National Federation of the Blind and Pearson Announce Agreement to Promote Equal Access to Education
Agreement to Improve Accessibility Comes as Blind Students Are Increasingly Affected by COVID-19 Disruption
Baltimore, Maryland (October 6, 2020): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation’s leading advocate for the equal education and employment of the blind, and Pearson, the world’s learning company, have announced a formal agreement to enhance the accessibility of Pearson’s educational products and courses, deepen Pearson’s culture of accessibility, and accelerate the effectiveness of Pearson’s accessibility efforts broadly. Ultimately the shared goal of the NFB and Pearson is to identify and remove accessibility barriers that prevent blind students from receiving a full learning experience. The agreement, officially announced at the recent 2020 National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind, formalizes and expands upon previous collaboration between the two organizations. The agreement comes as blind students are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
The agreement’s components include:
- The National Federation of the Blind is now formally acting in a consulting role with Pearson to inform Pearson’s accessibility roadmap and specific product remediation and to review and advise Pearson on the accessibility roadmaps for its key higher education and assessment products.
- The National Federation of the Blind is helping Pearson promote a culture of accessibility internally.
- Pearson is establishing a communications channel through which the National Federation of the Blind can directly and regularly inform Pearson about accessibility issues that blind students are experiencing. This will help Pearson to respond and remediate barriers more quickly, and in turn Pearson will keep the NFB apprised of resolutions.
- Pearson has already begun to conduct an audit of its most important higher education products. This focuses on more than 40 of its most widely used MyLab and Mastering courses, with the goal to identify and remediate accessibility issues as quickly as possible. Pearson is also conducting audits of key user journeys through the MyLab and Mastering products, such as registration, completing homework assignments, and using the eText, to ensure that blind students have a simple and positive experience with these products.
- Pearson will share accessibility updates on its public-facing websites and make details on accessibility status and plans available to customers who need them.
“The National Federation of the Blind has long called upon Pearson to improve the accessibility of its products and to be accountable for its efforts to blind students, to parents, and to schools,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “We commend Pearson for answering that call by entering into this agreement and we look forward to the collaboration and innovation promised by this new partnership.”
“As a leader in education, we can only fulfill our mission to serve all learners by making our products and services accessible to the blind and all people with disabilities. I am proud that Pearson and the National Federation of the Blind have officially locked arms and begun working in concert towards a more accessible future for blind learners,” said Tim Bozik, President for Global Product and North America Courseware for Pearson. “As many blind students are being disproportionately affected by COVID, this is an especially important time for us to advance our work together.”
In addition to this partnership, Pearson and the National Federation of the Blind recently expanded a Corporate Disability Mentoring Program to help blind youth learn and succeed in their careers. The expanded program is also an opportunity for Pearson employees to learn directly from blind mentees and better understand their lived experiences.