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RE: Strategies for Disabled People

From: Chuck Hitchcock <chitchcock@cast.org>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 22:14:24 -0400
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NBBBKAJEGLHENOJJCLGHEEEJEAAA.chitchcock@cast.org>

I would suggest caution when proposing theoretical models and strategies that
have yet to be validated by research, especially within the field of Learning
Disabilities.  As you may know, there are many unusual and yet-to-be-validated
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 control
is always a good idea.  Attention span and content organization are important
for everyone, especially for those with learning disabilities, as you point

Thinking of learning as primarily visual or auditory has been put on the back
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 tasks.
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 years
now.  Check out the CAST website at www.cast.org for additional background
information and proposed UDL Principles.  There are a few pages of theoretical
background too.

You may also want to look at the recent literacy development related research
findings presented at the National LD Research Summit sponsored by the
National Center on Learning Disabilities, the US Department of Education, and
the National Institute of Health in Washington.  The NIH is devoting resources
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 impressed
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
Received on Thursday, 29 July 1999 22:13:29 UTC

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