The web site for the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is helpful to both teachers and parents (http://www.cec.sped.org/am/template.cfm?section=Home). The design and navigability is user friendly for novice or expert due to the clarity of the home page and the clear links embedded throughout. The home page contains abundant, neatly displayed written information. A wide header at the top, complete with the CEC logo, provides a concise mission statement, “Council for Exceptional Children: the voice and vision of special education.” Accessibility tools such as search window and member login information are available on the top part of the web page. The three column format below the header contains key ports of interest and information without having to scroll down. However, the visitor can scroll down to find further information contained in CEC Communities, Teaching and Learning Center, or any one of the numerous news article briefs listed in the middle column. The site contains information specifically directed toward the membership under the CEC Communities tab, but the opening to each division introduces the non-member to the network of the CEC. The Teaching and Learning Center contains items of interest such as evidence-based practice, instructional strategies, professional standards, and professional practice topics and information. More recent articles are restricted to members, but there is much information available to non-members. Plentiful information is contained on the home page and each link leads the parent or teacher to items of interest concerning students with gifts and special needs.

The Governance and Leadership link under the About CEC tab clearly identifies those professionals involved in the CEC organization. It states that selected members are chosen for work areas due to their knowledge and expertise. However, it does not specifically identify the webmaster for the web site. When I clicked on the page icon at the top of my computer to gain some additional insight as to the origin of the website, it stated, “Generated by eContentManager ! www.advsol.com.” The bottom of each page of the web site states, “The CEC Web site complies with the W3C- AAA accessibility standards,” indicating the website’s participation in an initiative launched in 1997 which provides greater website accessibility for individuals with disabilities. The CEC, recognized as a leader in advocacy for exceptional children, is taking part in this initiative which was approved by the White House in 1997. The reputation of this advocacy group and its participation in this accessibility initiative leads me to believe this website has the authority to publish accurate information concerning students with exceptionalities.

The information found on the website under various topics of interest is attributed to professionals with expertise in the individual areas and appear to be most reliable. The items of interest under the Teaching and Learning link largely come from peer reviewed articles found in the various CEC publications. Many of the articles are cited in research papers containing scientific studies. Additionally, the individuals selected as bloggers on the site must meet certain standards of excellence in their work as educators and must also provide evidence of their proficiency as a writer. So, even that component of the website devoted to opinion and advice is grounded upon knowledgeable input. From the information I gathered surfing around the CEC website; the standards for accurate information are high and reliable.

The CEC web site clearly identifies itself as a resource of the leading advocacy group for students identified as gifted and those with special needs. The About CEC tab contains a video that describes the advocacy group thoughtfully embedded with subtitles as the audio plays. The web site is an extension of this mission and is accessible to non-members with additional information available to the membership. The CEC web site does attempt to accurately inform the reader about exceptionalities through articles based on accurate, peer reviewed research. Therefore, although it is a site specifically devoted to a particular cause, it is also grounded in fact not opinion. There is no advertising on the site aside from the CEC Store which solicits publications available to members and non-members. Also, upcoming events of interest for the student or parent of an exceptional learner are tastefully advertised in the right column on the home page. It is blissfully free of distracting advertising pop-ups!

The CEC web site provides coverage of many important topics through a variety of means. Under the Teaching and Learning link one may find information on accreditation and licensure with links to each state for specific standards and guidelines, an outline of professional roles for the different careers focusing on working with exceptional students, and support for teachers. There are links concerning numerous exceptionality topics providing instructional strategies and information for specific subject or exceptionality areas. The site contains numerous peer-reviewed research articles (some more recent articles are not accessible to non-members) and the teacher’s blog is an avenue used to connect with other professionals in the field for ideas and support. Webinars are available providing continuing education credit on current topics of interest concerning collaboration, RTI in the middle and high schools, or social skills for students with special needs. Should a visitor to the site be interested issues concerning the policies and advocacy opportunities, this information is readily available. There are even links to information concerning loan sources and financial aid for college and graduate students. Many of these links contain sources outside the website and are easily accessed by the hyperlink embedded in the text. The Privacy Policy at the bottom of each page of the web site clearly states that once a visitor to the CEC web site goes to a different web site through the hyperlink process, they are under the auspice of the current site and the same, careful privacy protection given those on the CEC site will not extend to the new site. The web site provides bountiful information, but also provides various outside resources of interest as well.

Information found on the CEC web site is easily accessible, plentiful, and based on current research and information about issues facing exceptional learners today. Recent peer-reviewed articles are available, as well as those older than five years. The more current articles are generally restricted to the members. I clicked on several hyper-links embedded in various articles and none were outdated or no longer in service. The CEC News and News and Issues contain current events affecting exceptional learners. Also, all three job search site links given in one of the teacher’s blogs came up immediately. The web site copyright date given at the bottom of the page is 2010. A visitor to the CEC site can count on having the latest information concerning students with exceptionalities.
The web site for the CEC is easily navigable due to the design of each page and clarity of purpose for each link. This would be an excellent site for teachers and for parents who are interested in advocacy information and current topics concerning exceptional learners. The practical strategies for use with a child at home are less prevalent and require more searching. However, the information about laws and policy would help inform parents, thereby facilitating effective communication and advocacy for their child’s education. Reliable articles on the latest research concerning a particular strategy, the information concerning laws and policy in the classroom, and the availability of continuing education topics make this a site to keep as a favorite for all professional educators working with exceptional learners. Membership has some advantages. Information concerning dues is available through a link under the Membership tab. With the webinars, teacher blogs, and policy information, the CEC web site is one that I highly recommend.