How are you using Canvas with your Special Needs population?
Thanks for posting this question, Donna. I've shared it with the Accessibility and K-12 groups to attract the attention of some specialists in the field. Their answers will appear here, so you don't need to join those groups to see their responses—but if you'd like to join the groups so you can post questions and comments in their resources, you can easily do so by selecting Join Group from the Actions dropdown you'll see at the upper right of each group home page.
Donna, one of the things we're doing is instead of using a person to read student's tests/exams to them (so having a test reader) is to put all exams in Canvas and then allow the student to sit in a quiet room and have the computer read the test to them (via screen reading software). This has been nice for our students because they can have a question or answer option read to them as many times as they want and take as long as needed without the need for another person - so they are more independent when taking their exams. In addition, they can schedule when they take their exams much easier because they don't have to work around the schedule of a test reader. We've been doing this for a couple of years and it's been working pretty well!
Kona is the software built into Canvas?
That's such a cool idea.
Bobby, I know you asked Kona this, but she's out at the moment and I work with this with our Accommodations Office and Testing Center all the time, getting tests set up for students with the test reader accommodation. So I hope you don't mind that I jumped in to answer your question. :-)
I checked with our Accommodations office to verify the program they use, and it's Natural Reader. Information for that program can be found at Free Text to Speech: Online, App, Software & Commercial license with Natural Sounding Voices. So it's not built into Canvas, but works very well with tests in Canvas courses.
Brilliant Elizabeth. I will pass that on to a few people who have been asking.
Elizabeth (Online Learning) Jackson and Kona Jones do you use the free version or the paid version? Just out of curiosity.
Misty, I just called our Accommodations Office to doublecheck with them about it. They told me they use the free version. They have had good luck with it.
Hope this helps!
To add to what Kona said, we also get tests set up for students whose instructors don't give their tests in Canvas, but they have the accommodation of having tests read. We created a course in Canvas specifically for those tests. We then add the students to the course so they can access and take their tests, using the reader program to read it to them, and add the instructors so they can get their student's grades. We started doing this in Summer 2015 and it is heavily used. It is working out very well.
To add to this, our district uses iPads so the screen reader is built in. Additionally, when I taught high school several of my students had IEP's that required additional time or other test accommodations. It is easy to add extra time or extra attempts to a students quiz in "moderate this quiz".
Also our alternative diploma students who do not normally use canvas much, have really enjoyed using it for voting. Our schools vote for homecoming, student body elections, who's who, etc... So now their teacher uses quizzes for a way to get their feedback or for voting. I am following this post because I would like to learn more ways to use Canvas with our special needs population.
Our district uses Canvas in conjunction with Snap & Read in a similar manner to what Kona described. I am hopeful the annotation and highlight in quiz feature that is up for voting will make as that would be an awesome support. Other ways our teachers utilize Canvas with our special needs populations are through individualization of assignments, extended due dates, extra quiz attempts, and media rich instructional content. In our PreK-12 district, we have a variety of students who have IEPs and/or general educational need for these types of accommodations and modifications. So if a student has an IEP that requires fewer questions be assigned, you can create an assignment and only assign it to a student or group of students. Conversely, the general assignment can be excused for those same students or not assigned to them at all. Extended due dates is great too for any student who needs more time to master the content. The ability to provide notes as well as video, audio, and supplemental resources all in one location also makes the navigation and location of information easier for students who may struggle with "tab toggling"
We're an online public school, so all of our 7th-12th grade students (with and without special needs) use Canvas.
Some supports I know we've offered for SpEd students include (depending on the specific student and their needs):
- Extra time on tests (if timed - I don't use timed tests in my class)
- Extended deadlines on quizzes or assignments
- Extra attempts on quizzes
- SpEd teacher monitoring their progress through their courses (either in Canvas or through in-person meetings)
- Browser add-on that reads things aloud to them (text-to-speech)
- Program that allows them to speak responses rather than type them (speech-to-text)
Things we are really struggling with the best way to offer in an asynchronous online context that are commonly offered as supports or accommodations in buildings in our district:
- "Content support" classes where students essentially have an elective class that gives them extra instruction, practice, and protected work time for a core class such as Math or ELA so they can keep up with the regular ed curriculum but get extra support to be successful
- teacher check-ins to make sure they understood assignment directions or lessons
- Reminders to stay on task
- Organizational help such as regular binder/notebook/planner checks
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