What design and usage tips do people have for working with intermediate students with learning disabilities, cognitive impairments, and autism spectrum disorders?
This is also an interest of mine. It is a very new area, so while there is a W3C working group looking at this, they have not posted recommendations yet, but from my experience (I work in online higher ed accessibility and have children with learning disorders), these students are helped by things that help all students:
I would love to hear from others who may know more about this.
This is such an important age for building on their strengths. In my humble opinion, this is when some students learn that not much is expected from them and as long as they behave themselves they'll "pass," but ... they don't really understand what's happening, because the teacher doesn't have the resources to facilitate that (not because they can't).
So all of the above are excellent starting points, but so much depends on how it's implemented! I'd add lots of feedback on the positives, and encouraging the students to learn what *works* for them for learning, not just surviving.
Design things to be 'adaptive' so that students who need more practice and more time spent with more concrete materials with more pictures, etc. can have that. www.cast.org has lots of info and resources. CAST: Free Learning Tools has some guidelines regarding providing alternatives for representation (presenting the information and getting students engaged wtih it), action and expression, and engagement (including assessment and the learning outcomes). Here's a presentation that has some ideas: Universal Design for Learning: A framework for access and equity
Math is one area where I think there's an incredible opportunity and need for more visuals and more concept development. I'd love to find a group trying to really develop good materials... not as an afterthought.
Great points. I do think UDL is the best approach for these students and everyone else. And CAST has great resources.
A few comments on a great posting!