4.1.1 Six key policy areas in developing and implementing accessible ICTs in connected schools
In conjunction with the four stages of policy development, policy-makers should consider several key elements. Based on a study by the European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education,107 the following six elements are particularly important for national-level accessible ICT policies:
- Infrastructure – This includes statistics on connected schools with Internet access, the number of computers available in schools, the availability of assistive technologies, the use of computers and other forms of ICTs as pedagogical tools by teachers.
- Availability of support – Closely related to infrastructure, this looks at the range of support available to teachers and students from national agencies for ICT in education. This can extend from support services that work directly with children and teachers, to in-school supports, to access to specialist resource centers.
- Needs assessment -- While needs assessment systems for children identified as having a disability may already be in place, they should incorporate a clear statement of needs that cover the ATs and related supports required to enable the child to receive an education in an inclusive school environment.
- Training – A key element of support is in training specific to the teaching of children with disabilities. A key element of that will be the use of accessible ICTs, which includes training during initial teacher orientation and in-service training. The availability of relevant support and training is often cited by teachers as an area of equal importance to the availability of appropriate hardware and software.
- Co-operation/research – A key element in building capacity within a country’s educational system is the development of a sustainable AT ecosystem. This includes ongoing research into the needs and experiences of both learners and teachers, sharing of experiences and expertise, and research into the development of new and better AT solutions and service-delivery models.
- Evaluation – Implementation of various policy reforms must be monitored to determine whether they will achieve their stated goals and to analyze and interpret the results and inform further policy intervention.