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…

 

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”

Grand plan for new e-publishing tool

From E-Access Bulletin…

“Born accessible” e-books is the grand plan for new e-publishing tool – A free tool to test e-book content for accessibility errors has been launched.

electronic books on various devicesThe ‘Ace’ tool has been developed by the DAISY Consortium, a global organisation working to improve and promote accessible publishing and reading. The aim is to improve e-book usability for a wider audience and eliminate the barriers to reading e-books encountered by people with disabilities.

Ace works by assessing content published in the widely used EPUB format. Automated checks are performed and accessibility issues are flagged-up in a report generated by the tool.

The hope is that the tool will assist the publishing industry and authors in creating e-books that conform to the EPUB Accessibility specification. Speaking to e-Access Bulletin, DAISY Consortium’s Chief Operating Officer Avneesh Singh said: “We expect the publishing industry to use Ace widely, integrate it in their production workflows and improve accessibility of all their publications over time, leading to ‘born accessible’ publications.”

However, Ace’s developers are keen to stress the tool’s limitations as well as its benefits. They point out that Ace performs only automated checks and does not provide a complete picture of all possible accessibility violations, and should therefore be used alongside other forms of testing and evaluation.

Read the entire article on  E-Access Bulletin…

Subscription to e-Access Bulletin is completely free. You will be sent a monthly, text-only email newsletter on the latest developments in digital accessibility and assistive technology. To subscribe please click through to their sign-up page at lists.headstar.com .

 

New Choice in Braille Transcription Software

This new product was recently announced by American Printing House for the Blind…

Person reading BrailleBrailleBlaster™ is a braille transcription program developed by the American Printing House for the Blind to help transcribers provide blind students with braille textbooks on the first day of class.

BrailleBlaster takes advantage of the rich markup contained in NIMAS (National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard) files to automate basic formatting and gives you tools to make advanced tasks quicker and easier. Designed primarily for editing textbooks that meet the specifications published by the Braille Authority of North America, the purpose of BrailleBlaster is to help braille producers ensure that every student has their hard-copy braille textbooks on the first day of class.

BrailleBlaster relies on Liblouis, a well-known open-source braille translator, for translating text and mathematics to braille.

Features include:

  • Translate braille accurately in UEB or EBAE
  • Format braille
  • Automate line numbered poetry and prose
  • Split books into volumes
  • Add transcriber notes
  • Describe images
  • Automate braille table of contents, glossaries, preliminary pages and special symbols pages
  • Automate a variety of table styles
  • Translate and edit single line math

The development of BrailleBlaster and modifications to Liblouis are part of the REAL Plan (Resources with Enhanced Accessibility for Learning). The REAL Plan is an ongoing initiative of the American Printing House for the Blind to improve the conversion and delivery of braille and other accessible formats to students who are blind.

Learn more about Braille Blaster…

AIM to AEM

The Maine Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM) Program is now the Maine Accessible Educational Materials (AEM) Program.

Accessible Educational Materials logoAlthough the Program’s mission is essentially the same, we have broadened our work to include a wider view. In the initial stages of the program, we focused on AIM, specifically the “specialized formats (Braille, large print, digital audio and electronic text)” identified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA04). Over the years, the Program has expanded to provide training and technical assistance on materials and communications used in schools including accessible digital documents and web sites. We have also expanded to provide assistance to colleges and universities and those offering services to people with disabilities in the workplace.

In summer of 2017, the Maine Department of Education revised section 3D (Considerations – Including Special Factors) of the official Individualized Education Program (IEP) form replacing AIM with AEM. While not changing IEP Teams’ obligations to consider Assistive Technology and AEM when developing the IEP, the terminology on the form is now consistent with this broadened view.

As we move forward, the Maine AEM Program will continue to provide training and technical assistance on issues related to the selection, acquisition and use of specialized formatted educational materials.

 

14 Million Digital Books Available To Print Disabled Users

electronic books on various devicesMore than 14 million digital books will soon be made available to blind and print-disabled users, thanks to a new collaboration involving the National Federation of the Blind and the HathiTrust Digital Library, a digital repository hosted at the University of Michigan.

When launched, the program will dramatically increase the availability of books for users who are blind or print-disabled. According to the NFB, currently less than 5 percent of all published works are estimated to be available to the blind, most of which are popular titles.

Over the coming year, NFB and HathiTrust will collaborate to plan and implement these services. User eligibility will be determined by criteria used by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and similar services authorized under U.S. law.

According to Furlough, HathiTrust currently provides a similar service to qualified print-disabled students at its member schools. The new program will expand this service to allow similarly qualified users not affiliated with HathiTrust schools access to full-text works in the HathiTrust collection.

NFB and HathiTrust, like the federally operated National Library Service, will lawfully and securely make books available to qualified people in the U.S. who have print disabilities.

Read the entire press release to learn more about this announcement…