OU blog

Personal Blogs

H810: Week 10: Activity 21.1: Tackling Descriptions

Visible to anyone in the world

Description - images shown at bottom of post

Diagram 1on the left of the image shows a cupula which is stationary. A main sensory nerve comes straight up into a bell-shaped structure which is the membrane lining the inside of the semi-circular canals. It is lined with rectangular cells. Inserted between these cells, at the top third of the bell are hair cells which are all connected to the sensory nerve by peripheral nerves. These sensory cells are more oval in shape with protrusions into the roughly triangular area of the cupula which covers the top third of the bell shape.

Diagram 2 on the right of the image is very similar but shows a cupula and bell-shape bent over to the right as fluid movement in the canals pushes it to one side. The image text states "Movement stimulates hair cells, which send a signal through the sensory nerve" and this is shown on the diagram with red arrows marked from each sensory cell, through peripheral nerves and joining the main sensory nerve.

Comments

Over the last few years I have been working quite intensively with two students with severe visual impairments who are studying neuroscience. Initially I was providing all support but the lecturer decided to employ a PhD student to create models and use the T3 to create tactile slides. This ensured that the students had the best possible access to the diagrams that they were required to be familiar with for their studies.

This meant that I only needed to make a brief description of each image on the slide as the student also had reference to a copy of the image in tactile format or a model if that was more appropriate.

At the start of their courses, I had to describe the images completely and this is what I have chosen to do for this exercise. I have chosen a simple image as the more complex images take pages of text to describe and really are not very useful for the student. Tactile images or models are much more suitable.

I also feel that you need to be very familiar with the material you are describing so that you do not mislead the student and you know which parts of the diagram are important to include.

Another point that I consider important is that it is possible to do a general instruction for a student but it is more effective if it is a description tailored to an individual student as you know the course material that they have already covered and you can use comparisons with which they are familiar. For example I know that one student I work with lost their sight at the age of 7 years, has a good understanding of colour and likes me to include colour into descriptions as it brings it to life for them. Other students would not like this at all!

Yet another point concerning individual descriptions is that the length of the description depends on personal preferences and impairments. One student requires short descriptions as he is also dyslexic and struggles with short term memory problems; another likes complete descriptions in full detail.

I do find it difficult to describe diagrams to students when they have to interpret them for themselves. It is possible but the person describing the image has to ensure they stick to describing shapes and do not include any academic terms - I find this easier if I do not know the subject well. I have had to do this for flow diagrams in computer science and chemistry.

The most difficult part of my job is at the start of the course when the images on slides may not have been transcribed. I am then involved in notetaking everything a lecturer says whilst trying to verbally describe the image they are talking about to the student sitting next to me! Sometimes encouraging the student to chat to the lecturer will result in the lecturer giving a brief description of the image before they go on to point out the salient points but it is still difficult. In some ways it is easier on an online course when the student can take all the time they need to work out the description of an image before beginning to study the text. In a lecture theatre it has to be done so fast that the student often loses track of what is happening and wastes an hour just sitting there before having to go away and start again either on their own or with a support worker. Of course this depends on whether a support worker is available and it can result in a student falling behind after just one lecture and being unable to understand the next lecture.

See description at top of blog post

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 9: Activity 20.1: Finding guidelines

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Lynn Hunt, Sunday, 31 Oct 2010, 21:43

Find web resources with guidelines for each of the online learning elements in the list below, selecting those that would be most useful in your context.

I have recently changed jobs and, as part of my new role, I am supporting a student with a severe visual impairment in her second year studying a law degree at university. She lost her sight suddenly at age 16 years and has problems remembering the layout of web pages etc. I started working with her last week and found that she is struggling to access some resources and so I thought that this exercise would be useful to examine which guidelines would be useful to ensure the resources were accessible for her. She is using a pen drive version of Supernova.

  • Web pages
    Studying law relies heavily on being able to use two specialist databases hosted on websites: Westlaw and LexisNexis Butterworths. Previous students I have worked with have managed to use these sites on their own once they were used to them but my current student is still having problems after a complete year so I think it is time to look for other solutions!
    Guidelines for web pages do apply to this area but the added database functions add to the complexity of each page. Searching the web gave me the information that Westlaw is available as a plain text version in the US but I can find no link to it in the UK. I have emailed both companies for further information.
    For general staff guidelines on creating accessible web pages I like the WebAim version of the guidelines as these provide a basic list with links that explain in more details how to create the features required.
  • PowerPoint presentations
    The student has problems accessing PowerPoint presentations and has organised for her support workers to transcribe the slides into plain text. Her electronic notetaker then adds lecture information underneath each heading so all the information is in one place.
    The guidelines that I prefer in this case are still the WebAIM version as they are suitable for lecturers and contain guidance for all three versions of Microsoft Office currently in use!!
  • Word documents
    The student copes well with Word documents but, due to the versatility of having all the versions of Word currently in use, I still have to go with the WebAIM version of the guidelines.
  • PDF documents
    The student has had problems with inaccessible pdf documents in the past and now refuses to accept them from lecturers. She insists on all documents being given to her in Word. Having studied the guidelines on how to convert documents and the lengthy checking process required, I can understand that many busy lecturers just convert and trust they are OK without checking them. I looked at several versions of the guidelines but many were very much out of date and only quoting Word 2003. Many also had their own guidelines but referred to WebAIM guidelines as a definitive source. I did like the YouTube video that explained how to produce pdf documents but this was with an older version of Word as well.
  • Flash animations
    I was quite surprised to find that my daughter was writing an accessible website in Flash - firstly that she could do it at all and secondly that it could be made accessible! Adobe reports that the latest version is now very good with screen readers whereas the older versions needed a non-Flash alternative. This information seems to vary with who you talk to and which site you read! WebAIM guidelines still say that it is very difficult to access and alternatives should be provided.
  • Web video
    I found it difficult to find anything between far too general and specific uses for individual programs. I eventually found the Skills for Access guidelines which were at the right level for general guidance for lecturers.

 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 9: Activity 19.3: Readability Level

Visible to anyone in the world

I found this an interesting point. My instinct is that generally pages ought to be easy to read but there can be exceptions. I think that the introductory pages should be easily readable but that they can link to more complex pages depending on context. For example, my daughter is currently designing a website for a module of her Masters in Geoscience. The topic of her website is Magma chamber dynamics and chromite formation. The module outcome is to produce an accessible website with an illustrated literature review. This is a highly complex area covering advanced physics and chemistry and I can see no way of simplifying the reading level once the reader is past the introductory page but surely this is fine. If the reader can read the first page easily and realise that it is not the material they need then I think that this is what is required.

As part of H800, I looked at the OU site introducing the Evolution Megalab project involving citizen science. It is designed for the general public so the majority of the pages are written at a simple level but there are also people who have a more specialised interest in science and so the factsheets are highly scientific and at a higher reading level.

I do feel that guidelines for reading level should be included as part of accessibility guidelines. It is important to make general web pages accessible for everyone. My daughter is deaf and has many friends whose first language is sign language and they often struggle with higher levels of written and spoken English.

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 9: Activity 19.2: Issues with guidelines

Visible to anyone in the world

I am getting so frustrated with out of date instructions! I use Office 2007 and most of the instructions are for older versions and have not bothered to update with the extra information. It can make quite a difference. For example, I wanted to investigate adding alt text to images in Word and the Jisc tech instructions were not updated so after a frustrating 15 mins I eventually Google searched to find more up to date instructions which quickly showed me that it was under the 'size' tab rather than 'format'. [Rant over]

Everyone with disabilities requires a different approach and this may be part of the reason that people keep trying to create different versions of guidelines. I think another reason is that it really does look good if your organisation seems to be proactive in creating their own internal guidelines - but that is just the cynic in me. A third reason may be that there are many types of people involved in creating resources and they all like a different slant on the guidelines i.e. programmers and teachers require different approaches.

I really liked the video introducing screen readers. I thought it was a good introduction to exactly why people need these guidelines followed but I did need to go on to find out more about how to use the things he mentioned. I still cannot find out how to bring up the window he showed with the headings listed on it and I coudl really do withknowing how to do this. Any ideas anyone?

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 9: Activity 18.1: What needs to be accessible?

Visible to anyone in the world

Seale (2006): Chapter 4; pp. 28-41

Seale, J. (2006) E-Learning and Disability in Higher Education: Accessibility Research and Practice, Abingdon, Routledge; also available online at http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/ login?url=http://lib.myilibrary.com?id=52212 (accessed 30 October 2010)

As you read, make a list of the elements Seale mentions as needing to be made accessible. You will build on this list in other activities this week and in preparation for next week's activity. If you think that new elements have emerged since the book was written, add those to your list.

  • Web collaboration technologies
  • PDA / Mobile technologies
  • Websites

Avoid times responses or lengthen time

Alerts remain on screen until dismissed

  • Courseware
    • Virtual Learning Environments

Clear and consistent functions

Navigating links

Clear help messages

o   Learning Management Systems

o   E-portfolios

Editing by various people

  • Library resources
    • Databases

Lack of direction

Use of frames

Images

Colour

Graphics

  • Text documents
    • Printable Document Format (PDF)

Need tagging to give logical reading order

Need correct construction

Some in image format for copyright reasons

  • Presentation Applications

Difficult to access when exported to web

Alternative text outline needed

Need robust exporting tool

  • Multimedia

Captions required

o   Flash

Problem in past; captions good now

o   Java applets

Needs Java access bridge for screen readers

Accessibility API built in

 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 8: Activity 17.3

Visible to anyone in the world

 

H810: Week 8: Activity 17.3

I think time and money are limiting factors here. My daughter attends a university where lecturers are instructed to hand all videos to the disabilities department and they are transcribed and handed back to the lecturer so that they have a copy for whenever they need it. This takes time and so the lecturer needs to know a couple of weeks in advance that they will want to use the video. It also takes money and this expense is borne by the disability department. At my local university the lecturer shows the video in the lecturer and then the student has to request to borrow it and organise for the transcription and pay for it with their DSA. I am not convinced that this is legal as it is up to the university to provide materials in an accessible format.

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 8: Activity 17.2

Visible to anyone in the world

 

H810: Week 8: Activity 17.2

  • Who in your organisation is responsible for providing alternative formats and any descriptions required?
    The lecturer with support of disability support workers where necessary
  • Is anyone responsible for checking the quality of alternative format materials?
    Not as far as I know
  • Are there any copyright issues?
    The University holds a licence from the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) to make digital copies of extracts of printed material for students enrolled on a course of study. This allows lecturers to publish their illustrated lecture slides on the KLE and accessible copies of part or whole works can be made available for material owned by individual students or held in the University library.

Lecture slides with text, images, audio and video - supplied on VLE at least 3 days in advance by the majority of lecturers. Dyslexic students and others with short term memory impairments are well catered for with the lecture slides being available for replay on the VLE; Hearing impaired students require captions on the video and transcripts for the audio but these can be time consuming to produce and many lecturers rely on the student's notetaker to take down the required information. This can be adequate if the notetaker is trained but many notetakers are other students attending the class and may not understand the material themselves or be able to write at speed. Images and video require an alternative text or embossed slides. It can be difficult for even a trained notetaker to convert images to text at the same time as recording what the lecturer is saying so it is possible for the notetaker to request access to the VLE and the images so that they can provide alt text at a later date.

Diagrams on whiteboard with text and images. Ideally these would be supplied on handout for students with visual impairment, dyslexia, hearing impairment or writing impairments. Some lecturers do this for pre-planned material but this is used mostly for off-the-cuff explanations and so a qualified notetaker is a practical alternative. Often the student will dictate what material is essential. I worked with a student with a hearing impairment and he instructed me to write down the explanation the lecturer gave whilst he drew the diagrams from the board.

Laboratory work handling animals, chemicals, microscopes, dissection equipment, radioactive materials etc. The biology department at Keele University have invested in magnification equipment for use with microscopes; models and tactile images to assist visually impaired students. They also trained and paid a PhD student to assist in laboratory work and insisted on a notetaker that had qualifications in a related field and was safe in the lab.

Field work involves notetaking in adverse conditions and walking and scrambling over uneven and steep terrain both in the UK and in other parts of Europe. The University offer alternative forms of assessment and the student is also welcome to take support workers with them on field trips. Assessed notebooks are an important part of most courses and discussion on how to complete these is generally held between student, support worker and lecturer.

 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 8: Activity 17.1

Visible to anyone in the world

 

H810: Week 8: Activity 17.1

Alternatives for textbooks

1.   Electronic copies from the publisher

a.   Positives

i.    The reader knows that they have the correct information included as they come directly from the publisher.

ii.    Some publishers provide these free of charge for visually impaired students

iii.    Student can adjust format, size and colour to their own requirements

b.   Negatives

i.    Can be very time consuming to obtain

ii.    Can be expensive

iii.    Student and university often have to sign copyright agreements which take time and organisation

iv.    Images/graphs do not have alt text

v.    Formulae often supplied as image

vi.    Often supplied as pdf documents which many screen readers cannot read so have to be converted to word documents

vii.    Sometimes supplied as full text with no chapters or page numbers so impossible to navigate

c.   Technical Resources
Should be fine as all books are stored in electronic format but may well need programs to convert from pdf to word documents

d.   Human Resources
Needs expertise and knowledge of the legal situation to deal with the publishers
Needs expertise to convert documents
May need to add text to images/graphs

2.   Scanning and Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

a.   Positives

i.    Can be obtained quickly if staff available; in some cases the student can do it themselves but this is difficult if the student is visually impaired

ii.    Can be used for older texts not available in electronic format

iii.    Only the section of book required is scanned so less information for student to store and more easily searchable

iv.    Student can request special requirements as to naming of files, text etc.

v.    Student can adjust format, size and colour to their own requirements

b.   Negatives

i.    Pages of book must be clean, no marks and not on very white paper or reflection prevents OCR

ii.    Font must be clear

iii.    Printing must not be too close to spine or book has to be pulled apart and rebound

iv.    Book must be exactly placed on scanner for OCR to be accurate

v.    Images and graphs cannot be scanned

vi.    Formulae often not recognised and must be typed

vii.    Checking and adjusting type can be VERY time consuming and thus expensive for the student as needs to pay at support rate

c.   Technical Resources
Good quality scanner and excellent OCR program required

d.   Human Resources
Boring and time consuming job that requires someone who understands the subject of the book they are scanning so that they can correct it.

3.   Typing

a.   Positives

i.    Fast for smaller sections

ii.    Can be personalised for the student's requirements

iii.    Can be used for books unsuitable for scanning and older texts not available in electronic format

iv.    Trained typists can provide alt text for images/graphs

b.   Negatives

i.    Time consuming and so expensive for the student although pays at typist rate not support rate. If alt text needed then pays at higher rate

ii.    Difficult to do quickly for rush jobs

c.   Technical Resources
Book stand to make it easier for typist and computer/laptop

d.   Human Resources
Trained typist with additional skills to understand the material typed and also how to provide alt text if necessary

4.   Audio

a.   Positives

i.    Can be read by person with little training or even friend of the student

b.   Negatives

i.    Voice quality is important; must be clear and pleasant for student to listen to

ii.    Can be difficult to reference material

iii.    Can be difficult to find position in recording to listen again

c.   Technical Resources
May need a range of resources depending on the student's requirements - most are SD discs for computer now but some students prefer audio CD or cassettes

d.   Human Resources
Requires a clear voice and it is time consuming. No special expertise required although knowledge of the subject can be useful for the pronunciation of technical terms.

5.   Braille/Moon

a.   Positives

i.    Can be fast to read by practised student

ii.    Great for presentations as student can read notes from text whilst presenting

b.   Negatives

i.    Bulky to store for the student

ii.    Needs training to produce and check

iii.    With basic equipment the text will need to be prepared in special formats before printing

c.   Technological Resources

i.    Braille/Moon printer

ii.    Electronic version of document required

d.   Human Resources

i.    Trained operator for printer

ii.    Trained person to check Braille/Moon is correct

6.   Daisy Books

I know of the existence of these and that they are much easier to search in a non-linear fashion but I have never seen or used them so perhaps someone else can help here I do know that they are great for maths and science formulae!

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 8: Activity 16.1,16.2, 16.3

Visible to anyone in the world

 

H810: Week 8: Activity 16.1

I am writing this using narrator which I do not find to bad provided that I write slowly. If I type at my normal speed, I find that I cannot hear the letters that I am typing. I am a little confused though as I cannot get any of the control functions to work. For example, Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar is meant to read the entire selected window but doesn't. I also cannot get it to read any web pages. Can anyone help? I was hoping to try to use narrator and magnifier with a student I work with who is having problems getting Supernova to work with the Windows 7 version of Power Point.

H810: Week 8: Activity 16.2/3

In my context, training is supplied by the support workers from the specialist agency and these are paid by the student's DSA. Training is supplied on the campus and can be over several sessions.

This sounds ideal but there are several important problems occurring:

  • The Access assessment is not sufficient to identify any technological needs as it just asks the student if they are confident users of a particular technology. This results in there being no money made available for training. Kennedy (2007), discussing Australian students, suggests that they have more confidence in their technological skills than is actually justified. I also find this to be the case as many of the students I work with report that they are expert users of screen readers and then I find that they are having great difficulty navigating more specialist applications like library databases.
  • I have been working for a specialist agency where some members of staff are trained in teaching touch typing or Supernova. This means that we can supply training for students where necessary. Most agencies are not specialist and do not have staff trained in these areas.
  • Students and support workers are very busy. It can be difficult to fit in enough time to provide study support to ensure the student can keep up with the course. There is no way to shoehorn in any extra time for learning or improving technologies. I am currently working with a young lady with very little sight. She is studying law so has a fully packed timetable. She uses Supernova for both magnification and narration but cannot find her way around the law databases such as Westlaw or LexisNexis. Currently she is struggling with her workload so much that she insists that her support worker finds cases for her as it takes her so long to do it herself.

Thinking about the adoption and rejection of assistive technology reminded me of some of Roger's work on innovation. It was quite a while since I have looked at it so I had to do some more research:

Rogers, E.M. (1995) Diffusion of Innovation. New York, Free Press

The easiest format to see these ideas in on julesm0722 YouTube lecture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pSYFcBdqDI&feature=related

Timing of adoption

Innovators - [risk takers] younger, more educated, higher disposable income, socially mobile and involved, network well

Early adopters - [perceive risk] research before purchase, opinion leaders, self-confident

[Chasm to cross before majority join in]

Early majority - [interested in application] need concrete reason to purchase,

Late majority - [not as comfortable with technology]

Laggards - [Fear new technology] only buy when buried inside another project or forced to buy

How likely people are likely to move from trialling to adoption of a technology

Relative advantage - performance of the tool - is it better than the way I did it before?

Compatibility - can we use with things we already have?

Complexity - may need resources in place to use (training) before adopting

Trialability - see if you like it first

Observability/Communicability - can you see it in use and discuss it with others in your peer group

My thoughts on this are that we can be dealing with many categories of people including the 'laggards' who have been forced into the adoption of the technology due to their impairment and can often be worried and frightened of the technology they have to use. The manufacturers of any new technology do not consider this small proportion of the population but we have to as there may need to be extended trial periods and extra support to deal with the complexity of the programs/equipment they are using. Currently I am trying to encourage one of my students to contact another experienced Supernova user to build up peer support.

 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 7: Activity 15.2: Students with dyslexia

Visible to anyone in the world

 

Smythe, I. (ed.) (2005) Provision and Use of Information Technology with Dyslexic Students in University in Europe, pp. 87-90, EU funded Welsh Dyslexia Project. Available from:
http://eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk/14150/1/The_Book.pdf [accessed 20th October 2010]

Matching Technology to Needs
Andersson and Draffan, 2005, pp. 73-78

Screen Readers

I am not sure that I agree that screen readers may be too fast with long strings of spoken text. The report seems to suggest that the short-term memory problems often associated with dyslexia make remembering and understanding the long strings very difficult. In my experience which is in a higher education context, students often use the screen reader in association with reading the written text and it can greatly reduce the number of times the student has to read the paper  in order to comprehend it and extract the information they require. It does not always help students to have the text highlighted as this can be very distracting.

I do agree that recent developments that have made it possible for the student to customise the software to their own requirements have been extremely beneficial. This does involve training for the student and I have experienced problems on several occasions when the student has been supplied with software using their DSA. The delivery people are expected to train the student and have often never used the program themselves.

Predictive text

8-10 words per minute - useful to increase output
25+ words per minute - useful for vocabulary support
Koester, H.H (2002) Word Prediction - When does it enhance text entry rate? In R. Simpson (Ed.), Proceedings of the RESNA 25th Annual Conference.

Perceptual difficulties / short term memory issues - correct word needs to be towards top of short list
Montgomery, D.J., Karlan, G.R. & Coutinho, M. (2001), The Effectiveness of Word Processor Spell Checker Programs to Produce Target Words for Misspellings Generated by Students With Learning Disabilities, JSET E Journal, 16, 2,

Voice Recognition

Voice recognition has improved tremendously over the last few years but I think that the disadvantages reported here are still applicable. Many people with dyslexia, even at higher education level, are prone to mispronounce words and this causes enough of a problem for them to give up on voice recognition software. Even with comprehensive notes and an essay plan, short term memory impairment can cause problems with remembering enough text to dictate coherently to a computer.

Spell-checkers

I think the most useful improvement in this area is that of software which allows students to customise their spell-checkers with the complex vocabulary required by an average degree or post-graduate course.

Mind Mapping

I know of several students who find mind mapping an invaluable tool but others who hate it. It is definitely a tool that is down to personal preference. I also find that it can be so heavily advertised as a tool for students with dyslexia that many other students are reluctant to try it.

I don't know whether it is my age but I still prefer mind mapping on paper so I can scrawl to my heart's content. I find the precise process of drawing it out on the screen takes too long for me to be able to jot down ideas at speed and then I lose the merits of the brainstorming process. I have been known to transcribe the whole thing onto Webspriration afterwards in order to clarify my ideas.

A Conceptual Model of the ICT Needs of the Dyslexic Student Smythe et al., 2005, pp. 87-90

Not sure how useful this chart would be as it generalises the requirements of students where a more individual approach is necessary. The language is also controversial as it discusses 'dyslexics' and 'dyslexic students' in general terms.

"The table above highlights the software which would provide most dyslexics with most of their needs." Page 91

I found the information on approaches in other countries interesting but outdated.

The point not considered by either article was the effect of multiple impairments. I have been working closely with a university student who is registered blind and also has dyslexia. These two impairments each impinge on the strategies used to counteract the disabilities for the other. Being blind means that the visual representations used in mindmapping are not possible and being dyslexic means that the feats of memory required to remember routes around the university, keystrokes for computer work etc. are also problematical.

 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 7: Activity 15.1: Tools

Visible to anyone in the world

I have quite a lot of experience working with students who use various tools to assist them. Rather than go through the physical aspects of the tools, I have looked at various tools described on the slides and have made a few notes on how I have seen them used by students I have worked with.

Slide 7: Mindmapping: Inspiration / Freemind

Many of my students are supplied with Inspiration 9 as part of their Disabled Students' Allowance and they are offered a training session to go with it. It is listed on Amazon at £70. I have used the Webspiration version which is an online version and excellent for online collaboration. I initially used it with a student with a visual impairment whose notetaker had copied down an extensive mind map from the whiteboard in the lecture theatre. The student could not read it until I transferred it to Webspiration and they could view it online and magnify it. She found it so useful that she shared the password with other students and they collaboratively made changes to improve it.

I have just been introduced to Freemind which is produced by Sourceforge and is the free version. I have not had much time to experiment with it but so far I am very impressed.

http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

Slide 8: Mobile phones

I think all the students I currently work with have a mobile phone with the capability of taking photographs. Many of the students with dyslexia or visual impairment use their phone to photograph information rather than try to copy it down although it is not unusual to see a queue of students waiting to take photographs of the board at the end of a lecture/tutorial. They are also very useful to take photographs of notices placed on the noticeboard. This summer I was acting as a support worker for a student on The Open University's astronomy summer school in Majorca. The students were working in groups and instructed to copy notes from the other half of the group. We were working nights with very little sleep and it would have been very easy to make mistakes when copying so all of the students took photographs of each other's notebooks.

Slide 9: Access to GUI: Keyboard Shortcuts

I am a touch typist and not that fast although I can keep up with lectures at university and so I am employed as an electronic notetaker for part of my support work. I know a handful of shortcuts in order to keep my speed up when typing. The ones I use most are:

  • A letter with an acute accent: Ctrl ' followed by the letter
  • A letter with an umlaut: Ctrl shift : followed by the letter
  • Switch superscript on and off: Ctrl shift +
  • Switch subscript on and off: ­­­Ctrl =

I tend to have to check these when I have not used them for a while and I have a great admiration for those students with visual impairments who need to memorise a lot of commands in order to access their computer. I have recently been working with a student who is registered blind and also has short term memory problems. He really struggles with accessing his computer and it consequently takes him a long time to write assignments even after he has managed to access the books and papers he requires.

Slide 10: Virtual Keyboard

http://abilitynet.wetpaint.com/page/On+Screen+Keyboards

This is a set of tools with which I have little experience and so I looked at them in more detail.

I had a look at the WiViK which is an onscreen keyboard with advanced text prediction capabilities. It costs $350 and has no support for this price. The website refers purchasers to their supplier for support.

WiViK® is an on-screen keyboard that enables people with physical disabilities to access any application within Microsoft Windows XP/Vista (32-bit). Instead of a physical computer keyboard, you select keys on a virual, on-screen keyboard that is displayed within a window that you can move and size.

You can select keys by:

1.   Pointing and clicking at keys with some pointing device.

2.   Pointing and dwelling over keys with some pointing device.

3.   Scanning across keys with a moving highlight automatically or under your control and making selections with discrete switch actions.

You can also pay extra (!) in order to add in a speech recognition system

Slide 11: Speech Recognition

I tried some of the earliest versions of speech recognition and spent hours trying to train it to recognise my West Country accent!! It never worked very well and I was so unimpressed that I never tried again. I have just spent some time looking at Dragon Naturally Speaking and I must say I am now feeling very enthusiastic about seeing if I can have another go. It seems much improved.

http://abilitynet.wetpaint.com/page/Voice+Recognition

Slide 12: Screen Magnification Software

The two systems I have seen in operation are LunarPlus (from Dolphin; $400) and ZoomText (ai squared; £400). I have not been very impressed with either system as they kept crashing and my student was losing study time and work every time they did so. We eventually moved to using Supernova (also from Dolphin; £600) which is the higher specification version and had the same problems. The support was not helpful but we eventually discovered that there are a lot of problems with magnifiers clashing with other programs. Trial and error and several months later we discovered what was clashing and the student could then use the computers in the library at university rather than having to carry her laptop everywhere.

Slide 13: Scanners/Readers

I have spent a lot of time scanning books and using OCR to convert them to Word documents so that they are accessible by screen readers. It is quite hard to do as the page must be exactly straight on the scanner and, although some of my students with severe visual impairment have tried to scan documents for themselves, it really only works with single sheets. One student uses it to read his post so that he can maintain a degree of privacy.

A big problem at university is that many of the pages are marked by other students and then they do not scan properly. It can be very frustrating.

Other problems are very white paper that reflects the light so that the text does not scan properly; complex fonts that are not recognised by OCR; and text printed so close to the spine that it cannot be scanned.

Slide 14: Radio aids

My daughter is severely deaf and I have a lot of experience with these tools. She wore one happily when she was 3 years old but by the time that she was 8 years, she was unhappy about looking different form the other children and only wore it reluctantly when absolutely necessary. When she started university she was bought one with her disabled students' allowance but it never left the box. I have experienced similar reactions with other students with whom I have worked. Many students think that they are really useful but the price is just too high. They have to walk up to the lecturer at the start of every lecture and ask them to wear the microphone and it singles them out every time. It is even worse when group work is involved and the microphone has to be passed around the students.

Another disadvantage that has caused problems is the lack of directional cues. When wearing a radio aid, the sound appears equidistant to both ears and this can cause problems identifying the speed of traffic for example.

 

 

 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 7: Activity 13.1 Knowledge Audit

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Lynn Hunt, Saturday, 16 Oct 2010, 16:41


Activity 13.1 - Assistive technology "familiarity audit"

My context is that I work with disabled students in a university setting. On a daily basis I work one-to-one with students with sensory impairments and Asperger syndrome and so I am very familiar with the enabling technologies that they use. In the summer I work for Open University summer schools and with students who have a wider range of impairments which has given me some experience of technologies used by students with motor and cognitive impairment.

Some of the technologies of which I am aware and that were not included on this list are:

  • Braille display - attached to computer via USB and displays the text on the screen one line at a time
  • Many of my students with motor impairments or with dyslexia use their digital cameras or camera phones to record information from noticeboards
  • It is possible to photograph printed text using an i-phone and then use an OCR converter application to turn it into an audio version
  • A student with severe hearing impairment uses a Kindle in order to store the papers/books she needs to read. In this way she can carry them everywhere with her and read them whenever she has time. This makes the best use of her time when she is struggling to keep up with a heavy work load and all the extra reading she has to do. Another student in a lot of pain uses a Kindle to save her carrying books with her. It is possible to download papers and annotate and highlight them as necessary.

Hardware

 

 

 

 

Technology

Direct knowledge

 

Indirect knowledge

 

Not familiar with this

 

If you have some direct or indirect knowledge please fill in these columns by ticking the type of impairment that has been addressed with this technology

Visual Impairment

Hearing Impairment

Motor Impairment

Cognitive Impairment

Chording keyboard

*

* Braille

* one handed

Keyguard

*

*

*

Rollerball

*

*

Joystick

*

*

Graphics tablet

*

*

*

Wheel  mouse

*

*

Touch screen

*

*

Switches (with mounting device)

*

*

Video magnifier

*

*

*

Cassette recorder

*

*

*

*

Minidisc recorder

*

*

*

*

Digital recorder

*

*

*

*

OCR pen

*

*

*

USB memory stick

*

*

*

*

*

PDA

*

*

*

*

*

Digital camera

*

*

*

*

Camcorder

*

*

*

*

Video phone

*

*

*

*

 

Software - (in-built)

 

 

 

 

Technology

Direct knowledge

 

Indirect knowledge

 

Not familiar with this

 

If you have some direct or indirect knowledge please fill in these columns by ticking the type of impairment that has been addressed with this technology

Visual Impairment

Hearing Impairment

Motor Impairment

Cognitive Impairment

Magnifier

*

*

sticky keys

*

*

Mouse keys

*

*

*

*

*

Narrator

*

*

*

On screen keyboard

*

*

*

*

Filter keys

*

*

Pointer options

*

*

*

Toggle keys

*

*

*

Display properties

*

*

*

 

Software - (third party)

 

 

 

 

Technology

Direct knowledge

 

Indirect knowledge

 

Not familiar with this

 

If you have some direct or indirect knowledge please fill in these columns by ticking the type of impairment that has been addressed with this technology

Visual Impairment

Hearing Impairment

Motor Impairment

Cognitive Impairment

Screen reader

*

 

 

*

 

 

*

Magnifier

*

 

 

*

 

 

 

Word prediction

*

 

 

*

*

*

*

Mind mapping

*

 

 

*

*

*

*

Voice recognition

*

 

 

*

*

*

*

Icon/toolbar design

*

 

 

*

 

*

*

Non-ILT

 

 

 

 

Technology

Direct knowledge

 

Indirect knowledge

 

Not familiar with this

 

If you have some direct or indirect knowledge please fill in these columns by ticking the type of impairment that has been addressed with this technology

Visual Impairment

Hearing Impairment

Motor Impairment

Cognitive Impairment

Adjustable table

*

 

 

*

 

*

 

Lap tray

*

 

 

 

 

*

 

Table lamp

*

 

 

*

 

 

*

Wrist rest

*

 

 

 

 

*

 

Foot rest

*

 

 

 

 

*

 

Arm support

*

 

 

 

 

*

 

Monitor arm

*

 

 

*

 

*

 

Document holder

*

 

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 5: Activity 12.1

Visible to anyone in the world

Activity 12.1 History

Make notes about the changing attitudes to the education of disabled people and the circumstances that lead to the successful implementation of assistive technology.

Resource 1: An Experiment in Education (Bell, 1967)

Forster seems to be a highly intelligent man who managed to combine a charity-based view which encouraged donations and help and a much more modern view of the boys as 'boys first, then boys in the dark' (p6)

'A variety of types seems really to be an advantage', wrote Forster. (p7)

This must have been very difficult to achieve with the five forms all in use at the same time.

Interesting that, by 1880, the school had 13 boys who were blind and 8 who were sighted. I agree that the main motivation of including sighted boys may have been to provide readers but it did provide an integrated lifestyle to some extent.

In higher education the boys had to employ a reader and/or emboss their own books and one boy had to devise his own maths system in order to study it. (p.10)

Resource 2: Disability History Museum Library (Disability History Museum, 2009)

The Story of my Life: Part 5 by Helen Keller (1902)

The lectures are spelled into my hand as rapidly as possible, and much of the individuality of the lecturer is lost to me in the effort to keep in the race.

There are days when the close attention I must give to details chafes my spirit, and the thought that I must spend hours reading a few chapters, while in the world without other girls are laughing and singing and dancing, makes me rebellious;

In a word, literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book-friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.

http://www.disabilitymuseum.org/lib/docs/2414.htm?page=1

An apology for Going to College by Helen Keller (1905)

Where I failed, the fault was sometimes my own, sometimes attributable to the peculiar circumstances under which I worked

The elective system offers a broad variety of courses and freedom of choice. Many subjects were impossible for me on account of my limitations, and I could not have planned my course so as to win a degree but for the scope of the Radcliffe curriculum.

And if the girls who had eyes and ears were overburdened and distraught, I was at least no better off.

I was of course hampered by my limitations, which turned to drudgery much work that might have been delightful; for they imposed upon me tedious methods of study. I was often behind in my work at a distance forbidden by military law; I was never ahead; and once I fell so far behind that it seemed as if I might as well try to keep pace with a shooting star!

They often invited me to join their frolics and club-meetings, and it cost me many a twinge of regret not to be able to take part in their affairs; for I was keenly alive to everything that interested them.

They could not reach me through my isolation, and in the midst of my class I could not help at times feeling lonely and sad.

http://www.disabilitymuseum.org/lib/docs/2299.htm?page=1

The Beauty of Silence by Helen Keller (1935)
'There has been a great deal in the papers recently about the effects of noise upon health. Many physicians maintain that the uproar of our cities is causing many mental disorders and much deafness'.
http://www.disabilitymuseum.org/lib/docs/2378.htm

Resource 3: Vincent workstation

It just takes one person to be in the right place, at the right time and know the right equipment!! It seems to happen more often than it should with the laws of probability smile

 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 5: Activity 11.1

Visible to anyone in the world

Activity 11.1

  • the positive attributes of online learning from the point of view of disabled students
  • the factors that can prevent these positive attributes from being realised.

Resource 1: ALERT Case Studies (ALERT 2006)

1.   Law student with cerebral palsy (good computing skills)
Convenient, less books necessary, print off materials rather than finding staff, quick source of info, can research in comfort from room

2.   Business economics student with condition affecting learning (good computing skills)
Less notes needed, advance lecture notes help organisation, quick source of info, lecture notes help when cannot concentrate

3.   Anthropology student with dyslexia (poor computing skills)
Thinks less lecture notes will be needed, would like training, can use VLE notes to reinforce learning, fast access to tutor, support, would like film online, helped learn new words correctly

4.   Mathematics and computing student with dyslexia (good computing skills)
Course taught is paper-based so does not use VLE a lot, would like consistent format on VLE across both departments, lost problem sheets can be accessed, typing easier than writing(memory for key pattern)

5.   Sports studies student with dyslexia (good computing skills)
Infrequent use, needs practice, needs enthusiastic lecturers, thinks poor memory in dyslexia could affect VLE use

6.   Medical student with hearing impairment and dyslexia (good computing skills)
Less lecture notes needed, lecture notes mean she can take part even when cannot hear,  can listen to lecture rather than struggle to take notes, would like videos online to watch again

7.   Computer science student with partial dyspraxia (good computer skills)
Infrequent use of VLE as staff have own websites, not enough staff training with VLE, get more from lectures when notes supplied, convenient to fill in forms, annotate notes printed from VLE

8.   Law student with dyspraxia (good computing skills)
Poor consistency in VLE use which impacts on help he can get from it, problems finding info on VLE when changes, complex VKE structure, poor student use of boards makes them less useful,  consistent pattern of use would help

9.   Geography student with hearing impairment (good computer skills)
Needs more training with VLE, gets more from lecture when has notes, two hour lectures especially tiring to lipread, step by step instruction pack for VLE would be good

10.               Earth Sciences student with joint problems (good computer skills)
Likes handouts on VLE, thinks more training needed for staff and students, would like more interactive activities, good for pointing out extra activities, links to other university things, lecturers need to use it more, video simulations are useful, cannot write at speed so Powerpoint slides are good

11.               Economics student with ME (good computer skills)
takes fewer notes with VLE, less handwriting is advantage, structures lecture, can miss lectures if necessary and stay in room and read, concentration problems so notes on VLE helps, extra things to sort out are easier by email

12.               Law student with spinal problems (little confidence with computers)
Takes fewer notes, gets advance notice of changes which reduces travel, likes links on slides rather than searching library databases, discussion boards useful, wants more people to participate

13.               Geography student with visual impairment (good computer skills)
Likes access to diagrams, notes, everything in one place, easy to find, work at own pace, easy access to references, time taken to read things is a problem

14.               Sociology student with wrist injury (good computing skills)
Virtual chat with transcript was valuable, can check you have not missed things in lecture, staff do not understand how students use VLE, everyone is the same

Resource 2: Seale, 2006, chap. 5

I have to declare an interest here: I worked closely with one of the students mentioned extensively in this chapter!

It was quite depressing reading through these case studies. Especially when this was written in 2006 and I am still encountering many of the same problems on a day-to-day basis.

Training of staff and students; consistency of use and format of VLE; and the benefits of having the lecture notes online before the lectures are mentioned so many times that they stand out as being the most important issues to address initially. My local university have addressed these issues by making use of the VLE compulsory and providing many training sessions at different levels for staff. They also try to insist on having lecture notes online 3 days before lectures and many members of staff try very hard to do this but there are still some who refuse on principle. The training for disabled students is left for support staff paid for by DSA. This relies on the support staff being familiar with the software/hardware used and having the experience to teach it effectively.

Resource 3: JISC TechDis Staff Pack

http://www.techdis.ac.uk/resources/sites/staffpacks/Staff%20Packs/Accessible%20Learning/Presentn%20eLearning.xml

Training must be focused on the audience and their specific needs
Practice is needed

Activity 1 - Advantages of Online Resources

Examine the 'Seven Good Online Fixes'

Selected benefit of e-Learning resources

Explain briefly how this is done

Do you need training in this?

What sort of learners or what type of disabilities would benefit from this?

Material online is under user control in terms of where, when and for how long they access it.

In Word/pdf, video/transcript alternatives.

no

All learners

Esp. those with dyslexia, visual impairment, Asperger syndrome, pain, ME

Material online can be richer in diagrams and the use of colour.

 

 

Good design

no

Visual learners,

Those with dyslexia, visual impairment where contrast is important or when cannot read for long periods and diagrams reduce need for text.

Material online can link to explanatory or extension materials.

Hyperlinks

no

All students

Those with organisational difficulties e.g.dyslexia etc.

Material online can be enlarged or reduced at will.

 

 

View and zoom in Word or using programs such as Supernova

Would like more Supernova training

Those with visual impairment

Material online can be customised in terms of colours and font style.

 

Tools>Options>Content

no

Those with dyslexia, visual impairment, Asperger syndrome

Text online can - in many cases - be read by appropriate software.

 

Supernova, Jaws, Windoweyes etc.

Would like more training to help users with these programs

Those with dyslexia, visual impairment

Material online can be integrated with user's notes using copy and paste

Highlight>CTRL C to copy > CTRL V to paste in Word doc.

no

All students

 


Facets of accessibility: Physiological, psychological, learning style, perceptual, cognitive, linguistic

Quality of context (i.e. teaching etc.) as important as quality of resource

Activity 2a - Learner Perspective on Accessible Resources

Table 1: Ranking e-Learning Resources for your Learner

 

Learner chosen: Jason has hearing loss and although his hearing aid significantly helps his hearing, he relies on lip-reading for accuracy. He tends to be quite focussed and likes to concentrate on one thing at a time, consequently he frequently fails to notice changes in the pace and direction of the learning. He is an able and articulate thinker but is self conscious as a speaker because is aware that his pronunciation can be difficult to follow. Jason gets frustrated in small group work and has little tolerance for learners who are less able or less motivated than he is.

Ranking

Resource name

Justification of rank position

 

 

Best

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worst

 

 

Word drag and drop

 

Individual activity so he can take his own time

Hearing not required

 

 

Excel simulation

 

Individual activity so he can take his own time

Hearing not required

Slightly less information than drag and drop

 

 

Word dropdown

 

Individual activity so he can take his own time

Hearing not required

May need to find extra resources to complete

 

Powerpoint animation

 

 

Individual activity so he can take his own time

Hearing not required

Very visual

Lot of information at once

Passive

 

 

Online handout

 

Individual activity so he can take his own time

Hearing not required

Lot of information at once

Passive

 

Table 2: Solutions to Accessibility Issues

 

Worst two resources for your learner

Ways you could improve the usability of this resource for this learner.

 

1) Online handout

 

 

 

 

Passive resource, could be made more active as in drag and drop exercise

Properly paragraphed and spaced words would help with information overload

 

 

2) Powerpoint animation

 

 

Less detail per slide

 

 

 

Resource 4: Towards an Adaptable Personal Learning Environment (JISC CETIS, 2009)

I thought this was a positive move but it was designed clearly for one group of students. My local university moved from Moodle to WebCT. There were a few problems with screen readers and Moodle but WebCT is very difficult to use with both screen readers and magnifiers as it throws up windows all over the place without announcing them so the user has no idea what the reader is accessing and whether they need to close a window.

Making APLE open source is a good move forward but I could find  no evidence of further work on this yet.

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 5: Activity 10.2

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Lynn Hunt, Sunday, 3 Oct 2010, 12:16

Activity 10.2: Adjustments

Write some notes in answer to the following questions:

  • What are the issues in achieving learning objectives in your context or in a subject that you are interested in?

I have been heavily involved in supporting geology students for both a campus university and for the Open University summer schools. Field trips are a vital part of geology and create challenges for many disabled students. The majority of these courses require the assessment of a field notebook that is a record of both the student's ideas and interpretations and also the lecturers' information about the locations. This notebook is also vital in writing up the written reports that form the main assessment at the end of the course.

As a notetaker, my job is to write for the student and so this conflicts with the stated aims of the course that the student completes their own notebook but the actual objective of the notebook is that their own interpretations are recorded. As a general rule I write the notebook and clearly state whose voice I am recording at the time. The student dictates the layout of the book and their own opinions.

Field sketches are a vital skill and, so far, many of the students have been able to take the book to do a basic sketch and then instructed me on how to label it. One student with fibromyalgia was allowed to take photographs of particular outcrops and draw them and label them later when her hands were warmer and less painful. It would also be possible for students to photograph and use a program such as Adobe Illustrator to annotate them. This would achieve the main objective of getting the student to study the rock face in detail and note particular features.

Adobe Illustrator labelled field photograph of rock face

  • Are there fundamental challenges for students with particular impairments in the subject that you teach or are interested in?

The Open University has done a lot of work making geology accessible to students who are unable to get to the actual locations. One example is shown here

  • What would you need to consider if you were designing a module in art history that includes the ability to analyse visual primary sources as a core competence?

Difficult one as this is a core competence.

I spend a lot of time describing diagrams and pictures for students with visual impairments and it is a difficult task as I must be careful just to describe what is present rather than adding any of my interpretation and I have to avoid placing undue emphasis on what I consider the lecturer wants! Describing the primary source also turns it into a secondary source.

Tactile versions of the source are also secondary but may help the student discuss layout and formation more easily. Peter Chevins from Keele University's Neuroscience department uses a Tactile Talking Tablet (T3) to assist visually impaired students to access the more visual aspects of neuroscience. Using this method, tactile diagrams are placed on a touch sensitive screen, touching the diagram gives users a description of the part of the diagram touched. A description of the research is on the JISC site and there is also a Powerpoint presentation with images that help understand the process.



 

 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

H810: Week 5: Activity 10.1

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Lynn Hunt, Sunday, 3 Oct 2010, 11:00

Activity 10.1: Adjustments

I was really impressed with these resources and the emphasis on planning and ensuring materials were accessible from the start of the course design.

The part that really struck me as so useful but little seen in higher education in the UK was the following....

Work out in advance a strategy for teaching a disabled student. The following approach may be helpful.

1.   Identify your teaching objectives and the learning outcomes they are meant to deliver for a given activity.

2.   Identify any difficulties that your teaching environment, methods and materials will cause the student. Might this make it difficult for them to achieve the learning outcomes? Is it possible for them to achieve the learning outcomes another way? You should discuss this with the student - do not make assumptions.

3.   In consultation with the student and the staff member who is coordinating their support, identify the reasonable adjustments you can make to your teaching methods and materials to meet the student's needs without compromising the teaching objectives and learning outcomes. If necessary, get advice from other staff in your institution on what constitutes a reasonable adjustment. Let the student know about the adjustments to be made.

4.   If the student has individual support from specialist support staff (e.g. a study support assistant, a mentor or a scribe) find out what their role is and discuss how the three of you can work together effectively.

5.   Agree which actions will be taken by you, which by your institution and which by the student to provide the reasonable adjustments you have identified. These adjustments may include actions taken before, during and after a given teaching activity.

6.   Keep a record of decisions made and give the student a copy. Such a document may be useful for other staff teaching the same student. However, don't assume it can be used to determine adjustments for another student - each student must be considered individually.

7.   After working with the adjustments for a while, review them with the student and make any changes required.

One point that really struck me was the care taken to consult with all the involved parties. For example, a disabled student or lecturer may not be aware of the possibilities for adaptation of materials whereas a support worker or disabilities representative may have more experience in this area.

Another point that struck home was the importance of recording all the decisions and why they were made. Disabled students, like any other student, may fail their course and look for excuses to explain it. It is a very easy excuse to blame the failure on the lack of support they have received. In some cases this can be completely justified but in others it is just a young person desperately looking for an explanation.

In one case I personally experienced, a young man's school had over-supported him during his A levels and he had applied to university with the impression he was very good at maths. The university were marvellous in adapting materials and he had excellent support but he failed the year because he could not do the maths. He tried to look for reasons everywhere and one reason he found was to blame the lack of support from his department. I was his support worker and notetaker and had evidence of all the department had done so managed to persuade his parents that this was no reason to sue the university. Unfortunately the department have had their fingers burnt and are not at all keen on accepting another student with visual impairment.

I mentioned in a post last week that I have experienced problems when adaptation of materials/environment for one student causes problems for another. These situations can become very complex and involve negotiation with two sets of students, support workers etc. Communication is the key skill again but can be further complicated when students do not wish to disclose specific difficulties to their lecturers. The young man I mentioned last week who had difficulty in finding lecture rooms due to visual impairment and short term memory problems, had disclosed his visual impairment but not his dyslexia. This meant that he did not want to discuss his problems finding lecture rooms with the lecturer and thus could not discuss the problem caused when the room was moved due to accessibility difficulties for a wheelchair-user.

 

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 334542