for all learners to acquire lifelong learning competencies and the knowledge and skills specified in curricular standards. We will create classroom cultures that fully embrace differentiation of instruction, student work, and assessment based upon individual learners’ needs and capabilities. We will apply contemporary learning science to create accessible entry points for all students in our learning environments; and which support students in learning how to make technology choices to overcome disabilities and inabilities, and to leverage preferences and capabilities.

Source: Seven Pathways

Educators, using images as text in your documents is an a11y road block. Use iOS “Speak Screen” (Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech > Speak Screen) on your docs. Is all content spoken? Is all text selectable? Unselectable text is usually inaccessible text.

I updated “Wanted: hospitals and doctors’ offices that…” with selections on access intimacy from “The Doctor and Nurse Who “Got It” | Health as a Human Right” and “Access Intimacy: The Missing Link | Leaving Evidence”.

I also added the selection from “The Doctor and Nurse Who “Got It” | Health as a Human Right” to “Accessibility, Access Intimacy, and Forced Intimacy”.

This is the story about a doctor and nurse I once had and how they “got it.”

“Getting it” isn’t necessarily something that you can define. It’s ineffable. It’s more of a feeling than a specific action. For me, it’s a connection that runs deeper than the diagnosis, the medical terminology, the treatments proposed. It’s a sense of being listened to and really heard. It’s feeling of being truly cared for. It’s a sense of empathy or at least a willingness to immerse oneself in my world as a patient, to feel and see what I face. When I think of my doctor and nurse who “got it”, I remember the sense of safety and calm they offered me and knowing that I would be okay. To each patient surely it may mean something different. But for me “getting it” gives me the ability as a patient to breathe, and perchance even to live.

Source: The Doctor and Nurse Who “Got It” | Health as a Human Right

Access intimacy is that elusive, hard to describe feeling when someone else “gets” your access needs. The kind of eerie comfort that your disabled self feels with someone on a purely access level. Sometimes it can happen with complete strangers, disabled or not, or sometimes it can be built over years. It could also be the way your body relaxes and opens up with someone when all your access needs are being met. It is not dependent on someone having a political understanding of disability, ableism or access. Some of the people I have experienced the deepest access intimacy with (especially able bodied people) have had no education or exposure to a political understanding of disability.

Access intimacy is also the intimacy I feel with many other disabled and sick people who have an automatic understanding of access needs out of our shared similar lived experience of the many different ways ableism manifests in our lives. Together, we share a kind of access intimacy that is ground-level, with no need for explanations. Instantly, we can hold the weight, emotion, logistics, isolation, trauma, fear, anxiety and pain of access. I don’t have to justify and we are able to start from a place of steel vulnerability. It doesn’t mean that our access looks the same, or that we even know what each other’s access needs are. It has taken the form of long talks into the night upon our first meeting; knowing glances shared across a room or in a group of able bodied people; or the feeling of instant familiarity to be able to ask for help or support.

Source: Access Intimacy: The Missing Link | Leaving Evidence

Sadly though, the social, political, and economic narrative of schooling in the past has been grounded in a “soft eugenics” belief that while some children have the capacity to become whatever they choose to be in life, others do not. This plays out in the decisions that educators make, often based on decontextualized data and confirmation biases that stem from immersion in traditions of education that did the same to us. Even if lip service is given to words such as equity, accessibility, inclusivity, empathy, cultural responsiveness, and connected relationships, schooling today is still far more likely to support practices from the past that have created school cultures in which none ​of those words define who educators really are, no matter what they aspire to be.

Consider how the “habitable world” concept developed by Rosemarie Garland‐Thomson, Emory University researcher and professor, sits at the core of the philosophy of educators who developed and now sustain the structures and processes of schooling that impact young people such as Kolion (Garland‐Thomson 2017b). Garland‐Thomson views public, political, and organizational philosophy as representative of one of “two forms of world‐building, inclusive and eugenic” (Garland‐Thomson 2017a). Unfortunately, often it’s the soft educational eugenics philosophy that is most often expressed in practice, if not in words, across the nation’s schools rather than the creation of habitable worlds that are inclusive of all learners.

 If we want our schools to be learning ​spaces that reveal the strengths of children to us, we have to create a bandwidth of opportunities that do so. That means making decisions differently, decisions driven from values that support equity, accessibility, inclusivity, empathy, cultural responsiveness, and connected relationships inside the ecosystem. Those are the words representative of habitable worlds, not words such as sort, select, remediate, suspend, or fail.

The solution, the way decisions are best made, lies in empowering teachers and students to make choices. Any systemic or institutional decision made for “all kids” or “most kids” or based on quantitative research will – guaranteed – be the wrong decision. Any decision based in “miracle narratives” will be at least as bad. We are not discussing “the average child” or “the average dyslexic” (neither of which exists), nor are we going to base policy on the exceptional case. Instead, we will “solve this” by making individual decisions with individual students. (Socol 2008)

Source: Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools (Kindle Locations 908-920, 929-938). Wiley. Kindle Edition.

Toolbelt theory says the most important thing students can learn is how to make the world work for them.

Every single one of the laptops me gave to every child from third through twelfth grade had every single tool we could put on it, on it.

We will never create a digital environment that doesn’t have at least three different ways available to do anything.

We made sure every student was the administrator of their own computer so if they found something better online, they could add it.

We’re not gonna screen your choices. We’re just gonna help you make those choices.

Source: DisruptED TV Podcast: I Wish I Knew Episode 8 with Ira Socol by DisruptED TV Podcast I Wish I Knew

Further reading,

SpeEdChange: Toolbelt Theory for Everyone