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Working with Students with Special Needs in Online Classes DeNeale and Angela

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1 Working with Students with Special Needs in Online Classes DeNeale and Angela

2 Special Education Laws in Online Environments It is important to understand that students with disabilities are entitled the same rights in all public schools, regardless of whether that school is a traditional school, a charter school, a virtual school, or a combination of all three. This is a list of responsibilities that providers of online programs may have: ●Identifying and evaluating students who may be in need of special education services ●Developing IEPs ●Accommodating and modifying curriculum ●Providing assistive technology ●Obtaining face-to-face speech services, occupational therapy, and social work ● Making accommodations for state testing

3 Accommodations Online courses can provide built-in accommodations that may not be found in traditional classrooms. For example: ●Extended time ●Communication ●Revise and re-submit work ●Frequent communication with parents ●Prepared notes for students ●Clear rubrics ●Appropriate placement ●A closely supported environment ●Varied formats for activities ●Use of screen readers ●Daily lesson planning with students ●Remediation on the spot

4 Laws and Statutes Online programs, as public schools are required by law to abide by all federal education statutes. The most relevant laws and statutes are: ●The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) ●The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA) ●The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

5 IDEA IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to ensure that children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive a free appropriate public education, just like other children. The law has been revised many times over the years. The basic requirements for IDEA compliance include the following: ●Identification of students who qualify for special services ●Development and management of an individualized education program, or IEP ●Entitlement to placement in the least restrictive environment, or LRE (learners home in an online setting, generally)

6 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Section 504 is important for schools because it defines disabilities more broadly than IDEA and includes most physical and mental impairments. Students with chronic illness and students with cerebral palsy may not qualify for services under IDEA, but they do meet the criteria for Section 504. *No funds available for students who meet the 504 criteria.

7 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) The Americans with Disabilities Act is similar to Section 504, but it does not address education specifically. Title I, Title II, and Title III of ADA are intended to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities in public places. For education, this relates to providing students a learning environment that is accessible. For online environments that operate brick-and-mortar facilities, they must be ADA compliant.

8 Identifying Students with Special Needs Identifying and supporting students with disabilities works best when it is a team effort. The IEP process in a virtual school is almost identical to a traditional school setting. At a minimum, the team includes the parent, case manager, a general education teacher, a representative of the district, and a person who is qualified to speak to the student’s evaluation report. Conferences can be conducted through the use of a phone or via Web conference. The IEP team meets to create goals for the student based on the areas of need according to the evaluation. They also discuss accommodations and modifications for the student in the virtual classroom.

9 Differentiation Differentiation can be one of the most challenging tasks a teacher faces. Here are some strategies that can be used for online learners. ●Contact students before class starts to establish rapport ●Learn if accommodations or assistive technology are needed ●Use grouping strategies ●Use synchronous and asynchronous teaching strategies ●Provide frequent progress reports to students and parents ●Sensitive to cultural differences ●Additional time on assignments ●Provide advanced copies of the syllabus and materials ●Use multiple media formats for curriculum materials ●Provide verbal explanations

10 Tier I Interventions Tier I: Accommodate or modify the regular curriculum Accommodation StrategiesModification Strategies ●Tactile instruction ●Assess student work orally ●Provide audio or digital books ●Provide recorded notes or lessons ●Accept shortened assignments ●Base grades on work completed ●Offer a captioned film

11 Tier II Interventions Tier II: Add a support and consider removing an elective

12 Tier III Interventions Tier III: Provide assistive technology

13 Universal Design for Learning (UDL) The UDL principles are a means of differentiating instruction to improve access to high-quality instruction for all learners.

14 Assessment

15 Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities (COLSD)

16 Resources Center for Online Learning and Students with Disabilities. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2015, from Galleries on Education. (2011, August 8). Retrieved April 3, 2015, from Rice, K. (2012). Making the Move to K-12 Online Teaching. ISBN: 978-0-13-210761-7

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