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  • Read & Write

At a glance

About Halton District School Board

  • 60,000 students in the district
  • Google Apps for Education
  • 3,000 SEA prescription students

The Challenge

HDSB was looking for an AT solution that could work seamlessly in a GAFE environment

The Solution

HDSB observes improved selfesteem, confidence, independence, and literacy skills for struggling students after adopting Texthelp’s Read&Write for Google Chrome. The recent board-wide release of Read&Write has further increased success for all students: “What is necessary for some is good for all.”

Halton District School Board


Improved confidence and independence at Halton District School Board

Background

Halton District School Board (HDSB) is among the largest boards in Ontario, Canada, serving more than 60,000 students with 5,000 teachers spread out between 103 elementary and secondary schools. HDSB is committed to the principle that learning is a developmental process and children proceed through the stages of development at varying rates. HDSB is also committed to the principle that early recognition of learning needs and early intervention is the most effective way to ensure the learner remains confident about his/her own abilities in years to come.

There are 3,000 students in the District who require some form of assistive technology to enable them to participate in class fully alongside general education students.Their equipment is funded through the Ministry of Education’s SEA (Special Equipment Allowance) program. HDSB provides training for students on their own laptops,iPads or Chromebooks, alongside teacher workshops to ensure all education practitioners are standardized and equipped fully to meet the needs of their special education students.

Challenge

Halton District School Board was using various other assistive technology solutions for its students, but updates became very frustrating, with lack of auto-updates and glitches. Not everyone had universal access to the software. HDSB started using Google Apps for Education in 2013 and their AT devices were not compatible with it and IT had many problems solving issues. HDSB needed to find a seamless assistive technology solution for their district.
 

Solution

In the summer of 2013 soon after HDSB adopted GAFE, Texthelp presented Read&Write for Google Chrome at a GAFE Summit and HDSB were extremely impressed with its capabilities. After a summer trial at several Halton AT camps, in January 2014, HDSB purchased a Read&Write for Google Chrome for its 3,000 SEA prescription students. There was no other software that HDSB considered when looking for a replacement assistive technology; Texthelp's technology immediately jumped out for practitioners at the schools, with the universal accessibility functionality being a real draw. As a result of the success of the original 3,000 license, HDSB purchased a district license for Read&Write for Google Chrome, giving all 60,000 students access to the software.

The move allowed students at Halton to work away from the classroom, which had a knock-on consequential effect on the students’ confidence and independence, with teachers themselves reporting that this in itself was a remarkable change. It took literally seconds for some students to see improvements in the class and in their work.

Capabilities

There are a number of functionalities that have been extremely valuable for teachers at Halton. For starters, Judy Sackville, who is an Itinerant Resource Teacher in HSDB specializing in assistive technology, has considered Texthelp’s personality as a real winning point. She commented “it really listened well. It’s not like dealing with other technology. I’ve never seen anything take hold before like this. It’s helping those kids that people struggle to support. It truly is a revolutionary tool, it’s an all in one solution and really making a difference.” Students love the speech tool and haven’t found a single problem with it.  The voices also proved to be a real advantage for teachers at Halton, with language teachers especially utilizing the speech import tool to aid lesson plans. They find the four different French voices to be very accurate for the French-speakers in the district.