One of the things that we’re most proud of is our commitment to a learner-centric education experience and how this commitment has translated into our delivery of the best Learning Management System (LMS) available.

It isn’t something that we arrived at just recently. We’ve been working to produce the best LMS for quite a while.

In 2010, at the National Federal of the Blind’s (NFB) convention, we received the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award for “groundbreaking work in accessibility.” We decided to pay the award forward, investing the $10,000 that came with it, and more than matching it, to fund an initiative called the Blackboard Accessibility Grant, which funded projects that further access to education for students who have disabilities.

We have long had a very active user community advocating on behalf of those with disabilities. The Blackboard Accessibility Interest Group has over 100 clients participating, including those who encounter accessibility issues in their own lives. Working alongside members of our own client support, content development, product design and user interface design teams, the group has had a tremendous impact on product development here.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are an awful lot of learners who have some type of disability. In the U.S. alone, the proportion of public school students with disabilities – a list that includes speech, hearing, visual, and motor impairment – was 13% as of the 2010-2011 school year (the last data point the National Center for Educational Statistics has published). The figure for post-secondary students was 11%. (Same source; earlier time period: 2007-2008).

For these students, we’ve developed features like Collaborate’s closed-captioning for the hearing impaired; screen reader support, enabling text-to-speech output for those with visual impairments; better keyboard navigation and accelerator keys for those whose mobility may be limited.

Don’t just take our word for it. We’re the first LMS to have a third party deliver a statement, attesting to our conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Priority AA (December 2012 by Deque Systems).

Ed Garay, the Assistant Director for Academic Computing at the University of Illinois at Chicago said:

I am totally convinced that accessibility across the product line is a priority at Blackboard. They are already spending quality time and extensive resources working with a number of schools to make significant improvements. I have no doubts about Blackboard’s commitment to accessibility.

Thanks, Ed.

We aim to provide the best Learning Management System and build our technology with every student in mind. Students are our top priority and we’ve placed them firmly at the heart of our innovation.

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