2006 Conference General Sessions


Presenter #1
Izac Milstein Ross
3001 Veazey Terrace NW, #830
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 412-0946
Email: izac.ross@tech1d.net

Effective & efficient system-wide delivery model of assistive technology with compatible & universal curricula materials, enabling K-12
learning-challenged/disabled students to maximize their educational experience and opportunities.

For more than five years I have presented at numerous conferences, including CSUN’s Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conferences, conducted professional development/trainings, contributed to product development and
• testing, and more, to advance the critically important field of assistive technology.
As someone with severe specific learning and other disabilities, my life was changed by the “gift” of assistive technology, without which I could not function in any meaningful way. While these tools truly gave me a life, they have and will never “even the playing field;” this myth, too long perpetuated, prevents dissemination of what are “keys to entry” for a significant percentage of our population. Personally, I continue to struggle with many basic tasks that individuals without my disabilities perform with ease; utilizin9 these tools most are able to master previously impossible and unthinkable skills and tasks, although it may continue to require more time, energy, effort and focus. These tools allow users like me to develop and leverage our strengths and talents, which had been previously unrecognized. Both personally and professionally I can vouch for the fact that technology and assistive technology can provide opportunities that would not otherwise be possible.
During my years of work with schools, non-for-profit organizations, universities, families, product developers, and government agencies, I have radically altered my view on the models, practices, and methods for assistive technology distribution. The EDUCATE (Effective Delivery of universal Curricula via Assistive Technology for K—12 Education) model, introduced last year at CSUN and published in the December Leadership Issue of the Journal Insight, seeks to remedy the system-wide assistive technology inefficiencies that lead to academic failure, with particular emphasis on the most ignored populations: students with ‘invisible disabilities’ and literacy issues. The model is a new approach to the delivery of the essential tools and compatible curricula materials that support students, teachers, and staff.
Appropriate assistive technologies are central to providing educational access, program benefits, opportunity, and productivity for those with challenges and disabilities. With the ‘Effective Delivery of universal Curricula via Assistive Technology for K-12 Education’ Model, assistive technology bridges barriers,
, establishes a system-wide safety net (i.e. keep students in school and progressing), provides a high quality assortment of tools that will support the majority of diverse individual needs. This model is particularly focused and responsive to the unaddressed range of needs of those with “invisible disabilities” and language/literacy disabilities/issues and challenges when these students are supported, they quickly progress, gain confidence and hope, and everyone benefits!
with training and support, system-wide delivery and use of these tools provide for a culture of acceptance, becoming welcome standards in education, like the tools: word, PowerPoint, and Inspiration, within this model, these tools are viewed appropriately, as productivity tools allowing students to learn to learn and to demonstrate knowledge.
The E.D.U.C.A.T.E. model consists of several concrete steps towards implementation, the details of which will be the focus of this presentation. These steps consist of: Technology standardization, Assistive Technology standardization, creation and/or procurement of appropriate compatible universally designed curricula materials, training, and implementation.
Tremendous cost efficiencies and savings are realized from deploying through a coherent system-wide solution as described by the EDUCATE model. The duplicative labor and materials expenses incurred alone in developing compatible curricula materials, justifies consideration of this type of approach. Consider if every K-12 institution could draw current curricula from a single repository that is fully compatible with all assistive technology in use. Most schools, teachers, students and/or parents now bear this burden. It is a continuous “re-creation of the wheel” so to speak and a major additional obstacle. There are also tremendous cost efficiencies when purchasing software and even hardware in extremely large quantities versus the small or one-off purchases that are typical.
Implementing a system-wide model justifies the need for training staff, and the development of on-site expertise. These ‘onsite experts’ may take the form of specialists, community/parent volunteers, and/or the end-users themselves. Building training into the purchase agreement, as well as follow up is another way to extend scarce resources. Developing a system trouble shooting blog, volunteer support/help network, and on-line training videos will further cut costs and increase implementation and acceptance. Students empowered by these tools frequently
S appreciate the opportunity to instruct others in the use of “life giving tools.” This can be a win-win for all involved. The student trainer may for the first time experience competence in his/her provision of meaningful service, and understand that s/he has something of real value to offer; the recipient is more apt to relax and appreciate the personal understanding that comes from a trainer with similar challenges.
These and other ideas will be shared for training, support, cost efficiencies and model effectiveness. The presentation will cover •the appropriate development and selection of these EDUCATE Model standards. we will discuss product
interoperability, what types of software/hardware should be included in the standards as well as the process of training students and staff to use the software and/or hardware. In addition, production, conversion, and selection criteria for compatible curricula materials will be addressed.

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