Benefits to Education
It’s almost impossible to imagine a modern educational environment that doesn’t involve Internet access and other technology use. Schools, colleges, universities, and trade schools are required (in the US by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and other laws) to make this technology accessible to all students.
Assistive technologies can be hard to find out about, expensive, and difficult to use. Students will be enrolled for a limited time—a year or less at some schools—and their needs can be very difficult to predict, and may change dramatically over time.
GPII will offer educational institutions a different model of accessibility, intended to serve a wide range of disabilities, with low investments in time and money. The institution can subscribe to only the software that’s needed at a given time, and only be billed when it’s actually used.
In some cases, students with disabilities will already have their own profile, so an educational institution only needs to permit implementation on its technology, and only while these students are enrolled. The interface can change as the student matures or ages. As students transition to new environments, they can modify their accessibility profile one aspect at a time, with or without professional oversight.
Since education provides the single largest market for AT, cloud-based AT may be optimized for educational applications that schools use, and tested for compatibility.
Most educational technology devices are mainstream computers and operating systems with well-known features and components, so they can be expected to be compatible with GPII. Most mainstream educational technology products like electronic whiteboards and specialized software will probably participate in GPII as well. For anything "off the beaten track," educators will be able to work with vendors to find GPII-compatible products.
GPII will eliminate the need to designate "special" computers for use by people with disabilities -- they will be able to use any of classroom, lab, or library computers. Even better, the student will have access to all the same tools and software at home, on any computer.
The need for network security can also be an accessibility barrier: IT departments may restrict the ability to load and run software, to prevent viruses and other malware. Part of GPII will be working with the network security software industry to find a secure and easy-to-use method to permit GPII-based services to run. Privacy is also an important concern. Students' rights will be respected, using procedures that match best legal and ethical practices.
As GPII-based solutions are marketed more widely, the cost per user will drop significantly. GPII also provides parts and services for building access solutions, and easier ways to keep solutions updated and working across platforms, reducing costs these ways as well.
As educational institutions upgrade or migrate from one technology to the next, GPII will keep pace and ensure accessibility without additional effort or expense.
Special educational evaluators and therapists will be able to use GPII-based tools to simulate a much wider range of solutions than they could ever hope to purchase separately. These tools will follow existing evaluation protocols, and provide their own tracking and reporting features. Cloud-based AT services that are used anywhere and everywhere offer a more holistic view of each student's performance and progress.
In some cases, students may arrive at a school having already set up their AT solutions, and a public program may have already paid for all the usage they need, no matter where it's used, or on what device. In other cases, school's staff will use GPII's Wizard to create and modify the student's personal profile. Either way, GPII will take some of the pressure off staff and budget. GPII will include its own training and support network that will help staff develop accessibility skills and solve local problems; these peer experts will also address administrative requirements often posed by special education programs.