Feature Tools from CAST

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One of AccessATE’s primary partners is CAST, the Center for Applied Special Technology, an education research and development nonprofit working to expand learning opportunities for all. CAST is perhaps best known for being instrumental in developing and promoting Universal Design for Learning (UDL), an educational framework supporting the development of flexible learning environments. However, CAST also offers other valuable resources beyond UDL. Here we will highlight a few of CAST’s other online tools that you might utilize to make your curriculum, classroom, lab, or other learning environment more accessible.

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Clusive is a web-based reader that helps students in grades 5 through 12 engage in independent reading, bolstered by a number of features to make reading accessible. Clusive has flexible display options, including adjustable text size, spacing, font, color, and contrast. For students with visual impairments, there is text-to-speech software, for which students can select their preferred reading speed and voice. Clusive also features built-in prompts that support note-taking and highlighting, check comprehension, provide a glossary and language translation, and more. The reader can be accessed and shared from any device and can be integrated with Google classroom. An account is required to use Clusive, but it is free to sign up and use.

The 5-15-45 Tool

Developed in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration (ICI) TIES Center, the 5-15-45 Tool is built to help educators efficiently develop inclusive lessons based on existing lesson plans. Many educators start curriculum and/or lesson development with premade materials that may be bought, borrowed, or mandated, but these materials are rarely made with students with disabilities in mind. The 5-15-45 method allows you to consider the amount of time you have to plan and then walks you through both discussion-guiding questions and success indicators for collaborating with colleagues to develop accessible education solutions in that time. The 5-15-45 Tool also has a rich list of resources and tips for connecting with colleagues in order to better integrate inclusive, accessible lessons.

CAST Figuration

CAST Figuration is a front-end framework for web developers, which may prove especially useful if your program utilizes online learning. Figuration is a CSS and JavaScript package meant to be used as a starting point for constructing accessible, interactive websites that are cross-device compatible. Its widgets are designed to save developers time and are all customizable, and it contains text and style buttons, interactive elements, adaptable layouts, WCAG-compliant color schemes, and more. All of Figuration’s components are built to be usable via mouse, keyboard, or touch, and are compatible with screen readers and other assistive technologies.

Biofab Explorer

Featured previously on AccessATE, Biofab Explorer is a career guidance tool developed by CAST in collaboration with the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI). Biofab Explorer supports middle and high school educators in exposing students to the emerging industry of large-scale synthetic organ and tissue manufacturing, or biofabrication, and STEM technician careers in general. Biofab Explorer is an accessibly-designed, open resource with multimedia learning modules and activities, and a Teacher Guide.

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