A step towards a digital school for all
With funding from Sweden’s Innovation Agency, Funka has developed a prototype for an accessible learning platform that improves conditions for students with disabilities.
It is becoming increasingly common, at least in Scandinavia, to intergrate children with disabilities early into the public schools. The idea behind is of course good; the students are included in a better way and usually this leads to better results and more confidence. But for this policy to succeed, everyone has to be able to attend school on equal terms.
In several assignments, we have noted that all learning management systems on the Swedish and Norwegian markets have gaps when it comes to accessibility. Therefore, we have developed a prototype of a system that works for as many persons as possible, including teachers, students and parents with disabilities.
Our starting point of this project was to examine how the most commonly used modules in primary school could be designed with high level of accessibility. The work resulted in a clickable prototype that received good results in tests made with end users with diverse abilities. With this prototype, we now have a solid base that can be used for further development into a complete system.
Throughout the project, we have had close contacts with schools, particularly through our partnership with schools in the municipality of Leksand, Sweden. We have also cooperated and informed stakeholders and potential end-users in municipalities across Sweden. The contact with the staff in schools has been very positive and many have testified that they have gained a better understanding of how important it is with the accessibility of the digital school environment during the project.
An unexpected bonus of the project is the amazing response we received from schools, says Susanna Laurin, CEO of Funka. Hopefully it will lead to the procurers using higher requirements for accessibility, which would affect the suppliers of learning platforms. When there is a demand, the market usually evolves in the right direction.
Funka continues to keep the focus on education
The project has also led Funka to new insights about the great business potential for improvement within the school environment. Therefore, we have launched several new innovative projects based on the prototype and the user tests we have done. Together with the ICT company CLANED Group and Laurea University in Finland, we are involved in a project to increase accessible in hteir learning platform. The project is funded by the European Innovation program EUROSTARS and runs until 2017. In Sweden, we have won an innovation competition from the Post and Telecom Agency with the aim to develop a digital platform that makes it easier for parents with disabilities in everyday contact and communication with the school.
Education has an increasingly significant impact on how everyone can participate in both the labor market and in society at large, says Sara Kjellstrand, project coordinator at Funka. Therefore, we will continue to work for the school's digital systems to become more accessible so that more individuals can benefit from teaching in the best way possible.