As thousands of school districts across the country close their doors for the school year, and many transition to online or distance learning, support for special education students and their families must be a priority. At Des Moines Public Schools, more than 5,000 students – 15% of our enrollment – are in special education.

As DMPS transitions to distance learning for the final weeks of the 2019-20 school year, our special education teachers and staff have been hard at work to provide meaningful learning opportunities for students. That effort began in late March, with the launch of an online learning resources web page, and will continue through the end of the school year.

The outline below was developed by special education teachers and staff at DMPS to show the approach and tools being used to serve students and families during this unprecedented time.

Parents: if you ever have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher.

Support to Parents of Students with Disabilities

Specialized Accommodations of Opportunities Provided to all Students.

  • Canvas (online) courses are being reviewed by teachers and available to students and families beginning April 27.
    • In some cases, courses are being designed specifically with universal design for learning strategies and therefore will have learning opportunities scaffolded within the course.
    • Each course will either be designed with universal design for learning strategies or will have links provided for scaffolds and accommodations.
    • Special education teachers will preview courses and then offer suggestions for instruction based on individual student’s needs in their weekly conversation with parents.
    • All Canvas courses will either be closed captioned or a sign language interpreter will be visible on the screen.
  • Printed materials are being offered to all students and families.
    • Special education teachers may suggest multiple grade levels of work for parents to pick up based on the individual student’s functioning. These printed materials are also available online and accessible to parents.
    • Specialized packets of materials have been developed for students with significant disabilities. These packets of materials are being mailed to students’ homes.

Specialized Modifications and Adaptations of Opportunities Provided, including Devices.

  • All students, including students with disabilities, are ensured access to a device and internet service, either through their family or the district.
  • Students who are currently using specialized devices to access learning in the typical school environment, have been or will be offered these devices to use at home, including but not limited to devices for hearing, vision and physical support.
  • Materials are provided in Braille for students who need them.