Beyond Access

This project was completed in September 2016

Beyond AccessHow can educators create inclusive classrooms where students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (including autism) not only participate and communicate, but also learn academic content?   The groundbreaking model in this book is the answer.  Practical, forward-thinking, and person-centered, The Beyond Access Model shows education professionals what meaningful inclusive education looks like and gives them the critical guidance they need to make it happen. 

This student and team problem-solving model was developed and evaluated through two initiatives funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs: The Beyond Access Project and Beyond Access for Assessment Accommodations. Outcomes from use of the Model have been documented in three peer-reviewed empirical studies and published in Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, Augmentative and Alternative Communication and Topics in Language Disorders.

Click here for more information on the Beyond Access Model

The Beyond Access Model is being used in several schools around the U.S. as part of the IOD's National Inclusive Education Initiative for Students with Autism and Related Disabilities (NIEI).

Beyond Access was originally a four-year Model Demonstration Project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, that promoted improved learning of general education curriculum content by students with the most significant disabilities. The project assisted school teams to learn, implement, and refine a student supports and team planning model that blends best practices in inclusive education, augmentative communication, collaborative teaming, and professional development.

IDEA 1997 requires that students with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum; that "to the maximum extent appropriate" they pursue learning goals that are "consist with those of students without disabilities"; and that they be included in district and state large-scale assessments. For students who have traditionally been given labels of mental retardation, autism, deaf-blindness, traumatic brain injury, and multiple disabilities, realization of these goals presents significant challenges. In many schools, access to the general education curriculum occurs in segregated settings and the standards that students pursue are minimally related to the academic content of that curriculum, focusing primarily on "access" skills. Although these practices may address IDEA's legal requirements, they fall far short of meeting the spirit of IDEA that places presumptive value on general education class placement and the goal that every student graduate with a high school diploma. Furthermore, even when students are enrolled in general education classes, staff may not have access to high quality professional development around evolving best practices, effective team functioning, and leadership skills.

Thus the Beyond Access project was funded to refine, demonstrate, and evaluate a comprehensive model that links planning students' instructional supports with professional development to improve team functioning. It is comprised of four dynamic, recursive phases:

  • Phase 1: Conduct a Baseline Assessment of Student Learning and Communication Skills, Supports, School and Classroom Contexts, and Team Effectiveness;
  • Phase 2: Explore and Describe Possible Student Support Plans and Team Member Support and Professional Development Plans;
  • Phase 3: Observe and Document Patterns of Student and Team Performance; and,
  • Phase 4: Review and Reflect on Student and Team Performance Data and Implement Recommended Changes in Student and Team Support Plans.

A National Review Panel of parents, consumers, and professionals will support project implementation and evaluation efforts.

This project was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, grant #H324M020067

Age Levels: 
Middle/High School