National Center for Learning Disabilities Launches Online Resource for Parents
The Parent Center section of the Web site is designed to:
- Provide parents with information and resources to determine if their child has a learning disability.
- Provide parents with information for obtaining special education and other services through their local school district.
- Help parents better understand their children's learning disabilities so they can support their children's needs.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided a grant of $50,000, which was combined with $50,000 from NCLD funds, to create the Parent Center.
Learning disabilities are neurological disorders that affect the brain's ability to receive, process, store and respond to information. Students with learning disabilities often struggle in school and in social situations, although they usually have normal, average or high IQs.
Some of the common learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and auditory and visual processing disorders, can lead to problems with written and oral communication, math or gross and fine motor skills.
Children with learning disabilities comprise about 50 percent, or nearly 2.9 million, of all special education students in the United States who are between six and 21 years old, according to the Twenty-fourth Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Parents of children with learning disabilities may be overwhelmed as they begin to navigate their way through the process of assessing whether their children require special education.
According to NCLD, there was no comprehensive Web site designed to help parents obtain information about specific learning disabilities and the available educational services tailored to their children's needs.
The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) launched the Parent Center, a new section of its Web site designed to help parents obtain the information they need about specific learning disabilities and obtain special education services through their local school district.
The Web content created for the launch focuses on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)—a federal law, which Congress updated in 2002 and 2004, governing the special education process. A parent advisory panel helped create the IDEA content for the site.
Originally slated for December 2005, the launch of the Parent Center was delayed until April 2006 while NCLD staff redesigned the organization's Web site.
The project staff had hoped to base the Parent Center's content on final regulations for IDEA—rather than draft regulations—but final rules weren't released to the public until August 2006, according to the project director. With publication of the final regulations in October 2006, NCLD updated the information.
To publicize the Parent Center:
- NCLD sent more than 500 e-mails to editors and reporters. A total of 130 journalists read the e-mail; a number of articles were published.
- NCLD also purchased paid advertising on LDOnline.org, a Web site maintained by the greater Washington public television station WETA. The advertising yielded more than 850 visits to ncld.org.
- A four-week, pay-per-click campaign on Google.com, beginning in May 2006 yielded over 32,000 page views in May and over 29,000 page views in June. With no sustained marketing effort, traffic to the Parent Center has leveled of to about 13,000 page views per month.
AFTER THE GRANT
To encourage growth in traffic to the Parent Center, NCLD earmarked $100,000 for fiscal year 2007 and hired a half-time employee to manage the site. In January, the Parent Center was relaunched with a much broader range of topics and services for parents, including:
- Ask Donna! a monthly column to explore "hot" topics in more detail and to stimulate further discussion on the forum/message boards.
- Addition of forum/message boards and a chat room.
- Recruitment of volunteers and development of Parent Center Volunteer guidelines and materials to assist in training parents to assist in providing information and resources to visitors through a parent-to-parent network.
- Creation of new content each month to educate and empower parents.
In addition, staff members have attended a number of conferences to bring awareness of the Parent Center to the larger disability community and to recruit Parent Center volunteers.
NCLD also plans to:
- Launch a second marketing campaign in May 2007.
- Send monthly e-mails describing new features of the Parent Center to 30,000 recipients.
- Plans are underway for further expansion of the Parent Center in fiscal year 2008 including additional interactive learning opportunities and an ongoing monthly marketing campaign.
GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION
Developing an Online National Resource Center for Parents of Children with Learning Disabilities
National Center for Learning Disabilities (New York, NY)
Dates: June 2005 to June 2006
(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)
World Wide Web Sites
www.ncld.org/in-the-home. The Parent Center portion of the Web site of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. It focuses on information for parents of children with learning disabilities, including how to navigate the special education process.
Report prepared by: Linda Wilson
Reviewed by: Richard Camer
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Rosemary Gibson