This information and referral site provides a variety of free services, links, and resources to the families of children and youth with special needs and the professionals who serve them. These including: fact sheets parent guides, state resource sheets, info on IDEA, conferences searches, links to disability organizations, information on state and national levels, data bases which can be downloaded, IEP info, free colorful posters , info on early intervention, transition, family issues...and just about any question or service a professional or parent-caregiver might have regarding a child or youth (up to age 22) with special needs. This site will either link you to or provide you with the answer or service.
Type of Material:
Information--Collection of web sites arranged by subject category.
This site is a reference site that can be used by both pre-service and in-service educators, families of persons with disabilities. The strength of this site for pre-service teachers lies in the learning activities designed by the teacher educator.
Adobe Acrobat Reader is required for some of the sites. Downloading of this plug-in is available and free. Text versions are also available for all.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
The main goal of this site is to provide information to families, educators and professionals with regard to children and youth (ages birth to age 22) with disabilities and disability related issues along with the services it provides.
Target Student Population:
The targeted populations for this site are as follows: families, educators (pre-service and in-service), and other professionals who deal with children and youth with disabilities.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The reviewers of this site believes that the users should have a basic level of understanding with regard to IDEA, disabilites, and web site maneuverability.
Evaluation and Observation
Currency of information. At the time of the review, many of the links and information pages shown were updated within a two month period. There is a searchable database within the site that allows the user to search for additional information without having to leave the site. List of publications are provided that has been reviewed by OSPEP, U.S. Department of Education for consistency with IDEA and the implementing regulations. Very good information for families of persons with disabilities, and also for teachers to have available to share with those families during conferences. The information is clear, easily understood by the general public. Much of the information contained in this site is available in Spanish.
Information related to legislation, implementation regulations, and legal action should be included in this site. This information would greatly increase the usefulness of this site and would avoid misunderstandings by the general public regarding the practice of special education and the implementation of its programs.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This site offers ample opportunities for an instructor to create challenging and creative assignments for pre-service teachers. Basic referral information for families is available. The reader can ask specific questions regarding special education categories and services by telephone (a toll free number is provided) or by e-mail.
In order to make this a more valuable learning tool for pre-service teachers, the information should be introduced early in the training program. The site has no active learning goals, thus the effectiveness as a teaching tool many be questionable. (One of the reviewers however feels that while the learning goals are not explicitly stated,
the teacher education trainer is left with a vast amount of fertile and untilled ground from which to forge challenging learning assignments.)
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
This site is Bobby Approved. This site is easily navigated by the novice user. The layout of the links and their related pages are consistent and easy to read. The reviewers did not encounter any obstacles with regard to technical support needed for use of this site. The site has won numerous awards by different organizations dealing with the disabled population.
None noted by the reviewers.
Other Issues and Comments:
This site does a good job of presenting material related to organizations and information related to children and youth with disabilities. While the site seems more geared toward the general public with a vested interest in individuals with disabilities, the reviewers are concerned that this object was not designed primarily as a learning tool most commonly used in MERLOT. The review team feels that in order for this site to be useful as training material in a pre-service teacher education program, the instructor must take the initiative to design assignments that will both inform and challenge the pre-service teacher.