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Posts Tagged ‘blindness’

Notes about the Maine Starter Program

March 31st, 2011 No comments

Thanks to our presenters from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D) for giving us a tour of their service, as well as outlining the details of the Maine Starter Program. This service will improve access to human-narrated audio books, including textbooks, for Maine students with print disabilities. The program includes:

  • A full access landing page for Maine
  • One level 3 membership for the state, which includes 100 books
  • 25 licenses for RFB&D ReadHear for Mac by gh
  • 5 training webinars
  • 1 professional development webinar

Please be sure to watch the recording to learn the details of the program (should be available sometime on 3/31). Contacts for more information include Jenn Dougherty (jdougherty@rfbd.org) and Jayme Cagliuso (jcagliuso@rfbd.org). Jenn and Jayme welcome feedback on the program and how to support the unique needs of your school.

Going Multimodal: Notes from the March 17 Webinar

March 18th, 2011 No comments

Concept map of North American trees - ConiferousMany thanks to the good folks who came out for yesterday’s webinar, “Multimodal Strategies for Communication & Expression.” Ann Marie and I appreciated the contributions made, which I’ve incorporated into our notes below.

The content of the webinar was based on a 2008 white paper that was commissioned by Cisco and written by the Metiri Group, titled Multimodal Learning through Media: What the Research Says. I liked this report when it was published and decided to resurrect it as the subject of a webinar because, at just 24 pages (including appendices), it’s a bite size synthesis of the research behind multimodal learning and how it can inform the use of multimedia for instruction. The framework of the paper centers on three key aspects of multimodal learning:

  • The physical functioning of the brain (neuroscience)
  • The implications for learning (cognitive science)
  • What the above means for the use of multimedia

So, we set out to define multimodal learning, to summarize the research behind it and, most enjoyably, demonstrate and provide examples of how it can be accomplished through multimedia applications on the MLTI MacBooks. Read more…

Access by Students with Blindness: Notes from the Mar 11 Webinar

March 15th, 2010 No comments

TylerThanks to the folks who logged in Thursday afternoon or evening to participate in the webinar, Access to Learning by Students with Blindness and Low Vision. Our guest facilitator was Nancy Moulton of Educational Services for Blind & Visually Impaired Children (ESBVIC), a statewide service of Catholic Charities Maine. Nancy is a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and Regional Supervisor.

We set out with two essential questions:

  1. How can we support the learning needs of students with blindness and low vision?
  2. In the process, how can we be better teachers of all students? Read more…

March 11 Webinar: Focus on access by students with blindness

March 8th, 2010 No comments

Image of embossed BraillePlease join us this Thursday, March 11, for a webinar titled, Access to Classroom Learning by Students with Blindness and Low Vision.

With the appropriate tools and accessible instructional materials, students who are blind or have low vision can participate in the same rigorous and progressive curriculum as their peers. Our guest, Nancy Moulton of Catholic Charities Maine, will improve our understanding of what teachers can do to support the full participation and achievement of students with blindness and low vision in the general education classroom. We’ll meet a local middle school student who combines the use of a Braille device with his MLTI MacBook to read, write, communicate, and collaborate with his peers and teachers across the content areas. And, in the process of understanding the unique learning needs of students with blindness and low vision, we’ll glean new insights about how we can better meet the needs and preferences of all learners.

Please join us Thursday, March 11, at 3:15 pm or 7:15 pm. You can find links for registration and information about how to access these sessions by clicking on the WebCasts tab at the top of this page.

Image by lissalou66/Melissa licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic license.

To Know VoiceOver: Notes from the December 10th Webinar

December 14th, 2009 1 comment
Wordle image of terms from informal transcription of webinar

Wordle of informal webinar transcription

Thanks to all who participated in last Thursday’s webinar, “Getting to Know VoiceOver.” Steve Sawczyn of AT Maine was our guest and provided a basic, albeit truly stellar, overview of VoiceOver, the built-in screen reader for Macs. More importantly, he gave us numerous take-aways for being better educators of all learners, including students who are blind or have low vision.

In Steve’s introduction, he explained that he’s been blind since birth and started using Apple computers in the 3rd grade when his teacher got a grant. In his own educational experience, the greatest barrier to learning has been access to information. Having to wait for materials to become available in alternative formats (i.e., purchased, converted, or transcribed), greatly disadvantages students with print disabilities. What has been the greatest contributor to access to learning? Steve cites technology from an early age as playing a large role in successful learning experiences. Even more important has been the ability to read Braille. He describes it as a “gift” he was given at an early age. He states, “It’s one thing to listen to text, such as by speech synthesizer or book in audio format, but another thing is to be able to read it in a way that you know what the punctuation is, understand the conceptual layout, flow of paragraphs…subtle things are lost in the translation to any audio format.”

Some anecdotes about *VoiceOver (VO)

  • VO is “integrated.” That is, every Mac (Tiger and newer) has VO built in. You don’t need to install, download, or configure anything. It’s just there.
  • In the past, Steve’s experience was to use “special workstations” or computers adapted with assistive technology for users with disabilities. Today, he can use any Mac, from his childrens’ laptops to trying out new devices at the Apple Store (a favorite pastime, apparently).
  • VO- and non VO-users can collaborate because it is designed to be an accessible interface for everyone. The caption panel displays in text everything that VO is speaking aloud. VO can be used by sighted users with the mouse and trackpad and by VO-users via keyboard shortcuts and commands. This is due to the VO cursor, which allows control of what the user wants to access on the screen. As Steve explains, “Similar to the way a sighted user chooses to focus on specific content, VO gives me a conceptual overview of what is on the screen, and I can jump right to the area of interest. In other words, with VO you learn to use applications as a blind user the same way you would as a sighted user.”
  • Braille devices are compatible with VO. For example, students who use refreshable Braille displays can connect their devices to their MLTI laptops and VO will produce output.

In summary, Steve convinced us that VoiceOver is a tool to improve opportunities for students with blindness and low vision to have the same access to instructional materials – and at the same time – as their peers. His hope is that all educators understand, even though they may not know how to use tools like VoiceOver, these supports exist to allow them to fully integrate students who are blind into the curriculum.

Steve can be reached at steve@atmaine.com

Sites shared during the webinar

AT Maine

VoiceOver in Depth

Apple Accessibility

Woopid video tutorial

Mac-cessibility Network

*Our coverage of VoiceOver is specific to Mac OS X Leopard, which is on the MLTI laptops.