October 2010 | News You Can Use

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October 2010

A teenager listens to material on CD.

Not all students can learn from print.



NICHCY is pleased to send you the latest issue of News You Can Use.

The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.There are many great resources coming from OSEP’s TA&D Network (these are marked with the TA&D logo you see to the left) and from organizations beyond the network. May these help you and yours, personally and professionally.

For the last two months, the special focus of this newsletter has been on “Teaching Students with Disabilities.” This month’s theme is definitely related, for many thousands of students have disabilities that affect their ability to use print materials—that includes their textbooks and core workbooks. They need AIM: Accessible Instructional Materials. And that’s our special focus this month—connecting students with materials they can actually use and learn from.

We welcome your feedback. Please feel free to contact us at nichcy@aed.org.

Our best to you, as always.

Your friends
at the National Dissemination Center
for Children with Disabilities



This month, we’re pleased to offer four updated and revamped resources on our website. They all relate to Effective Practices in the Classroom and School, and are:

Connecting with the Special Education Curriculum.
Special educators have a tremendous amount of expertise to share, especially about individualizing instruction for students with specific kinds of disabilities. Here are two dozen “starter” links that will take you into the heart of more, more, more.

Addressing the General Education Curriculum.
IDEA requires that students with disabilities be involved in, and make progress in, the general education curriculum–the same subject matter and skills that children without disabilities are expected to learn: math, science, history, and so on. Need resources to help them succeed?

Understanding How The Brain Learns.
Research on the human brain has brought an explosion of excitement and promise to our understanding of ourselves—how we think, how we learn, how the brain regulates activities and reacts to stimulation. Emerging findings speak directly to effective educational practice.

Understanding Universal Design.
Universal design is “an approach to designing environments and products so they can be used by the widest range of users without adaptation.”

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Understanding your child’s behavior: Reading his or her cues, birth to 2.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.Children’s behavior has meaning-it’s just that adults don’t always understand what the meaning is. This resource will help you better understand your child’s behavior cues and help you respond in ways that support his or her healthy social and communication development.

Assistive technology for communication: TapToTalk.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, customizable, socially acceptable way for your child to “talk,” TapToTalk may very well be it. So says Disaboom, at:

Should I…or shouldn’t I….give my child a cell phone?
That’s the question this article explores, looking at the pros and cons of cell phones for kids with special needs.

And speaking of cell phones…here’s an amazing story.
The iPhone, VoiceOver, and the possibilities for those with visual impairments. According to this blind blogger, “I have seen a lot of technology for the blind, and I can safely say that the iPhone represents the most revolutionary thing to happen to the blind for at least the last ten years.”

Parents of children on the autism spectrum: Research opportunity calling.
Do you have a child with ASD from age 3-21? Boston University is looking for 600 parents (legal guardians) to complete an online survey that asks questions about their child’s ability to perform everyday life tasks, as well as about his/her behaviors. The survey takes about 90 minutes. Parents will then receive a $25 Amazon gift certificate and have an opportunity to win an ipod and Flip Video. Want to know more? Visit here:

The IEP “test”: The unspoken rules of an IEP meeting.
From a parent’s perspective, including the wry and common-sense responses.

Disability books to share with your kids.
These 2008 books cover a wide range of physical and cognitive disabilities in engaging ways. Great reading material for young children.

What about disability books for teens?

Art therapy for your child with disabilities.
Another from Disaboom, with this description: “Every time your special-needs child draws a picture at home, art therapy is taking place. Learn how you can help your child and build his or her self esteem by providing appropriate materials and commenting on their creations in the right way.”

Let’s hear it for Halloween!
Here are 3 resources on this fun, candy-rich, and creative “holiday.”

Fun costumes and simple safety rules.

Safety and children with LD.

Making Halloween fun for your special needs child.

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Video | What’s it like to be an early intervention specialist?
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.Watch what other EI specialists have to say about “a day in the life.”

Video | Capitalizing on children’s interests.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.Here’s a new CELL video entitled Child Interests – Interests Lead to Learning. It’s designed to help parents or practitioners identify a child’s personal and situational interests, and describes how those interests can be used for early literacy learning.

Practice guides with adaptations.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.CELL has new practice guides that make it easier for young children with disabilities to participate in early literacy learning activities.

Online module: Communication for collaboration.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.From Project CONNECT, here’s Module 3, which focuses on communication practices that can be used to promote collaboration with professionals and families in early care and education, and intervention settings.

Family-focused interventions.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.The 5th in TACSEI’s Roadmap to Effective Intervention Practices series, this 18-page synthesis talks about using family-focused interventions to promote the social-emotional well-being of infants and toddlers with disabilities. From the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children.

Pediatric developmental screening: Understanding and selecting screening instruments.
A manual from the Commonwealth Fund, which conducted a detailed review of the scientific research on available developmental screening instruments and developed this manual to inform practitioners’ selection and application of screening instruments in a range of practice settings.

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Creating an inclusive school environment: A model for school leaders.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.Another great module from the IRIS Center.

Working with your school nurse on behalf of students with health needs.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.This IRIS module is designed for school personnel, especially general educators, who may be collaborating with the school nurse during IEP meetings or during other occasions involving the health problems of students with disabilities.

Behavior a problem?
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.Try FACTS, the Functional Assessment Checklist for Teachers and Staff. This is a two-page interview completed by people (teachers, family, clinicians) who know the child best. It’s used to either build behavior support plans or guide more complete functional assessment efforts.

Improving reading comprehension in K-3.
This IES guide, developed by a panel of experts, presents evidence-based practices that educators can use to successfully teach reading comprehension to young readers.

What about science instruction?
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.This 2nd edition of Effective Science Instruction: What Does Research Tell Us? from the Center on Instruction distills the research on science learning to inform a common vision of science instruction.

Using technology in science instruction to help struggling students.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.Use the TechMatrix to explore how technology can support struggling students to participate fully and excel in science.

Now for math: Effective fractions instruction for K-8.
This new IES practice guide presents five recommendations intended to help educators improve students’ understanding of fractions.

Instructional coaching to improve instruction.
This resource developed by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform describes professional development instructional coaching strategies. Its research-based guidance is intended for teachers and teacher leaders, as well as school and district administrators.

More on coaching to improve instruction.
This 24-page guide comes from the Center for Strengthening the Teaching Profession.

What is RTI and what are the essential components that must be present for it to be implemented with fidelity?
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.Find out in this 5+ minute video from the National Center on RTI.

Inducting, supporting, and retaining your special educators.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.A wealth of info is waiting for district and building administrators at NCIPP, the National Center to Inform Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development. Visit NCIPP and find a collection of 12 Induction Insights briefs designed to help administrators use research-based practices to induct, mentor, and keep special educators, especially those just starting out.

Especially for teacher educators.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.A wealth of info is waiting for you, too, at NCIPP. Four reports and eight Induction Briefs, to be precise, all of them geared toward special education teacher induction and retention.

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For providers of professional development in early childhood.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.Are you a state agency administrator who needs information about what’s happening in early childhood professional development (PD) activities across various sectors? This survey is designed to help you gather information that will produce a descriptive landscape of professional development in early childhood in your state across multiple sectors.

For state policy makers: Building strong induction policies.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.NCIPP, the National Center to Inform Policy and Practice in Special Education Professional Development, has Induction Briefs just for state policy makers involved in building a strong teacher force through research-based practices of induction, support, mentoring, and more.

Impartial hearings under IDEA.
Noted IDEA legal scholar Perry Zirkel has teamed with NASDSE to publish Impartial Hearings under the IDEA: Legal Issues and Answers. The article includes an updated review of IDEA law, regulations, and OSEP policy letters. http://tinyurl.com/3a7penv

Handbook on effective implementation of SIGs.
The icon of the Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network funded by OSEP.Aimed at the rapid improvement of persistently low-achieving schools through the intervention models and strategies outlined in the 2009 federal School Improvement Grant (SIG), the Handbook on Effective Implementation of School Improvement Grants [K-12] explains the required and recommended models and strategies, references to the research, and connections to useful resources. The handbook was developed by the five USED national content-oriented comprehensive centers.

Post-high-school outcomes of youth with disabilities.
This new IES report shows that youth with disabilities were more likely to be attending college in 2005 compared to 1990. The report is entitled Comparisons Across Time of the Outcomes of Youth With Disabilities up to 4 Years After High School.

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SPECIAL FOCUS:  AIM | Accessible Instructional Materials

At the beginning of the academic year, the teacher usually hands out the textbook to every child in the class. But what if you can’t read or process printed material? When a child is blind, schools know it’s foolishness to hand the child a book unless it’s in Braille or in digital format. Much less obvious is that literally tens of thousands of children have disabilities that severely impair their ability to read printed text.

Quite fortunately, the 2004 amendments to IDEA have emphasized making instructional materials accessible to students with print disabilities, and a serious amount of effort has gone into setting up systems to make that happen. Take advantage of those systems, because students with disabilities will benefit enormously! To connect you with those systems, we’ve listed seminal resources below.

What IDEA requires.
Heard of NIMAS? If not, read NICHCY’s training module on the subject. It’ll tell you what IDEA requires and why it’s such a fabulous step forward.

The National Center for Accessible Instructional Materials.
Find just about everything AIM at http://aim.cast.org/ —including:


OSEP TA&D LogoBookshare is free for all U.S. students with qualifying disabilities, thanks to an award from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic.
RFB&D is a national nonprofit with more than 62,000 accessible audiobook titles.

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) currently houses a database called the Louis Database of Accessible Materials for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired. Louis contains information about tens of thousands of titles of accessible materials, including braille, large print, sound recordings, and computer files from over 170 agencies throughout the United States.

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Publication of this eNewsletter is made possible through Cooperative Agreement #H326N080003 between AED and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government or by the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.


Comments on our newsletter? Too long? Too short? Off-target? Right on? Suggestions for future topics? Please feel free to contact us at nichcy@aed.org. We’re here to help you help children with disabilities.

NOTICE: NICHCY is going away, but its resources are not. Find hundreds of legacy NICHCY publications, as well as our training curriculum on IDEA 2004, in the Center for Parent Information and Resources' Library at http://www.parentcenterhub.org/resources. This website will remain available until September 30, 2014. After that date, web visitors will be automatically redirected to http://www.parentcenterhub.org.