I love it when the federal government gets all 21st-century on us. The federally-mandated Interagency Committee on Disability Research is charged with developing an agenda to guide how our government's research dollars are spent in this area. And, they want to hear from you! So for the first time, they've created a web-based interface to collect comments. After you create an account, you can offer your comments through the web portal until April 17. The committee is seeking comments on these issues : Collaboration and coordination among federal agencies; Health information technology and/or electronic health records; Health disparities; Health promotion ...


When I was working on my story about transition for students with disabilities, I wondered what role the sputtering economy might play in efforts to find good jobs for adults who may be looking for vocational employment. According to this article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the picture doesn't look good: Photos line the hallway outside the Elmbrook Work Center, showing smiling students delivering office mail, washing dishes, stuffing envelopes and shredding paper - part of contracts forged with private businesses and other entities. For the center based at the Elmbrook School District's Fairview South School, where job training is provided ...


When Amazon's Kindle 2 was released in February, the e-book reader was thinner and lighter than its predecessor--and also included a text-to-speech feature that could convert e-books into serviceable audiobooks. That functionality attracted the attention of the Authors Guild, which has represented writers in this country since 1912. Audiobook rights are a potentially lucrative part of an author's publishing contract, and the group was concerned that the Kindle 2 offered the ability to breach an author's copyright. In response, Amazon has offered publishers the ability to disable the text-to-speech functionality of the device for individual books. But that move has ...


The U.S. Department of Education has put out a 22-page set of guidelines (pdf) on how to spend stimulus dollars for the Individuals With Disabilities Act, Part B (5- to 21-year-olds) and Section 619 (3- to 5-year-olds) States will receive $11.7 billion over the next two years for these programs. There are also guidelines (pdf) for stimulus funding for IDEA Part C (infants and toddlers). That program will receive $500 million over two years. The guidance is written in a convenient question-and-answer format, and I will be digging further into it a little later. I invite readers to ...


This'll be a light blogging week as I work on another story, but I wanted to pass this along: I have heard some parents of children with disabilities suggest that it is difficult to have "soft skills" included on their child's individualized education program. This study, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, suggests why such skills are important. According to a University of Illinois professor who studies the sociology of education, high school sophomores who were rated by their teachers as having good social skills and work habits, and who participated in extracurricular activities in high school, made more ...


Arizona's voucher program for students with disabilities and students in foster care was invalidated today by the state's high court. The unanimous decision stated that the $5 million program, which I wrote about last June, violates a state law that prohibits state funds from going to private schools. From today's story from the Associated Press: Though supporters argued that students and their parents were the true beneficiaries of the programs, the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling said the programs still tripped up against the Constitution's prohibition against appropriating money for private education. "These programs transfer state funds directly from the state ...


The student newspaper at North Carolina State University, the Technician, reported that the university will be cutting some specific special education programs to meld them into a more general special educator degree. The students in the Master of Education in Special Education will still be taught different strategies for teaching students with different special needs, just not each in a separate class. Students will have the skills to handle more general situations, but they may not be as highly specialized for dealing with specific special needs students, according to Ellen Vasu, the department head for instruction and counselor education. "The ...


I'm embarrassed to say I just didn't hear this when I was watching the president on Jay Leno last night, possibly because I was reading and listening at the same time. The dangers of multitasking. Appearing on "The Tonight Show" Thursday, the president told host Jay Leno he'd been practicing at the White House's bowling alley but wasn't happy with his score of 129. Then he remarked: "It was like the Special Olympics or something." The audience laughed, but the White House quickly recognized the blunder. The Special Olympics, founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, is a global, nonprofit ...


The blog Disability Scoop is featuring a question-and-answer session with a New York-based transition coordinator. I was interested in her answer to this question about people with cognitive disabilities and support after high school: ....do not leave school before you must. If you have not completed the requirements for graduation, you are entitled to stay in school until the year you turn 21! For all the struggles you may face within the school system, school services are mandated by law. Adult programs require meeting eligibility requirements, which often makes services far less comprehensive and user friendly. I recently wrote an ...


Two years ago, I wrote an article about the growing popularity of voucher programs for students with disabilities. But that was before someone let the air out of the economy. Now, with state budgets pinched, some programs are having to cut back the number of voucher recipients they pay for. From a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: About 1,600 students statewide receive vouchers under Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship Program, up from nearly 900 in 2007-08, the program’s inaugural year. Although the enrollment has nearly doubled, the funding, which is based on a student’s diagnosis and individual ...


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