Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Copyright and Special Education

I wanted to learn more about copyright issues that relate to teaching special education students. I wanted to find out more about if there are modifications to copyright due to individualized needs. These are some of the main issues I learned more from reading our book "Copyright for Schools" by Carol Simpson.

1) I wanted to find out more about rules for recording books. When I taught 6th grade students with learning disabilities, one required 6th grade novel was "Letters from Rifka." The regular curriculum had really great activities that went along with the novel. The reading level was a little high for my students. A PTO volunteer read the whole story on tape so my students could read along with the novel. She did a great job and I was so happy my students could take part in the novel also. I just realized that I didn't follow copyright law. Our book said there are exceptions to copyright law for handicapped students, but the person whom you are recording the book needs to either be blind or unable physically to use the book. Modifications to copyright law often do not address the needs of the dyslexic or slow learner.
2) Another disability I learned more about is visually impaired. I taught two visually impaired students within the learning diabilities program. They each had a specialist who each year would copy their entire textbooks and enlarge them. I wanted to find out more specifically what the copyright law said about this. I learned that this is permissible to make the enlarged books. This is allowed for students are that are unable to read standard print works.
3) Another issue that was discussed was whether its permissible to burn a CD of a textbook for all of the students with disabilities if the school only owns one. If multiple students need a CD to follow along with the textbook, the school must contact the textbook company. The school either needs to order additional copies of the CD or can burn only if given permission from the company.
4) There are a lot of great resources and workbooks designed for students with disabilities. As a special education teacher, we need to be aware of what companies allow copying workbooks or which ones would like us to purchase one per student. I found that some Steck Vaughn workbooks are meant for individual purchase. I was amazed in years past that teachers would ignore copyright restrictions. I asked for copies for each of my students from the assistant principal. I told another teacher we weren't allowed to copy the workbook and she looked at me like I was a goody-two-shoes. If schools give enough in our budget, companies that make great resources for our special education students should not be cheated of money owed to them.

Overall, I learned a lot about special education students and copyright law. I think a lot of teachers have the attitude, if we put it in their IEP, then we are allowed to do whatever we say in the IEP. Teachers think they can modify the law like they do instruction. Teachers need to be more aware of the laws and restrictions we are to follow.

Simpson, C. (2005). Copyright for schools: A practical guide (4th ed.). Worthington, OH: Linworth Books.