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Free Internet Resources

by Allan Wilson

on Wed Oct 28, 2009

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There are some incredible resources available free on the internet these days. (We like to think we have some pretty incredible resources available on our web sites, too, e.g. WordTalk and The Scottish Voice.) Here are a couple of American sites that I have come across recently and which are definitely worth looking at:

Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative (WATI)

WATI was funded by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction until 2009 and is now run as a volunteer network of assistive technology consultants in Wisconsin. They have chosen to make some great free resources available from their web site:

  • Assessing Students' Needs for Assistive Technology. This is a massive (500+ pages) reference providing useful information on assessing a student for assistive technology. Chapters cover such topics as 'AT for Seating, Positioning and Mobility', 'AT for Communication', 'AT for Computer Access', 'AT for Mathematics', 'AT for Writing', 'AT for Reading' and much more. Materials can be downloaded in PDF, Word and PowerPoint versions. The assessment strategies are generally based on the SETT (Student, Environment, Tasks, Tools) approach, that is popular in the USA, and which can easily be transferred to the UK.
  • Assistive Technology Supports for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This provides checklists for assessing a student's needs and abilities and suggests strategies for identifying the most suitable assistive technology and resources for a student. There is a particular emphasis on the use of augmentative and alternative communication.
  • DESK (Designing Environments for Successful Kids). This book looks at the design of a suitable environment for children with disabilities at different stages of their educational development.

National Centre on Universal Design for Learning

The National Centre, based in Maine, was set up to promote the idea of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), i.e. a flexible approach to curriculum design that offers all learners full and equal opportunities to grow. Much of the work on UDL is echoed by recent legislation in the UK, including the Disability Discrimination Act and requirements for local authorities to have Accessibility Strategies in place for school education, covering not just physical access, but also access to the curriculum,  and improved communication within the school. The web site provides detailed guidelines, backed up by research, based on three primary principles for Universal Design for Learning:

  1. Provide Multiple Means of Representation;
  2. Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression;
  3. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement.

The Principles are broken down into Guidelines and then Checkpoints, with detailed resources and examples provided for each Checkpoint.

Tags: resources, inclusion

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