A Focus on Supporting Special Populations & Accessibility

To help schools and districts in supporting the needs of all learners, Hoonuit by Atomic Learning has developed specialized online learning resources on a variety of topics, including special populations and accessibility. Whether you are looking to implement the latest technologies and instructional strategies to support Gifted and Talented learners, or provide additional support for those with learning disabilites, Atomic Learning can help!

Sample topics include:

How Hoonuit Can Benefit Your District: Instruction

Hoonuit by Atomic Learning offers professional learning designed to meet the unique needs of schools and districts—including top concerns that teachers and instructional coaches, as well as paraprofessionals, substitute teachers and special education staff, may have.

We've gathered a few of our favorites, that we thought you might be interested in:

Teachers & Instructional Coaches
Provide on-going opportunities to build skills, gain confidence, and ensure instruction is relevant to today’s classroom with:
   -  Support for Struggling Readers
   -  Differentiation Techniques and Basics
   -  Classroom Management Strategies

Paraprofessionals
Enable paras to better support students with on-demand learning resources on:
   -  Career and Soft Skills
   -  Tech How-to Resources
   -  Assistive Tech Resources

Substitute Teachers
Help subs support students in and out of the classroom with courses on:
   -  Classroom Management  
   -  Career and Soft Skills
   -  Tech How-to Resources

Special Education Staff
Ensure barrier-free learning for students with special needs, as well as provide support to teachers with specialized resources:
   -  Tech for Students with Learning Disabilities
   -  Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA)
   -  Online Accessible Courses

11 Strategies to Support Students with Disabilities


This article is based on the upcoming Helping Students with Disabilities Succeed course being developed for Atomic Learning by Dr. Theresa Kiley, a former Associate Professor at Argosy University and Western Illinois University, published author, and education conference keynote speaker.  (More about Dr. Kiley.)

Working with students with disabilities can be rewarding, yet challenging. In many situations, a student’s disability is not easily observed. To add to the difficulty, there are a variety of disabilities that general education teachers can often encounter. Regardless, preparing to teach students with disabilities and diverse characteristics is essential for all educators.  Schools must provide academic opportunities for these students that are equivalent to those provided for their nondisabled peers.

To help, here are eleven strategies to help teachers support students with disabilities:

ADD/ADHD

As the number of individuals being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD continues to rise, the need for lessons that are accessible for all students is also increasing. We invite you to consider these suggestions developed by Universal Design:

  1. Provide important information in both oral and written formats.
     
  2. Provide printed materials early in the course to allow students time to read the texts and reference any available software.
     
  3. Avoid last-minute assignment or additional assignments after distributing the course syllabus.

Memory Loss

Memory problems associated with learning disabilities can interfere with storage of new information, as well as the ability to retrieve that information at a later time. In order to assist students with memory issues, here are a few suggested strategies:

  1. Allow students to access memory devices such as lists of background information (e.g., formulas or dates) to be used in problem solving or essay writing.
     
  2. Have students create realistic timelines when studying for tests. Test dates should be listed on a large wall calendar and dates and times reserved for studying should be clearly visible.

Executive Functioning

A few characteristics of students who struggle with executive functioning would be poor time management and planning skills. They may also struggle with paying attention and staying focused. Here are a few strategies to help overcome these barriers:

  1. Help students develop effective schedules that allow them to monitor task completion.  Avoiding procrastination is key.

Dept. of Education Sends a Reminder on Accessibility

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education sent a "Dear Colleague" letter to the national charter schools emphasizing their obligations to students under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act even though they are not federally funded.
 
The letter stems from a report published by the Government Accountability Office which found that charter schools have a lower percentage of students with disabilities.
 
Just 8% compared to the 11% average at traditional public schools.
 

New Assistive Technology Series: After the Assessment by Gayl Bowser

This video is a sneak peak of Gayl Bowser's professional development series on using assistive technology when working with students that have special education needs. A special focus is on the Four Aspects of Competent AT Use by Janice Light: Operational, functional, strategic, and social skills. The full series focuses on applying these skills when utilizing assistive technology. The full series will be released later this month.

Free Webinar: Panel Discussion on Special Education and iPads Part 3

Atomic Learning invites you to attend the third (and final) webinar in a series of show and tell panel discussions. As did the previous 2 panel discussions, this webinar will allow you to learn more about the impact of iPads on students with special needs, provide the opportunity for you to ask about implementation tips or app features, and share what you have learned from your experience. The stories being shared may be in the form of classroom experience, a white paper, or a case study about a specific student's special needs.

Introducing Ethan Och: Webinar Special Guest

Great things are happening in our Atomic Catalyst courses, which cover a variety of topics. One of the courses, Intro to the iPad for Students with Special Needs, offers a monthly webinar with a panel of experts, class participants, and others who are interested in collaborating ideas. The webinars allow participants to learn more about the impact of iPads on students with special needs, provide the opportunity to ask about implementation tips or app features, and share what they have learned from personal experience.

Free Webinar: Panel Discussion on Special Education and iPads Part 2

Last month, Atomic Learning hosted the first in a series of three show and tell webinar series. The webinars allow you to learn more about the impact of iPads on students with special needs, provide the opportunity for you to ask about implementation tips or app features, and share what you have learned from your experience. The stories being shared may be in the form of classroom experience, a white paper, or a case study about a specific student's special needs.

Why 508 Compliance Matters

Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was enacted in 1998 to eliminate barriers in technology for individuals with disabilities. The intent was also to make new opportunities available for people with disabilities. While the law focused on Federal agencies, the requirements go beyond Federal government contracts to extend to any educational venue using public funds as stated in the follow up memorandum written in 2011 from the U.S. Department of Educations’ Office of Civil Rights clarifying it's 2010 "Dear Colleague" letter to college and university officials reminding them to guarantee all students equal opportunity in the classroom.  
 
Section 508 standards cover : 
  • Software Applications and Operating Systems
  • Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications 
  • Telecommunications Products
  • Videos or Multimedia Products

Free Webinar: Panel Discussion on Special Education and iPads

Atomic Learning invites you to attend the first in a series of three show and tell webinar panel discussions on Thursday, February 28th. The webinars will allow you to learn more about the impact of iPads on students with special needs, provide the opportunity for you to ask about implementation tips or app features, and share what you have learned from your experience. The stories being shared may be in the form of classroom experience, a white paper, or a case study about a specific student's special needs.
 
We are excited to welcome panelists:
  • Megan Shanley from Albuquerque Public Schools and author of assistivetechworld.net.
  • Gayl Bowser Coordinator of the Oregon Technology Access Program and assistive technology consultant.

Why is Accessibility Important?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was a groundbreaking piece of legislation. It helped students with special needs get the education they deserve. Since then, technology has made it even easier for kids to show their full potential.

This video shows how iAuthor helped a very special student, Ethan Och, who has spinal muscular atrophy. Check out the cool report on guitars Ethan produced using tech tools. 

Upcoming Atomic Catalyst PD Course

Using the iPod and iPad™ in special education is a growing trend. But how do you get started, what is the potential, and what strengths do students need in order to be successful users of this technology? This course will answer those questions and participants will walk away with an implementation plan for a student or classroom to ensure successful use of these technologies.

Providing Resources for Parents of Disabled Students

For parents raising students with disabilities, finding necessary support can be challenging. In Minnesota, we are lucky to have the PACER Center. The PACER Center is primarily parents helping parents; a great collection of resources help parents navigate the challenges faced by special needs kids.

Assistive Technology Vendors Partner to Promote Accessible Instruction for all

In honor of National Disability Awareness Month, Atomic Learning along with assistive technology partners Crick Software, PALM, and TextHELP are encouraging educators to take a pledge to provide accessible instruction to reach all learners. 

 There are 6.5 million children with disabilities in the U.S, and about 95% of publishing output is not accessible. As one disabled student shared,

Special Education Complaints Set a Record

A recent EdWeek blog article reflects on a report from the US Department of Education's office regarding an increase in complaints about special education, setting a record for having received more complaints than ever before in a three-year period. The article states:
 

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