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NetDay Press Releases

September 10, 2001

NetDay Helps Students With Disabilities Connect Through Technology

Irvine, CA -- For students at two inner-city schools in Detroit, using technology in their classrooms may be a bit easier this fall. All summer a team of NetDay AmeriCorps members have been working to help integrate technology into two inner-city schools. This team spent time reviewing and analyzing software to determine its adaptability and use for deaf students in grades K-8 at the Detroit Day School for the Deaf. NetDay AmeriCorps members also helped students find online resources to complete coursework and research projects at the Poe Developmental School, a school for children ages 3 to 16 with physical and mental handicaps.

"The summer months gave us an opportunity to roll-up our sleeves and really learn what students in two special needs schools need and how technology can contribute to their learning experience," said Detroit NetDay AmeriCorps Bridge Program Coordinator, Jennifer Fisch. "This fall, we will have additional opportunities to continue our work and make a larger impact on the lives of hundreds of children in Detroit."

As part of their summer service, NetDay AmeriCorps members supported educators and students at the Detroit Day School for the Deaf by researching and analyzing different types of educational software to test the adaptability of these products. The NetDay members found few software programs designed to accommodate the needs of students who are deaf. Tutoring software was among the least accessible because these programs place a heavy reliance on verbal prompts and directions. As a result of this work, NetDay will serve in these schools, continuing to work toward finding accessibility to technology for the children, their teachers, and their parents. The members will operate computer labs outside school hours to increase the ease of use of computers by children, teachers, parents, and community members who have had very little experience using technology. The AmeriCorps members will be serving in an additional two schools over the school year, Edmonson Elementary School and Murray Wright High School.

At the Poe Developmental School, NetDay AmeriCorps members helped students use technology to conduct research needed for completing course work. They provided teachers with training on how to efficiently use the Internet for finding resources for classroom activities and lesson plans. Students immediately put their new skills to work when looking for resources to build a display for the city's 300th birthday celebration.

Individually, the NetDay AmeriCorps members learned how to use email as their primary communication vehicle to receive daily emails with work assignments and announcements. Every member began the program with limited computer knowledge prior to joining the program, but quickly learned how to use email, the Internet and basic computer programs.

"Being in this program has been a wonderful experience for me. Learning about computers and how to operate them has been exciting for me," said Diane Caston, a NetDay AmeriCorps member in Detroit. "I have learned more in a few weeks in this program than I would have if I tried to teach myself and I believe I can help my community by training/teaching others what I have learned through the NetDay program. With computers affecting everything we do, I believe there should be more funding for programs like this to help the community and as well as help the people living in them."

The NetDay's AmeriCorps Bridge Program in Detroit began in June with a partial grant for the Corporation for National Service and is currently in place at four (4) schools - Poe Developmental School, The Detroit Day School for the Deaf, Murray Wright High School and Edmonson Elementary School. The goal of this program is to provide selected Empowerment Zone communities with facilitated access to technology resources. In Detroit, many of the NetDay AmeriCorps Bridge members were parents and community members who had little experience using technology.

The NetDay AmeriCorps Bridge program, which is a strategic partnership between NetDay and National Service programs to provide selected Empowerment Zone communities with facilitated access to technology resources. Schools involved in this program work with NetDay AmeriCorps Bridge members who serve as program facilitators and teach constructive and educational technology-based programs both during school hours and through after school programs. NetDay ( is a national education technology nonprofit headquartered in Irvine, CA. NetDay's mission is to connect every child to a brighter future by helping educators meet educational goals through the effective use of technology.