Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Students with Disabilities Find Success with Basic Skills Package

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Students with Disabilities Find Success with Basic Skills Package

Article excerpt

Born with cerebral palsy, Lori Mayo, 28, has faced many struggles in her life. She cannot speak, and her severe spasticity makes fine physical movements hard to control. Her head moves erratically, so she has trouble following the words in a line of text. Put all those barriers together and even basic academic skills seem out of reach.

Students like Lori frequently fall behind simply because schools lack the tools to effectively deliver instructional materials to them. Recently, Lori enrolled in an Adult Academic Program at Courage Center, a rehabilitation facility located in Golden Valley, Minn., that specializes in comprehensive vocational and educational services for students with disabilities.

Courage Center features multimedia computers with large, modified keyboards, which compensate for motor difficulties. "I feel so good about my new learning," Lori types one day. "The challenges have helped me believe in my ability to learn." Her expressive face reveals the pleasure of communication.

Reflects Adult Experiences

The "new learning" Lori writes about is the Lifetime Library from Learning 2000 (Minneapolis, MN). This set of CD-ROMs for Windows 95 presents reading, writing and math concepts through video, audio, text, graphics and simulations. Aimed at a mature audience, the programs contain lessons that reflect an adult's experiences in the world.

The publisher developed the software for the general public, but user interfaces can be tailored to the meet the needs of students with disabilities. For instance, a student may progress through the courses with any input device, such as a "jelly switch" activated by a nudge of the head.

The Lifetime Library includes extensive diagnostic testing, allowing for precise determination of a learner's starting point. Thanks to a modular design, students take only those parts of courses addressing concepts they failed to master in the pre-tests. …

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