Technology accessibility: How U.S. K-12 schools are enacting policy and addressing the equity imperative
Over 7 million disabled students attend K-12 schools in the U.S. (U.S. Department of Education, 2020a). But many of those students do not have equitable access to learning because the technologies that mediate K-12 education often prohibit the forms of digital movement and interaction disabled students employ. To facilitate technology-mediated education that is equitable to disabled youth and to comply with the law, Local Education Agencies (LEAs) need to enact technology accessibility policy. However, the current research literature does not address how, or if, LEAs in the U.S. are enacting technology accessibility policy today. This gap in the literature inhibits K-12 stakeholders from making research-informed decisions about how to enact the crucial policy and helps perpetuate the unjust status quo. Accordingly, this study examined how five LEAs enacted technology accessibility policy and contributes to the literature a substantive theory—the Five Elements of Technology Accessibility Policy Enactment—that explains the complex process in which LEAs were engaged and offers insight the field can use to move forward. To enact the policy, LEA stakeholders continually navigated the turbulent waters of opposing local interests as they gradually moved towards their policy ideal—100% accessibility. I argue that to facilitate the enactment of technology accessibility policy in K-12 and begin to dismantle the oppression disabled students face, accessibility advocates must collaboratively develop resources, supports, and knowledge that will help LEAs chart a course through the turbulent waters and persist as they strive for their technology accessibility policy ideal.
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