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CPM Supporting Text MD 2006


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									                                     Class Profile Matrix
                              Instructional Tools and Strategies
     Changes in Timing and Scheduling                             Changes in Presentation
           Changes in Setting                                      Changes in Response

                        Determining the Need for Tools and Strategies
               General Strategies                               About Tools

The items mentioned are not an exhaustive list of instructional tools and strategies, but rather a
representative sampling. Additional sources of information about tools and strategies can be found
in the Additional Resources section.

Determining the Need for Tools and Strategies

The IEP team will determine what strategies and tools are needed to support the student in
attaining IEP goals and progressing in the curriculum. There are numerous strategies to be used
alone or in conjunction with tools to help a student who is struggling. In general, these strategies
may be classified as either accommodations or modifications. An accommodation is an alteration
that does not change the content of the curriculum or lower the standards. The Maryland State
Department of Education (MSDE) defines accommodations as ―practices and procedures in the
areas of presentation, response, setting, and timing / scheduling that provide equitable access
during instruction and assessments for students with disabilities.‖ A modification is an alteration
that does substantially change the content of the curriculum or lower the standards. According to
MSDE, ―modifications or alterations refer to practices that change, lower, or reduce learning
expectation. Modifications can increase the gap between the achievement of students with
disabilities and expectations for proficiency at a particular grade level.‖ The differences between
accommodations and modifications may seem slight, but the implications for student learning are
significant. Giving more time does not change the nature of the task. It is an accommodation.
Dictating items orally to a student when everyone else is expected to read them for themselves is a
change in the task. Therefore it is a modification. This distinction is especially critical during district
and statewide assessments. Only accommodations and modifications that have been used during
instruction can be used during testing, therefore it is important to plan thoughtfully for their use. In
general, some accommodations are allowed (specific requirements vary by state and, sometimes,
by test) under a standard administration of the test. Modifications are generally, not allowed. If
modifications are used, then the student’s responses must be reported differently.

One of the confusing elements about the use of assistive technology tools is that sometimes the
implementation is an accommodation and sometimes it is a modification. For example, if a student
is asked to read a passage and answer comprehension questions about that passage, using a
computer with text-to-speech software to read the passage aloud would be a modification. It is a
modification because the student is no longer being asked to read the passage. Instead, the task
has been changed. The student is being asked to listen to the passage being read and then
answer the questions. This requires auditory comprehension, not reading comprehension.
However, if the task is to outline four steps to solve a science problem, and we have the computer
read the problem. The use of the computer with text to speech software is an accommodation.

                     Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education
                         Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
This is because the underlying task has not changed. The student must still identify the four steps
to solve the problem. The way to determine whether the use of any tool or strategy is an
accommodation or a modification is to think about the underlying task and whether the use of the
proposed strategy or tool changes the basic nature of that task.

There are a variety of ways to adapt instruction to increase the likelihood that a student with special
needs will be successful. Throughout this section of the website, you will find discussion of a wide
variety of tools and strategies to address the student needs that were identified.

General Strategies

A strategy is a different way of doing a task. It may or may not involve using a tool. For example, a
student who has difficulty writing may give an oral report instead of turning in a written report. That
is a strategy that does not involve a tool. Another student who has difficulty spelling may be taught
how to effectively use the spell checker in a software program to increase his spelling accuracy in a
written report. That is a strategy (using a spell checker) that does involve a tool (the spell checker
itself). In both cases, the student may need to learn new skills in order to effectively use the
strategy. The goal in either case is to better enable the student to demonstrate his knowledge of
the topic while removing the barrier imposed by his disability.

Don’t forget that you can call on other team members for assistance. Quite often problem solving
with another individual will produce new ideas or strategies. Additionally, IEP team members work
together to determine appropriate instructional and assessment accommodations for students with
disabilities served under IDEA. For Maryland educators, the process of identifying and
documenting accommodations should be a fairly straightforward event when appropriately
examining the required summary of the student’s ―present levels of academic achievement and
functional performance.‖

Here are general strategies that can help all students:
 Make water available to ensure adequate hydration. This is especially important for students
   who cannot ask for a drink or cannot effectively monitor their own need for hydration.
 Position the student strategically within classroom environment to eliminate distractions and
   ensure the student can see and hear necessary information.
 Try allowing longer time if a student is not getting assignments done in the typical time allotted.
   If time is the issue, this alone may be effective.
 Shorten assignments if it is not possible to provide more time. However, guard against using
   this so much that it becomes a modification because the student is consistently missing part of
   critical information or practice.
1. Establish the student’s attention before giving directions and check to see that they were
2. Use teacher proximity to keep the student on task.

                     Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education
                         Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
About Tools

Some of the tools that will be described in this section are often referred to as assistive technology.
Assistive technology can be anything from really simple tools like pencil grips and colored overlays
to complex software and hardware. Avoid being put off by this term. It doesn’t always mean
something that is expensive or challenging to use. Figure 1 below demonstrates the wide range of
assistive technology tools. It is important to remember that these are all things that can allow a
student to more successfully acquire and demonstrate knowledge and skills.

                          The Assistive Technology Continuum

       Simple training            Minimal training                Extensive training
       Little maintenance         Basic maintenance               On-going maintenance
       No electronics             Simple electronics              Complex electronics
 Figure 1: Modified Continuum from No/Low Tech to High Tech (Adapted from TATN Consideration Training) Module

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                         Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
                         Changes in Timing and Scheduling
                  How timing and scheduling affect student performance
Key Questions                                        Extended Time
Multiple or Frequent Breaks                          Divide Long Term Assignments
Time to learn tools                                  Transition in School Environment

Some of the simplest accommodations involve changes in allotted time and specific scheduling of
activities and tasks. Timing and scheduling accommodations change the allowable length of time
to complete assignments, tests, and activities, and may also change the way the time is organized.
Changes in timing and scheduling might include extending the time, scheduling more frequent
breaks and chunking longer assignments into shorter, more approachable tasks. Other changes
may include the particular time of day, day of the week, or number of days over which a particular
activity, assignment, or test takes place. Certain students can benefit from these simple changes in
scheduling of work.

Timing accommodations are most helpful for students who need more time than generally allowed
to complete activities, assignments, and tests. Extra time may be needed to process written text
(e.g., a student with a learning disability who processes information slowly), to write (e.g., a student
with limited dexterity), or to use equipment (e.g., assistive technology, audio tape). Students who
have difficulty concentrating for an extended period or who become frustrated or stressed easily
may need frequent relaxation breaks. It may also help to schedule classes and tests that require
the greatest concentration in the morning for students who have difficulty concentrating or staying
on task as the day progresses. Scheduling changes might also benefit students on medications
that affect their ability to stay alert. Some students with health-related disabilities may have
functioning levels that vary during the day because of the effects of medications or diminishing
energy levels. For example, blood sugar levels may need to be maintained by eating several times
a day at prescribed times. These students could be accommodated by scheduling tests and
activities around the eating schedule or by allowing food to be taken to the classroom or testing
site. Some students who fatigue easily may need to take some academic classes and tests before
rather than after a physical education class or recess.

Key questions to ask when considering changes in timing and scheduling

1. Does this student have trouble completing assignments? If yes,
           a. Would additional time make it possible to complete the assignment? If yes, see
                Extended Time
           b. Would additional breaks make it possible to remain engaged in a meaningful
                activity for the allowed length of time? If yes, see Multiple or Frequent Breaks
           c. Would shortened or divided assignments be a possible solution? If yes, see
                Divide Long Term Assignments
2. Does this student need additional time to learn to use tools/technology? If yes, see Time to
   learn tools
3. Does this student need to take longer to move around the classroom or building and therefore
   need more time? If yes, see Transition in School Environment
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                         Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
Extended time

If a student is slower than others in completing work, giving more time may be a simple solution.
Both time at school and the ability to take work home can help. If the problem with completing work
is more about distractibility, see Changes in Setting. If the problem is more about behavior
difficulties, take a look at the KidTools Program described below. There are some simple tools that
can help with concerns about timing and scheduling, especially is the student is working on self-

Electronic Organizer-An electronic organizer or personal digital assistant (e.g. Step Pad, Pal
Pilot) may help a student keep track of his or her assignments, classes, and/or activities.
Reminders can be programmed with each entry. When a reminder activates, an alarm can sound
or an image can flash.

Invisible Clock-This multi-function timer will beep or silently vibrate. It can be set for up to 12
different alarms to vibrate or beep to remind a student to keep working or that a specified amount
of time is remaining. Available from Attainment (1-800-327-4269).

KidsTools--A more sophisticated, software based tool that can be helpful to students who have
difficulties managing and monitoring their behavior is KidTools Program available from KidTools
Support System. It can be downloaded at no cost from: Kid Tools Programs. This program
provides a series of planning and monitoring tools to help students gain control over their own
behavior. It can also be purchased as a CD from the same website.

Picture or print schedule-A picture or word schedule may be helpful to students who process
visual information better than they process auditory information. If the child requires visual symbols
or pictures to aid in comprehension, be sure to use symbols with which he is familiar.

Regular timer-A kitchen timer may work for a student who is not distracted by the quiet ticking or
the louder bell. In fact the ticking may help remind some students that they need to keep working.
Being able to check the number of minutes remaining may be reassuring to a student.

Talking watch/clock/timer–There are many of these available that can be used to provide an
auditory cue at set intervals. Check out a vendor such as Independent Living Aids, Inc. 1-800-537-
2118 or for a variety of options.

Visual Timer-A timer that does not have any sound such as the Time Timer available from the
Autism Resources Network (telephone 612-988-0088) or the Teach Timer from Ventura
Educational Systems, provides a visual reminder and enables the student to see how many
minutes he has remaining.

Watch Minder-This reminder vibrates to alert the wearer to look at a message. It can be
programmed to provide one of 18 messages. It is available from Watch Minder (1-800-961-0023).

                    Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education
                        Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
Multiple or frequent breaks

If every student needs a break, incorporate a short stretch time, where students stand in place and
follow you (or a chosen student leader) in a few simple stretches. This can provide enough
movement and increased blood flow to allow students to better focus on their academic task.
Playing Simon Says or singing a simple song with movement can work well for younger students.

If one student needs a break from a difficult task, but others are still working, sometimes a simple
opportunity to move around the room can solve the problem. Asking the student to take something
to the back of the room, take papers off of the bulletin board or get a book from the bookshelf can
provide enough movement to allow him or her to get back on task.

Divide long term assignments

Breaking up longer assignments-This can be especially helpful for complex tasks with multiple
steps. Rather than just allowing the student to work as far as possible, it may be helpful to actually
break up the longer assignment into specific steps that will allow the student to experience
success by completing individual steps. The strategies related to scheduling include spreading
the task over several days, changing the order of the tasks and selecting a specific time of day
when the child is at his or her best. It may mean scheduling reading early in the day or providing a
short rest or stretch time before beginning math. The specific needs of the students will determine
necessary scheduling changes.

Scheduling-Try to schedule work that requires focused attention at the time of day when a student
is most likely to demonstrate peak performance.

Shortening assignments-While shortening assignments is a viable short term solution for the
student who is not able to complete assignments on time, it is not a good solution if over used.
Struggling to complete assignments is often a symptom of other problems either in comprehending
print materials, producing legible written responses, or behavior. These underlying problems need
to be address.

Visual Schedule-Providing a schedule with pictures or words (depending upon the student’s
reading ability) may be helpful to some children who process visual information better than they
process auditory information. This type of ―low tech‖ assistive technology can be made by the
teacher to meet the individual needs of the student. If the child requires visual symbols or pictures
to help him understand the information, be sure to use symbols with which he is familiar.

Time to learn tools

When specific technology tools are chosen for a student, there will be a need for training. Even
simple tools may require the student to learn new skills. Certainly more complex tools require many
weeks or months of training before the student will be able to use them in a meaningful way.

                      Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education
                          Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
Transition in school environment

Changes in timing may be needed by a student with a physical disability, one who fatigues easily,
one who is distracted easily or for young students. Here are some simple ideas to help with
transitions within the school environment.
 Allow sufficient time for the student to reach the destination, ending an activity early or giving
    that student a head start.
 Remember to plan extra time if a student needs to take down or set up a laptop computer.
 If the are not enough computers in the classroom or they do not have needed software, a
    student might need to go to a computer lab to use the computer. If so, careful scheduling will
    be required to ensure that the student has access to a computer when needed.
 If mobility equipment is used, ensure that it is available and in good working order.
 Provide peer or adult assistance.
 Modify requirements based on the student's daily energy level and the task to be completed. If
    reading is more challenging than other tasks, try to schedule it early in the day when the
    student’s energy is the highest.
 Allow the student to choose mobility alternatives if appropriate (e.g. when to walk with a walker
    and when to use a wheelchair).

                    Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education
                        Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
                                   Changes in Setting
                        How the setting affects student performance
Key questions                                       Location
Grouping                                            Access to technology

Setting accommodations may change the location or condition of an instructional setting, the
proximity and number of people, and the student’s access to technology and equipment. When
thinking about setting, consider factors such as lighting, sounds, and classroom movement
patterns. Some students may benefit from sitting in a different location from other students to
reduce distractions. Students who are easily distracted in a large group setting may benefit from
small group instruction. Setting accommodations also include providing access to equipment and
technology. Consider what special equipment or technology is needed and ensure that all
necessary materials are available.

Key questions to ask when considering changes in setting

1. Does this student have trouble concentrating on tasks? Would it help to adjust the lighting,
   sounds, temperature, or proximity of people? If yes, see Location
2. Would this student perform better in a cooperative learning team, small group alternative
   instruction, or a strategically selected student pair? If yes, see Grouping
3. Does the student need access to certain technology or equipment? If yes, see Access to


Filtered light-If florescent lighting provides too much glare or not enough light from the red end of
the spectrum, pink light filters can be placed over the florescent tubes. (Available from SHS
Ergonomics, P.O. Box 507, Delavan, WI 53115, 262/728-1717)

Lighting--Ensuring adequate lighting is a greater challenge.          It is difficult to determine when
lighting is a problem. If you have computer monitors in the classroom, sit down at them during
different times of the day to ensure that there is no glare from the windows or overhead lights. If
there is glare, figure out how to move the computers to a better site. Students with low vision may
prefer to sit in the part of a room that has the best light. If you have fluorescent lighting in your
classroom, try bringing incandescent lights into your classroom to add to the spectrum of light
provided. Use them in a reading area to determine if some students do better with that additional
lighting. Full spectrum lighting or added filters over fluorescent bulbs increase the spectrum of light

Proximity to people—An example of a setting accommodation to reduce distractions would allow
a student to do work in a different location, sometimes in a place with few or no other students.
Changes may also be made to a student’s location within a room. For example, a student who is
easily distracted should not sit near windows, doors, trash cans, or pencil sharpeners. Sitting near
the teacher’s desk or in front of a classroom may be helpful for some students. Physically enclosed

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                        Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
classrooms (classrooms with four walls) may be more appropriate than open classrooms, and
study carrels might also be helpful for students who are easily distracted. Finally, some students
use tools or accommodations that may distract others students, such as having a reader or scribe
or working with a peer partner. Other students might perform better when they can read and think
out loud or make noises that can be distracting to other students. These students may benefit form
the occasional use of individual learning settings.

Seating--In addition to the location of the seating, the seating itself should not be overlooked.
 Check position to insure the student’s feet are reaching the floor
 Check position to insure the table is at an appropriate height for writing
 Ensure that the student is able to change position frequently throughout the day
 If working at a computer, check to ensure that the monitor is slightly lower than eye level

Slant top surface-There are a variety of slant boards that can be used to change the angle of
the writing surface. They can be used for a student who might become overly fatigued from
writing on a flat surface, sit with poor posture, or produce less legible hand writing on a flat
surface. (Available at Beacon Ridge)

Sound--Some students concentrate best wile wearing noise buffers such as headphones,
earphones, or earplugs. A strategy that is often helpful for all students is to use background music
to facilitate concentration and learning. The use of Mozart has been found to be particularly useful.

Special table or seating-If a student requires a special table that is a specific height table or one
that accommodates a wheelchair or other special item in order to write well, then it should be
provided. Any table or desk must be at the correct height for a student to be able to produce their
best writing. Check school furniture suppliers for adjustable height desks.

Visual Accommodations - For some students, seating near the board or other area that needs to
be seen can be important. Note how each student is able to see and use information that is written
on the board to determine who needs to be the closest to the board.

Visual Distractions - For many students it helps to clear the work area to reduce visual distraction
and lower stress. If you don’t know how students react to a cluttered work area, try having a very
cluttered area for a day or two and then a totally uncluttered area and note which students, if any,
react to the change. Observe to determine if a student is being distracted or bothered by the
movement or sound from other students. If a student seems to be easily distracted by movement
and/or sound, strategies that can make a difference include providing preferential seating or the
chance to work in a separate location or a specialized setting when possible.

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                        Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
Cooperative learning                            Small group alternative instruction

Cooperative Learning
Effective cooperative learning groups are strategically selected and require positive
interdependence. For more information visit Co-Operation. Listed below are a few cooperative
learning activities from Kagan (1994):

      4S Brainstorming - Students in the group have roles: Speed Captain (prompts more
       ideas), Super Supporter (encourages/recognizes all ideas), Synergy Guru (encourages
       members to build upon one another's ideas), and Recorder (writes ideas). Members carry
       out their respective roles while the team generates a variety of possible responses. An
       arrangement like this one works well for the student who has good ideas, but is held bank
       by an inability to write them down.
      Numbered Heads Together - Students within the team number off from 1-4. The teacher
       poses a question and the students put their heads together to discuss the answer. The
       teacher randomly calls a number and from each team the student with that number writes
       the answer on the team response board. If this is being used and the struggling student
       will not be able to write the answer, then the teacher needs to find out what number that
       student has and ask a question that can be written very simply or change the rules and
       request a verbal answer on that turn.
      Rallytable - Students are working in pairs, within their teams. Students will take turns
       writing on one piece of paper or completing a task. Again, allows the struggling student to
       participate with less writing.
      Teammates Consult - Students all have their own copy of the same worksheet or
       assignment questions. A large cup is placed in the center of each team, and students
       begin by placing their pencils in the cup. With pencils still in the cup, they discuss their
       answers to the first question. When all team members are ready, they remove their pencils
       from the cup and write their answers without talking. They repeat this process with the
       remaining questions. Both this one and the next one are helpful for the student who needs
       to talk before writing and needs help expanding or organizing ideas.
      Think-Pair-Share - The teacher poses a question to the class and the students think
       about their response. Then students pair with a partner to talk over their ideas. Finally,
       students share their ideas with the class.

Small group alternative instruction

When more than one teacher is available, small group instruction is an option. In this case, one
teacher (General Educator or Special Educator) works with a small group while the other teacher
interacts with the larger group. Small groups can be pulled for pre-teaching, re-teaching,
enrichment, interest groups, special projects, make-up work or assessment groups.

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                       Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
Access to technology

Are the needed technologies or tools located in the classroom? If so, think about where that
technology is located in relation to the student. Students may need to be located in a place that is
convenient to use specific technology or other tools that they need for certain tasks. Think about
electrical outlets, how the source of light interacts with computer screen, whether the use of the
equipment will bother other students, etc. If the student brings a computer to class, where will it be
placed for use?

Occasionally a setting might be changed to increase access for a student. For example, a student
who uses a wheelchair with a specially designed tabletop and assistive technology may not be able
to sit in an auditorium with theater seating. Aisles need to remain clear in all settings. It is important
to avoid leaving doors or cupboards half-open and put away all boxes or stacks of books to
increase access for all students, especially those with visual or physical disabilities.

Students might use other adaptive equipment or furniture that requires them to work in specific
locations. For example, a student who uses large print materials may need to sit at a table rather
than at a desk with a small surface area. The same is true for a student using a laptop computer or
portable word processor which may not leave room on the desk for both that and textbooks.

There are a variety of tools that can help a student better access a computer. They range from
simple key guards and arm supports to sophisticated software applications. One thing to remember
is that both Microsoft Windows and Macintosh operating systems have a variety of accessibility
features that can be helpful to students with special needs.

If a student has any physical limitations, ensure that he can reach and appropriately activate the
mouse and all of the keys. Both word prediction and abbreviation/expansion described above can
be useful for students who experience physical challenges. They cut down on the number of key
strokes needed to produce written text. If you have any questions or concerns about physical
aspects of computer use, talk with the occupational therapist in your school. The following is a
general idea of the types of tools that may help.

Alternate keyboard-There is a variety of alternate keyboards that are either smaller or larger than
the standard keyboard. A smaller one may work for a student with minimal movement, while a
larger one may work if the student has difficulty hitting a small target. Some of the most common
ones are IntelliKeys from Intellitools (1-800-899-6687), Big Keys, TASH mini keyboard from TASH
International, Inc. (1-800-463-5685).

Digital Voice recorder- An example is Dragon Naturally Speaking Mobile from Lernout & Hauspie
Dragon Systems, Inc.

Pointing Options/Head mice-There are also a variety of pointing options for students who are
unable to activate keys with their fingers. One is simply to use a mouth stick to activate a standard
keyboard. More complex systems include several that use the head or eye to activate keys with a
receptor. For some people whose only, or most reliable, movement is with their head or eyes, a
head or eye operated mouse may be the best solution. Head operated mice use either a reflective
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                         Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
dot (usually placed on glasses) or rely on the tracking of head movement. Both offer accurate
mouse operation. Eye operated mice track the movement of the pupil. These systems can be very
expensive and are not as effective as those operated by head movement because eyes are
needed to receive all visual information and tend to move almost unconsciously. Also it is not
possible to ―park‖ the cursor when the eyes need to glance up to see what the sound was at the
other side of the room. Both head and eye operated systems can be used in conjunction with on-
screen keyboards. A switch is normally used to do the equivalent of a mouse click.

Switch with scanning or Morse Code-Morse Code can be an accurate and relatively fast way of
inputting information into the computer. Two programs designed to support Morse Code use are:
EZKeys from Words+, Inc,. 800-869-8521, Darci USB Morse from WesTest Engineering
Corporation, (801-451-9393).

Track ball or joystick with on-screen keyboard-For some students, activating individual keys is
not possible even with alternate keyboards, in that case there are software programs that create a
virtual keyboard that is displayed on the monitor (thus the name: on-screen keyboards) and keys
are activated by using a trackball or mouse. For a description and review of on-screen keyboards,
click here. Two free on-screen keyboards can be downloaded. Click-N-Type is an on-screen
virtual keyboard designed for anyone with a disability that prevents him or her from typing on a
physical computer keyboard. Another is Virtual On-screen keyboard by Milosoft. Commercially
available on-screen keyboards include On Screen from RJ Cooper and Associates (800-752-

Verbal Response using Voice Recognition software-There is a variety of voice recognition
programs. Voice recognition allows the user to speak to the computer and the computer prints the
text. It requires that the user train the computer with individual voice files prior to use. The most
common is Dragon Naturally Speaking from Lernout & Hauspie Dragon Systems, Inc. This tool
also allows the student to remotely record responses, and then someone transfers the information
to the computer.

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                        Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
                                 Changes in Presentation
                         How information is presented to the student
Key Questions                                       Adapted Print Materials
Alternative to Print                                Hearing Information
Alternative to Hearing Spoken Information           Studying/Learning
Understanding Information

Presentation is the way in which information is presented to the student. It includes providing
information in the form of print such as textbooks, worksheets and other printed materials. It also
includes verbal directions, lectures, demonstrations, and video or audio programs. This is a very
large category of potential support strategies and tools with many opportunities for differentiation.
The best way to approach this category is to consider the difficulties that the student has been
experiencing in accessing information and accomplishing the necessary tasks and assignments.

Key questions to ask when considering changes in presentation
1. Does this student have difficulty gaining meaning from print materials? If yes,
       a. Would adapting materials make it possible for the student to get meaning from them?
            If yes, see Adapted Print Materials
       b. Does this student need to use the computer to access content that others are getting
            from print materials? If yes, see Alternative to Print
2. Does this student need help in order to understand, remember or act upon directions, lectures
   and other spoken information? If yes,
       a. Would the provision of instruction and cues make a difference? If yes, see
       b. Is the problem, that the student cannot hear spoken information? If yes, see Hearing
       c. Does this student need sign language, closed captioning or other alternatives to
            hearing? If yes, see Alternative to Hearing Spoken Information
3. Does this student have difficulty understanding basic concepts? Would concrete objects,
   pictures, or examples support concept acquisition? If yes, see Understanding Information

                                      Adapted print materials
Providing Visual Cues                             Recorded Messages
Marking Presentation Material                     Recorded Books
Magnifying Text

Using different editions of textbooks with large print or different editions of tests with large answer
bubbles is assistive technology. Often you can create these simply by enlarging the text or
response page on the copier. You can also place fewer items per page by cutting up the text, test,
or response page. For the child who is blind, a Braille version may be needed if he or she is a
Braille user. Charts, graphs, and maps that accompany print are especially important to enlarge,
color code or Braille as needed so that the student can access them.

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                        Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools & Strategies
Providing Visual Cues
Color coding—Directions can be color coded using a simple highlighter, so that they are easy to
find visually. Key words can be color coded. Another approach is to color code all of the verbs for a
student who has trouble recognizing the action that is taking place. Color can be a useful cue in
many ways.

Highlighting Tape on a Transparency as guide—This teacher-made tool involves placing a
piece of colored highlighting tape (Lee Products 1-800-989-3544) on a section of an overhead
transparency. This then makes a transparent ―marker‖ that the student can move down the page as
the test items are addressed.

Highlighting Tape—This is colored tape that is removable. It comes in four colors and several
widths. It can be used on books or text booklets to highlight specific words or phrases and will not
damage the original material. It is usually available in office supply stores or from the manufacturer,
Lee Products (1-800-989-3544).

Templates—Simple templates made from manila folders or tag board can be used to block out
parts of the text or direct the student’s eyes to the text that is important.

Marking Presentation Material
Specific markers can also be used to indicate new sections, places to start, directions, etc. Here
are some simple items that can be very effective.

Colored Overlays—Try a packet of colors, make your own out of transparencies and colored
folders or buy a commercial set from See It Right (909/481-2950), Irlen Institute (562/496-2550),
or National Reading Styles Institute (1-800-331-3117).

Highlighting Tape–This is colored tape that is removable. It comes in four colors and several
widths. It can be used on books or text booklets to highlight specific words or phrases and will not
damage the original material. (Office supply stores or Lee Products 1-800-989-3544)

Index Tabs—These flexible, but sturdy tabs are made by Lee Products (1-800-989-3544). They
are removable and can be repositioned. They come in five different colors. They are usually
available from office supply stores.

Masks—Masks can be made out of manila folders or other card stock. They should be designed
to mask out all except one paragraph or one question to be answered.

Sticky notes/flags/arrows–These small, colorful, removable items are easy to use and do not lift
print or otherwise damage the page. They can be used in a variety of ways to mark the start of a
new question, to color code each question, or point to the place where the answer needs to be
written. They are available from office supply stores and discount department stores.

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WikkiStix–These thin, flexible, colorful sticks can be used to mark important material or to act as
an underline or writing guide. They can be easily bent into any shape. They are available at school
supply stores.

Magnifying text
For students with low vision, there are a variety of magnifying devices. All of these are available
from companies that specialize in vision aids such as Independent Living Aids, Inc. 1-800-537-
2118 or LS & S Group, Inc. (1-800-468-4789).

Hand Held Magnifier—This smaller magnifier has a greater range of magnification and can be
moved easily to bring the print into better focus for the student.

Line Magnifier--This smaller magnifier lays directly on the page and magnifies one line at a time.

Magni-Cam – This handheld, lightweight, auto-focus electronic magnification system is designed
to connect with any TV or other monitor. Available from Innoventions, Inc.(1-800-854-6554).

Mouse Cam – This lightweight, portable magnifier with variable magnification will easily connect to
any TV. This product is available from Vision Technology Inc. (1-800-560-7226).

Sheet magnifier--This magnification tool covers an entire page at one time.

Recorded Messages
Some simple tools may allow the teacher to use the strategy of reading a textbook, test directions
or a test so that the student can easily have the recorded message repeated as often as needed.

Audio Cassette with digital numbers—This inexpensive resource allows you to record a series
of paragraphs, directions or study questions so the child can find the one he needs by fast
forwarding or rewinding to the place on the tape with specific information that is needed. They are
available from discount department stores.

Can-Do Recorder—This device uses cards with a magnetic recording strip along the bottom. They
are like the old Language Master, but lighter and more easily transported. Sentences from stories,
directions or test questions can be printed on the card and recorded. The student can access the
recorded audio message as needed by running the card through the recorder. The Can-Do
Recorder and recordable cards are available from Independent Living Aids, Inc. (1-800-537-2118).

Voice output devices—These simple devices can have anywhere from one to 32 messages. It is
important to use a device with which the student is familiar. Sources include: Enabling Devices (1-
800-832-8697) and AbleNet (1-800-322-0956). Another device that would allow the teacher to
record a series of directions or questions to be answered is the Step-by-Step. This product allows
the teacher to record a series of short voice messages. The student would then press the switch
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once to hear the first direction or question, complete that task and then press the switch again to
hear the next direction and so on. The Step-by-Step Communicator is available from AbleNet (1-

Recorded books
The use of recorded books can be helpful if the student hears the book read as he or she follows
along with a print copy. Used this way, students’ comprehension and vocabulary skills have been
shown to significantly improve. However, listening without visual text has not proven effective.
Check frequently to ensure that the student is looking at each word as it is being spoken.

Books on Tape-A variety of books are available from Book is another online resource. It
was designed to compile the collections of thousands of individuals who had scanned books for
use by others who need them. It is designed to eliminate duplication of effort and make scanned
text more widely and readily available.

Braille materials--Braille is a method of reading a raised-dot code with the fingertips. This type of
reading is used for students who are blind or visually impaired. However, not all students who are
blind read Braille. Braille users should also build skill in using other tools such as audiotape,
compact disc, and MP3 files.

Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic – RFB&D’s AudioPlus digital textbooks on CD or tape
provides students with print disabilities access to any page, chapter, or subheading in a book set
up as part of your RFB&D Learning Through Listening program.

Start-to-finish books--This high interest, controlled vocabulary series helps struggling readers
follow a read aloud story word for word because each word is highlighted as it is spoken. The
books are recorded voice with excellent inflection. Each ―book‖ contains a CD, audiotape and
bound book. The print books have larger font with wider spacing. Don Johnston, Inc (1-800-999-

                Alternatives to print—Using the computer to access content
Text to speech software                        Visual accommodations

There are many software programs that can be used to have the computer speak the text that the
student cannot decode. This is commonly called text-to-speech. The computer will need to have
a voice output capability and software that translates the printed word into synthesized speech.
Research has shown that text-to-speech software that highlights the words that are being spoken
helps students improve comprehension, fluency, and accuracy and increases concentration.
Word recognition skills also improve because the color highlighting captures the reader’s
attention and helps him focus on the word being read. The following software items can be used
to read material that has been scanned in or typed in to the computer.

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Text to speech software
Robust software programs that scan text, provide text to speech and also have a variety of other
study and learning features such as spell checkers, definitions, syllabification, book marks, verbal
and written notes and much more.

Awesome Library for Students also offers a free screen reader that can be downloaded.

Kurzweil 3000-This reading system incorporates optical character recognition and text-to-speech
and is available from Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products.

ReadPlease offers both a free program that can be downloaded from their website and a plus
version for sale. It uses the Microsoft voices, Mike, Mary, and Sam. The user can customize font
and background color and the voice speed.

Scan and Read Lite-This scanning, optical character recognition software and reading package
contains its own voice synthesizer. It allows the computer to magnify text up to 400 percent and is
available from Premier Assistive (517-668-8188).

Talking word processing software (also see Talking Word Processing in Changes in Response
Section) also speaks text, but is designed for producing text rather than reading existing text. It
can be used for text to speech purposes.

TextHELP! Read & Write Gold-program that incorporates screen reading and integrates easily
with all Windows programs. Sold by textHELP! Systems.

WYNN (What You Need Now)–a reading system including optical character recognition and text to
speech from Freedom Scientific, Inc., Learning Systems Group (1-800-444-4443)

Visual Accommodations

Nemeth Code -The Nemeth Braille Code is a system of Braille that makes it possible to convey
technical expressions in a written format to students who are blind or visually impaired. Although
Nemeth Code uses the same set of Braille cells as literary Braille, most cells have new meanings
assigned to them in order to express the numerous technical symbols that occur in math and

Refreshable Braille displays-These are electronic devices that are used to read text that a
computer sends to the monitor. The device is connected to the computer and produces Braille
output on the refreshable Braille display. Refreshable Braille displays only read one line of text at a
time. The refreshable Braille display generally includes directional keys, which allow the user to
navigate through a document. These devices require hours of training to use and should only be
used by experienced Braille readers.

Screen Magnifying software-There are a variety of software programs that will magnify the print
on the screen if it is needed due to vision loss. One is ZoomText Xtra. It can magnify from 2X to

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16X. It is available from LS & S Group, Inc. (1-800-468-4789) and other vendors of products for

Screen Reader-A screen reader is a computer application that converts text to synthesized speech
or to Braille (read with an refreshable Braille display). Computer literacy is essential for screen
reader use. Screen reading software allows students to listen to text as it is displayed on a
computer screen. Students can choose to listen to any text multiple times.

Hearing Information
Preferential seating and the elimination of extraneous noise are the first strategies to try with
students who have difficulty hearing information. For the student with a hearing loss, amplification
may be needed. There are a variety of amplification devices.
Research on sound field amplification ( in
classroom systems indicates that these devices provided the following benefits:
     Improved student attention
     Improvements in verbal and analytical performance on standardized tests
     Reduced referral for individual resource assistance
     Reduction in vocal strain for the teacher

FM System–This is another type of amplification where a Frequency Modulated (FM) system is
worn by the student and he receives speech input directly from the teacher who wears a
microphone. There are numerous vendors.

Sound/field FM systems–These systems provide amplified speech from a teacher-worn
microphone to a loud speaker directed at an entire room or parts of a room. When a classroom is
equipped with sound field amplification, the teacher's voice is transmitted to speakers mounted on
the ceiling or wall. The teacher’s voice is amplified 8 to 10 dB above ambient room noise. This
allows all the children, regardless of seat location and the direction the teacher is facing, to hear
the teacher clearly. The benefits of improved signal to noise ratios have been demonstrated for all

Alternative to hearing spoken information

Students with severe hearing loss may need services from a specialist in hearing impairment and a
sign language interpreter. These specialists can provide information and ideas for the classroom
teacher. In general, some strategies that often help include the following:
         Speaking slowly and clearly
         Pausing after speaking to allow processing time
         Using gestures to accompany verbal directions
         Pre-teaching vocabulary and/or components of the lesson
         Using visual aids (pictures, symbols, diagrams, maps) to illustrate key points
         Providing print copy of script in videotapes

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I-Communicator—This combination of hardware and software is designed to provide real time
speech to text/sign using voice recognition technology. It is available from Interactive Solutions,
Inc. (1-800-362-4584)

Live captioning—This combines voice recognition technology with closed captioning technology.
The University of New York at Buffalo has applied for a patent on this software.

Video tape of signed directions—A student who relies on sign language may be able to use a
video tape of the signed directions or, if appropriate, the test questions to review material as

                                      Studying & Learning
Acting Upon Directions                           Completing Assignments
Studying Information

Acting Upon Directions
There are several strategies that a teacher can try with students who have difficulty following and
acting upon directions.

Physical cues—When giving directions, try using physical cues, such as touch, proximity, and eye
contact, to help students key into important information.

Pre-cueing—This strategy cues the student about up-coming turns or required actions.

Recorded Directions—Directions can be recorded on a voice output device so that the student
can listen to them as often as needed.

Sign Language—Sign language can also be used to provide visual cues.

Simplifying Directions—Reducing the number of steps required can help to simplify directions.

Visual Supports—Supplement verbal directions with print or pictures to support verbal directions.

Completing Assignments
If a student has difficulty keeping track of assignments and/or remembering due dates, you can try
several strategies.

Assignment Checklist/Self-Monitoring Sheet—Create an assignment checklist, schedule, or
self-monitoring sheet to help students organize the tasks that need to be completed for an

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Assignment Notebook—Provide a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly notebook to help students
keep track of assignments.

Assignment Sheet—Provide an assignment sheet that gives a written explanation of the

Electronic Organizer—An electronic organizer or personal digital assistant (e.g. a Palm Pilot) can
help a student manage due dates and keep track of assignments.

Reminder Service—A reminder service, such as Mr. WakeUp, will call the student with a

Repeated Directions—Ask a student to verbally repeat the steps of an assignment and explain
them to a peer.

Web-based Calendar—Students can use a web-based calendar, such as My Yahoo, to keep track
of assignments.

Studying Information
If a student struggles with organizing information or studying for tests, provide direct instruction on
concept mapping and study skills.

Concept Mapping Software—Concept mapping software such as Inspiration, for grades 6-12,
and Kidspiration, for grades K-5, helps students develop ideas, organize their thinking, and
combine pictures and text to represent thoughts and information. CMAP is a program similar to
Inspiration and can be downloaded by clicking here.

Online Reference Tools—If a student has difficulty remembering factual information, teach the
student how to use online reference tools that are easily accessed such as Ask Jeeves or Ask
Jeeves for Kids.

Study Skills Resource Site—The website How to offers free study skills strategies,
resources, and tips for upper elementary, middle, and high school.

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                                    Understanding information
Pre-teaching                                     Reading Strategies
Multi-modal Presentation

As you problem solve around a student’s needs in gaining understanding from presented material,
begin by thinking about the instructional strategies that have been tried in the past. Has there been
sound instruction adapted to the student’s instructional level?

Pre-teaching strategies and materials can help students follow presented information.

Guided Note-taking—Teachers can provide for students a presentation outline that uses a fill-in-
the-blank format with key words missing so the student can write them in as he follows the
presentation. For students who need note-taking accommodations, provide partially completed
outlines / organizers with additional information pre-filled.

Presentation Outline / Organizer—Teachers can provide an advance organizer or outline of key
points that will be presented during the lesson. Students can also use a reading preview to focus
on story line, vocabulary, and/or character development.

Providing Background Knowledge—By pre-teaching important vocabulary and essential
concepts that may be difficult to grasp, teachers can provide background knowledge needed to
comprehend presented materials.

Reading Strategies
If the student seems to have appropriate background knowledge and performs well on tasks when
information is given orally, but cannot decode the printed word to gain understanding, try the
certain reading strategies.

Color coding—Use color coding or highlighting to emphasize key points.

Phonemic Awareness—Some students may need instruction in phonemic awareness and other
basic reading skills. For more information visit the National Institute for Literacy’s Partnership for
Reading website and download The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read.

Print size—Increase the print size of materials through photocopying.

Vocabulary List—Provide a customized vocabulary list.

Reading in the Content Areas—Explicitly teach strategies like attending to text features (e.g.
title/chapter headings, captions), locating main ideas, asking questions about the text, making
inferences, drawing conclusions, and identifying cause and effect relationships. Additional
strategies include the following:

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       Simplify the text by finding materials that parallel the textbook, but are written at a lower
        level, search Marco Polo for lessons at the grade level you need
       Use high interest, low vocabulary materials
       Rely less on textbooks, use software and websites related to the topics in the textbook,
        check out Windows on the Universe for ideas
       Frequently verbalize what is printed on board, overhead, textbook or slide
       Work in cooperative groups where students need to read only a short segment and then
        share information
       Use peer-assisted learning strategies

Multi-modal Presentation
Students’ conceptual understanding may be enhanced by presenting information in pictorial, tactile,
video and / or audio format.

Picture symbols to support words-Using pictures paired with words has been shown to
strengthen the association of text with vocabulary and also allow struggling readers to comprehend
what is written. This strategy is excellent for every classroom with emergent readers. In books
where picture symbols are paired with words the word-pictures draw attention to key concepts in
the text and help develop early vocabulary. Seeing words illustrated makes text more meaningful
and easier to remember. Commonly used picture symbol programs include, Picture It from Slater
Software (877-306-6968), Writing with Symbols 2000 from Mayer-Johnson Co. (800-588-4548),
and Clicker from Crick Software (866-332-7425). There are also sources of free symbols such as
Symbol World.

Pictures from web-There are several website that provide excellent photographs of objects that
can be used to help students decode new words or remind them of steps in a task. Examples
include Free Photos and Free Images.

Tactile Materials-This multi-modal presentation strategy involves includes using tactile materials
or objects to illustrate key ideas.

Video of related actions-Some textbooks that have been developed with universal design
principles come with software that has videos of the major concepts that are being taught. In other
cases, you can supplement existing texts by showing a video or using software with video clips.
For example A Field Trip to the Sea, A Field Trip to the Rainforest and A Field Trip to the Sky from
Sunburst Technology.

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                                  Changes in Response
                           How the student demonstrates learning
Key questions                                        Physical support for written response
Instructional support for written response           Alternative to written response
Support for spoken response

Response refers to the way a student is asked to demonstrate his or her knowledge and skills.
Response accommodations allow students to complete activities, assignments, and assessments
in a different manner or format. These changes are implemented so the student may demonstrate
his or her full capability. Consider the difficulties that the student has been experiencing in
accomplishing the necessary tasks and assignments.

Key questions to ask when considering changes in response
   1. Does this student have difficulty completing writing assignments? If yes,
           a. Would alternatives to standard pencil and paper help in complete writing
               assignments? If yes, see Physical support for written response
           b. Are sentence starters, word banks, and other tools needed to provide support in
               creative writing? If yes, see Instructional support for written response
           c. Does this student need access to the computer to complete writing assignments?
               If yes, see Alternative to written response
   2. Does this student have difficulty verbally expressing needs and demonstrating knowledge?
       Would alternative ways to express needs and demonstrate knowledge be helpful? If yes,
       see Support for spoken response

                              Physical support for written response
Strategies                                        Materials

There are a number of strategies that can be used to help students who struggle with the motor
aspects of writing. One is to provide warm-up exercises for fingers, hands and arms prior to
writing. It can be a short, optional activity for the whole class, if desired. Of course, increasing the
time or decreasing the length of the assignment as described in Changes in Timing and Scheduling
are possibilities.

Assignment Format—For students who struggle with the motor aspects of writing, consider
changing the format of the assignment to multiple choice, matching word banks, fill-in-the-blank, or
short answer. Anything that allows the student to demonstrate knowledge by selecting or writing
key words as opposed to writing entire sentences can be less discouraging for the struggling writer.

Guided Note-taking—For older student who need to take lecture notes, providing a typed outline
or typed copy of lecture notes to students prior to the lecture can make it easier for the student to

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follow. Another strategy is to have the student highlight key points on a printed copy of notes rather
than copying/recording lecture notes.

Oral Dictation—In some cases it makes sense to use oral dictation as an alternative to writing.
You can use a peer or an instructional assistant as a note taker or scribe. But use caution with this
strategy as it can make a student overly dependent on another person and result in a failure to
learn to write. Once a student finishes school, there will not be a scribe available to write for him.

When thinking about tools that can help improve handwritten work, begin by providing a variety of
pencils and pens of different sizes and shapes. Select some of the many on the market today that
have special grips built in and also provide additional grips that can make it easier to hold and
reduce fatigue. Sometimes students have difficulty monitoring the pressure they are producing, fun
pens that light up when you press the tip down to write can help provide feedback. They are
available periodically at dollar stores and other discount stores. For a student with a physical
disability more creative, but still low tech ideas can make it possible for the student to
independently demonstrate knowledge.

Enlarged Sheet-A student who needs larger spaces in which to print or write can be given an
enlarged sheet to write on and then have the answers transferred to the answer sheet by an adult.

Graph paper-Standard graph paper may help a student copy and complete math problems.

Magnets--Using a magnet with answers on a metal surface is another ―low tech‖ alternative for
multiple choice assignments, fill in the blank or cloze activities. The answers are printed on thick
cardboard and attached to magnets. Then the student pushes the correct ―answer‖ across a line
or into a designated space in one corner of the metal surface. A large cookie sheet with a lip
works well to hold the magnets and keep them corralled.

Old fashioned green and white tractor feed computer paper-Turned sideways, this paper
provides a great visual aid for doing math problems or other tasks where items need to be lined up

Special Paper-There is a variety of special papers with raised lines, wider lines, shaded lines, etc.
They are available from such school supply vendors such as Pro-Ed (1-800-897-3202) or Beacon

Stamps--The use of stamps to complete worksheets or mark a copy of a test booklet may allow
independent responses.

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                           Instructional support for written response
Composition                                       Math Ideas

When the difficulty with writing is more about composing the content than it is about forming the
letters, different strategies are required. There are tools and strategies that a student can use to
gather or check on information.

Concept Mapping—Students can use a webbing / concept mapping strategy to organize their
thoughts or gather information. Inspiration and Kidspiration are successful concept mapping
software programs. CMAP is a program similar to Inspiration and can be downloaded by clicking

Electronic Dictionary-Similar to electronic spell checkers, these have definitions as well as

Electronic Spell Checkers-There is a variety of electronic spell checkers available at Radio Shack
and office supply stores.

Hand held scanner-The Quick Link Pen Elite from WizCom (1-888-777-0552) and Notetaker from
Don Johnston, Inc. (1-800-999-4660) can be useful tools for scanning information into the
computer to have it spoken or to use in organizing and writing research papers.

Portable word processors with spell checkers are useful for science experiments, field trips, and
other times when mobility is necessary.

Quicktionary II Reading Pen-This handheld product is about 1 1/2‖ by 6‖ long. It is held in the
hand and scanned across a word from either left or right. It will then read the word aloud, show the
definition on a small screen or read the definition aloud. This product is available from WizCom
Technologies, Inc. (1-888-777-0552).

Talking Spell Checkers-These look the same as the non speaking electronic spell checkers, but
cost more and generally are not as available. Franklin Electronic Publishers is the producer of most
of these products. (1-800-525-9673)

Word Banks—Many students are helped by word banks and sentence starters. Keeping a
problem word list visible to all students and a word wall of key words can help all students in the

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Math Ideas
Math presents some unique opportunities and also some unique challenges for struggling students.
It lends itself well to using multi-modal instruction-visual, tactile, auditory with real objects. Some
specific teaching programs can be especially helpful such as, Finger Math or Chisenbop which has
proven very helpful for some students.

Assignment Format—If difficulties with math involve writing, try providing additional spacing
between problems, changing the format of assignments (e.g. writing the answers only) or
increasing the size of print through photocopying. Occasionally it may help to use mental math.
Have the student dictate to a peer/adult to record the response. It may also help to reduce the
complexity of assignments. For example, a teacher might separate the problems by operations

Big:Calc-This on-screen calculator with extra large numbers, speech output, versatile layouts, and
built in scanning can be used to support a student with physical, auditory, or visual disabilities. This
is only made for the Macintosh platform from Don Johnston, Inc. (1-800-999-4660). There is a free
version of Big Calc for PC available by clicking here.

Large display Calculator–This calculator with enlarged buttons and display is available from a
variety of vendors such as Independent Living Aids, Inc. (1-800-537-2118) or LS & S Group, Inc.

Large display Scientific Calculator–The VisAble Scientific calculator has large display and is
available from Betacom Corporation (1-800-353-1107).

Math Line–This simple color coded math manipulatives similar to abacus from Howbrite Solutions,
Inc. (800-505-MATH).

Math Pad software-This easy to use math processor by Intellitools (1-800-899-6687) can be used
with a mousepad, Intellikeys keyboard, or a switch in addition to the traditional keypad. Variety of
font sizes, background colors and speech options are available.

MathPad by Voice – The voiced version of mathpad by Metroplex Voice Computing uses voice
recognition technology to allow users to complete addition, subtraction, multiplication and division
by voice.

MathTalk Scientific Notebook – This product by Metroplex Voice Computing Scientific Notebook
will graph, evaluate, evaluate numerically, factor, combine, expand, simplify, check equality, solve
exact and more using over 600,000 voice commands.

Talking Calculator–This calculator with voice output is available from a variety of vendors such as
Independent Living Aids, Inc. (1-800-537-2118) or LS & S Group, Inc. (1-800-468-4789)

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Alternative to written response
When using a computer to produce written assignments, be sure that the student has been taught
needed keyboarding skills. If not, teach keyboarding before expecting the student to effectively use
a computer as a tool. When using the computer check for proper positioning of student in relation
to the computer screen and keyboard. The computer screen should be slightly below eye level so
that the student does not need to throw his head back in order to see it and the keyboard should
allow the student to sit comfortably with arms parallel to the floor and shoulders relaxed.

Abbreviation/expansion This technique is a way to increase typing speed and improve spelling.
The user created specific abbreviations (that are not real words) that can be used to represent
regularly used phrases and terms. For example the name of the class that needs to be typed at the
top of the page for every assignment, or the name of the person whose biography the student is
writing. For more information on abbreviation/expansion, click here.

Brailler-A Brailler is a Braille keyboard used for typing text that can then be printed in standard
print or an a Braille embosser. The Brailler is similar to a typewriter or computer keyboard. Paper is
inserted into the Brailler, and multiple keys are pressed at once, creating an entire cell with each
press. Through an alternative computer port, newer Braillers can simultaneously act as a speech
synthesizer that reads the text displayed on the screen when paired with a screen reading

Electronic pencil-There are several software programs that can be used to scan in a form or a
test page so that a student can respond by keyboarding instead of writing with a pencil. One such
program is Omniform from Caere Corporation.

Portable note-taking devices-These are small, lightweight devices equipped with a Braille or
typewriter-style keyboard for input and synthetic voice. Some note-takers also contain a Braille
display (between 18 and 40 characters) for output. Note-takers are excellent tools for recording
notes in school, at home or at work. They often have additional features such as a calculator and a
calendar function. Newer models have a built-in modem, which allows the user to access e-mail as
well as surf the Web. When connected to a PC, files can be exchanged, or information can be sent
from the note-taker to a Braille embosser or to an ink printer. When linked to a computer using a
screen reader, note-takers equipped with a Braille display can act as a Braille output device.

Portable Word Processor-these lightweight devices are easy to use and easy to carry around.
They are primarily for word processing and provide the opportunity to keyboard instead of write
with a pen or pencil. They have spell checking available and one (the Laser PC6 can speak the
text). Most common are Alpha Smart 3000, Dana, and Neo from Alpha Smart, Inc. (1-888-274-
0680), QuickPAD (H45 Technology, 1-800-373-8181) and Laser PC 6 (Perfect Solutions, 1-800-

Talking word processing-this software allows you to have text spoken as it is typed of when it
has been highlighted. Most programs let you choose whether the computer will speak individual
letters, words, or sentences. Popular products include Write: OutLoud from Don Johnston, Inc (1-
800-999-4660), IntelliTalk 3 from Intellitools (1-800-899-6687), CAST eReader from CAST, Inc.,
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The Talking Word Processor from Premier Assistive, (517-668-8188), and WillowTalk 2.5. RJ
Cooper and Associates (800-752-6673) also has a talking email program-I Can Email.

Word prediction-In word prediction the computer predicts what the user is trying to write based on
the first few letters of the word. There are a number of word prediction programs available. Some
of the most frequently used are Co:Writer from Don Johnston, Inc. (1-800-999-4660) and WordQ

Support for spoken response
Strategies to help a student who struggles to make himself understood with spoken language
includes such simple steps as providing additional response time and accepting shortened or
alternative types of responses. Students appreciate being given enough time to formulate and
speak their comments. This means that both teachers and fellow students need to learn to pause
to provide processing time and only then repeat the request or provide a verbal prompt.

Teachers can support a student’s spoken response by providing symbols, pictures, or words that
the student can point to or hand to someone for communication purposes. The use of even this
type of simple tool is augmentative communication. Augmentative and alternative communication is
the field that focuses on helping individuals whose speech does not meet their communication
needs. For an easy to understand overview click here. The Following is a list of augmentative
communication tools that begins with simple, inexpensive options and moves to more complex,
computer based tools.

Devices with Leveling or Layering-These are also relatively simple devices where messages are
created by pressing a button and speaking into a microphone. They will, however, hold more
messages in multiple layers or levels. The teacher or instructional assistant will need to
mechanically switch from one level to the next and generally must insert a new overlay for each
level. The advantage is that this allows uses for multiple situations or settings, for example, Level 1
can be programmed with messages appropriate for social greetings, Level 2 can hold messages
for science class, Level 3 for Language Arts, etc. Alternatives include Macaw by Zygo, BookTalker
by Frame Technologies, Lighthawk by AdamLab, Digivox by Sentient Systems.

Devices using Icon Sequencing or Semantic Compaction-Icon Sequencing or Semantic
Compaction is a way of organizing language which uses an ordered array of pictures to code
vocabulary. Minspeak™ is the primary example of semantic compaction and is used by Prentke-
Romich Company in their devices. To use it, the student presses two or three keys in sequence to
produce one message. For example, using Minspeak, the user presses a button with a picture of a
dog with a newspaper in its mouth followed by pushing a button with a picture of a question mark.
The device produces the message, ―What’s new with you?‖. On the same device, pressing the
picture of the clock followed by the picture of the question mark produces, ―What time is it?‖. The
user must be able to remember the message codes, but when he does, he can produce a large
number of messages. Alternatives include Vanguard, Pathfinder and by Prentke Romich Co., and
Chatbox by Saltillo.

                       Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools and Strategies
                    Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education
Devices using Dynamic Display-These are computer based and the pictures, symbols or words
are displayed on a screen, like a laptop computer monitor; the screen is capable of touch activation
and pressing a picture on the screen produces a message. The device automatically changes the
picture displays and corresponding messages through the use of internal hyperlinks. For example,
to ask for a cheeseburger at McDonald’s, the user selects a picture of food on the first page. The
device automatically produces a new page of pictures which includes a picture representing fast
food. The user selects the fast food picture and the device produces a page with pictures
representing several fast food restaurants. The user presses the picture for McDonald’s and the
device changes to a page that includes items on the McDonald’s menu. The user selects the
picture of the cheeseburger. These devices are a ―user friendly‖ method of storing messages
because the student only needs to ―recognize‖ the message, not ―recall‖ it. This is a rapidly
growing type of devices. Some examples include: Dynavox, Dynamyte, Dynamo by Dynavox
Systems, Talking Screen by Words + Speaking Dynamically on Macintosh Powerbook, Gus
Software for PCs by Gus Communications Inc., Vanguard by Prentke Romich Co., Portable Impact
devices by Enkidu Research.

Eye Gaze frame-This is a simple frame that holds a choice of pictures, symbols, or printed words
for a student to select by gazing at his desired response. Many are home made from PVC pipe or
plexiglass. Place the words, pictures, or symbols across the frame, far enough apart so that a
communication partner (e.g. teacher, peer, etc.) can discern at which one the student is looking.
This allows a communication partner to sit facing the student and see very accurately where the
student is looking as he eye gazes at the desired object or picture to communicate a choice or

Simple and/or Low Cost Voice Output Devices - These devices allow just a few recorded
messages. They typically work by pressing a button and speaking into a microphone to record a
message. There are now dozens of these devices on the market. They include everything from
talking picture frames available at Radio Shack to more specialized tools. Numerous alternatives
are available from AbleNet, Adamlab, Enabling Devices, Mayer-Johnson, and Saltillo.
Characteristics of these tools include the following:

   One set of messages (represented on one overlay) available to the user at a time.
   Pressing a key (or cell) produces one message.
   May have one, two, four, sixteen, forty, or more buttons with messages.
   Overlay must be physically changed, and device reprogrammed to change the messages.

                       Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools and Strategies
                    Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education
Additional Resources

Assistive Technology Consideration Resource Guide, Georgia Project for Assistive Technology
%20Guide.doc) downloaded May 10, 2005.

Ely, S., Hounshell, M., Irwin, M., Soto, S., & Janes, M.B. (2001). Reach Them All: Adapting
Curriculum and Instruction with Assistive Technology in Inclusive Classrooms. Bloomington, IN:
Indiana University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

Making Assessment Accommodations: A Toolkit for Educators, Wisconsin Assistive Technology
Initiative, downloaded, May 10, 2005.

Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE): Maryland Accommodations Manual 2005-2006:
A Guide to Selecting, Administering, and Evaluating the Use of Accommodations for Instruction
and Assessment of Students with Disabilities.

Special Connections, University of Kansas (
bin/cgiwrap/specconn/main.php?cat=instruction&section=main&subsection=ia/main ) Downloaded
April, 2005.

                      Class Profile Matrix Instructional Tools and Strategies
                   Johns Hopkins University Center for Technology in Education

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