by Amy Foxwell, Marketing Director, ReadSpeaker

The Curb Cut Effect

The curb cut effect is the phenomenon of disability-friendly features being used and appreciated by a larger group than the people they were designed for. The term comes from the fact that curbs that have been made accessible for wheelchairs are also more convenient for parents pushing strollers, travelers wheeling luggage and even runners. A study of pedestrian behavior at a Sarasota, Fla., shopping mall revealed that nine out of 10 “unencumbered pedestrians” go out of their way to use a curb cut. 

This applies to education as well. When it comes to accessible content, we now know that what is beneficial to those with disabilities, is beneficial to all students. Some students prefer visuals, while others prefer audio or a hands-on approach, and many prefer a mix of several methods, irrespective of disabilities. Therefore, creating content that can be consumed by a diverse population with various needs only makes sense.

Accessible Design is Just Good Design

Educators can adopt the curb cut effect by addressing accessibility and engagement, and thus improving learning results for all students at the same time. This means attracting and retaining diverse student populations, and helping those students succeed and complete courses and training. An accessible environment benefits everyone.

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework used to create a flexible and inclusive learning environment for all types of students. By using multiple methods of presentation, students better comprehend and retain information. Instead of using technologies to only help a few students, designing with UDL principles in mind offers the full benefits of EdTech to all students, allowing them to learn in the way that works best for them. Providing students with the opportunity to consume content in multiple ways results in higher learner engagement, more efficient learning, and increased confidence in their abilities. See more about Addressing Accessibility in Course Design.

How Can Text-to-Speech Tools Help?

Text to speech is one such tool that can be used on a personal level, or easily integrated into learning management systems to support the initiative to make the education environment inclusive for all

Open edX’s partner ReadSpeaker allows organizations to easily integrate text to speech into the LMS so that all content can be dynamically speech-enabled, no matter the device. And the accompanying ReadSpeaker Suite of Learning Tools gives added support for all Learners. Find out more about text to speech supports an engaging and inclusive education program.

Interested in seeing more? Join our webinar this Thursday, July 21st at 10 AM (EDT) to see how ReadSpeaker is being used in the ESME Learning Open edX environment, or contact ReadSpeaker for a personalized demo.

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