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RE: Strategies for Disabled People

From: Chuck Hitchcock <chitchcock@cast.org>
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 07:47:38 -0400
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NBBBKAJEGLHENOJJCLGHCEIEEAAA.chitchcock@cast.org>
Al Gilman wrote:
>This last sentence illustrates another principle that I suspect
>you would agree on, which I will term "even strain."

I like the expression "even strain".  It reminds me of our point about
challenge and resistance described in the third paragraph below.  I have
included the other text from the web page for context.

I should also note that we have begin work with the Council for Exceptional
Children to express our principles of universal design for learning in ways
that my be useful to teachers and curriculum developers.  Ultimately, this
will apply to web-based learning environments but educational issues like
resistance seem like a bit much to include in the next iteration of content
guidelines from WAI.  The CAST web page text that I have copied from below is:



Universal Design for Access and for Learning

Universal Design for Access
Applying universal design to learning materials and activities can increase
access for learners with wide disparities in their abilities to see, hear,
speak, move, read, write, understand English, attend, organize, focus, engage,
and remember. For example, history texts provided in standard print formats
are inaccessible to students who are blind and present barriers to students
who are dyslexic, or to students for whom English is a second language. The
same material in universally designed electronic form can offer options for
different learners: it can be read aloud by a computer or screen reader,
printed on a braille printer, offered in spoken or written translation, and/or
presented with highlighted main points and organizational supports.

Universal Design for Learning
Access to materials is necessary but not sufficient to achieve universal
design for learning. Non-educators often make the mistake of equating "access
to information" with "access to learning." Depending upon the goal of a lesson
or activity, increasing access can actually destroy the learning opportunity.
For example, if the goal is to teach word decoding to a student with dyslexia,
having the computer read all of the words aloud would probably be
counter-productive. On the other hand, if the goal is to convey science
concepts, having the computer read the text aloud could enhance the learning
opportunity for a student with dyslexia.

The athlete lifts weight to build muscle; the professional mover uses a dolly
to carry heavy objects. The learner more resembles the athlete than the
professional mover. Education requires challenge and resistance, and universal
design for learning requires careful attention to the goals of any given
learning experience. In fact, teachers practicing universal design for
learning find themselves questioning the way in which they conceptualize and
articulate assignments. Is the goal to write a story, or to create a
narrative? Is the instruction to write your name on the paper or to identify
your work? As in other applications of universal design, well executed
universal design for learning engenders constructive re-evaluation and
reformulation that ultimately benefits all learners.
Received on Tuesday, 3 August 1999 07:46:36 UTC

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