Practical Access Podcast

S7 E15: CEC Book Share & More with Dr. Tara Courchaine

April 21, 2022 Eric Imperiale Season 7 Episode 15
Practical Access Podcast
S7 E15: CEC Book Share & More with Dr. Tara Courchaine
Show Notes Transcript

In today's episode, recorded live at the CEC 100th Anniversary, we were able to sit down with Dr. Tara Courchaine. She is the Chief Research & Development Officer. Tara comes from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. In that role, she helped to support the work in two divisions: Research-to-Practice and the Monitoring and State Improvement Program. She also brings experience as a classroom teacher in both K-12 and postsecondary settings.

Tune in as Drs. Rebecca Hines and Lisa Dieker honor, celebrate, and reflect on her career, and the Council of Exceptional Education (CEC) 's past 100 years while also thinking ahead to the future. Don't forget we love to hear from our listeners! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. We look forward to receiving your questions on our Google Phone (407) 900- 9305, Facebook (Practical Access), Twitter (@AccessPractical), or Instagram (@Practical_Access).

Lisa Dieker: [00:00:06] Well, welcome to Practical Access. I'm Lisa. Dicker.  [00:00:09][3.0]

Rebecca Hines: [00:00:10] And I'm Rebecca Hinds. And Lisa, it's exciting this episode. We have a true expert in accessibility.  [00:00:16][6.3]

Lisa Dieker: [00:00:17] I know we're super excited. So welcome today. We have with us Tara. Of course, we're so excited you're with us.  [00:00:22][5.5]

Dr. Tara Courchaine: [00:00:23] I'm so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.  [00:00:25][1.9]

Lisa Dieker: [00:00:25] Yeah. So, Tara, I've known her for a long time. I think we've been friends in many spaces. My own son was a huge book share user, and Tara was in the Office of Special Education Programs in the Research to Practice Division and led several centers there. And now she is the chief research and development officer at KAUST, where you live for many of our listeners. So we're so excited to have you. And our first question is one that, you know, you've done so many things in your career to this point. What's what are you most proud of that you might want to share? I know it's hard to brag because I know you. You're that humble person. But what is something that you're like, wow, this is something that I really feel like has made a difference in the field.  [00:01:05][39.9]

Dr. Tara Courchaine: [00:01:07] I think the work that I've done in getting to work with centers around accessibility has really made the biggest difference. One of the things that I was able to do at the department was help to push through a notice of interpretation, which sounds small, and if you read it, it looks small, but it was able to really expand. Who can? Access cinema's materials because now they can now print books are in are included are sorry include digital books as well. So we were also able to match the new copyright definition which was updated with Marrakesh to reflect that definition, an idea which points to the National Library of Congress definition, which means it broadens the range of students again who can access accessible materials. Yeah.  [00:01:56][49.0]

Lisa Dieker: [00:01:56] So in the past it was really when you started blind or very clear visual pieces and you really expanded that to be very broad within reason. You still have to have a documented disability, but again, it gives kids opportunities they didn't have.  [00:02:10][14.4]

Dr. Tara Courchaine: [00:02:11] Absolutely. We used to define that third category. It's organic dysfunction, which was very difficult to explain and had to be certified by a medical doctor. Now it includes a visual or perceptual disability, which includes reading disabilities, such as dyslexia, which really broadens who can have access to those books and materials.  [00:02:32][20.9]

Lisa Dieker: [00:02:33] And for listeners, if you don't know what book share is and it's given kids access, Terry, you're sitting here that kids have, what, a million plus books within seconds and is life changing for that kid who needs digital? Right. So first of all, thank you very much for that.  [00:02:49][15.9]

Speaker 2: [00:02:49] So Tara, can you tell us two practical tips that you would provide for beginning teachers?  [00:02:54][4.9]

Dr. Tara Courchaine: [00:02:55] I was thinking about this question I had just before this, and I was thinking of a little different perspective, but I can still ensure it that way because the two things I was thinking for teachers, especially new teachers, is don't be afraid to fail and don't be afraid to ask if you don't know my favorite saying when I was last in the classroom and I was a K-5 resource teacher last and it was my first experience there, I had been a preschool special educator before that and I just kept saying, Please tell me what I don't know. I don't know what I don't know. So if I'm making a mistake, please just let me know so I can learn. And then don't be afraid to to make mistakes. And if you're going to make materials for kids, the biggest piece of advice I can give is to try to spend the time to do it right the first time. And that material that might help that one kid or that has a text to speech or is available in large print, or you can watch a video of it. It's not just going to help that one student that you're making it for. It's going to help all the kids in your class and maybe beyond. And that's where we really see is some have to have that material because they can't access their instruction without it. But those kiddos that fly under the radar that are doing okay, that don't have a disability, they might just have some other things going on. They they might benefit more than anybody else from those materials.  [00:04:21][85.8]

Lisa Dieker: [00:04:22] So when you think about your work to this point, not only who is impacted do you in your career, but but how maybe like you know, what would you say in like how have they made an impact on your career?  [00:04:36][13.4]

Dr. Tara Courchaine: [00:04:38] So I would say the biggest impact and this is a really hard question for me, but when I was a master's level student at the George Washington University, I had a supervisor, I was in a federally funded, OLA funded grant, and I was getting my master's in bilingual special education. And I had a professor her name was and she's past. But she always reminded me that I needed to know what every child looked like, what learning looked like in the general education. Before I could jump ahead and work in special education, when I was when I wanted to get my doctorate, I wanted to go through my master's, get my doctorate. I had a plan. She said, You need to be a teacher first. You need to learn first. You need to know what it looks like before you go on to that next level and try to apply it and share that information with other teachers. And I have found that my experience is teaching and in the classroom and seeing how teachers collaborate and administrators work in the schools has been one of the biggest touchstones for me. It's something I can always look back on and say, Well, I remember what that was like. I remember behavior management. I wanted to go into higher ed because I thought I could teach pretty pre-service teachers how to go into a classroom and do behavior management, which, by the way, I'm pretty sure is impossible.  [00:06:04][86.1]

Lisa Dieker: [00:06:06] And. Well, we are in the business of preparing pre-service teachers. And my final question would be what would be the tool or tools that you would recommend today that they might check in to in order to increase their own understanding of accessibility?  [00:06:24][18.6]

Dr. Tara Courchaine: [00:06:26] So I am currently at cast and cast as kind of the cornerstone of universal design for learning and also has a. Huge number of resources and materials and accessibility. They also have different webinars and things like that available. But, but one of the biggest pieces, and if you were to go to their website and look, it's just that idea of giving kids and parents. Different ways to access their learning, whether it be a video, a book, text to speech. If you are learning by acting, learning by doing, going back to developmentally appropriate practice in preschool, all those things that you you need to be able to fully appreciate and learn and be excited. And I do use the cast tools. And for anyone who isn't familiar, you literally can go in and find a very specific tool designed for the exact type of learner you might be or might have.  [00:07:30][63.6]

Lisa Dieker: [00:07:31] So we so appreciate you joining us today, Tara. Thanks for all your words of wisdom and all of your contributions to the field. So we celebrate you today and thank you. And if you have questions, please send them to our Twitter site at Access Practical or you can post them on our Facebook page. Thanks again, Tara.  [00:07:45][14.1]

Rebecca Hines: [00:07:46] Thank you, Tara, you.  [00:07:46][0.0]