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RE: Strategies for Disabled People

From: Anne Pemberton <apembert@crosslink.net>
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999 16:50:21 -0400
Message-Id: <>
To: "Chuck Hitchcock" <chitchcock@cast.org>, <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
At 03:06 PM 7/30/1999 -0400, Chuck Hitchcock wrote:
>Hi again Anne,
>I do want to point out what I consider to be a major difference between the
>"learning styles approach" and "Universal Design for Learning" in education.
>Today, we are mostly in a phase that I describe as "curriculum modification".
>In other words, we take what exists and modify it or apply some special tool
>to it so that it is more flexible or better suited to some individual need.
>We turn books into digital books then use our special engines to make them

Most of learning styles is directed to changing the classroom presentation
of whatever curriculum is being followed. In Virginia, we have a
state-supplied "curriculum" known as the Standards of Learning (SOLs) which
cover the specifics of the academic subjects from K-12. Check them out at:
(I share them with pride since folks who evaluate states' educational
efforts put VA at the head of the class for our SOLs. You'll notice as you
read them they were updated 2 yrs ago to include technology objectives for
students.) Will the curricular modifications that CAST is developing be
useful to teachers and students in Virginia? 

>Universal Design for Learning implies that the pedagogy, practices,
>curriculum, materials, and environment are inherently flexible from the
>For example, textbooks are delivered both as books (maybe) and as electronic
>versions with built-in single and multiple switch scanning, size adjustments,
>contrast adjustments, text to speech with synchronized highlighting,
>navigation aides, links to reference materials, organizational tools, summary
>tools, expressive opportunities, interactions in multiple media, branching
>special interests, and much more. 

A practical question. What is available currently for children in the
lowest grades. I've had no luck finding e-texts of literature below about
fifth grade level. I need about 36 e-text stories (classical or modern
children's literature) appropriate for 3rd graders, and another 36 e-text
stories for 4th graders. Have you and CAST found sources I've missed????

We also like the idea of "half-full"
>curriculum materials where teachers and students can modify, localize and
>enrich the content and activities.

As I envision "half-full" it is half-developed. Fully-developed curricular
materials can be modified, localized and enriched, but half-full materials
would be only half as useful. Perhaps it's just the wording. 

>We know how to do this for access by those with sensory and physical
>disabilities but still have much to learn about how best to do it for those
>with cognitive differences or disabilities.  

There is much to learn. But it is likely that no one BEST way will emerge
that will satisfy the needs of all students, or adults with cognitive
differences. Among students with cognitive differences there are the full
range of learning styles and needs that must be accommodated along with the
cognitive differences. 

Of course, this is much easier to
>do when content is digital and we use technology tools.
>The main point is that it will be built in - not added on later

When it is developed, by your description, this would be an immense help in
reaching the cognitively different in the "regular" classroom as well as in
special settings. 

>By the way, CAST has just been awarded a 2.5 million dollar grant from DOE to
>deal with the issues related to learners with disabilities being denied
>to the same curricula that all kids have access to.

Congratulations!!!! That is a constant concern when kids need adaptations
that cannot be accomplished in a regular classroom. Too often, special ed
services in the lower grades are scheduled to preclude the student
attending social studies or science classes where the standard curriculum
is followed. This leads to a creaping loss of overall general knowledge as
the student moves up thru the system and lands more capable students in
self-contained content class in HS because they don't have the knowledge
foundation needed in the regular class.

As you know, this is
>important with regard to standards and high-stakes testing.  I will be
>directing the project along with other ongoing product development, research,
>and project management.  We just put a link on www.cast.org with a
>of the Center work and will be kicking it off in December.

Keep me current on your progress. 

If your work was already fait accompli, I would probably using it to
develop the two programs I'm working on, one for a 3rd grader going
homeschooling, and the other a 5th grader with moderate dyslexia and severe
dysgraphia (with the typical differences in perceptions and cognition) who
will be tutored with the goal of bringing her up to grade level in reading
but allowing her to remain as much as possible in class with her peers.
Both children are technology-rich at home but not at their local schools.
We've got encyclopedias, dictionaries, games, and drills, but no
reading/literature texts. 

>Others on the list should perhaps indicate if this level of discussion should
>be taken off line.  I have a feeling that it is very pertinent to the next
>level of development for guidelines.  

I will follow the consensus either way. I can yammer away on educational
philosophy/s from the perspective of a user of educational philosophies and
theories. I'm also a teacher who used the Internet to help cognitively
disabled students improve their reading and writing skills back when the
Internet was all e-mail and gopher. Lacking tools now availiable and coming
into development, I read most incoming mail to the students, often
re-reading it and explaining it, then leading a discussion on how to reply,
and assisting the student elected to do the keyboard to type in what was
decided on. How much of what I once had to do can now be automated by the

We need to keep an eye on the Open eBook
>standard, EBX, and new tools for the delivery of content in flexible learning
>environments.  The W3C could play a critical role in how content is prepared
>and presented by educational publishers and others who prepare material to
>enhance learning.

Hope so!!!!

Anne L. Pemberton
Enabling Support Foundation
Received on Friday, 30 July 1999 16:39:19 UTC

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