ed-fi_wallpaper_1_voicesThe Ed-Fi solution is designed to help educators put data to work to solve problems in the classroom and at the student level. We’re excited about the enhancements we announced last week that will make the tool suite even better.

We listened.

The v1.2 release of the Ed-Fi tool suite is based on real-world lessons and open communication with our licensees, and is designed to improve ease of use and accessibility. For example, licensees asked for Section 508 and American with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant dashboards in our starter kit.

The Ed-Fi Alliance first addressed the need for increased accessibility to dashboards as part of a Texas Student Data System (TSDS) project. Double Line Partners1 worked with TSDS and the Ed-Fi Alliance to design and implement an out-of-the-box solution that is fully compliant with Section 508 and the ADA.

Key features include:

  • Improved machine readability, including by screen-reader software
  • Easy navigation by keyboard
  • Colors that have been carefully adjusted for contrast and luminosity
  • Pairing of all graphic charts with visually-hidden data tables, thus providing non-visual users with the same information as visual users
  •  Appropriate and descriptive alternative text accompanying all other graphics
 

We commissioned Knowbility to conduct an independent audit of the implementation of these enhancements in the TSDS dashboards, using Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), to ensure the application met the needs of teachers and administrative staff with various disabilities. According to this audit:

“The TSDS studentGPS dashboards deliver cutting edge functionality while conforming to WCAG2 Level AA Guidelines… No longer can developers claim that accessibility limits product sophistication or functionality.”

Making data accessible to more people—including those with disabilities—means that we’re putting information in the hands of even more people to improve teacher effectiveness and student outcomes. And I have my own take on these improvements. As a color-blind person, I now experience the dashboards in a way that more closely aligns to the intended experience.

Everyone helps.

The Ed-Fi Alliance is committed to the idea that investing time and attention in developing solutions that are accessible to everyone is a shared responsibility. I look forward to seeing further contributions from a growing and diverse group of licensees who will help us further enhance this experience for all Ed-Fi adopters. It’s vital that we listen to our partners and continue to develop versions of the Ed-Fi tools that reflect their feedback and unique needs. It’s a scalable way to grow and enrich the tool suite, as well as maintain a high quality of field-tested enhancements.

And I hope to hear from states outside of Texas as to how our ADA-compliant solution is helping even more educators advance student achievement in schools across our country. Keep telling us what you want in the Ed-Fi solution. We’re listening.

Chris Moffatt leads the technology initiatives at the Ed-Fi Alliance, where he is responsible for the technical vision, execution and ongoing development of the Ed-Fi standard and supporting products and technologies.

1 Double Line Partners and Ed-Fi Alliance are both wholly owned subsidiaries of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.