1999 Conference Proceedings

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Betsy Bayha
Director, Technology Policy, World Institute on Disability

Suzanne Levine, M.A.
Project Coordinator, World Institute on Disability

Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on
Universal Telecommunications Access.
World Institute on Disability
510 Sixteenth St., Suite 100
Oakland, CA 94612

1. Introduction

Ready or not, the World Wide Web is here! A recent survey of schools across the United States shows the following:

2. Method

In an e-mail and telephone survey conducted by the World Institute on Disability in 1997, we talked to a number of K-12 teachers who use the Internet with their students. They told us, ³The Internet is like a Magnet.² The Internet motivates students to do reading and writing exercises, it opens a door on the world for students and it¹s fun for both students and teachers.

3. Barriers

In spite of these motivating factors, teachers still have problems using the Internet. Our survey identified the following barriers:

As the Internet becomes more prevalent in our educational system, there is increasing concern that students with disabilities may not be integrated into classroom-based Internet activities. Our survey also identified barriers specific to integrating disabled students including:

4. Solutions

What are some of the solutions teachers have found for improving access for all?

Many of these solutions improve access for a wide variety of student needs.

5. Successful Internet Strategies

Teachers who used the Internet successfully with their students gave us examples of how they used the technology.

Susan Dudley, a teacher at Carlyle High School in Illinois, developed an e-mail based mentoring program between disabled students in her high school class and nondisabled junior high school students in another town. ³The students on the other end didn¹t know my students as poorly behaved or disabled,² says Susan. Her students acted as behavior mentors to their junior high counterparts and in the process learned strategies for choosing appropriate behavior for themselves.

Betty Groesbeck, a fourth-grade teacher at Peter Boscow Elementary School in Oregon uses simple videoconferencing software to do pen pals projects around the world. She only has one computer in her classroom, but enlarges the screen for group learning by using a TV monitor. This strategy also provided greater access for a partially sighted student in her class.

Deborah Fell of Urbana High School in Illinois used a variety of software and hardware to make her computers ³talk.² She uses the Internet with students who have learning disabilities and has found that read-aloud software and the use of large monitors for font enlargement makes the Internet more accessible to her students.

6. What are Your Success Stories?

We are still collecting success stories from teachers who have used the Internet with disabled students and want to share their information with others. Send us e-mail at handbook@wid.org or send a fax to (510) 763-4109.

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