2002 Conference Proceedings

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THE INTERNET - BREAKING LITERACY BARRIERS FOR PEOPLE WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES

Renee Clark, Western Regional Manager
Freedom Scientific - Learning Systems Group
NASA Ames Moffett Complex, Bldg. 23
P.O. Box 215
1-888-223-3344
http://www.freedomscientific.com/wynn

Summary:

This presentation will demonstrate how individuals with reading challenges can utilize the Internet as a tool for research, reading, and writing, using WYNN software.

From upper elementary school to college and beyond, research and writing is an important part of the educational process. Additionally, reading and studying literature is an integral part of a student's curriculum. However, reading literature, conducting research, including locating source material, reading the material, and organizing thoughts prior to writing is a daunting task for individuals with learning disabilities. Once information is collected, the actual process of writing can pose additional challenges. Using texts from the library and other hard-copy source materials presses on the exact weaknesses that so many people with processing difficulties face.

The Internet provides a wealth of information in virtually any subject area and can be an excellent source of classic literature and information for research. While this information can be of great convenience to any student or individual doing research, it can be an incredible resource to the special educator and the student who has difficulty with reading. Information in electronic format has a variety of benefits over hard copy information. Electronic information can be easily modified, incorporated into other documents, searched, and manipulated in a variety of ways. However, locating the relevant information and reading it in the visually complex world of the Internet poses additional barriers to individual with learning disabilities.

Using actual websites, this presentation will examine the entire process of locating subject matter, isolating critical information, and organizing that information prior to beginning the writing process, in an environment that is supportive to individuals with learning and processing differences. The Internet will be used to show the flexibility of electronic information to enhance research, reading, writing, and studying. Using the WYNN software from Freedom Scientific, Inc., this electronic information will be presented with auditory and visually enhanced feedback. A variety of tools will be demonstrated to assist with focus and comprehension of relevant research information, including WYNN's exclusive Web Focus( feature and talking dictionary. Additional strategies will be demonstrated to assist with creating categories of key points, organizing those ideas, and writing. Finally, a list of websites rich with educational material will be provided.

Using the WYNN software, electronic information gains a whole new level of flexibility in its ability to be modified and worked with. Worksheets, excerpts, even entire novels can be accessed on the Internet live, or brought into WYNN for further manipulation. Either way, this information can be customized to address the information processing needs of a person with reading challenges. Each individual is able to access this information in whatever modality, or combination of modalities, will work best with their learning style. Information is presented in a bi-modal format, so that the information can be seen and heard simultaneously. In addition, a variety of study strategies are built into WYNN that aid with comprehension and attention to specific details. WYNN enables the reading process to become an active process, rather than a passive process, increasing attention and comprehension for individuals with reading challenges. Giving the individual this type of control over a complex reading environment can also increase self-confidence, which can reinforce reading, studying, and comprehension skills.

Additionally, WYNN incorporates a variety of commonly used study strategies to increase comprehension. Vocabulary development, prioritizing key points, revisiting important concepts, and paraphrasing are easily accomplished using WYNN's built-in study strategies. For example, once text is brought into WYNN, key points or vocabulary words can be highlighted and excerpted into a separate document for studying. Additionally, information can be grouped by category and organized prior to writing.

In this presentation we will search the Internet for source material on a selected topic, isolate potentially relevant information, bring selected text into a WYNN document, organize the material, and use WYNN's writing tools to create a new document. We will modify the visual presentation of the information to address specific visual processing needs. We will employ WYNN's study strategies to demonstrate how comprehension of the material can be enhanced. We will harness the power of the Internet and present it with WYNN as a tool to break down literacy barriers and achieve educational success.


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