Volume VI Number 1, April 1999

This issue is a collection of papers delivered at the Technology and Disabilities Conference sponsored by the California State University Northridge in March 1999. EASI organizes a track of papers at this conference on a special theme. This year there were two themes: advocacy and distance learning.

This edition of the journal is partially supported by EASI's National Science Foundation grant to compile and disseminate information about K-12 science, math, engineering and technology access.

Featured Articles

Advocacy for K-12 Students with Disabilities: How to Get Everything Except a Bad Rep

Carmela Cunningham and Grant Young

Jeff Senge
California State University, Fullerton

Abstract: The Americans with Disabilities Act and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1997) may say that students with disabilities have the right to accessibility and accommodations in the classroom, but that doesn't necessarily mean that students automatically get what they need. K-12 students with disabilities, their parents and service providers often have to lobby for the technology, support and services that are necessary to get what's promised to students by the law - a Free and Appropriate Education.

Individualized Education Plans: Parents' Rights and Responsibilities

Carmela Cunningham and Richard Banks

Abstract: The Americans with Disabilities Act and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1997) mandate that all students must be provided with a free and appropriate education. Further, the IDEA mandates that all K-12 students with disabilities should have an individualized education plan (IEP) that will spell out what accommodations will best suit the needs of each child.

Distance Education and Individuals with Disabilities

Ron Stewart
Coordinator, Northwest Center for Technology Access
Oregon State University

Abstract: Educational institutions are governed by a variety of state and federal laws that impose the requirement that we provide "equal and equitable access" to our programs and services. The very nature of Distance Education makes this burden complex and often difficult to comply with, but this complexity does not relieve us of our obligations under the law. If an individual with a disability chooses to participate in a school's distance offerings we must provide, as much as possible, the same level and type of services that we would provide a student in one of our campus based offerings.

SNOW: Special Needs Opportunity Windows: Just-in-time, On-line Information for Educators

Greg Gay and Laurie Harrison
Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, University of Toronto

Abstract: Computer hardware, software and Internet connections - these are the new tools for education which are appearing in classrooms everywhere. At the same time, more and more students with special needs are taking part in the "regular" school activities as educators are asked to integrate these learners into their mainstream classrooms. As a result, teachers are under pressure, on the fly, to find technology-based solutions and provide adapted curriculum for use by exceptional students. Even if they are fortunate enough to have had some training in the area of special education, they inevitably face questions about identification of appropriate assistive technology, provision of adapted programming, and classroom strategies for accommodating special needs.

Delivering Accessible Library Services in a Distance Learning Environment

Steve Noble
Manager, Product Development
Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic

Abstract: In the typical university setting, a student is usually expected to spend two-to-three times as many hours outside the classroom doing reading, homework and library research as he or she may spend in class. This amount of outside work continues to grow in both volume and importance as a student progresses to higher level classes, finally reaching very critical proportions in graduate school. For students who participate in distance learning settings, however, the task of "going to the library" takes on new and very different dimensions. A rapidly growing number of universities have now begun to offer distance education classes, and we now have seen a variety of delivery techniques developed to service the needs of remote students. Indeed, there are a number of institutions of higher learning now existing primarily as "virtual universities." Although some experience may be gained by examining how various organizations have tackled this problem, of particular concern for this presentation is just how the textbook and library access needs of students with disabilities can be met without the possibility of physically "going to the library" or the campus special services office for assistance.

Opening Doors through Mentoring: One Program's Experiences Using the Internet

Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph. D.
Deb Cronheim
University of Washington

Abstract: Mentors provide direction and motivation, instill values, promote professionalism, and help proteges develop leadership skills. As one Scholar noted, "It feels so nice to know that there are adults with disabilities or who know a lot about disabilities, because I think that people who are about to go to college or start their adult life can learn a lot from mentors . . ."