In the Phoenix Reading Project, Jerry Powell, a special education teacher at Sugar-Salem High School in Sugar City, Idaho, is using scan/read technology to help his students successfully complete reading assignments and exams in their core academic classes. Students with a variety of disabilities that include learning disabilities, health impairments, hearing impairments, autism spectrum disorders, and developmental disabilities have had increased access to textbooks and other printed material because of the hardware and software Mr. Powell purchased with his AccessSTEM Minigrant.
The students have access to several computers that are equipped with color scanners and the WYNN Wizard program, and they work collaboratively with the staff to scan their reading assignments from textbooks or class handouts. Once the documents are available electronically, they can be read aloud with WYNN Wizard or WYNN reader. Additionally, the audio files can be saved in MP3 format, which allows the students to take portions of the text with them. Once scanned and converted to electronic text, the textbooks and handouts are saved and are available for use by multiple students.
Mr. Powell's use of technology with his students is a promising practice because it allows the students to access information that would otherwise be difficult or impossible for them to obtain. A survey of the students using the technology indicated that 60% of the students who used the scan/read software for their reading assignments would not have completed the assignments without the use of technology. Their access to this technology lead to higher grades and increased self-confidence.
For more information on technology and resources for individuals with disabilities, consult Working Together: People with Disabilities and Computer Technology or view the video by the same title. Additional resources on electronic and information technology and universal design can be found in Technology and Universal Design.
AccessSTEM mingrants were funded under The Alliance for Students with Disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (AccessSTEM, Research in Disabilities Education award # HRD-0227995).