As the team completes the SETT process, questions may arise about the student’s ability to perform certain reading tasks. Standardized reading assessments or teacher observations may answer those questions; however, adapted, specialized or alternative assessments are occasionally in order.
Adapted Phonemic Assessment
Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear, think about, and work with the individual sounds in words. It is an auditory skill and does not involve words in print or sound symbol relationships. However, it is one of the building blocks of beginning reading skills because it involves the isolation and manipulation of sounds. Because it is auditory and oral in nature, phonemic awareness is difficult to assess in students with complex communication needs. Standard phonemic assessments such as The Phonological Awareness Test can be adapted using Boardmaker picture communication symbols. Students are presented with symbols (with no text label) representing words/phonemes that demonstrate a student’s phonemic awareness of segmentation, isolation, deletion, substitution and blending. Students could select the symbol using a preferred selection method (e.g., pointing, picture exchange, eye gaze) instead of vocalizing the sound or word.
Commercial Alternative Assessments
Some skills are more accurately assessed using a commercial product designed for a specific population of students. Stages is a seven-level developmental framework that assesses a student’s cognitive and language abilities. Stages 4, 5 and 7 assess early reading and reading/writing skills. Additionally the program has built in access features such as single switch accessibility. A promising program still under development is the ABC-Link. It asserts that it will be a reliable and valid reading assessment tool for use with students who have complex communication needs (CCN). Students will have to be able to respond yes-no, select from a field of four, and have access to the alphabet. In its final form, ABC-Link will yield individualized instructional plans. The goal is to guide instructional decision-making for students who experience CCN. Standard, percentile, and other types of scores will not be generated as a result of completing the assessment because ABC-Link is intended for use as a guide to good instruction rather than as a tool for accountability, program placement, and/or eligibility. Other reading based programs such as Simon S.I.O.™ and WordMaker® track student progress and identify areas for further work.
Response to Intervention (RtI)
Response to Intervention (RtI) is a general and special education initiative that combines best practices in both fields. As staff work together to analyze those students who continue to struggle to develop reading skills despite skilled differentiated instruction, we should see Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and AT mesh together so that all staff and students use multiple means of expression and representation. That may mean that a school district has a text reader installed on all school computers so that any student can hear digital text read back to them by the computer. It may mean that teachers regularly represent textual facts, characters, timelines, etc. using a graphic organizer and encourage their students to do the same. It may mean that all staff and students know how to manipulate digital text to increase readability by increasing font size, word, line and margin spacing or change background and text color. Talking and standard handheld dictionaries might be available in all classes and media centers. There will still be those students who need more intense and individualized intervention and resources including very specific assistive technology, but our hope is that those distinct lines between students who are using AT and those who are not will start to blur.
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Boyle, E.A., Rosenberg, M.S., Connelly, V.J., Gallin Washburn, S., Brinckerhoff, L.C., & Banerjee, M. (2003). Effects of audio texts on the acquisition of secondary-level content by students with mild disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 26, 203-214.
Cunningham, P.M., Hall, D. P. & Sigmon, C.M. (1999). The teacher’s guide to the Four Blocks ®. Greensboro, NC: Carson-Dellosa.
Don Johnston, Incorporated. (2005). The scientific-based research underlying Read:OutLoud™ & Solo™. Retrieved March 3, 2007, from http://www.donjohnston.com/research/readoutloud_index.html
Edyburn, D. (2003, March/April). Learning from text. Special Education Technology
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Erickson, K. (2003, June 24). Reading comprehension in AAC. The ASHA Leader , Vol.
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Erickson, K. (2007). Student Success: Progress After All These Years” In Route 66
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Products_Mentioned_in_Chapter_5___Product'>Products Mentioned in Chapter 5
Internet Reading Resources (based on the Reading Continuum)
An excellent source of literacy materials that can be printed or adapted. A free 30 day trial is available. Colored online reading materials from RAZ-Kids.
http://www.raz-kids.com/ Starfall Learn to Read
A free website featuring a multitude of stories appropriate for Early Childhood through second grade.
http://www.starfall.com/ Seussville Story Maker
Users can create a three-scene story selecting from "Dr. Seuss" backgrounds, characters, and music. You add your own text. When the story is played, the text appears in "conversation bubbles" but is not spoken.
An online collection of books for young readers up to middle and high school aged. Picture books have been adapted with sound, music, narration and animation. Those for older students have adjustable text, highlighting options and audio narration. They include chapter books, high interest, classics and English and American literature. Free trials available.
http://www.tumblebooks.com/ Books Adapted for Access Accessible Book Collection Wiki
This Wiki has templates from Clicker 5 and IntelliTools Classroom suite that are designed to meet the needs of as many students as possible. Download the templates and books that others have created and share books that you have done. http://accessiblebookcollection.wikispaces.com/
A Macintosh program. You copy and paste text to makes audio books with chapters and everything! Can be transferred to MP3 files, etc.
http://books2burn.sourceforge.net/ Tar Heel Reader
Tar Heel Reader is a collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics. Each book can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces (i.e. switches, alternative keyboards, touch screens, and dedicated AAC devices). The books may be downloaded as slide shows in PowerPoint, Impress, or Flash format. You may also write your own books using their tools.
http://tarheelreader.org/ Handheld Device for Reading Children’s Illustrated e Tales
Convert text files to iPod Notes, download existing eBooks from the eBook library. Conversion of web pages and copy & pasted texts is available. Conversion of RSS feeds to iPod Notes is available for registered users.
http://ebookhood.com/ipod-ebook-creator Many Books
Free eBooks for your PDA, iPhone, or eBook reader.
Free ebook titles for Palm
http://www.memoware.com Palm ebook Studio
Creates eBooks that can be read by the eReader and eReader Pro software on Palm OS ® or PocketPC handhelds.
http://www.ereader.com/ereader/software/product/15001_eBookstudio_win.htm University of Virginia eText Library
Free ebook library for the Microsoft ® Reader and Palm.
http://etext.virginia.edu/ebooks/ Use of Pictures/Symbols with Text Boardmaker ® Books
A list of many books that have Boardmaker symbols already made for them from the Baltimore City Public School System.