1999 Conference Proceedings

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Books in a Box

Yvonne Romero, SLP
Assistive Technology Specialist
El Paso Independent School District
El Paso, TX

Lou Ann Rosario, M.Ed.
Assistive Technology Specialist
Region 19 Education Service Center
El Paso, TX


The acquisition of literacy skills is a key component of development for all children. Many children with disabilities find the acquisition of literacy skills difficult because their disabilities do not allow for easy access of written materials. Digitized access to written materials open many doors for those who cannot access the material in a traditional format. Computers with multiple access modes have become a vehicle through which literacy skills can be developed and expanded upon for children with disabilities. This project has taken the concept of expended digitized children's literature and developed it into units we call 'Books in a Box'.

Books in a Box as a Developmental Unit:

The concept of Books in a Box was developed through a collaborative effort between Region 19 Education Service Center and professionals working in the local school districts. The intent was to provide an alternate form of accessing children's literature and extension activities for those students with learning or physical disabilities.

The original units were developed around students in the HI-TEC (High Intensive - Technology Enhanced Communication) classroom in the El Paso Independent School District. Students placed in this classroom are non-verbal and have various degrees of physical disability. The goal of this classroom is to teach a language rich curriculum that enhances the students placement in regular education. An important component of the curriculum for this classroom, or any classroom, is reading and the ability to develop good communication skills in both written and oral modes.

Literature was chosen based upon readability, high interest and, for younger students, repeated lines. The books were then scanned and put into accessible formats using IntelliPics and Ultimate Kid Books software. Both of these softwares allow text to speech as well as tracking by word, sentence, paragraph or continual reading. All books were developed, stored on disk or compact disk and attached to the actual book. Digitized formats always accompanied the book.

Extension activities were developed to facilitate skill development in the areas of language (written and oral), comprehension, recall, main idea, sequence and other areas. Activities were developed based upon the needs of the students using the books. The extension activities were developed on various softwares that would facilitate multiple modes of access. Extension activities were constructed using Speaking Dynamically Pro, HyperStudio, IntelliPics, Overlay Maker, ClickIt, and Ke:nx. They were then used with the students and modified to make improvements.

When the story was digitized and the extensions were developed a movement specialist was given the materials to develop activities that would incorporate movement, music, art, and cooking at an appropriate age level. When this was completed the materials were placed in a box for loan to other educators or parents.

The 'Books in a Box' were intended to be a living project. When the box was lent to an educator or parent they were asked to add another idea for extension activities to the box before returning. This would allow for the creativity of others to be shared.

Development Steps:

1. Choose a book based upon its audience's needs.

2. Scan and develop the book into a digitized format that can be attached to the book.

3. Develop extension activities that use software and multiple access modes.

4. Develop extension activities that are not technology oriented.

5. Compile materials into a box that can be shared with others.


Cunningham, P., & Arlington, R. (1994). Classrooms that Work: They Can all Read and Write. New York: Harper Collins.

Galda, L., Cullinan, B., & Strickland, D. (1993). Language, Literacy, and the Child. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.

Musselwhite, C. & King-DeBaun, P. (1997). Emergent Literacy Success: Merging Technology and Whole Language for Students with Disabilities. Park City, UT: Creative Communicating/Birmingham, AL: Southeast Augmentative Conference Publications.

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