Stephanie Ludi and Tom Reichlmayr, software engineering professors at the Rochester Institute of Technology, are working to increase the participation of people with visual impairments in computing fields.
Many students have difficulty seeing the connections between the separate and distinct subjects presented in school. Students at all ability levels often ask, "Well, what does this have to do with that?" They wonder what the purposes of certain lessons or even entire subjects are. When students also struggle with a learning disability, which can make communication and comprehension even more challenging, it is no wonder they often disengage from the classroom.
Carol Blanc, a biology teacher at Pendleton High School in Pendleton, Oregon, is using multimedia equipment in the classroom to keep students engaged and to promote learning. Ms. Blanc teaches sophomores with a broad range of skills and abilities. She reports that 30% of her students are served under Individual Education Plans, due to cognitive, sensory, learning and organizational deficits.
Recognizing that cost and time often preclude one-by-one signing of even the most widely used instructional materials TERC, a not-for-profit education research and development organization, partnered with Vcom3D, the developer of the SigningAvatar accessibility software, to create the Signing Science Dictionary (SSD).
Deann Shillington, a special education teacher at Canfield Middle School in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho identified a need for intensive, direct instruction in basic skills to help improve her students' math performance. Ms. Shillington wanted to capitalize on the benefits that computer programs have to offer. In collaboration with DO-IT's AccessSTEM project, she acquired computers and a LCD projector.
All-Alaska Academy offers week-long transition camps for students with disabilities to aid them in their transition from secondary to postsecondary institutions or from school to work. Participants attend as part of a team from their district. Teams focus on fostering an academic learning experience for both students and educators.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), formerly classified as ADD or ADHD, may impact a student's classroom behavior and study skills. Some students with AD/HD will need accommodations to help them achieve academic goals. Students may be the best source of information about their needs; teachers should encourage student input on the best accommodations.
Tod Harris, a math and computer teacher at Maplewood Middle School in Edmonds, Washington, is committed to the universal design of classroom environments. His school serves students with visual impairments from throughout the district in general education classrooms. Some students were having difficulty accessing information projected on an overhead during class lectures and completing tasks in the math computer lab.
Kristie Alexander, a fourth-grade teacher at Captain Strong Elementary, is using technology to actively engage all students in her class, including those with learning disabilities, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), speech impairments, fine motor impairments, and Asperger's Syndrome.
The Boston Public School system is known for its commitment to incorporating technology and universal design into its public institutions and classrooms. In 2001 the Access Technology Center (ATC) moved into the Boston Public Schools' Office of Instructional Technology (OIT) to expand technology access and training opportunities for teachers.