Don Johnston Makes 'Digital Access' to Instructional Materials a Reality for Schools Implementing New IDEA Regulations for Students with Disabilities

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Read:OutLoud® Accessible Text Reader Breaks Price Barrier for Schools. Provides Digital Access to General Curriculum for Students with Disabilities. Technology Tool Helps Schools Comply with Accessible Instructional Materials Regulation.

Don Johnston has just released an affordable whole-school license option for its Read:OutLoud accessible text reader. This software will open all common accessible book formats and read text out loud. Built-in comprehension and fluency tools support students who read below grade level. This new option will help U.S. schools comply with the amended 2004 IDEA regulation that requires schools to provide accessible instructional materials to students with disabilities. State and local administrators, assistive technology professionals, special educators and digital rights managers can also use this accessible technology solution to provide a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach to serve all students.

Read:OutLoud is known for its Supported Reading Guide Templates that leverage recommendations by the National Reading Panel and Reading Next Report. It opens any common accessible file-format including: PDF, NIMAS (the new accessible materials standard), DAISY, Text Files (txt), Rich Text Format (rtf), HTML, XML, and Bookshare.org. The program includes an accessible web browser that speech-enables the Internet. It will open NIMAS files 'on the fly' without expensive conversion. Read:OutLoud is an approved testing accommodation in most states and includes several reading strategy tools: an eHighlighter to improve study skills; the Franklin Talking Dictionary to provide over 32,000 word definitions; a bibliographer to help students accurately cite research.

Ben Johnston, Director, said, "According to NAEP, over 90% of students with IEPs read below proficient levels; yet only an estimated 1-3% have access to technologies to help them overcome reading barriers. There is a clear gap between students who need these technologies and students who now have access. A key cause for this disparity is the high price of accessible technologies. Read:OutLoud will break the price barrier for schools, making universal access a reality."

A whole-school license for students with IEPs costs from $339.50 to $485 per site (based on number of schools) for the first year and $199.50 to $285 per site in subsequent years, which includes upgrades and technical support. Districts who purchase Read:OutLoud for 90% or more of their schools will receive additional 'take-home' rights.

In early 2008, Don Johnston announced a partnership with Bookshare.org (Palo Alto, CA) to provide a free version of Read:OutLoud for students with print disabilities who qualify under the Chafee Amendment. The program was funded by a $32 million dollar grant from OSEP, the Office of Special Education Programs, to support 1-3% of the special needs population. The new Read:OutLoud whole-school license will make universal access a reality for all students with IEPs, not just those who qualify under the Chafee Amendment.

About Don Johnston Incorporated

Don Johnston empowers educators with specialized accessible technologies and supported reading and writing tools for students with cognitive, physical, and learning differences. Since 1980, the company has partnered with literacy experts, assistive technology specialists, speech language pathologists, psychologists, teachers, researchers, and scientists to develop over a dozen accessible technology products. The company also publishes Start-to-Finish®, a collection of paperback, audio and computer books for students reading below grade level.
Visit http://www.donjohnston.com or call 1-800-999-4660

RESOURCE LINKS:
Watch Read:OutLoud Product Demonstration Video
http://www.donjohnston.com/media/flash/product_demo/readoutloud/index.html

Read:OutLoud Universal Access Solution: http://www.donjohnston.com/readoutloud

LEARN: IDEA 2004 - ACCESSIBLE MATERIALS
IDEA Partnership: http://www.ideapartnership.org/oseppage.cfm?pageid=49

IDEA.ed.gov: http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/%2Croot%2Cdynamic%2CTopicalArea%2C10%2C

Watch NIMAS 101: What Educators Need to Know:
http://www.donjohnston.com./prof_services/nimas/index.html

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