INCLUDING ALL STUDENTS
ON THE INTERNET
Internet equity has become an important issue within the educational community. It is important to provide more equitable access and ensure that we do not leave any members of our society behind. An important aspect of equity means doing everything we can to ensure equal Internet access within individual classroom communities. Sometimes, for example a few students in a classroom become so excited about electronic learning that they tend to dominate the use of limited electronic resources, inadvertently excluding others in the process. At other times, students who fall behind in navigational skills at the beginning often fail to take full advantage of their computer time because they are uncertain about how to accomplish tasks and are too embarrassed to ask for assistance. At other times, challenged students do not always participate in Internet experiences for any number of reasons. This chapter recognizes each of these issues as it seeks ways to ensure equitable Internet access for each child in your class.
Teaching With the Internet:
Monica Ashburn's Class
Monica downloaded the free version of ReadPlease to assist
two of her students who had trouble decoding portions of the text on Joke-A-Rama, one of
the Web sites she had bookmarked for them to explore as part of their creative
writing unit on Riddles, Jokes, and Poems. Her students have also
explored and submitted their own work on, I Spy: Write a Riddle
Online. Monica utilized The Screen Magnifiers Homepage
to enlarge texts and allow students to locate objects to integrate into
their I Spy Riddles.
Peter, a student who had a younger brother with a significant hearing
loss, introduced his group to the Mysterious
Secret Language Mystery Riddles site. Since it had to do with
riddles, he thought he could use it as a way to help his friends practice
using Fingerspelling so that they could talk more with Peter’s brother at
The American Library Association recommends sites be compliant
with the Americans with Disabilities Act as much as possible and provides
a link to the World Wide Web Consortium site
(W3C), an organization that promotes the accessibility of Web sites
to people with disabilities. Other organizations such as the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)
and the National Center for
Accessible Media have developed criteria that may be used to evaluate
the degree to which a Web site meets basic principles of universal design.
If you wish to evaluate the extent to which your classroom Web site meets
principles of universal design and access, be certain to visit Bobby. If the report indicates
your site meets the Bobby standards, you are entitled to display a Bobby
Approved icon on your site.
Orchestrating Equity in Your
A few online resources that include recommendations from other teachers
who have successfully managed their students’ use of one computer in the
Scaplen’s list of Classroom Management Techniques
• Linda Burkhart’s
Classroom Management Tip
• Ideas for Teaching
with One Computer
Sometimes, communication experiences on the Internet are especially
engaging for girls. You may wish to consider ways to exploit this interest
by developing an Internet Project with communication opportunities between
members of different classes or by creating opportunities for girls to visit
such sites as Club Girl Tech, which
includes links for boys to visit too! This may equalize any gender differences
you see in your classroom.
A few additional resources that may prompt your thinking about equity
issues and technology in the classroom include:
Equity: It’s Not Just About Access Anymore
and Equity Through Technology Network
• Closing the Equity Gap in
Technology Access and Use: A Practical Guide
for K-12 Educators
At the beginning of the year, develop an Internet
Workshop session around the ThinkQuest resource Seeing
DisABILITIES from a Different Perspective. A very simple way to do this
is to have your class explore this wonderful resource and bring to the workshop
session three ideas to share that they learned about disabilities explored
at this important resource. It is an important way to begin the year, bringing
issues of diversity and difference to your entire class. Note that this
site was developed by students in Grades 4–6 at Sherwood Elementary School
in Illinois as part of the ThinkQuest
Junior annual competition . Consider developing a project for this contest
or the ThinkQuest contest with your students.
Directories for Teachers of Students
with Special Needs
Directory sites we have found helpful include:
• Special Education Resources on the
This is one of the best sites on the Internet for special education resources.
It contains a comprehensive and well-organized set of links to locations
important for special education issues.
• Family Village
This is an excellent site for mental retardation and other disabilities.
Set a bookmark!
Education Resources--Bowling Green School District in Ohio
This site opens the door to national organizations, legal resources, educational
interventions, and materials for students with particular special needs.
• The Council for Exceptional
A major professional organization in special education.
• National Dissemination
Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)
This site, available in both English and Spanish, is a central source of
information on laws, policies, and research based effective educational
practices for students with special needs.
Assistive Technology Tools for
A text-to-speech reader, also known as a screenreader, reads text
out loud from Web pages or electronic documents. Read Please, for example,
is a free text reader available for Windows users that features natural
voices and options to adjust the speed and font size. The text reader window
opens next to the Internet site and text is highlighted in yellow as it
is read out loud in a pre-selected natural voice. TextAloud MP3 is another speech
reader that converts any text from Web pages, email, applications, and even
program menus into MP3 audio files. It is free to download and use for thirty
days, and after that, it is available for a fee.
You may also be interested in the Special Needs Opportunities Windows
(SNOW) Web site from Toronto, Canada. From here, you can access
directions on how to download the text readers HelpRead for Windows and Sound
Talker for Mac as well other audio and video players
to enhance access to text for all students. Finally, we recently discovered
a unique tool known as Betsie, which
stands for BBC Education Text to Speech Internet Enhancer.
Is there anything available on the Internet
for determining the reading level of text at certain Web sites?
First, you may use the OKAPI
Readability Statistics Tool
as a way to help locate Web sites with text
at a student’s approximate reading level. Visit a site you’d like to test,
copy and paste a few passages into the “Text to be analyzed” box of the
OKAPI tool, click on “Run Readability Analysis” and you’ll get an estimated
reading level using either the Spache (Grades 1–3) or Dale-Challe (Grades
4 and up) readability formula. You may also explore the Reading Level Calculator
for a similar process. If you use the KidsClick
, the search results are annotated with pretty accurate
grade level ranges from Grades K–2, Grades 3–6, or Grades 7+, helping you
to at least narrow down the range of reading levels within a certain Web
site. Finally, the article entitled Readability Issues to Consider
reminds us that elements other than text level influence the actual “readability”
of information for students.
Opportunities for Students Who Are
Visually or Hearing Challenged
Enlarging the font size for children who are visually challenged
works especially well on Web pages that use a lot of text. It works less
well at those sites with graphics since graphics are not enlarged with this
approach. In these situations you may wish to use software that enlarges
the entire screen, not just text. With the more recent Macintosh systems,
this is already available to you in Easy Access. If you can’t locate this
feature, if you need to download this software, or if you wish to read about
using this software, just visit the Apple location Access
Features. If you use a Windows system, visit the Microsoft Accessibility Home Page
for similar solutions. You may also want to explore the large collection
of accessibility freeware and shareware on both computer platforms for people
with all kinds of sensory and physical disabilities at Trace
Shareware and Freeware.
Central sites for visually challenged students
Impaired Resource Guide
Includes a sequential framework for addressing technology options in the
reading and writing curriculum for students who use Braille and for those
with low vision.
• Strategies for Teaching
Students with Vision Impairments
Several helpful classroom tips and strategies for accommodating the needs
of students who are visually challenged.
A great central site for visually challenged and blind individuals. Set
What kinds of new assistive technologies are on the
horizon for my students with significant visual challenges?
One of the newest technologies we’ve seen for individuals with visual disabilities
is a camera-based scene reader called vIOCe Sonification Browser
. You can download this free video sonification software that
translates arbitrary video images from a regular PC camera into sounds.
There are also locations on the Web to support hearing challenged students.
You might begin by visiting The Deaf/Hard of Hearing
location of the Family Village site. Another useful location is SERI Hearing Impairment Resources.
If you or parents of your students are interested in pursuing verbal communication
instead of sign language for students who have hearing difficulties, you
may wish to explore Auditory Verbal
International or Oral Deaf
Several other locations may be useful for all students in your classroom.
A Basic Dictionary
of ASL Terms and The American
Sign Language Browser provide an extensive signing dictionary.
You may wish to make these sites a regular part of Internet Workshop and
begin to develop the ability to sign with your hearing students.
For older students and teachers wanting to learn more, Sound and Fury is a companion
Web site to a PBS television special about living with cochlear implants.
From here, you may access information about deaf culture, the debate around
cochlear implants, and online lesson plans and resources for middle and
high school students to explore. The
Sign Writing Site describes the process by which sign language can become
a written language, providing another alternative way of fostering communication
between deaf and hearing people. Finally, we found the list of tips from
with Individuals that have Visual and Hearing Difficulties to
be very helpful when thinking about how to best meet each individual’s diverse
needs and communication styles.
Here is a way to conduct a simple Internet Workshop with your students,
developing the ability to communicate with a limited set of ASL signs. Set
a bookmark or a link to American Sign
Language Browser . Give students a set of high frequency words that
may be combined in different ways to make a variety of sentences: I, you,
we, it, play, see, eat, read, baseball, funny, apple, ice cream, book, and
so on. Then, using this Internet site, have them learn one sentence to share
during the workshop session.
Meeting the Needs of Students with Learning Disabilities or Attention
One of our very favorite resources for supporting educators in making
informed decisions about effective instruction for students with learning
disabilities or attention deficit disorder (ADD) is LD Online.
Visit to the Center for Applied Special
Technology (CAST) to learn more about their vision of Universal Design
for Learning that uses technology to expand opportunities for all people,
especially those with disabilities. The site is chock full of
research-based materials, including their Teaching Every Student
section that features full-text access to the book Teaching
Every Student in the Digital Age (Rose & Meyer, 2002).
• Learning Disabilities Resource Community
This community provides knowledge building and communication tools to promote
learning awareness among educators striving to meet the needs of students
with learning disabilities and online exercises that promote learning awareness.
• The National Center for Learning
NCLD works to ensure early identification and advocacy for students with
learning difficulties. Be sure to check out their incredible collection
of LD Fact
Sheets designed to help parents and educators identify and respond to
specific types of learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia,
dyspraxia, and visual or processing disorders.
• Attention Deficit
From here you can read many articles from a team of doctors in Maryland
to learn more about important medical and educational issues associated with
Attention Deficit Disorder.
Meeting the Needs of Students with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome
A few directories that provide information about the special learning
needs of students with autism include the Autism Society of America,
the Autism PDD Resources Network,
and Doug Flutie’s Foundation
for Autism . This site also sponsors a free online course for parents
of children with autism in collaboration with Canter Online. Be sure to also
explore the wealth of exceptional lessons created by special educators in
Green Bay, Wisconsin at their Web page Autism: Interventions
and Strategies for Success.
Thinking Skills Workbook designed for Children with Autism is a small
gateway into a series of science, math, and language arts activities for
younger children with autism.
• Older students with autism may enjoy working with a partner
to explore, download, and add text to the visual pictures available from
Use Visual Strategies
as a means of building communication skills. The pictures
can be printed out and used to assist students in their attempts to communicate
their needs, feelings, and interests in the classroom, as in the examples provided.
• The online collection of Picture Recipes
may provide another avenue for students with autism to actively participate
in integrated lessons for reading, science, and math.
• Since many students with autism have difficulty recognizing how
other people are feeling by their facial expressions, the Online Feelings
Game is an example of an activity that could be set up as part of an
Internet Workshop activity. Other online learning games and printed educational
materials for students with autism are located from the main page of the
Using Internet Workshop
Internet Workshop opportunities can include time for students to
log on and join one of the many Web-based communities that have been created
to foster interaction with other students who have similar or unique educational,
social, or medical needs.
• PatchWorx: Online Support
Center for Kids with Illnesses or Disabilities
Students of all ages will enjoy the interactive games and posting their
own stories and artwork, while older students can exchange ideas and reflections
through an online chat room, bulletin board, or interactive “kid’s quilt”
that links to other individual’s Web pages.
Club BraveKids recognizes the advantages of networking among individuals
with chronic, life-threatening illnesses or disabilities and has designed
this community to feature contests, message boards, a weekly poll, medical
information, and a few interactive games for students.
Students can share information, experiences, stories, or interests with
others while learning more about opportunities for personal growth.
• Deaf Child International
Students and teachers have an opportunity to interact online with other individuals
from around the world using various types of Information and Communication
• I Am Dyslexic
This site was created by Barnaby, a 14-year-old boy with dyslexia, for
other children with dyslexia. He shares unique tips and strategies for spelling,
research, and typing; he hosts a daily message board with other students
with dyslexia from around the world.
Design an entire learning unit using Internet resources that engage
your students in activities and discussions about students with special needs.
For example, middle and high school students may reading “Success
Stories” of students like those featured at the Special Education
Technology from British Columbia (SET-BC) Website or others featured
in the online companion to the PBS Special Misunderstanding
Awareness Site for Youth from the Center for Disability Information
& Referral, includes a Truth or Lie Quiz, a sign language puzzle, and
an annotated list of famous people with disabilities to match up.
Students can try their hand at fingerspelling by taking the ASL Fingerspelling Quiz, which also
provides links to a Fingerspelling Converter and an Online Fingerspelling
Younger children may enjoy the activities available from Web sites
that feature both information and games, such as the Braille Bug Siteabout individuals
with visual challenges, or
Youth: Children with Disabilities.
• Sign Design
• About Face
the Effective Detective
• Online Braille
Using Internet Project
Each classroom has their own Web page to share and exchange reflections,
opinions, and finished student products written with sign writing. From
the related Children
to Children site, you can see many more examples of stories and poems
written by children using Sign-Writing.
Where Heroes Come
This language arts/social studies project was created by teachers in Alberta,
Canada to “develop an appreciation of the Paralympic Games as a celebration
of the power of the human mind, body and spirit.”
Your students can volunteer to serve as en e-mail buddy to another student
with intellectual challenges. Participants e-mail each other at least once
a week for a year, and many students go on to serve in leadership positions
with offline activities as well.
Using Internet Inquiry
Two examples of inquiry activities that remind us that all learners
have unique interests and abilities and that supported inquiry has a place
at all levels of education include the following:
• Action Reflection
Process: Supporting All Students in Inquiry Based Science You can view strategies that teachers use, access a three-session virtual
experience with the action reflection process from pre-assessment to post-evaluation,
and explore evidence that this process makes a difference in promoting science
concepts among students with special needs.
and More: Help for Students with Learning Disabilities
In this unit, high school students with and without learning disabilities
are motivated by the opportunity to incorporate their own brainstorms into
a hypermedia template that eventually results in an interactive Web-based
When searching for WebQuests that consider students with special
needs, we found several that serve as a motivating opportunity for students
to practice new literacies such as searching and synthesizing information
as part of a Disability Awareness Unit.
One of our favorites is the Kids’ Quest on Disability
and Health, which was created by the National Center on Birth Defects
and Developmental Disabilities. Students can choose from learning quests
related to autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, visual impairment, communication
disorders, learning disabilities, and physical disabilities.
WebQuest presents a series of activities that encourage elementary students
to explore visual and hearing disabilities on and off the Internet with an
older reading buddy.
in My Shoes: How a Disability Changes Your Life was designed as an extension
of a high school class study of Helen Keller and The Miracle Worker by William
Gibson. Students work in small groups of four, playing the role of Internet
Researcher, Interviewer, Editor, or Producer, while exploring what it would
be like to have a specific disability and how it would affect their lives.
Think-Quest Junior Information About Sign Language serves as a model of
a Web-based resource created by two fifth grade girls who were interested
in learning more about sign language and deafness. Your students could investigate
other groups of individuals with special needs and create a similar type of
learning quest. They may even want to enter it into the global Internet Thinkquest contest to share
their expertise with others and maybe even win a prize!
Special Thoughts About Special Students
As you plan instructional programming for children with special needs
in your classroom, we hope you keep two ideas in mind. First, each of your
students is, in fact, a child with special needs. Each and every child
has unique needs that must be recognized as you make instructional decisions.
You must always consider each student’s background and abilities as you use
the Internet in your classroom. Nothing is more important.
Visiting the Classroom: Fred Roemer's Fifth Grade Class in Florida
Mr. Roemer's Fifth
Grade Polar Bears There is so much wonderful information for his
students and so many resources to support their learning.
Read the Daily Log, for example, to discover what is taking place
with the Polar Bears each day. Fred's classroom page shows all of us many new literacies we could
use in our own class pages. You will learn a lot about the potentials of
the Internet for your classroom. Fred's students are fortunate to have him
for their teacher.
New Literacies for Students with Special Needs
One promising example is the work taking place at the Center for
Applied Special Technology (CAST). Pay a visit to Internet Inquiry with All
Students. Here, you can learn about research that involves middle school
students with and without learning disabilities who successfully use etrekker,
a software prototype developed by CAST to support students engaged in Internet
To illustrate how important teachers are to the development of new
literacies, we invite you to read an article describing the most thoughtfully
conducted Internet Inquiry project we have encountered—the
Hero Inquiry Project. This article is available online as an Adobe PDF
file that you may download.
Additional Resources on the Internet for Students with Special Need
• Adobe Acrobat
Solutions for Accessibility
This site features a host of solutions that improve the accessibility of
text files saved as Adobe PDF files such as customized font size and options
to read PDF files out loud.
• Apple's Disability Resources
Here is the location for getting in touch with all kinds of information
about adaptive technologies provided by Apple Computer and other companies.
Set a bookmark!
• Autism Resources
A site with many links to resources related to Autism and Asperger's
Syndrome including links to on-line discussions, mailing lists, news, treatment
methods, research, and much more.
• Band-Aids and
Young children and teens share stories and information about growing up
with medical problems. Stories and support systems are organized into sections
for young children, teens, and adults.
• Behavior Homepage
This site hosts a superb collection of resources, articles, and online supports
for parents and educators interested in sharing effective practices for working
with children who display challenging behaviors. Many great ideas here and
lots of support!
• Blindness Resource
A great location with extensive information about blindness and resources
to inform teachers and assist students.
• Brain Connection
A really neat collection of resources, interactive lessons, games, and activities
to get you and your students thinking more about how our brains impact hearing,
vision, movement, reading, writing, and much more!
• Center for Effective
Collaboration and Practice
This center is dedicated to sharing effective practices that foster the
development of children or youth with or at risk of developing serious emotional
disturbance. Be sure to check out their amazing collection of “Mini-Web”
resources for educators.
• ERIC/OSEP Special Project
A very nice listing of synthesized research and news briefs about topics
in special education collected through a collaboration between ERIC Clearinghouse
on Disabilities and Gifted Education and the Council for Exceptional Children
Village Inclusion Resources
Another nice location to provide resources for teachers interested in inclusive
education. Contains links to locations to communicate with others, research,
online newsletters, and Web sites related to inclusion.
An outstanding collection of resources designed for the
teacher who practices, or will soon practice, an inclusion model in the classroom.
Links to teaching strategies, strategies to prepare for inclusion, and many
supportive Internet resources.
• Learning Disabilities Association of America
This location provides links and resources for individuals interested
in learning more about learning disabilities.
• Learning Disabilities
This website contains a booklet from the National Institutes of Mental
Health. It explains learning disabilities to parents.
• International Dyslexia Association
The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) is an international, non-profit,
scientific and educational organization dedicated to the study and treatment
of dyslexia. This location provides access to its many resources related
to this important learning disability.
• Microsoft Accessibility
This is the location for links to many accessibility technologies if
you use a Window operating system. Many free downloads and links to important
resources appear here.
• Network for Inclusive Education
This site promotes the concept of Inclusive Education with a special focus
on the Asian perspective. Information summarizes strategies for inclusion,
challenges, and many other insightful perspectives.
• New Horizons for Learning
This organization seeks to implement successful change for education through
electronic technologies. Many useful articles about instructional methods
to help all learners achieve.
Get Into It: A Curriculum That Breaks Barriers
From here, you can download a free curriculum that celebrates the diverse
gifts of every student by learning about the Special Olympics experience and
all its positive messages.
• Signs of
These first graders invite you into their classroom to share their work
related to seasons, poetry, and sign language. They construct drawings with
Kid Pix and use sign language to express their feelings about Spring through
a whole class performance.
Sponsored by Schwab Learning, this is an online interactive environment
in which kids who learn differently can create, share, play games, and connect electronically with other kids like them.
• Swan and SNAP Rating Scales
for Attention Deficit Disorder
These two scales, developed by Dr. James Swanson at the University of California,
Irvine to identify and evaluate extreme behaviors related to Attention Deficit
Disorder and/or Hyperactivity, are available for download from this site.
Students with Autism: A Guide for Educators
Visit this site to download a free 77-page teacher’s guide of activities
for students with autism developed by educators in Saskatchewan, Canada.
• Parents and Teachers of
A very nice collection of tips and strategies from experts using collaborative
problem solving to assist students with challenging behaviors. Be sure to
visit the online message board here as well.
• Perky Duck
Free Braille Emulator
From here, you can access a free computer-based, six-key Braille emulator
program designed specifically for distance learning programs to help students
create Braille files using Windows or Macintosh systems. You’ll also find
a unique collection of online Braille reference tools.
• World Around
You: A Magazine for Deaf Teens
Gallaudet University publishes this free magazine for deaf and hard of hearing
teens and a teacher’s guide three times a year. The magazine also features
a yearly essay contest with scholarship awards for high school students.
Can Handle Them All
This is an extremely helpful list of solutions to 117 of the most common
misbehaviors, including those associated with seeking attention, power, revenge,
or self-confidence. Each solution outlines the behavior’s description, effects,
actions, common management mistakes, and links to related behaviors. A true
lifesaver for any teacher or parent!
An interactive Web site for learning, connecting, and having fun for young
disabilities and their peers created by the National Information Center
for Children and Youth
with Disabilities (NICHCY).
Online Communities for Including
All Kids on the Internet
A forum to discuss and comment on issues concerning children with behavioral
A discussion group on special education. Follow typical listserv procedures
A discussion group for children who are deaf. Follow typical listserv procedures
A discussion list from the United Kingdom for disabled students and their
support staff. Many local topics are relevant to special educators from any
An Inclusive education discussion list. Follow typical listserv procedures
Here is a directory of several forums for teachers and parents sponsored
by KidSource online. Two particularly relevant forums are those focusing on
children with learning and other disabilities and gifted children.
List of Lists
A list of mailing lists related to special needs issues.
A special education discussion list.
Back to the top