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CISL: Creating Digital Tools to Empower Students

Screenshots of Clusive library, and open article with settings panel.

Project Name
Center on Inclusive Software for Learning (CISL)

Project Description

Digital technologies have the potential to transform education for all students, especially those with disabilities. But different students have different needs.  The Center on Inclusive Software for Learning looked at how we can develop software solutions that have the built-in intelligence to adapt to different students’ needs, while still allowing teachers to customize the experience for their students and encouraging the students themselves to take agency in their own learning and develop the metacognitive strategies that will help them succeed.

Developing Clusive

CISL created an innovative new learning environment, Clusive®. Clusive is free, flexible, adaptive, and designed using UDL to support the needs of diverse learners. It makes digital educational materials accessible and engaging for all students.  It is open-source software, so that others may freely use, learn from, and even improve it.

Explore Clusive®️

Looking for ways to support readers in building and expanding their vocabulary? Searching for engaging, age-appropriate reading for middle school students? Clusive is a free, flexible, adaptive, and customizable digital learning environment designed with UDL in mind. Explore our Frequently Asked Questions or jump right in.

Try out Clusive today!

Making sense of the research

CISL started by doing an extensive review of the types of features that are most useful for struggling readers and students with disabilities. We read hundreds of research articles, talked with industry experts, interviewed teachers and students, and boiled all of this information down into bite-sized, straightforward summaries of why you might want to look for certain features when choosing educational applications—and if you are a software developer, which ones you might want to prioritize adding. See our Technology Feature Briefs for the results of these investigations.


CISL was a collaboration between CAST, SRI International, and the Inclusive Design Research Centre, with evaluation expertise provided by Evergreen Evaluation and Consulting. In addition, we worked with many additional partners along the way.  We collaborated with ISKME to improve the accessibility of Open Educational Resources authored on their platform and allow them to be used in EPUB readers (including Clusive). We worked with Benetech to make a direct connection between Bookshare and Clusive, making a huge library of content accessible for qualified students. The DAISY Consortium and helped us refine Clusive’s accessibility. And most importantly, we worked with hundreds of teachers, parents, and students over the course of the project to co-design Clusive and make sure that it serves the actual needs of educators and learners.


2018 – 2023


Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education


SRI International
Inclusive Design Research Centre

Project Leadership

Boris Goldowsky, Ph.D., CAST (PI)
Sherri Wilcauskas, Project Director, CAST
Jutta Treviranus, Ph.D., IDRC (Co-PI)
Jennifer Yu, Sc.D., SRI (Co-PI)


For more information about this project, please contact

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