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.

16 comments:

Alicia said...

My school owns a program for special education students where text can be scanned and transferred into audio. Would this be a violation of copyright law if permission is not given by the copyright holder?

Aimee said...

I currently facing some copyright issues in my school. We have a visually impaired student who needs all of his texts and anything else used in class transcribed into Braille. I'm pretty sure all of these uses of materials fall under Fair Use since it is written in his IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Ali, this is a really useful topic to do a blog on, especially since it focuses on specific topics of copyright.
--Aimee

Anne Marie said...

I never thought about copyright in regards to IEP accomodations. I was surprised by the results of your first topic which included recording a book on tape for students with reading difficulties. I know of other teachers who have done this to help their students and never thought much about it since we purchased enough books for each student. I know how much a book on tape can help a slow reader so I guess the way to accomodate these students would be to purchase the audiobook as well. Thanks for the info! I'm hoping you'll enlighten us some more on these special education copyright issues.

Cyndy said...

It sounds like copyright and how it affects the accommodations in IEPs could be complicated. I would think that the members of the IEP team should be aware of copyright issues when they make their suggestions. Also it may take time to get the permissions for copyrights so that could affect how quickly an accommodation could be put into place.

Brandi W. said...

This is great to know. When I had special education classes in college, we had to write accomodations for various lesson plans that we created. I never even thought about whether these accomodations followed copyright law because they were being used for learning. This is something to look into.

Brandy said...

Copyright covers so many areas! I don't know how anyone could keep it all straight! I understand its purpose, but in the cases you discribed, I would not have even thought about copyright just what we needed to do to help the students learn. I guess you just have to train your mindset to consider it in all your decisions?

Carla Brown said...

I always wondered about burning CD's of textbooks as well. There always seems to be a shortage of textbooks at the school where I work. That would be a way to deal with this issue, especially when school districts are cash-strapped. However, I see that would be a copyright violation. I do know that the students would be experts at that type of thing. They seem to know the computer like the back of their hands.

Ali Dinges said...

Alicia,
I would think there is some copyright law involved when purchasing the program. I'm not sure in a case like this. It may depend on the students' disabilites.

Ali Dinges said...

Aimee,
It sounds like your student's needs are probably covered in his IEP. It seems like there is more flexibility with copyright with students with Visual Impairment more than students with Learning Disabilities.

Ali Dinges said...

Anne Marie,

I was surprised my results as well when learning more about reading books on tape. The problem with the particular novel we were using was there wasn't an audio book available. That's why our PTO rep made one. Our school owned the other novels we used that an audiobook was available.

Ali Dinges said...

Cyndy,

I agree that the IEP team should be more aware of copyright issues. You are also right that time issues could be a problem if the team needs to seek copyright permission. It seems like you have been a member of an IEP team before and are familiar of issues that could arise.

Ali Dinges said...

Brandi,

You said that you had to create accomodations in college class for special education students and hadn't thought much about accomodations and copyright. I am a special education teacher and never really thought of these issues until reading this book. I think as special education teachers we think we have free reign to accomodate for students.

Ali Dinges said...

Brandy,

I had never really thought through copyright issues like you said because I figured I was doing what was best for the child to learn. I need to consider more when thinking through planning for special education students. There are so many legal parts to consider with IEP's. I never really explored the legal aspects of copyright.

Ali Dinges said...

Carla,

I think that you are right that CD burning could come as a shortage or lack of cash flow. It seems like money shortage in school districts often is a cause for copyright violations.

Ali Dinges said...

Carla,

I think that you are right that CD burning could come as a shortage or lack of cash flow. It seems like money shortage in school districts often is a cause for copyright violations.

Jessica Modrzejewski said...

Ali ~
This is a great topic -- that can lead to new posts and threads. Your page looks great -- work on keeping it current! :)
Mrs. M.