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RE: Strategies for Disabled People

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 1999 12:50:10 -0400
Message-Id: <199907302307.TAA38292@relay.interim.iamworld.net>
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
You have agreed on the "modal diversity" macro-principle.  

For what it's worth, the Model:View:Controller concept set that the Java
people use in describing their world works well to help marry the index
cards that work with automated implementation.  The learning goals go in
the model, the ways to experience and master these goals are diverse and
spread by 'view' which are sampled and sequenced differently for different
"learning styles."  

A learning style can be related to this kind of model as a natural gesture,
a pattern that includes a sequence of transactions.  People with a
particular learning style tend to absorb material better or faster when
they cover the bases in this order.  Each transaction is conducted in one
or another view but to make sure the student controls the [vocabulary of
the] model, they have to experience it in transactions through multiple
views and in situations where the view offers less and less in the way of
prompts or training wheels.

This last sentence illustrates another principle that I suspect you would
agree on, which I will term "even strain."

This is a term I learned from one of my Maine Yankee friends.  To take an
even strain on a rope means to apply useful force without killing yourself
or suddently falling over if the rope yields to your pull.  I claim it
represents Chuck's remarks about challenging the student just enough.
Don't fail to challenge them, don't leave them in the dust.  Teachers
understand the process of weaning students from props and helps, so that
they more deeply internalize the model and can operate more independently
across a wider domain of application.

There is a tension between building-in lots of helps that can be called up
at the reader's whim (such as we advocate in universal accessibility) and
maintaining an even strain in the sense of the teacher managing the degree
of challenge posed by the material presented to the student.

For a production-quality teaching system, it needs to make reasonable
accomodation by lateral mobility through the view diversity while still
preserving an even strain whether testing or just presenting material for
the student to learn.

The key to the success of the "student empowerment" philosophy practiced at
WCER is that people like to learn.  Students get engaged and will seek
challenge if they have a positive self-image of themselves as capable of
surmounting challenge. Putting a lot of the challenge-management in the
hands of the learner can have very effective results.  But the teacher or
coach still has to participate to make sure the skills vocabulary is being
covered and help maintain that even strain.




A Video about the "Geometry by Design" instructional unit developed there.

At 08:36 AM 7/30/99 -0400, Anne Pemberton wrote:
>	Thanks for the references. Much of what I read confirms what I've done in
>practice over the years using "Learning Styles" theories as guidelines to
>develop the broad range of instructional approaches necessary to maximize
>learning for each student in class. Early learning style theories suggested
>presenting information only in the "strongest" modality, but putting that
>into practice brought about the need to provide a class with presentations
>in a variety of modality. What CAST identifies as "Universal Design for
>Learning" is what has been happening in Learning Styles classrooms and

>schools for over a decade. I would enjoy discussing this in depth with you
>off the list. 
>CAST does an excellent job of translating the modality variation needed
>into "high tech" vs the paper-based ways of the past. Unfortunately,
>learning style theorists, including my favorite, Rita Dunn, hasn't updated
>her classroom suggestions to high tech, and are still based on reams of
>index cards. CAST seems to be filling this void. 
>Again, I welcome any suggestions or additions to the list of Strategies. 
>			Anne	
>At 10:14 PM 7/29/1999 -0400, Chuck Hitchcock wrote:
>>I would suggest caution when proposing theoretical models and strategies
>>have yet to be validated by research, especially within the field of
>>Disabilities.  As you may know, there are many unusual and
>>approaches based on questionable neuroscience.
>>It is not that I disagree with what you are suggesting, it's just that
you or
>>I can find 20 approaches for dealing with each combination of learning
>>"differences" and under selected  situations, any one may be the best
>>In general, providing multiple representations of information is a good
>>practice, as you suggest.  I am not so sure that I would relate
>>tactile-kinesthetic with interactivity on a web page unless one is using a
>>force feedback mouse.  Providing for engagement and multiple means of
>>is always a good idea.  Attention span and content organization are
>>for everyone, especially for those with learning disabilities, as you point
>>Thinking of learning as primarily visual or auditory has been put on the
>>burner in most scientific circles.  The same applies to hemispheric
>>preferences.  Current thinking about these topics arise primarily from an
>>evaluation of brain activity or glucose burning during various learning
>>CAST is collaboratively writing a book with a bent towards current research,
>>new information provided by neuroscience, and implications for learning.  We
>>have been using the term "Universal Design for Learning (UDL)" for a few
>>now.  Check out the CAST website at www.cast.org for additional background
>>information and proposed UDL Principles.  There are a few pages of
>>background too.
>>You may also want to look at the recent literacy development related
>>findings presented at the National LD Research Summit sponsored by the
>>National Center on Learning Disabilities, the US Department of Education,

>>the National Institute of Health in Washington.  The NIH is devoting
>>to medical, scientific and educational research to move the field forward so
>>that our work is grounded in research findings.  You can review a summary of
>>the findings at http://www.ncld.org/summit99/keys99-top.htm.  I was
>>with the speakers and the findings.
>>A few topic headings from web page follows:
>>Keys to Successful
>>Learning: A National Summit on Research in Learning Disabilities
>>Executive Summaries include:
>>The NICHD Research Program in Reading Development, Reading Disorders and
>>Reading Instruction
>>A Summary of Research Findings;
>>National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, National
>Institutes of
>>Improving Instruction for Students With Learning Disabilities: The
Results of
>>Three Research Syntheses;
>>Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services,
>>Office of Special Education Programs, Research to Practice, U.S.
>Department of
>>Two Decades of Research in Learning Disabilities
>>Reading  Comprehension, Expressive Writing, Problem Solving, Self-Concept;
>>National Center for Learning Disabilities
>>See ya,
>>Chuck Hitchcock, Director
>>Universal Design Lab (UDL)and
>>Product Development,
>>CAST, Inc.,
>>39 Cross Street, Peabody, MA 01960
>>Voice 978 531-8555
>>TTY 978 531-3110
>>Fax 978 531-0192
>Anne L. Pemberton
>Enabling Support Foundation
Received on Friday, 30 July 1999 19:07:10 UTC

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