Sydney is a Grade 5 student attending her neighborhood school in Kamloops. She is a tenacious, enthusiastic student who happens to have Cerebral Palsy and, as a consequence, cannot use a pencil to write or a paintbrush to draw. A support worker did much of Sydney’s writing for her when Sydney was in the primary grades. This was a mixed blessing because Sydney wanted to work side by side with her peers – doing what they were doing.
With the introduction of a SET-BC computer running word prediction and Kurzweil software, and with a lot of work on the part of Sydney and her school-based support team, Sydney was able to “write” down her ideas in an organized fashion and at a reasonable rate for the first time. Now, with continual daily use of her SET- BC laptop, Sydney is able to actively access all domains of the grade five curriculum. Kurzweil’s webbing feature helps Sydney organize her thoughts. Her support team uses the bubble notes feature in the program to help Sydney read text with understanding. In Sydney’s mom’s words, she now “has the freedom and ability to work alongside her peers…. and not feel different.” Sydney’s own take on the technology is “now I don’t need someone to scribe for me. Now I can do my own work. I don’t have to worry about my writing being slow. I love Art! Clicker Paint has helped me lots…I love it!”
One important innovation in Sydney’s education has been the acquisition of digital text through the ARC-BC website. Her team received training on ARC-BC from the SET-BC consultant and the District Partner. The team immediately saw the value of ARC-BC not only for Sydney, but also for many students with reading challenges in the school. The intermediate teachers quickly realized the benefits of Kurzweil and ARC-BC to their students struggling with reading, and supported a school-wide reading accommodation approach. The teachers identified which text needed to be made available in a digitized format. Where applicable, they also provided questions to accompany the text. The support staff downloaded the text from ARC-BC or when necessary scanned the text into Kurzweil. They then embedded the teachers’ comprehension questions directly into the text.
Fully embracing the value of ARC-BC, Sydney’s team has joined the ARC-BC Contribute to the Collection Project. They are now creating digitized resources for the entire province!