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October 23, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The United States Department of Education has awarded a $2.5 million, five-year grant to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Nisonger Center to refine and test a web-based curriculum called EnvisionIT for students with disabilities in high-risk urban, suburban and rural schools.
This online high school curriculum teaches students skills in three core competency areas: information technology (IT) literacy, transition planning and reading. Despite the emphasis on higher academic standards and transition services, many students with disabilities are leaving school without these skills, says Margo Vreeburg Izzo, who applied for the grant and will serve as project director. Izzo is the associate director of the Nisonger Center and also program director of Special Education and Transition Services.
“With this program, we believe that students who complete the curriculum will have significantly higher levels of academic achievement, goal setting, career knowledge and self-determination,” says Izzo. “We hope to provide an important opportunity for schools to teach – and for students with disabilities to learn – the essential skills and competencies needed to navigate and succeed in the 21st century.”
The Nisonger Center will collaborate with three national centers to scale-up the 21st century curriculum: the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC), the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD).
A significant number of national experts have agreed to serve as consultants on this project. They include David Test, co-director of NSTTAC; Joanne Cashman, director of the IDEA Partnership at NASDSE; George Jesien, executive director of AUCD; Renée Cameto, principal scientist in SRI International’s Center for Education and Human Services; Erik Carter, associate professor of special education at Vanderbilt Kennedy Center; and Michael Wehmeyer, professor of special education and director of the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities.
These and other consultants will contribute their expertise in Web accessibility, assistive technology, instructional design and evaluation, transition skills, self-determination, standard assessments, school improvement, research, statistical analysis, program sustainability and other components. Together with program staff, the consultants will be instrumental in developing multi-media products and evaluation measures supporting EnvisionIT implementation, including training videos, online modules and print-based guides for teachers and those training teachers.
The Nisonger Center, a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, is part of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and was founded in 1966 to provide assistance to people with disabilities, families, service providers and organizations by promoting inclusion of people with disabilities in education, health, employment and community settings.