Classroom Tech Tool Boosting Accessibility

Tech giant Microsoft is constantly looking for ways to not only increase its market share, but also do so in ways which enhance the experience of both existing and new customers. The company has revamped its OneNote notetaking application, which was originally targeted at businesses and college students, to accommodate the growing number of elementary and high school students who now use one-to-one devices in the classroom.

Listening to teachers’ feedback, Microsoft has created Class Notebooks to organize content. Furthermore, the OneNote product was updated with Learning Tools last year to help students with dyslexia improve their reading skills through a “read aloud” feature and text spacing assistance. Earlier this year, in honour of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Microsoft announced the OneNote’s user interface would be redesigned to improve the accessibility to all students.

According to a Microsoft blog post the update will enhance the learning experience of all students no matter what type of screen or device they are using. This will mean working from home will be easier. Microsoft has also updated OneNote’s navigation layout, adding a simply managed subfolder system.  The original subfolder system was often criticized as being complex and confusing.

Lauren Pittman, a special education teacher who teaches at Holly Springs Elementary School outside Atlanta, tested the new interface tools with her students. The results show her students, who can easily be overwhelmed by complicated systems, have been able to stay on task, “I used to have to make sure that they were all on the right page at the right time,” says Pittman. “Now, just using folders, I can tell them exactly where to go and it has cut down a lot of the class time being used just to find material.”

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