A Clusive Success Story

By Joseph Scheuhammer

Clusive logo

Clusive is a free, flexible, adaptive and customizable learning environment. It is a web application for students and teachers that addresses access and learning barriers present in digital and open learning materials. Teachers can create classes of students, upload and assign ebooks to those classes, and monitor students’ progress. Students can upload books as well and create their own virtual library. They can use built-in tools to alter the display of the contents of a book in terms of text size, line spacing, letter spacing, colour contrast themes and font, including a font developed for reading with dyslexia. The Reader component provides read-aloud and can be configured with different voices and reading speeds. When activated, read-aloud speaks the text and highlights individual words as they are spoken. There are also supports for notetaking, word definition lookup and text simplification.

A real-life Clusive story

Kristin, one of the instructional designers who helped develop Clusive, reached out to us after receiving some feedback about one user’s experience:

Reed just graduated from high school. He has dyslexia so profoundly that he has been compared by his teachers and support personnel to being blind. He had a 1-1 aide all through school. Imagine what that is like for a high school student — any student — to never have any independence during learning.

A CISL project member was asked by Reed’s relative to explain what she does. As an example of the types of things she works with, the project member showed Reed Clusive and asked him to tell her what he thought.

Reed signed in and immediately, he went into settings; he made the line structure different, chose the open dyslexia font, set his background to black. Then he said, “Oh my gosh, I can do this. This is what I needed. If I had had this in school, this would have made such a difference. I could have done this. I could have understood, I could have read this.” He used TTS, changed speed and voice, and kept reading.

Reed showed Clusive to his dad, who is a software programmer. After a few minutes, his dad said, “We need to call the High School SPED coordinator [at home] and tell them to start using this.” Reed said, “Apple needs this in its IOS.” And Reed is convinced that Clusive could make going to college possible for him.

The story doesn’t end there. A few months ago a woman came up to me and asked me if I worked on Clusive. She introduced herself to me as Reed’s grandmother and told me she had something to share.

Reed had planned on getting a job right after high school, any job, because he had not had a good experience in high school. Well (said his grandmother), his plans changed. Because of Clusive (her words, not mine).

Reed’s encounter with Clusive turned out to be life changing. That’s not an exaggeration. Reed started uploading materials into Clusive and saw that he COULD do it, he could read himself, be independent, feel competent. So Reed changed his plans. Now he is going to college and working toward an associate’s degree. AND, his plan is to go on to get a four-year degree in forestry and environmental studies. And he’ll be able to do it — because he’s got a straight A average in college right now.

Your work has changed lives. Truly. And everyone deserves to know it!

Learn more

Clusive was developed by the Center on Inclusive Software for Learning (CISL). Learn more about Clusive.

On an episode of the Assembling Inclusion podcast about Clusive, listen to two of the individuals who worked on the project discuss Clusive.