District to Cease Use of Some Education Software That Doesn't Meet ADA

I came across this memo that could have significant implications.

To: Seattle Public Schools Staff
From: Kyle Kinoshita, Executive Director of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction John Krull, Chief Information Officer, Department of Technology Services (DoTS)

Seattle Public Schools is committed to conforming with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ensuring students with disabilities can access educational software. Classroom student digital resources must be accessible to ALL students, including the visually impaired. This year, SPS has been reviewing its educational software for ADA compliance.

The District is mandated by court directive to ensure all student electronic resources were accessible by January 30, 2019. While the District has been working with vendors to encourage ADA compliance, not all products under review have met the deadline.

To the extent not already discontinued, student use of the following programs must cease across the District immediately:

• Typing Agent
• Imagine Learning
• DreamBox
• EdGenuity (individual students relying on Edgenuity for credit retrieval and instruction can continue use through the 2018-2019 school year)
• ST Math

The following programs must end student use by Friday, February 15 (extension due to snow days). Instructions on intervention and assessment functions of these programs will be sent to SPS staff using these programs in the coming days:
 - iRead, READ 180, System 44

These assessment programs also must end student use by Friday, February 15. One last assessment should be administered to have mid-year data:
- Reading Inventory, Phonics Inventory, Math Inventory

As a reminder, ANY educational software or web app used in Seattle Public Schools classrooms must be reviewed for ADA compliance by the Department of Technology Services (DoTS). State and Federal laws also require software to be reviewed to meet requirements for privacy and security, especially in cases where student information is uploaded. Digital resources must also meet administrative and curricular approval at the school level.

Software and web app approval requests and ADA, security, and integration review/questions are created through the Technology Service Center at https://techline.seattleschools.org:

(1) Select “Get Apps/Services”
(2) then “New App/Service Approval Request”
(3) Fill in/submit.

A list of approved software and review status is here: Approved Software List. You will need to login to MySPS after clicking through the links. The District continues to work to find accessible alternatives for classroom use. We will update the approved software list when alternatives are identified or the above products become accessible

Questions regarding the educational value of software or electronic resources can be directed to the Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction (CAI) via Kyle Kinoshita kdkinoshita@seattleschools.org.

Questions regarding technical aspects of software or electronic resources should be directed to the Department of Technology via the process above.

Thank you for your assistance in helping SPS ensure ADA compliance and inclusivity for all students.


Anonymous said…
"Digital resources must also meet administrative and curricular approval at the school level."

I'll believe that when I see it. Sounds like CYA from JSCEE. What administrator knows the materials used in each and every classroom? Sometimes it takes a parent raising concerns before teacher selected "resources" are put on the radar of school administration. Our kids have been subjected to some pretty questionable digitally sourced materials over the years. I wouldn't even post some of it here.

But good news that they are taking action toward ADA compliance, as well as considering student privacy and security.

Anonymous said…
I wish there were better tools out there to have ADA compliance on basic things like PDFs. Nearly every school and PTA website has PDFs they'd like to share, but ADA non-compliance often keeps those documents inaccessible. I blame Adobe and Microsoft in large part, because most PDFs are generated using their software. The only ADA compatibility machines I am aware of are online (which you can't use with student data for privacy reasons) or are hundreds of dollars per install.

PDF Monger
Anonymous said…
How many blind or visually impaired students out of the ~56,000 total SPS enrolled are there? .1%? .01%?

If a program can’t by used by a disabled student, wouldn’t the teacher use a different tool?

Blind students can’t read books in print, does that mean we evacuate libraries of books?

Or add Braille ones to the shelves?

Ideally, programs used by district for teaching purposes would have embedded features for blind, but if they do not, is the right solution to deny sighted students access to those tools or provide equivalent tools to kids with seeing impairments?

SPS must teach all kids. Saddly, many blog readers may likely agree they do a terrible job on many if not most fronts: SpEd (deaf and hard of hearing is one example, dyslexia another) and non-SpEd alike (our most culturally diverse families, gifted students, etc). But solutions are supposed to be additive, not ‘taking away’. Taking tools away is not ever a great way to solve a problem. I don’t know these tools - I’m not specifically supporting these tools - but the point is addressing gaps in IEP students’ experiences in classrooms can’t be done by making holes in others’ experiences.

Eli said…
Anonymous, if these non-accessible tools were not yet in use, would you start using them (assuming they have value but will not be made accessible)? If not, then "making holes" versus "choosing fair tools" are the same thing being looked at forwards or backwards. Use them plus /whatever it takes/ to reach fairness? That's highly dependent on the details of what these things are for, so I find it hard to say "why don't you just do some thing I can't describe but you conclude isn't workable knowing the details?"

I searched for [blind children number us] and in the top hit I find an estimate of about 1% with "a visual disability". Try looking it up and see if you find different numbers?

Note that this is a court directive, not just some fly-by-night idea dreamed up by SPS. The court is applying the ADA. I would guess that SPS did try to put together a case that they could use non-accessible tools by offering other resources to visually impaired students, and found that wouldn't fly. You could read the court documents to see.
Eli said…
Anonymous, maybe it would be worthwhile to look at some specifics. Let's use your Braille books example. What if the schools ran the numbers and decided, we can't justify buying a full selection of Braille books for one student who will be here a few years, it's cheaper to have an IA read books to her. (I doubt the numbers fall that way, but for example.) That's a fully functional equivalent, right, to have a human reader?

In a certain sense yes, but it's not really the same and it's not really fair. The blind student here /isn't able to read/, somebody else is /reading for them/. They are not doing the same thing, and they are not getting the same education. And you'd better believe everyone know who's 'special' and has a person to read for them because they can't read for themselves. Moral: a person is not a substitute for a tool."

Would teachers use these tools if they don't work for every student, you asked. Sure, they would, because they made their lesson plan around this tool, nobody said they'd be having a blind kid, and they are willing to make it work. They'll provide personal service, that's great right? Well, it's not the same as the student being able to do the thing.

Bottom line: patching holes with people is hard.
Anonymous said…
There are probably something like 20 visually impaired students in the district. You can believe this is the result of a lawsuit. The district did close to nothing for these students for years on end, and eventually lost a lawsuit. That brought in an even more ridiculous finding. Every piece of software has to work for every student. Every book, assignment, handout, worksheet, is already supposed to be in an accessible format from day one of school. Then machine readers can read it to any student who needs it. No it isn’t. To my mind that’s the next bigger uncompliance. If teachers were simply commited individually to making their classrooms accessible, these type of blanket requirements would never have happened.

Anonymous said…
Oh. Btw.
“but the point is addressing gaps in IEP student’s experience can’t be done by creating holes in other’s experience.”

Well, that is categorically incorrect. I know a parent who shot down field trips for all students because her disabled student was denied access to it. And rightly so. At some point, it we all get the service... or none of us do. Anything else simply perpetuates long-standing discrimination. A lot in the disability community would say that time is way overdue.

Jet City mom said…
I feel differently about accommodations for disability than I do for religion.
One yr we had a student whose religion did not allow celebrations( like birthdays or holidays) or field trips.
So the teacher accommodated them by not allowing any celebrations or field trips for the class. (4th grade)
Personally, I feel that it is unwise to allow one students parents religious beliefs to interfere with the education for rest of class.

What if the family decides they only want their kids to learn about “ the war of northern aggression”?
Or they do not want them to have any sex Ed classes?

If the disabled student is able to participate in school however, I expect accommodations can be put in place so they can participate in field trips or in a comparable activity.
Thanks ADA said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jet City Mom, that sounds odd that one child's religion could cancel field trips. That child just doesn't have to go and could go in another class. Same for sex education (and that has always been the case as far as I know).

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