Books of the Future
Late last year I wrote an article on "universal design for learning," an educational philosophy that promotes using technology to supplement teaching materials and make them accessible to all types of students. UDL had found support among several disability advocacy organizations, who wanted the concept included in the reauthorization of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Ricki Sabia, an advocate with the National Down Syndrome Society, just sent me a link that shows an example of universally designed texts created by the Center for Applied Special Technology in Wakefield, Mass., which has spearheaded the UDL movement.
This is really quite cool. As Ricki noted, the site offers text-to-speech technology, pop-up definitions of words, comprehension questions at four levels of difficulty, links to encyclopedia entries and translations between English and Spanish. It's a great example of the promise that UDL offers to make educational materials broadly useful. And it's fun, too -- I'm enjoying going through "The Tell-Tale Heart," one of my favorite spooky stories from middle school, and clicking on all the extra resources included as part of the text.