Universal Design for Learning and Digital Picture Books
Following is a rational for creating e-books with features to support young children. While there are many formats for creating e-picture-books using a variety of authoring tools (Power Point, Classroom Suite, Clicker, My Own Bookshelf, and others), many of these books are still inaccessible to children with physical and visual disabilities. In keeping with the philosophy of universal design for learning, these criteria are suggested as a way to make e-picture-books accessible to as many children as possible.

1) Provide alternative access to the book reading experience

As much as possible, this includes a way for young children with physical disabilities to exercise as much independence as possible by mimicking the book handling experiences that typical children would have: choose a book, turn pages, go backwards, read, reread, see the text on the same page as the picture, point (virtually).

Switch accessibility either through auto scan or step scan to:
  • Turn page forward
  • Turn page backward
  • Read text with word-by-word highlighting
  • Click on a picture and hear the name of the picture spoken
  • The option to choose a book from the shelf

2) Provide a formatting to support individuals with visual impairments

Many children with physical disabilities get reduced visual enjoyment from books, either because of reduced visual acuity, characteristics associated with cortical visual impairment, or because their motor skills affect their ability to turn their head and eyes easily to focus on a book. Online books that are well designed provide a static location for the visual input (the book doesn’t move with the hands of the person holding it). In addition, students with CVI may not be able to focus on auditory and visual stimuli at the same time, so the child should be able to control any animation or auditory output.
Features of an e-book designed to support students with vision issues are:
  • Use of original picture book art on a high contrast background
  • Text located in the same place on every page as much as possible
  • Text in high contrast colors
  • Navigation buttons with an auditory scan option so that the student can focus visually on the pictures and text
  • Animations and auditory output should be able to be controlled by the student

Rationale for Using Clicker 5, Classroom Suite and Boardmaker Plus! as an Easy Reader Format

All but one of the recommended features are possible to provide using Clicker 5 (Crick Software www.cricksoft.com), IntelliPics Studio (IntelliTools www.intellitools.com), and My Own Bookshelf (SoftTouch www.softtouch.com). Clicker 5 and IntelliPics formats were chosen originally because it is presumed that many subscribers who would benefit from the features listed would likely have access to one or both of these programs. After Boardmaker became Boardmaker Plus! (MeyerJohnson us.mayer-johnson.com) it became another good choice for easy reader books, and many have now been added to the site.