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Promising Practice: Digital Literacy/Distance Learning

These programs use technology in innovative and effective ways, including using distance learning to provide services to students who would not normally have access.

Disabled Student Placement Program

Promising Practice

The Disabled Student Placement Program at the California Medical Facility is designed to meet the needs of visually and hearing-impaired students in the California correctional system. This program was initially started in 1999 to comply with federal requirements to provide adequate accommodations for physically disabled students. The program has since gone above and beyond federal requirements to provide a large array of resources and opportunities for its students.

Agency awarded: California Medical Facility (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation), 2009

Summary Description of Project:

This program provides services and resources for visually and hearing-impaired students, such as magnified computer screens, Braille transcription machines, software for the hearing-impaired, and distance learning options. The distance learning component helps students to become certified Braille transcribers through the Library of Congress, become certified in Braille Textbook Formatting through the National Braille Association, and even help format Braille textbooks for the Kenneth Jergenson Library for Blind Children. Students in the facility are able to receive these certifications remotely, using methods designed specifically for the unique environment of correctional facilities. Even after leaving the facility, students are able to continue their studies and finish their certifications.

Students enter this program in order to gain certifications and receive instruction catered to their different needs. Some students in the program learned Braille and were able to correspond with family and friends for the first time. The program also utilizes former students, five of whom currently serve as tutors. The agency has implemented systems to gather student feedback, in addition to providing tangible resources for disabled students. Not only does the facility offer accommodations such as magnified screens or Braille embossers, but students regularly meet with instructors to discuss their needs and goals.

Evaluation Process/Results:

This program makes it possible for visually and hearing-impaired students to receive necessary accommodations for instruction, and provides them with tools for success once they leave the facility. The success of this program, which serves some of the most severely disabled learners in CDCR, is seen in the number of disabled students that gained valuable skills while at the California Medical Facility. Recognized as a “Program of Excellence” in 2004, this agency currently serves 30 students in each of its 10 classes, and is recognized within the correctional system as a model program that serves disabled students. Since the program was implemented, forty students have completed Braille courses at the Disabled Students Center at the California Medical Facility. Four students have become certified Braille transcribers through the Library of Congress while participating in the program and two students recently completed the Braille Textbook Formatting course through the National Braille Association. This program empowers visually and hearing-impaired students to be lifelong learners, and to overcome physical challenges in order to gain new skills.

For additional information contact:

David W. Hudson
Telephone: 707-453-7044

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