Building a more inclusive world starts at the education level, with schools as the cornerstones. Schools everywhere are taking transformative steps to develop more inclusive environments—ones that value diversity and promote belonging, with the goal of empowering students to fulfill their potential. Here at Microsoft, we’re trying to help – with new tools and a new analysis of what works.
While many schools have made inclusivity central to their missions, hurdles still stand in the way of progress. It can be challenging to pinpoint and address learning disabilities. And, due to stigma, some students don’t seek out the support they need. In addition, schools struggle with the high cost of resources aimed at meeting the needs of all students and the time needed to serve those with learning disabilities effectively.
At Microsoft, through our partnerships with educators and school IT staff, we have learned more about these challenges and what it takes to foster inclusive classrooms. We recently set out to develop new solutions, with an approach grounded in the belief that when technology reflects the diversity of all users, it empowers everyone to achieve more.
The result? A wide-ranging suite of assistive technology tools built right into Microsoft 365. Tools like Immersive Reader and inking are seamlessly integrated into Word, PowerPoint and OneNote, so they’re available for all students, by default. This removes the stigma of one student using a different tool from his or her peers. These solutions elevate the capabilities of all students, including those with known learning disabilities, but also those who have indiscernible, undiagnosed or temporary challenges.
To really understand how these assistive technologies benefit children, teachers, IT staff and administrators schoolwide, we commissioned a Total Economic Impact™ study from Forrester Consulting. Here’s a quick snapshot at what the February 2019 study, “Microsoft Accessibility and Assistive Technologies for Education,” found:
Students improve learning outcomes – Up to 40% boost in reading and writing performance when scaled to all students
“We roll out laptops to all students and install the Microsoft solutions on every device. Not every student feels that they need the help, but when they see the tools, they may start using them and benefit from it. The teachers demonstrate them to everyone.” – TEI study interviewee
Teachers save time – 97 hours of instructional time back each year
“This is a big win for general teachers who may see a special education student every few years. They know how to use Microsoft and can provide the help a student needs.” – TEI study interviewee
Schools reduce total cost of ownership – $50 savings per student per year
“We were able to get rid of one solution that was costing $500 per student.” – TEI study interviewee
IT staff simplify management – Go from 3 hours to 21 minutes to get a computer ready to ship
“Intune for Education allowed us to run a single deployment configuration using one master image to every computer that we have organization-wide. That cut our deployment time from months down to weeks.”—TEI study interviewee
Assistive technologies included in M365 worth $4.2M in net present value
Learn more about assistive technologies in M365
There are many assistive technologies in Microsoft 365. To learn more, check out a full menu of accessibility options in M365 or visit the Microsoft Education Center, which contains Microsoft Inclusive Classroom helpful links all in one place. To advance that goal in your community, check out this new integrated approach to using assistive technology in the classroom and please give the study a closer read here.
We’re proud to partner with schools and educators working to create student-centered learning environments that serve all young people well. To advance that goal in your community, check out this new integrated approach to using assistive technology in the classroom.