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Cindy M. Okolo
Freedom Scientific Learning Systems Group & Michigan State University Receive OSEP Grant
$400,000 Steppingstones Grant Supports Development of New Writing Tools
For immediate release
St. Petersburg, FL – May 27, 2009
The Learning Systems Group (LSG) of Freedom Scientific, Inc., developer of literacy software designed to create custom learning environments for all students, announced today that they are the recipient of a Steppingstones of Technology Innovation for Children With Disabilities grant awarded by the US Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Steppingstones grants are awarded to promote the development, implementation, and evaluation of innovative technology tools and practices for students with disabilities. The grant was awarded in partnership with Cynthia Okolo, an educational researcher at Michigan State University. The grant will provide $400,000 over two years toward the development and evaluation of writing tools in LSG's flagship product, WYNN. The project will support the development of a new literacy framework titled PAL (Promoting Academic Literacy).
Project PAL Will Support Literacy in Key Content Areas
Legislation and policy in special education unequivocally demand that students with disabilities participate in the general education curriculum, and be held accountable for mastering the same standards as general education students. However, many students, and particularly those with mild disabilities, experience significant difficulties with the literacy activities that are core features of content-area classes. Cindy Okolo, the Co-principal Investigator in the project, said, "The purpose of Project PAL is to develop a suite of advanced technology-based literacy tools—that go beyond tools typically available—to support students’ literacy in content area classes.” She continued, “Unlike many generic literacy software programs, PAL offers a targeted approach to learning from text, and is organized around a content-area learning strategy. Each feature defined in PAL is keyed to a strategy for learning. The strategy will give teachers and students a framework for its use and will facilitate its integration into the curriculum." The ultimate goal for PAL is to assist students to comprehend content area information more successfully.
Freedom Scientific: A Leader in Educational Products
Freedom Scientific's Learning Systems Group has long been known as a leader in the field of educational software for those with reading, writing, and organizational challenges. WYNN, the product to be used in the research, offers literacy support through features that include bimodal reading, simultaneous auditory and visual feedback; vocabulary support through features like a dictionary, thesaurus, and homonym detector; and annotation options, including an electronic highlighter, bookmarks, text notes, and voice notes. "We are optimistic that the combination of WYNN and the PAL technique will produce a valuable tool that can not only help students, but also offers teachers features that easily integrate into their core classroom teaching," said Roberta G. Brosnahan, Vice President and General Manager of the Learning Systems Group and Co-principal Investigator for the project.
About Freedom Scientific
Freedom Scientific develops, manufactures and markets innovative technology-based products and services that aid individuals with vision impairments, learning disabilities and reading/writing challenges. Freedom Scientific’s Learning Systems Group is recognized as a leading provider of easy-to-use, easy-to-learn solutions, based on sound educational principles. The Learning System Group’s products assist individuals of all ages to be more successful with reading and writing. Visit www.freedomscientific.com/lsg for more information.
For more information contact:
Michigan State University
Freedom Scientific LSG
Freedom Scientific LSG
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MSU College of Education
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