Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Donald J. Leu

Deborah D. Leu

Julie Coiro

Chapter Eleven



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 recess.  


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 Classroom

A few online resources that include recommendations from other teachers who have successfully managed their students’ use of one computer in the classroom include:

 Jan 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:

•  Digital Equity: It’s Not Just About Access Anymore

•  Excellence 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 Internet (SERI)
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! 

•  Special 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 Children
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 All Students

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 Searchengine, 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

•  Visually 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. 

•  Blindness Resource Center
A great central site for visually challenged and blind individuals. Set a bookmark!


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 (for PC). 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 Education.

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 Communicating Effectively 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 Deficit Disorder

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 Disabilities (NCLD)
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 Disorder
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.

•  The 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 Do2Learn Website

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
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. 

 Ability Online
Students can share information, experiences, stories, or interests with others while learning more about opportunities for personal growth. 

•  Deaf Child International Website
Students and teachers have an opportunity to interact online with other individuals from around the world using various types of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). 

 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 Minds.

The Disability 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 Dictionary. 

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 to Youth: Children with Disabilities.  

Also visit:
•  Sign Design
•  About Face
•  Fern, the Effective Detective
•  Online Braille Translator


Take a look at the many visual simulation activities available from Inservices to Sighted Classmates, or the Understanding Friends Program designed to educate children about differences and to foster empathy. Also be sure to share with your students the interactive sound ruler and several short video clips about Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Using Internet Project

•  Sign-Writing Literacy 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. 

 Paralympics: 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.” 

•  E-Buddies
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.

•  Multimedia 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 story. 

Using WebQuest

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.

The Disability 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.

Walk 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.

The 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! 


Explore various collections of resources related to each area of intelligence from the Match Multiple Intelligences with Technology Web site.  Students can explore the “Intelligence Stations” compiled at Multiple Intelligences and Technology by elementary teachers in Arizona and then have a discussion about their particular areas of interest and strength.  For more lesson ideas, you may wish to explore the information available from Teaching to the Seven Multiple Intelligences.

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 Inquiry projects. 

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 Blackboards
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 in Kentucky
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 Center
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 (CEC).

•  Family 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 Home Page
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. 

•  So 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 Spring
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.

•  Teaching 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 Explosive Kids
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.

•  You 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!

•  Zigawhat
An interactive Web site for learning, connecting, and having fun for young people with
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

Behavior Discussion Forum
A forum to discuss and comment on issues concerning children with behavioral issues.


A discussion group on special education. Follow typical listserv procedures to subscribe.

A discussion group for children who are deaf. Follow typical listserv procedures to subscribe.


A discussion list from the United Kingdom for disabled students and their support staff. Many local topics are relevant to special educators from any country.

           Subscription: DIS-FORUM@JISCMAIL.AC.UK

An Inclusive education discussion list. Follow typical listserv procedures to subscribe.


KidSource Forums
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.

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