Making inclusion the default for students nationwide

The Story

NWEA, a dedicated advocate for education excellence, recognized the imperative of inclusivity in the realm of educational assessment. Committed to its mission, NWEA sought to revolutionize the accessibility landscape for its MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) platform used by 30M students. By enhancing accessibility features for students with disabilities, NWEA aimed to establish itself as an inclusive partner in the competitive educational software landscape.

The Challenge​

The challenge was multi-faceted. School districts require accessible and inclusive software for their students. Experience Dynamics project would fix NWEA’s access issues and boost sales while boosting equity. NWEA needed a user experience that catered to a wide range of disabilities and ensured compliance with federal and state accessibility guidelines. NWEA engaged Experience Dynamics to partner with its Accommodations team to achieve this. The objective was to redefine the MAP Accommodations experience to address diverse disabilities: visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive.

The Strategy

The strategic collaboration between NWEA and Experience Dynamics yielded transformative outcomes. The MAP Accommodations experience underwent a holistic evolution, ensuring accessibility for students across the spectrum of disabilities. Through rigorous testing, prototyping, and validation, the platform now stands as a benchmark for user inclusivity and compliance with accessibility regulations.


Read about a conference-published case study we wrote about this approach: Toward a disability-centric model of user participation in accessibility efforts: lessons from a case study of school children


The Turning Point​

Experience Dynamics proposed a comprehensive strategy rooted in Inclusive Design to transform MAP Accommodations into a model of inclusivity. This strategy involved rapid user research, prototyping, accessibility testing with both teachers and students, and collaboration with the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) to uphold Section 508/W3C/WCAG 2.0 standards.

The Execution

  • Field Study and Impact Analysis: The initiative commenced with a field study to gauge the existing accessibility of classroom tools like digital rulers and protractors. This analysis provided insights into the challenges faced by students and teachers using tools like JAWS, NVDA, ZoomText, and iOS VoiceOver, while revealing workarounds.

Learn why it is important to test with Assistive Technology

  • Agile Accessibility Testing: Collaborating with NWEA’s development team, Experience Dynamics facilitated the creation of testable accessibility features. This Agile approach enabled real-time validation, allowing iterative refinement of solutions.
  • User Interface Prototyping: Through an immersive process, Experience Dynamics designed accessible HTML prototype interfaces catering to visual, auditory, motor, and cognitive disabilities. These prototypes underwent rigorous testing with students with disabilities.
  • Collaboration with outside experts: Experience Dynamics aligned our strategy with an outside expert in captioning to ensure that the proposed accessibility solutions harmonized with industry best practices and compliance standards.
  • Accessible QA: Pre-launch, Experience Dynamics conducted Accessible Quality Assurance on ready-to-deploy code, our in-house accessibility specialist team (legally blind). This final phase identified and resolved any potential accessibility issues before the platform’s launch.

The Result

By partnering with Experience Dynamics, NWEA had a breakthrough in providing a fully accessible software solution compliant with state school district requirements. This boosted sales dramatically.

Our Inclusive Design approach addressed all five disabilities. Our evidence-based design recommendations proved students with disabilities could positively access key digital tools and resources. The organizational impact of this work led to NWEA amplifying its accessibility and UX efforts and developing UX management leadership where there had been none before.

This case study underscores the significance of disability advocacy, collaboration, and improving business results while elevating accessibility and inclusivity.

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