Volume I Number 2, April 1994

Department: K-12

Bob Zehhausern
Executive Editor
Anne Pemberton
Managing Editor
Lois Elman
Information Editor
Michael Holtzman
Technology Editor
Sheila Rosenberg
Chatback Editor
Linda Scott
Networking Editor

Spring is Springing Up All Over

Anne Pemberton, Managing Editor

Ok, that is a bit trite, but as I write I'm looking out at daffodils, tulips and cherry blossoms, knowing that just out of sight is a new cloud of dogwood that has burst into bloom since morning...

In this issue, our fearless leader Bob Zenhausern, shares some thoughts on the difficult road traveled by LD kids and young adults. Next is a report on Albequerque, and followed by an announcement of an exciting opportunity for high schoolers. This section ends with the introductions and calls for assistance from Mike Holtzman, Technology Editor and Lois Elman, Information Editor. Next issue we will hear from Sheila Rosenberg, Chatback Editor, and Linda Scott, Networking Editor.

Editorial Statement

Bob Zenhausern

In August of 1991, I wrote an article on K-12 issues for a special disability-related edition of _Netweave Magazine_. There were two major themes in that paper and those same two themes will embody the editorial framework of the K-12 Department of _Information Technology and Disabilities_.

This Department will focus upon rehabilitation rather than remediation of educational disabilities. This is illustrated in the _Netweave_ article which began:

Learning Disability may be the only handicap in which the affected individual is held responsible for the problem. No one says to a blind child "If you try harder, you will be able to see." Rather we make accommodations for the specific disability and provide alternative approaches. We rehabilitate by teaching them to reach the same goals as the non-handicapped using alternative approaches, e.g. talking books, closed caption, and computers.

The LD child, on the other hand, is often accused of being lazy and not paying attention. The child is told, "If you work harder, you will see it".

Perhaps the best example of rehabilitation as opposed to Remediation can be seen in a series of e-mail messages I received from my nephew at college. Todd was an LD student who fought his way through the special education hoops and hurdles and is now enrolled in a 4 year college. Todd's first message:

School is fine. It is a lot harder then I thought it would be. I'm writing more papers then I did at my last college but I am learned alot more about writing papers so it's not to bad. I'm only takeing 3 class, but I end up having to put alot more time in each of my class then my roommates do just to get the same grades as they do. Sometime it gets to me and I don't feel like going on but I just remind my self of how far I have come and push on. My teachers are good this semester. I go to them alot for help and they set down with me and help me. I also go to the learning center ever day for help on writing. They have helped me get better grades on my papers then if I just did then my self.

A few days later I got the following message:

Hi remmber when I said that I have trouble studing 5 chapters at once well I have to do it for my Tuesday class. This is the class that I know what is going on but when it comes to takeing the test I don't do as well as I want. I know what the problem is. I have trouble remmbering tec words. I can tell you what is going on but sometimes that does not help on a test because the teacher wants just the word.

Todd was saying that his teacher wants the material in a certain way and nothing he learned so far is helping.

Todd has "dysnomia," which is characterized by an individual's inability to find the correct word or words to express himself. We have all probably experienced the frustration of having a word or name "on the tip of the tongue." Ask a dysnomic child "What is a steeple" and they will say, "The thing on top of a church". Ask "What is the thing on the top of a church called?" and they cannot answer. How you evaluate that child depends entirely on which question you asked, even though both questions ask the same thing.

Fortunately for Todd, the teacher was a kind and patient man who gave his time to help prepare Todd for the exam and he ultimately did very well. But that teacher was using remediation! Rehabilitation would have been to ask the questions in a different way! The teacher was helping Todd prepare for a test, rather than preparing a test for Todd. Changing the testing framework would have been easier on both student and teacher.

The whole experience had a very positive effect, as can be seen in this message from Todd after a talk he gave on LD for one of his classes.

This was the first time that I ever gave a speech on this problem and it made me feel special. I liked the idea of telling people of a problem that not too many know about. I also felt that after my speech my class mates treated me a little different. They never treated me bad before but sometimes when I read out loud or spelled something they would make fun of it. Not really me just what I said or spelled. But after, one person came up to me and said I gess I can't bother you about your spelling anymore. I think if it is possible that people who have these problems should say something and teach other people about it so everyone can have a understanding of what a LD person must go threw to learn to make in life.

As Editor of the K-12 Department I intend to press for the application of rehabiliation techniques for the educationally disabled and for education in general. I want to stop preparing individuals for tests and start preparing tests for individuals. Or, from another perspective, design tests to determine what a person does know, instead of what he or she does not know.

The second theme flows from the question: What exactly do we mean by technology? In the Netweave article I gave 4 examples of four different levels of technology, based on published empirical studies and classroom demonstrations.

  • Using a verbal imagery approach as an alternative to a verbal repetition approach for children who do not learn by rote memory.
  • Using index cards in the Direct Access Reading Technique (DART) which has been shown to be an effective strategy for the reading disabled.
  • Using computers for word processing, spreadsheets, communications.
  • Using the resources of the Internet.

Does the term technology apply in all 4 solutions? I could make an argument on either side. What I can say unequivocally, however, is that all 4 solutions provide accommodation. As Editor of the K-12 Department I intend to pursue the technology of accommodation as it applies to hardware, software, and mindware.

Virtual Reality and the Development of Inclusion and Authentic Assessment in Education

Anne Pemberton, Managing Editor, K12, ALBEQUERQUE, NM

As we dropped from 30,000 feet to the airport in Albequerque, for the first time the desert landscape became more than just a picture in a book or on TV. My first trip west, I joined Bob Zenhausern, Sheila Rosenberg, Leigh Calnek (Unibase), and Jeanne McWhorter (Diversity University) to present "Virtual Reality and The Development of Inclusion And Authentic Assessment in Education" at the NEA-RMATE conference in Albequerque this past weekend.

To show what K-12 education can do in a moo, we started putting together a play, a Shakepeare play, to be done by small groups of students in distant locations, the groups and intergroups made up of special ed, regular ed, and TAG (talented & gifted) kids middle and high school aged. Hilve Firek, an English teacher at the Southside Virginia Governor's School volunteered to help as director and such (she also chose the play, The Tempest, with the age of the students in mind - with a monster, drinking and fighting - what more could be desired???)

A scene from Act 3 was planned, but the kids needed lots of background in history and lit, and the networks suffered recurring boughts of spring kaflooey, so that most of what I shared in Albequerque was the adventures of getting this far towards the final presentation scheduled for early June.

Jeanne McWhorter, Arch Wizard at Diversity University, shared a glimpse at DU's many distance education projects, including a Freshman English class's interpretation of Dante's Inferno and a 4th grade class's collection of book reviews.

Sheila Rosenberg defined the term Inclusion to mean special students receiving services so that they can work alongside regular students, and Authentic Assessment to refer to the ease of saving the students' learning and adventures for later reference and analysis. Then she shared her New York students' experiences with the networks and showed some student work, including one's brain-storming to describe the character Calaban, the "monster".

Leigh Calnek, from Saskatchewan, talked about the technical side of networking, describing his Unibase system and its ability to make use of a variety of hardware. Leigh added to Unibase the software that makes it possible for language-disabled students to handle the difficult language and vocabulary in the original work. Bob took on the task of pulling all this diversity together. Afterwards enough people came up to get more information to tell us we'd aroused interest!

A powerful weekend was wound down by dinner with Norman Coombs of EASI followed by some tired folks sitting around the lobby of the Doubletree. Eight hours flying home was plenty of time to catch up on sleep and sort out some of the events of the weekend.

DO-IT Scholars: Easing the Transition from High School to College

Sheryl Burgstahler, sherylb@cac.washington.edu

People with disabilities face unique barriers to education and employment. These barriers include lack of encouragement; underdeveloped self-determination and self-advocacy skills; little access to successful role models; social isolation; lack of awareness of and access to technology that can increase independence and productivity; and low expectations of family, teachers, counselors, service providers, and faculty. These conditions result in fewer high school students with disabilities attending colleges and universities than the number capable of college-level work, high drop-out rates, and under-representation of individuals with disabilities in careers that require college-level preparation. Individuals with disabilities are particularly underrepresented in science, engineering and mathematics fields.

The University of Washington has undertaken a project designed to recruit students with disabilities into science, engineering, and mathematics programs. The DO-IT Scholars Program, directed by Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler, helps participants increase their knowledge of science, engineering, and mathematics and gain prerequisite experience to enter these fields of study and employment. The National Science Foundation provides most of the financial support for DO-IT, which stands for "Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology."

The DO-IT Scholars Program consists of three phases. New applicants must apply for admission to Phase I. Admission to phases II and III are based upon successful completion of previous phases and a desire to continue participation as a DO-IT Scholar.

Phase I

Students accepted into Phase I participate in the following activities.

Internetworking: DO-IT Scholars learn how to use computers to enrich their education and explore career opportunities through information access and communications with college students, faculty, and professionals, on the Internet network. Participants communicate electronically from home using computers, modems, software, Internet network connections, and, if necessary, special adaptive technology. Participants who do not have the required technology are loaned equipment and software for the duration of their participation as DO-IT Scholars. Previous experience working with computers is not required.

Mentoring: Through electronic communications, personal meetings, and joint projects using the Internet, DO-IT Scholars are brought together with mentors (college students, faculty, and practicing engineers and scientists, most with disabilities themselves), to facilitate academic, career, and personal achievements. Participants are matched with several mentors based on shared interests, however, communication with all mentors is encouraged.

Summer Study: During a two-week, live-in, summer program held on the Seattle campus of the University of Washington, DO-IT Scholars study science, engineering, and mathematics and are introduced to college dorm life and campus services. DO-IT Scholars participate in lectures and labs using computer applications, educational software, electronic mail, and resources on the Internet network. Subjects studied by 1993 participants include: oceanography; heart surgery; chemistry; virtual reality; adaptive technology; geophysics; material sciences, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering; mathematics; software training; biology; physics; astronomy; and climatology. Meals and housing are provided for participants and personal care attendants. Accommodations to facilitate a successful academic experience, such as interpreters for those with hearing impairments, are provided.

Other Activities: Throughout the year, DO-IT Scholars and mentors are invited to participate in science-related activities hosted by the University of Washington, corporations, and other organizations. 1993 events included University of Washington Computer and Health Sciences Fairs, lectures, the Westinghouse Science Competition, and a personal visit with Dr. Stephen Hawking.

Phase II

Upon admission to Phase II of the DO-IT Scholars Program, participants apply their skills and knowledge to independent science projects and return the following year, to the UW campus, for a one-week summer program. Phase II participants also act as mentors to incoming DO-IT Scholars.

Individual Projects: Phase II DO-IT Scholars design and complete independent science projects based on their individual interests. DO-IT mentors and staff act as resources and provide assistance for participants in planning and completing projects. Individual projects currently pursued by 1993 Phase II participants include planning and organizing a tour of Batelle Pacific Laboratories; designing a computer-based CHAT system; working on virtual reality projects; evaluating software; and contributing to an electronic information service.

Summer Study: Phase II DO-IT Scholars return to the University of Washington campus during a one-week, live-in summer program. Participants are given the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills, and interests gained in the previous year by working on joint science projects with faculty and other professionals.

Mentoring: In addition to continuing their current mentor relationships, Phase II participants are given the opportunity to develop and practice communication and leadership skills by acting as peer mentors for Phase I participants, face-to-face during the summer study program and electronically.

Phase III

DO-IT Scholars who complete phases I and II are eligible for Phase III which includes opportunities to contribute to the DO-IT program through activities agreed to by each participant and DO-IT staff. Specific mentoring responsibilities, scientific resource management, system administration, newsletter editing, working in the summer programs and other DO-IT sponsored events are several of the possible options.

The first group of Scholars began their work and participated in the campus summer program in 1993. They have continued to communicate with each other as well as the mentors, and they continue to access Internet resources throughout the year. They will return for their Phase II follow-up program this summer and will be joined by twenty new Phase I Scholars.

Students with disabilities in the Northwest region (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington), who have an interest in science, engineering, or mathematics as a career, are encouraged to apply during their Sophomore year of high school. Freshmen and Juniors are considered on a space-available basis. Previous experience working with computers is not required to enter the DO-IT program. A complete application consists of three forms:

  1. Student application
  2. Recommendation from a high school teacher or administrator
  3. Parent/guardian recommendation and consent

Personal interviews may also be required before final decisions are made. Applications are reviewed by Advisory Board members. Qualified applicants are selected for participation based on demonstrated interest and aptitude in science, mathematics, and engineering; motivation to participate in DO-IT Scholars; and predicted benefit from the program offerings. For further information or to request application materials in standard print, large print, braille, or audio tape, contact:

DO-IT, University of Washington,
JE-25, Seattle, WA 98195.
PHONE: (206) 685-DO-IT
FAX: 685-4045
EMAIL: doit@u.washington.edu

NOTE: To be considered for acceptance into the 1994 summer program, a complete application must be received by 4/29/94.

Lois Elman, K12 Information Editor, lelman@access.netaxs.com

As Information Editor of the K12 departmen, I roam the fertile fields of Lists, Newsgroups, Gophers and FTP, sorting the wheat from the chaff. I'll be on the lookout for information of interest to educators and parents of children with disabilities in the K-12 grades. This column will be a regular feature of _Information Technology and Disabilities_.

In it, I will summarize online discussions which took place in real time and discussions that consist of posted text in mailing lists and Usenet newgroups focusing on education, various disabilities, and assistive technologies. I will also be reporting on discussions that take place on commercial online systems such as GEnie and CompuServe. At times I will interview the participants of a discussion and ask them to elaborate on their views. Occasionally I will focus on someone who communicates frequently on the Net, as a featured guest.

I will also cover announcements of upcoming events, such as conferences and real-time chats which Internetters have posted. Also included will be postings of relevant computer software programs and new publications.

As the Internet "Gleaner," I will also burrow into GopherSpace and report on relevant depositories of information. Using electronic bread crumbs, I will retrace my steps, and instruct the reader on how to duplicate my path. The column will also include the addresses of FTP sites containing files that will be of interest to many _ITD_ readers. With your help, maybe the Internet Gleaner can spin straw into gold. If you have found an information gem, why not share it? Write to me at lelman@stjohns.edu

Introduction: Mike Holtzman, holtzman@sjuvm.stjohns.edu

My name is Michael S. Holtzman, and I will be the Technology Editor for the ITD K-12 section. In my role as Technology Editor, I will troll the Internet and the media for announcements of new technology related to disabilities and rehabilitation. "Technololgy" in this context refers to any contrivance - hardware, software, or combination - that provides alternatives for using any limited-access resource.

In addition to summarizing the latest technological advances, I will be implementing appropriate computer-based solutions at St. John's University. One current project in this area is the St. John's University Electronic Resource Rehabilitation Center. The SJU ERRC is a vast repository of disability and rehabilitation information, consisting of databases and literature unique to St. John's plus pointers to information archived at other Internet sites. I will be coordinating closely with Lois Elman to insure that SJU is the world's most comprehensive and up-to-date source for this type of information.

Future plans include adding World Wide Web access, multi-player virtual reality worlds (MUDs and MOOs), and enhanced network and telecommunications tools. I am always interested in hearing about new developments in technology. Feel free to contact me, holtzman@sjuvm.stjohns.edu, with your discoveries, ideas, and comments.