Articles: Assistive Tech for Students with Dyslexia

Student using iPad to readTwo articles appeared recently on Edutopia, a free on-line education resource supported by the George Lucas Foundation. 

In The Benefits of Ear-Reading bDana Blackaby, a dyslexia specialist discusses the assistive technologies she uses to help students with dyslexia make gains in reading. In the article, Blackaby discusses her observations of several of her students with dyslexia using a technique she called “ear reading.” She describes this as, “a key strategy…having (the students) read along with audiobooks, which is beneficial in tying their emotional belief system directly to their academic performance.”

Blackaby goes on to note, “These students have made marked improvements in their reading skills and social behavior as a result of our structured literacy curriculum, my high expectations for their achievement, and their use of supplemental assistive technology resources. Through the structured literacy curriculum, I teach students to decode words in an explicit and systematic manner that focuses on phonology, sound-symbol association, syllable types, and syntax. In addition, this instruction is delivered in a multisensory way that is proven to build pathways to improve phonological memory.”

As a benefit she notes the following results:

After using these resources with fidelity, my students performed higher on state testing and demonstrated large strides in self-confidence. In our state assessments, 97 percent of my students who utilized audiobooks and text-to-speech software met the STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) reading standard.

Read the full article The Benefits of Ear-Reading on Edutopia…

The second Edutopia article Accommodating Students With Dyslexia, Jessica Hamman describes “five easy-to-implement accommodations can make class less stressful and more manageable for students with dyslexia.” The five accommodations include access to audio books, note-taking apps, as well as encouragement for students to utilize text-to-speech technologies.

Read the full article: Accommodating Students With Dyslexia on Edutopia…

 

How to Check A Website for Accessibility – webinar resources posted

Website - construction sceneThe video and resources for the October 29th webinar, “How to Check A Website for Accessibility” have been posted. Here is the link to the recording and resources…

The webinar utilized the newly acquired Zoom Webinar platform and captioning services of Kaltura streaming. We are continuing to refine and enhance the quality of this service.

If you have difficulties with the content, please feel free to contact us for support.

Described and Captioned Media Program

Blind boy using Braille embosserThe Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) provides premium media designed for students with disabilities and leads as a resource for families and teachers, supported by the Department of Education.

DCMP’s mission is to promote and provide equal access to communication and learning through described and captioned educational media.

The ultimate goal of the DCMP is for accessible media to be an integral tool in the teaching and learning process for all stakeholders in the educational community, including students, educators and other school personnel, parents, service providers, businesses, and agencies.

The DCMP supports the U.S. Department of Education Strategic Plan for 2014-2018 by committing to the following goals:

  • Ensuring that students (early learners through Grade 12) who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind have the opportunity to achieve the standards of academic excellence.
  • Advocating for equal access to educational media as well as the establishment and maintenance of quality standards for captioning and description by service providers.
  • Providing a collection of free-loan described and captioned educational media.
  • Furnishing information and research about accessible media.
  • Acting as a gateway to Internet resources related to accessibility.
  • Adapting and developing new media and technologies that assist students in obtaining and using available information.

The Described and Captioned Media Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the National Association of the Deaf.

Please visit DCMP for more information…

Maine DOE Launching a New Website

Maine DOE logoThe Maine Department of Education will be launching a new website on Friday, September 28, 2018. Over the course of the summer months, Department staff have been working on updating and re-writing website content for a new website that features an improved search function, a user-friendly interface, and a content management system which will allow Department staff to keep content updated and timely.

The new website will replace the current website found at maine.gov/doe. It will have a similar, yet new, look and feel.

It is important to note that those who have bookmarked links to the Department’s current website may need to re-save their bookmarks when the new website is released because there will be some pages that have a different website address.

To ensure that the field and the public can find information on the new website on Friday and going forward, please send all inquiries, comments, concerns, and questions related to the website to doe.webmaster@maine.gov.

For further questions about the launch of the new website, please contact Maine Department of Education Director of Communications, Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov.

Resources to Support Adaption of Assistive and Instructional Technology

The Center on Technology and Disabilities (CTD) recently published a newsletter highlighting some of their publications related to education. Among those resources:

Implement Assistive Technology and Instructional Technology

EducationFuture Ready Assistive Technology: Fostering State Supports for Students with Disabilities – This report provides insights into the current state and future of assistive technology as well as resources to support your work.

AT and IT: Where are we headed? – This new infographic outlines the technology landscape, and what it means for state and district leaders, and teachers.

Technology Implementation Strategies that Work! – Watch this video series to learn more about the critical processes necessary to effectively support technology implementation in your district or school.

Understanding Assistive Technology: Policy and Implications for State Leaders – Assistive technology (AT) is an essential part of your overall technology plan. Watch this webinar to learn more about the legal requirements for AT, different types of AT supports, and the role of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

Contact the CTD Technical Assistance Lead for SEA/LEA support, Kristin Ruedel – KRuedel@air.org.

For more information, visit CTD on the web!

Online Toolkit Supporting the Selection of Quality Instructional Materials

SETDA Releases Updated Online Toolkit Supporting the Selection of Quality Instructional Materials

From Print to Digital: Guide to Quality Instructional Materials

refreshable braille displaySeptember 11, 2018 (Washington D.C.) Today, SETDA, the principal membership association representing the U.S. state and territorial digital learning leaders announced the release of updates for the online tool, From Print to Digital: Guide to Quality Instructional Materials. Developed in collaboration with state and district digital learning leaders, instructional materials directors and academic officers, this guide provides states, districts and schools with research, resources and exemplars to support selection of quality instructional materials for learning. The Guide to Quality Instructional Materials provides information to establish or enhance state level review processes and provides guidance to districts for both core-content and supplemental resources, including print and digital resources. In this toolkit, SETDA identifies and explains the key steps in this process — planning, considerations, selection, professional learning, effectiveness. In addition, comprehensive state snapshots provide an overview of the state instructional materials review process for multiple states.

“Expanding this useful tool provides additional resources for states, Local Education Agencies and schools regardless of state procurement policies so that every student has access to quality materials for learning,” stated Dr. Tracy Weeks, Executive Director, SETDA. “Collaborating with state leaders from a variety of agencies, the private sector and other organizations helps ensure quality materials are purchased and procured to best meet the needs of all students.”

“As school districts and educators in Oregon shift to innovative, well rounded and personalized learning experiences, high-quality digital instructional materials are critical. SETDA’s guide supports state and district leaders to help ensure that digital materials are high quality, equity focused, and aligned to state standards,” shared by Colt Gill, Director, Oregon Department of Education. To access the most recent webinar highlighting the tool’s updates visit “From Print to Digital: Discover and Implement Quality Instructional Materials for Learning.” 

Online Community: Complementing this resource is a new online community of practice to provide policy makers, school administrators, leaders and educator with a better understanding of policies and practices related to digital instructional materials. The community, Essential Elements for Digital Content, is free and open to the public. The community will engage in and encourage dialogue about the shift to digital including the vetting process, accessibility, professional learning, OER, procurement, implementation and infrastructure. Use this link to access the online community…

About SETDA

Founded in 2001, SETDA is the national non-profit association representing the interests of U.S. state and territorial educational technology leadership. SETDA’s mission is to build and increase the capacity of state and national leaders to improve education through technology policy and practice. For more information, please visit setda.org.

New and Updated AEM resources from NC-AEM

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials logoThe following new and revised publications are now available on-line from the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials:

Procuring Accessible Digital Materials

Accessibility of digital materials and technologies for all learners, including students with disabilities, has captured the attention of stakeholders on both sides of the education marketplace – from consumers to developers. To help all stakeholders take advantage of this moment, a new AEM Center publication on the procurement of accessible digital materials explains what accessibility means, why it’s important, who requires it, and how educational agencies can meet their responsibilities.

Use this link to view/download, “Procuring Accessible Digital Materials and Technologies for Teaching and Learning: The What, Why, Who, and How”

Accessible Educational Materials and Technologies in the IEP

Originally published in 2015, this 2018 update of Accessible Educational Materials and Technologies in the IEP discusses a number of locations in the IEP where it might be appropriate to refer to a student’s use of AEM. Did you know there’s no specific requirement in IDEA regarding where to include AEM in developing the IEP? This article provides guidance for states, districts, and IEP teams. Two of the authors presented a webinar on AEM in the IEP in early May.

Use this link to view/download, “Accessible Educational Materials and Technologies in the IEP”

NC-AEM offering accessibility training to k-12 educators

Making Everyday Curriculum Materials Accessible for All Learners

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials logoThe National AEM Center invites new K-12 educators to participate in a free professional development opportunity to improve the accessibility of the materials students use for learning. Many students with disabilities experience barriers to using curriculum materials due to physical, sensory, or learning disabilities. The outcome of the offered professional development is that you will improve students’ access to the same curriculum materials as their classmates. 

For this learning opportunity, educators in their first, second, or third year of teaching are being targeted, however, all interested participants are welcome. Small groups from the same school or district are encouraged.

Open Registration is 5/8/18 – 2/5/19: Participant need only register once during the open registration period and are welcome to do so at any time.

Topics

Five topics have been selected for online modules related to providing accessible classroom materials. The five topics are directly relevant to the curricular materials you use with students on a daily basis:

One topic will be introduced every seven weeks, with varied options for independent practice between them. Participants will select activities according to the time and effort you choose to commit; based on your choices, the time commitment will range from approximately one to three hours per seven-week topic. AEM Center staff will hold virtual office hours to support practice between topics, and participants will have the option to learn from one another over social media. 

Please use this link for more information and register for this free training…

New Website Accessibility Technical Assistance Initiative from US-DOE

Website - construction sceneMAY 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today announced it is launching a new technical assistance initiative to assist schools, districts, state education agencies, libraries, colleges and universities in making their websites and online programs accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Through webinars, OCR will provide information technology professionals with vital information on website accessibility, including tips for making their online programs accessible. The initiative announced today, on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, builds on OCR’s history of providing technical assistance on this issue to hundreds of stakeholders.

“As more educational opportunities are delivered online, we need to ensure those programs, services and activities are accessible to everyone,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, “OCR’s technical assistance will help us continue to forge important partnerships with schools for the benefit of students and parents with disabilities.”

OCR will offer the first three webinars on the following dates:

Webinar I: May 29, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Webinar II: June 5, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT
Webinar III: June 12, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. EDT

If you are interested in participating in any of these webinars, please send your request to OCRWebAccessTA@ed.gov; include your name, preferred webinar and contact information. You are encouraged to invite your vendors to attend these webinars.

Information regarding the scheduling and registration for additional webinars is available on the Department’s website…


Photo credit: Image licensed through Creative Commons by medithIT