Education & Learning

Advances in Teaching and Learning: Inclusion Classrooms and Assistive Technologies

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“Throughout our lives, we confront learning opportunities and learning challenges. The challenges we encounter are either addressed andsurmounted,or they go unaddressed and linger. If these challenges to learning persist they eventually place you at a comparative disadvantage. If new opportunities for learning emerge we unlock new potential for growth and success.” Find out more about this innovation in teaching and learning…

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Disadvantages in the curriculum and education system place students with disabilities on unequal footing. We know that if students with disabilities are given the right tools adolescents with disabilities would develop their interests, talents, skills and knowledge. Furthermore they would then be able to share these with their society. Their potential should be just as bright as that of persons withoutdisabilities, however, pathways to success require learning, modifying and altering systems and supports. One such support system is explored below in this case study developed by Kurzweil Systems on the powerful role assistive technologies can play in redressing inequality of outcomes.

Newberry Elementary School Principal Lacy Redd with Sam, who is becoming more independent because of Kurzweil 3000


Lacy Redd became principal of Newberry Elementary School in 2003. At that time, students with disabilities, approximately 26% of the school population, were being taught in resource rooms. These students were performing poorly on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test® (FCAT), exhibiting behavioral difficulties, and Ms. Redd noticed little activity and low engagement within the resource classroom environment.

Implementation of a New Classroom Plan

Ms. Redd, having been an assistant principal at a school where inclusion classrooms were successful, made the decision to implement an inclusion model at Newberry Elementary School.

Ms. Redd instituted a co-teaching model which included participation from a General Education teacher and an Exceptional Student Education teacher or paraprofessional in two classrooms on each grade level. The pairs work together to provide instructional materials and accommodations to students with disabilities, allowing the students to remain in the classroom and work with grade-level materials.

The transition to inclusion classrooms wasn’t easy. There were some obstacles that Ms. Redd and her staff had to overcome. The staff needed to be trained in the new model and Ms. Redd found she had to motivate her staff to believe that an inclusion model could not only help students with disabilities, but that it could also benefit general education students. “As soon as the teachers began seeing test scores rise and success, they became believers!”

The Results

Before implementation of inclusive classrooms, only 43% of Newberry’s students with special needs passed the FCAT. Today, 78% are passing the FCAT! The achievement gap between students with disabilities and students without is rapidly decreasing and Newberry’s school grade in the Florida School Accountability Report has jumped from a ‘C’ to an ‘A.’

Carlos started at Newberry in the 2nd grade and knew only 10 letters and five sounds. Now in 4th grade, Carlos recently stated, “Kurzweil 3000 helped me a lot. Before I didn’t know a bunch of words. Now I know a gazillion words.”

How Do You Provide Access to Curriculum?

Technology contributed to successful inclusion at Newberry Elementary School and Kurzweil 3000® firefly is part of that solution. One of the key obstacles in the creation of an inclusion classroom is how to adapt and provide access to curriculum. Kurzweil 3000 allowed Newberry Elementary to easily modify curriculum making it accessible to those who needed it the most. With the addition of this technology, students have access to curriculum and other interventions regardless of where they are in the building, as grade level instruction material can be accessed via the web with the tools necessary for learning to take place. Kurzweil 3000 and firefly provides anytime, anywhere access to curriculum - empowering included students to be confident and independent learners.


To learn more about the Kurweil 3000 firefly, please visit: and