If you were Mr. Keurig, what would you want to know about students who have difficulty accessing print?
Page 2: Specialized Formats for Accessing Texts
It is generally true that teachers expect students with print disabilities and those without print disabilities to understand the same content. Accessible instructional materials are used to help eliminate the most frequent barriers that students with print disabilities experience when they try to gain access to the general education curriculum. Accessible instructional materials encompass four specialized formats that can be used to present curricular content:
A recorded version of text that can be listened to using an audio device.
Font or type that is considerably larger than usual.
A form of written communication developed for people who are blind in which text characters are represented by raised dots that are read by the fingertips.
A digital version of text that is accessed through electronic devices (e.g., a computer).
Of these, audio, large print, and braille are fixed formats, meaning they cannot be readily modified. For example, a large-print version of a book cannot be manipulated; it is static and therefore presents certain functional limitations. For instance, though such a book might prove beneficial for a student with low vision, it might not be of much use for a student who has a physical disability that makes the action of holding a book difficult or impossible.
In contrast to the other accessible instructional materials formats, electronic text (also known as e-text or digital text) is a flexible format that can be accessed in a variety of ways:
Hearing the text through the use of synthesized speech
Seeing the text on a computer or print-out
Hearing and seeing the text at the same time (multimodal)
An electronic device used to read text tactually. The refreshable display produces braille output.
Such flexibility means that students can choose the format that best meets their needs, such as large font, synthesized speech, or both. View the movie clips below to see students using electronic text in various ways.
Student: And Code Talker is my book I’m reading. And then you just change the tempo, how fast you want it, how slow, you know, and I’ll go about average and you just hit Play. And you just read along. [Computer reading: Listen my grandchildren, my grandchildren, you ask me about this medal of mine.] Every time it’s highlighted, I follow the word because there’s, like, something happening. It’s not just like a plain piece of paper with words. It’s actually something moving, you know, so it, like, helps me focus more.
Student: My name is Jessica Pinto. My grade is eighth grade, and I go to Kennedy Middle School. [Jessica reading] “On the street… She nearly imagined Mimi in a matching smock.” I like to keep the font size at twenty-four because that’s what I can see. It’s easier to read, and I think with Bookshare I’m reading faster.
Steven: On the VictorStream, there are different commands in each book, and one command is the Go To button. And you hit the Go To button, and it says go to page…let me see [VictorStream talking: Go to page…] And here there are numbers, you see, one through nine, well, one…well, zero through nine, and you press in the number. Let’s see, you press in [VictorStream talking: Two, five, nine.] and I hit the Confirm button, and it takes me right there to the top of the page. And I’m pretty sure ya’ll wonder how do I jump chapters and sections? One way I do that is, you see the arrow, the little arrow above the two and lower arrow below the eight? Those are direction buttons. Like, it’ll say those are different levels and, like, let’s see [VictorStream talking: Level Two.]. See, what Level Two does it [VictorStream talking: Chapter Ten.] takes me to the next chapter, if I don’t want… Oh wait, I need Chapter Eleven [VictorStream talking: Chapter Eleven.], and that’s how I get the chapters. And Level Three, it takes me to sections. And Level One, I don’t know what it does.
*The device Steven uses in this video is called the Victor Reader Stream.
Mrs. Shell, the IEP case manager, gives Mr. Keurig more information about digital text. The availability of textbooks in these alternate formats significantly increases students’ use of core curriculum resources. By offering adjustable features and mixed media, these accessible, flexible, alternate versions can help students to increase their engagement, attention, and achievement. Mrs. Shell also explains that electronically formatted books––commonly referred to as e-books or digital books––may have chapter headings, sections, page numbers, and text that are aligned to the book’s printed version, thus making it easier for students to easily follow along with a given lesson, regardless of which version they are using. However, unlike printed books, digital books are usually accessed through devices such as a computer or an electronic-book reader.
Listen as Betsy Burgess talks about e-text and the way in which students have access to technology (time: 1:05).
Betsy Burgess Former Director of Marketing, Bookshare Palo Alto, CA
I think more and more we are going to see e-text becoming a learning tool. The kids in school now grow up with their Wiis and their facebooks and their phones, they have phones at a very young age. And they are not sitting down and reading a traditional print book in the way they used to. If they are not reading a book and they are reading on a computer they are reading and they are learning, and they are learning about their world. And so I think more and more we have to reach students on their level with the technologies they’re familiar with and not try to force them to use tools they’re not comfortable with or they don’t enjoy. We think of all the kids today who are texting, and emailing each other all the time, and how their messages are just so, they’re cut short and they’re just full of all these little cute abbreviations and so literacy is changing in this country and we hope that Bookshare helps many more students gain literacy.
The assistive technology (AT) necessary to access digital text can be included in a student’s IEP. Listen as Vikki Vaughan discusses how her district considers special factors and accommodations during the development of IEPs (time: 1:22).
Devices and services that help a person with a disability to do something that he or she could not do otherwise.
Vikki Vaughan Vision Specialist Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
There’s several places in the IEP where the use of assisted devices are addressed. And when I say assistive technology or devices, that would include audio books, the digital players needed to play them, as well as software and materials. So under the category in the IEP, it’s called “Consideration of Special Factors for IEP Development,” and in the subcategory “Accommodations and Modifications,” the IEP team addresses the need for assistive technology to implement the goals and objectives of the IEP. And there’s also space there to actually list the specific technology needed, so you would list audio books, digital players, etc. The use of audio books and players is also found under the category in the IEP entitled “Materials, Audiotaped, Textbooks/ Materials.” And, on occasion, a student’s IEP will include provisions to instruct the student in the use of audio books and players under the page entitled “Goals and Objectives.” For example, we might have a goal that states, “The student will demonstrate proficiency in using a digital book player to access digital textbooks and recreational reading.”
In the case of Bonita and Steven, the IEP team has determined that digital text offers a solution to their print disabilities. Click on each of Mr. Keurig’s students below to learn about the considerations of special factors and accommodations in their IEPs.
Primary Disability: Orthopedic Impairment
Primary Disability: Visual Impairment
Bonita’s IEP: Consideration of Special Factors for IEP Development