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H810: Week 9: Activity 19.2: Issues with guidelines

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I am getting so frustrated with out of date instructions!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?

 

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

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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

 

 

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E801: Action 1.9: Ehri's model of learning to read

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E801: Action 1.9: Ehri's model of learning to read

Beech, J. R. (2009) 'Ehri's model of phases of learning to read: a brief critique' in Soler, J., Fletcher-Campbell, F. & Reid, G. (eds.) Understanding Difficulties in Literacy Development: Issues and Concepts, London, Sage.

Notes

Based on Frith's model

Pre-alphabetic phase (=Frith's logographic stage)

  • Connection between'cues' (visual features) and pronunciation/semantic representation
  • Strong visual element
  • Example: word recognised as part of advertising feature

Partial alphabetic phase/Novice alphabetic phase/phonic cue reading

  • Recognise some letters e.g. first and last
  • Phonological information is important feature

Full alphabetic phase / mature alphabetic/cipher reading

  • Map graphemes to phonemes of 'sight words'
  • Blending
  • Note silent letters

Consolidated alphabetic phase (=Frith's orthographic stage)

  • E.g. chest recognised as 'ch' and 'est'
  • Reduces memory load

Ehri does not state whether progressive, but may indicate it
No mention of how teaching style interacts
No mention of underlying cognitive structures required or age norms
No strict definitions for researchers to investigate
'Sight word reading' is not rote memorisation

1998 paper: reading and spelling have interactive reciprocal relationship i.e. memorising words helps spelling and writing develops reading

2002 paper: each stage not pre-requisite for following stage; word reading does not contribute to later processing through alphabetic stages; proposes parallel processing of alphabetic stages

My Thoughts on Younger Learners
My thoughts on this come from helping my own children to read when they were ready. I home educated them and followed their needs. Two of them followed this model very closely. They initially recognised words with great help from the context e.g. name associated with picture on wellie peg! They built up a large vocabulary of 'sight words' and enjoyed reading and listening to others read. They moved on to decoding new words by playing with letter sounds in words that they knew as sight words and quickly moved through the stages.

o   My eldest was deaf and was keen to read at the age of three when she had a limited spoken vocabulary of mainly nouns. She ended up learning to read new nouns and also adjectives and conjunctions that she was not yet using in speech and then introducing them to her speech. As her mother, I was at an advantage as I knew her speech patterns intimately and so always knew when she was encountering new words. Having consulted with a teacher of the deaf, I realise that this is a much more difficult process between a teacher and a deaf child. By the age of 4 years she was fluently reading Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton and gaining much of her general knowledge from reading.

o   My second was keen to read like her sister and actually it was her sister who introduced her first sight words. She progressed rapidly through the same stages and was reading fluently and rapidly at the age of 3 years which gave me problems in finding suitable books. She attended nursery school for a while at 4 years and confounded the teacher by insisting on doing her own research, happily using indexes and the encyclopaedia.

o   My third child was also desperate to read by the age of 3 years but was frustrated when he could not remember words. With a very small vocabulary of sight words, he found it much easier to try to use his knowledge of phonics to try to decode. It was very difficult to help him to increase his knowledge of phonics with his short-term memory problems until we looked at Letterland. The concentration on fun stories with constant repetition of the sounds helped move the information into long term memory and he started to progress more rapidly. Looking at Ehri's model, he had a much shorter version of the Partial Alphabetic stage due to short term memory problems but he still progressed through the same stages as his siblings although at a slower pace as he fought much harder to move things to long term memory.

If these stages are progressive and do rely on underlying cognitive structures, both of which are not mentioned by Ehri, then the teaching style could have a major effect on literacy development. Forcing young children to progress at a faster rate than their brain is ready for, could cause problems. As could concentrating on areas they have already mastered as this will increase boredom and encourage them to 'switch off' at school.

In her 1998 paper she suggests that reading and spelling have interactive reciprocal relationship i.e. memorising words helps spelling and writing develops reading. With the limited evidence available to me, I do agree that writing develops reading. Unfortunately the short term memory problems experienced by my son meant that he also had problems memorising letter formation. Trying to work at both writing and reading at the same time produced cognitive overload and stress. Eventually we reduced all emphasis on writing and concentrated on reading first; writing followed later.

In her 2002 paper, Ehri suggests that word reading does not contribute to later processing through alphabetic stages but I am not convinced about this. All three children used their knowledge of sight words and how these related to phonemes to help them analyse other words. The elder two children had a large bank of sight words to help them in this task. My son had a much smaller bank and this contributed to his difficulties.

 

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E801: Action 1.6: Socio cultural and new literacy perspectives

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Action 1.6: Literacy difficulties: socio-cultural and new literacy perspectives

  • Ways in which issues raised by these authors highlight barriers to literacy acquisition which you encounter in your own professional contexts

I have encountered quite a lot of work based on Vygotsky's ideas. I am especially interested in Engeström's work on contradictions and how these stimulate major advances in learning. After reading this paper I was in total agreement with Green & Kosogriz's ideas but I am having problems trying to work out how to apply them in practice. I home educated my three children and it was relatively easy to personalise approaches to learning, treat them as individuals and value their previous experiences. I encouraged their learning to extend their zone of proximal development and this was so easy with the knowledge I had of their lives and learning. My daughter was deaf and I knew her experiences intimately so I knew when I had to explain words when she had not encountered the concept before. I cannot work out how this is possible with a group of 35-40 in my colleague's reception class.

Regarding LD as deviations from a norm - this struck a chord with me - models are useful to formulate generalised teaching plans but surely we should be moving away from 'one size fits all' teaching to inclusive teaching. It reminded me of Sfard's comments on using metaphors for learning:

'A metaphor that has been given hegemony serves as an exclusive basis for deciding what should count as "normal" and what is "anomolous"...'

Sfard, A. (1998) 'On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one', Educational Researcher, vol.27, no.2, pp.4-13.

I have been doing some notetaking for a student who has been studying how language sustains attitude to gender and I could see many similarities. Our language sets a standard for what we believe and how we act and we need to be aware of this when designing course material.

  • What the implications are of a socio-cultural view of literacy difficulties for the ways we think about pedagogy and practice

Regarding literacy as a practice that is embedded in social and cultural life, results in a complete change of ideas as how to approach teaching and learning. As social and cultural practices vary, so do literacies. We cannot discuss a single literacy and so we have to abandon the idea of a 'norm' with which to compare learners and also abandon the idea of a single strategy for teaching reading. Each learner requires strategies that fit with their social and cultural situation and these strategies should be implemented within their community or social network.

The community provides the scaffolding needed to site the literacy skills. People require different skills depending on their social life and culture. The skills are much easier to achieve when motivation is high and this motivation can be achieved when the literacy tasks are relevant to a person's life.

 

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E801: Action 1.5: Socio cultural contexts

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Activity 1.5: Socio-cultural contexts and difficulties in literacy

Fernando Diniz, University of Edinburgh (from audio CD)

Notes

Cultural influences - languages in home, status given to language in home. Ethnicity/race complicate these

Ethnicity is a term to describe a cultural group; infers power (ethnic minority);

Race is a term used to describe systemic racism,

Bilingualism - descriptor for those of non-indigenous origin, in classroom is identity descriptor for non-white children

Over-representation of these children in low literacy group

Dyslexia - higher status assessment than slow learner

Teacher is not sure whether difficulties arise from first language (home) or second language (school) or whether from special educational need

Child with severe communication problems receives speech therapy in English. Language at home will be different. Double negative. Language at school disconnected from home.

Teacher puts difficulties down to lack of English; some children have genuine difficulties

Asian girls: polite, quiet, work hard and difficulties not identified

Education - preoccupation with standards rather than with the difficulties understanding curriculum

Poor performance with Pakistani background; good from India

"Accommodation" - home keeps culture of home country; in school you should concentrate on being good in English.

Class comes in here as well

Power - decisions as to which children do what; who is valued; teachers own values come into play.

Power examples from my own experience with children:

  • "You can't have a speaking part in the play; people will not understand you"
  • "I will not ask you to 'show and tell' because the group do not understand you"
  • "You can go out to play when you can tell me these letters correctly"

My practice is with adults in higher education and power examples still abound:

  • All students have to take the same spelling and grammar test in the history department. Grades are published in order according to student number but friends know each other numbers. It is demoralising for students to see how low they are on the list.
  • Field notebooks are marked on neatness and spelling. It is possible to put a dyslexia sticker on the book but lecturers still comment on these points.
  • Using a notetaker in the field is difficult. Books are marked down because the information has not been written by the student but by someone who is trained to record all the information.
  • Field trips often have marks for quizzes that rely on short term memory skills and so students with dyslexia get lower marks than they deserve.

I was interested in the fact that bilingual is used as a derogatory term nowadays. Back in the 1980s it was admired if children were brought up bilingual.

Working in student support it can be difficult to address these issues directly but it is possible to assist the student to discuss issues with the lecturers. For example, prior to the field trip, a joint meeting between lecturer, student and support worker can clarify the method of writing the notebook and its assessment. At this meeting the support worker can emphasise the background needs that make these adjustments necessary so that the lecturer is kept fully informed and does not think that the student is just being lazy.

 

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H810: Week 8: Activity 17.3

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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.

 

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H810: Week 8: Activity 17.2

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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.

 

 

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H810: Week 8: Activity 17.1

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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!

 

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H810: Week 8: Activity 16.1,16.2, 16.3

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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.

 

 

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H810: Week 7: Activity 15.2: Students with dyslexia

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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.

 

 

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H810: Week 7: Activity 15.1: Tools

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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.

 

 

 

 

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H810: Week 7: Activity 13.1 Knowledge Audit

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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

*

 

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

 

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E801: Week 1: Action 1.4: Siblings bridging literacies in multilingual contexts

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Week 1: Activity 1.4 Siblings bridging literacies in multilingual contexts

Williams, A. & Gregory, E. (1999) 'Siblings bridging literacies in multilingual contexts' in Soler, J., Fletcher-Campbell, F. & Reid, G. (eds.) Understanding Difficulties in Literacy Development: Issues and Concepts, London, Sage.

I have very little knowledge from my current practice which is in a university setting but a few years ago I worked with a colleague who was a primary school teacher and home-school liaison representative for a school in an area where many families were disadvantaged. She told me that they could not send reading books home from school as they were immediately sold by many of their families. When she visited families, there was generally no reading material in the house but in one case she was proudly shown the one book they possessed.

I think that the belief systems of families do play a part in literacy practices. I was speaking to a young lady today whose four year old daughter has been at school for a month. She was complaining that the teacher was sending home reading books and spellings. She said that she and her husband were annoyed that they had sent their daughter to school to be taught how to read and write and they were expected to do it themselves at home. I have encountered this perception with families in other circumstances. They believe that their taxes pay for teachers and that teachers should do their jobs properly - it should not involve them.

In contrast I have worked with some Muslim families in similar financial and social situations who strongly believe that education is the responsibility of the parents and schools are there to help (or hinder!) this process. Two of the young female Muslim students with whom I work, have problems studying at home. They have responsibilities to look after younger siblings and entertain the family and they are not expected to study. On the other hand their brothers are encouraged to study and this has set up family tensions in both cases.

Looking at the research that was done in the paper, I was not too convinced that instructing the siblings to audio tape themselves in a setting that involved literacy-type games would give very valuable information.  Would the children normally play these games? Or are they staged just because they have been asked to record this. Interviews may prove valuable and so could small group work but either may introduce a competitive aspect in which children are trying to impress their peers or the interviewer with how 'good' they are with their younger siblings.

Despite my reservations I still feel that the paper provides relevant information which could help educators plan and develop pedagogies to achieve multi-literacies. Investigating the cultural background and the impact that it has on language in the home and at play is important to determine which other areas of literacy will require development.

ECA

Identify a problem which is linked directly to your involvement in facilitating learning and developing teaching strategies for learners who experience difficulties in literacy which could be investigated by gathering qualitative evidence.

My context is working at university level with students who have various disabilities including dyslexia. Many of them have problems accessing journal literature and I currently believe that this could be investigated by semi-structured questionnaire to investigate the previous experience they have had with searching for information; how they look for relevant journal resources and how they approach reading the papers that they find.

I think that recording any relevant information in my blog with the tag 'ECA research' would prove useful when I need to refer back to it. I also intend to use Delicious bookmarks to note blogs/papers etc. and using the same tag would be helpful.

 

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E801: Week 1: Action 1.3: What is Literacy?

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Week 1: Activity 1.3: 'What is Literacy?': Consequences for Practice and Policy

Task 1: My Thoughts

Functional Literacy - learning to read and write for the purpose of work and training. An economic objective that will vary from culture to culture. To be functionally literate in the UK would be very different to being functionally literate in a rural area of India. In these two contexts the government would have different objectives in legislating or producing guidelines for educational institutions. In the UK, an adult who was having literacy difficulties would face a daily barrage of paperwork that they would struggle to understand and thus their self-perception would diminish; in rural India this would not pose as much of a concern as they would not face as much written information.

Cultural Literacy - the ability to understand a broad set of knowledge which defines the culture of the area in which the person is living or has come from. Everything from road signs, to slang, to historical references. This does not depend on educational levels. Taking into account a person's cultural literacy can assist a teacher to help them choose appropriate reading material. Policy-makers who closely prescribe texts and methods for literacy development can disadvantage learners who are unfamiliar with the cultural context and will need to first understand this before they can understand the text.

Critical Literacy - the ability to be able to engage with a text, think about it, discuss it, apply it to your own life and argue with it. I regard this as a developmental process which can begin with young children engaging with images and discussing them. Synthetic phonics and the literacy hour have been criticised as leading to children who can read effectively but do not chose to do so because they do not enjoy it. The prescription of the method by which they are taught does not lead to them engaging with the texts. Hirsch (1987) thought that education for the young should focus on content so that all learners could achieve cultural literacy.

Hirsch, E. D. Jr.(1987) Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Literacy Standards - are used to describe a literate person at various educational levels. The UK government have been criticised as equating the increase in points scores on tests to an increase in standards achieved by primary school pupils.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/schools/literacy-standards-why-the-facts-make-good-reading-400299.html

Literacy Crises - when the literacy achievements (or lack of them) come to public attention and force the government or policy makers to change pedagogies to satisfy public opinion. This link to sociological and political issues can cause change or lack of change despite the actual circumstances. In the UK only a small proportion of teaching involved whole book methods but when the attention of the public was drawn to literacy levels, the government discouraged this approach. In NZ the whole book method was widely praised and brought prestige and money to the country so the government ignored research reports that suggested that phonics may help improve literacy levels.

Task 2: Literacy: In Search of a Paradigm

Basic literacy skills must be emphasised over other literacy skills
Technical skills / experimental psychology

We must emphasise phonics based approaches rather than whole language approaches for early literacy development
Technical skills / experimental psychology
Ideological process - the dominant approach at the moment

We must prioritise higher literacy achievement for boys
Political purposes - men are still main wage-earner in our society, reinforces cultural stereotype
Social psychology / social anthropology

We need to use mixed methods and a variety of literacy programmes rather than one literacy programme
Multidimensional
Could be psycholinguistic depending on methods used (cannot separate graphophonic, syntactic and semantic)
Probably sociolinguistic when writing for different purposes

Literacy difficulties must be addressed so that employers will have literate employees
Functional literacy
Political purposes - government wants to keep support of business sector
Human capital theory - people need to invest in themselves to make themselves more employable
Social anthropology

Teaching the decoding text should be our main priority, because literacy standards are falling
Technical literacy/experimental psychology, functional literacy, cultural literacy (our society perceives the need for 100% literacy)
Political purposes -  Government under public and media pressure to raise standards
Social anthropology

My initial field, biochemistry, research was paradigm-driven and I have found it challenging to come to terms with the debates and disputes in educational research. In order to justify an area (and thus funding) for research, educationalists have to prove that their idea is valid and different from other ideas. In my opinion this leads to disconnected and disparate research and not to the joined-up thinking that is required to examine an area such as literacy where it is so complex and inter-related so I believe I tend to agree with Rassool (2009) that literacy needs to be examined as a regionalised field of enquiry.

So much of teaching in universities now concentrates on giving the students alternative perspectives of their courses so that those who work best once they have an overview of the whole picture can see this at the start of a course; and those who prefer the course to work from the detail upwards can also do this. It works well when both learning styles are suited. Students are also encouraged to bring their life experiences into the course and these are valued.

Surely both of these also apply to learning literacy skills. Some learners like to see the whole picture and then break it down into parts. My daughters both loved reading words by 'look and say' and then breaking them down into sounds. My son could not always do this and spent more time going the other way and building up words from the phonemes. All of them loved having their experiences valued and pictures of their experiences made into books with writing underneath for them to read to friends and relatives.

Rassool, N. (1999) 'Literacy: in Search of a Paradigm' in in Soler, J., Fletcher-Campbell, F. & Reid, G. (eds.) Understanding Difficulties in Literacy Development: Issues and Concepts, London, Sage.

 

 

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E801: Week 1: Action 1.2: Different Approaches to Addressing Literacy Difficulties

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Week 1: Activity 1.2 Different Approaches to Addressing Literacy Difficulties

Basic Literacy - the acquisition of technical skills involving the decoding of written text and the writing of simple statements in everyday life.

Functional Literacy - is the process and content of learning to read and write to the preparation for work and vocational training.

[UNESCO quoted in Rassool, N. (1999) 'Literacy: in Search of a Paradigm' in in Soler, J., Fletcher-Campbell, F. & Reid, G. (eds.) Understanding Difficulties in Literacy Development: Issues and Concepts, London, Sage.]

With these simple definitions we can still envisage barriers to literacy being either within the individual (so need individual tuition) or beyond the individual (so need pedagogical change). If we regard literacy as a more complex cultural and social process then the complexity of addressing these barriers expand.

Literacy Programmes/Approaches

  • THRASS - teaching handwriting, reading and spelling skills
    Multi-sensory synthetic phonics; whole school approach; basic and functional literacy
  • Reading recovery
    Small group/individual; basic literacy
  • Individual tuition
    Individual, basic literacy
  • Small group tuition
    Small group, basic literacy
  • Jolly Phonics
    Whole school approach, some individual, synthetic phonics, basic literacy
  • Alpha to Omega
    Specialist, individual or small group, basic literacy
  • Family Literacy
    Small group, basic and functional literacy

 

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E801: Week 1: Action 1.1: Politics of Teaching Reading

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Edited by Lynn Hunt, Tuesday, 5 Oct 2010, 16:37

Week 1: Activity 1.1 Politics of Teaching Reading

Soler, J. & Openshaw, R. (2009) ''To Be or Not to Be?': The Politics of Teaching Phonics in England and New Zealand' in Soler, J., Fletcher-Campbell, F. & Reid, G. (eds.) Understanding Difficulties in Literacy Development: Issues and Concepts, London, Sage.

'All initiatives related to teaching reading and early literacy arise from pressures, tensions and crises embedded in the particular national and regional contexts.' p.162

Key differences between early literacy instruction

The UK uses a method of synthetic phonics with prescribed and structured methods to teach children
New Zealand uses a whole language method
Synthetic phonics - children taught a few individual letter sounds and then blends before introduced to books

What has shaped and led to differences in viewpoints and practices?

UK
<1990 No set national method for teaching reading but whole language/real book method favoured
1991 key tests results showed 28% 7yr olds could not read - crisis BUT only 5% teachers actually used method
1992 'Three Wise Men Report' - traditional methods/less diversity
Literacy teaching as regulation, performance, technical skill
1996 Back to basics drive inc. Phonics
1997 Literacy Task Force emphasised phonics (Searchlight method)
2002 Synthetic phonics advocated by OFSTED/Reading Reform Foundation
2006 Synthetic phonics advocated by Rose Report and structured teaching methods prescribed

NZ
Late 1960s-early 1970s Reading Recovery starts (based on whole language approach) said to be more suitable for indigenous population
Late 1970s unease over low attainment rates for Maoris
1976 Dept. Of Ed. invests in Reading Recovery
1989 NZ held up as example of high literacy standards from whole language approach
1989 Administrative change reinforces strength of RR
1993 Chamberlain said reading was big business - people visiting NZ to investigate success and buying books - persuaded people to ignore statistics
1995 Breach widening between research and teaching
1997 Report confirmed poor results; public concern
1998 Two reports recommend moving away from whole language; gov. ignores for political reasons
2004 Differences in ethnic achievements blamed on teacher expectation

The way history has influenced my practice and context

Local schools in the late 1980s used a whole books method where there were coloured stickers on the books to indicate which ones they could choose from in their 'free reading' hour. I could not see the logic in this as many of the children were bored in 'free reading' as they could not understand the books and my friends were investing in private tuition or teaching their children to read at home in the evenings. I loved the idea of children choosing their own books and reading what they liked but I was really concerned about the perception of failure that went with sitting for an hour with a book that you could not read. I investigated what was available and decided that 'look and say' was the way forward but I was not certain because of all the rhetoric in published papers and in the press. I decided to go with my instincts and trust the children.

From birth I read to my children and they made up stories to go with pictures in the books. When my eldest daughter was 3 years old, severely deaf with unclear speech which mainly consisted of nouns and a few verbs, I introduced her to the Ladybird series 'Peter and Jane'. She loved the first book and started reading rapidly by 'look and say' methods and her speech increased at the same rate. By books 3a/b she was still progressing rapidly but wanted to write these words too so I tentatively introduced phonics which she loved and this further speeded her reading progress. By the age of 4 she was reading fluently and loving Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton; by 5 years she had taught her 2 year old sister the basics of reading; and her reading age was assessed to be 15+ at the age of 7 years.

Her brother was clearly having sequencing and short term memory problems by the age of three. He loved books and making up stories but could not recognise words at all although he was desperate to read like his sisters. I introduced him to 'Letterland' which he immediately fell in love with and we spent years using not only the initial letter sounds but the blends etc. Once he had learnt to recognise the phonemes from the written graphemes, his reading progressed at speed. He still had short term memory problems but I never allowed him to struggle. If he could not work out a word, I told him immediately. I introduced him to audio books and continued to read to him and his sisters. His later diagnosis was that he was severely dyslexic but his assessor was amazed at his spoken vocabulary which was several years in advance of his age. He never went to school so most learning was done without much writing at all. He was later diagnosed with Asperger syndrome as well as the dyslexia which can complicate the situation in school. He got a C for English GCSE at 14 years old. He is now at university studying BSc Computer Networks and Security.

As all three children were not in school, they were not affected by government changes in literacy strategy. My eldest would have been initially taught by a whole books method; then some phonics added in. She is severely deaf and has Asperger syndrome. The mixture of methods would have caused her great stress and she would not have heard much of what was going on anyway. Her friend of the same age who went through the system was eventually taught at home for 6 months in order that her mother, a primary teacher, could teach her to read properly before she went to middle school.

History has affected my practice as it influenced me to home educate my children and taught me to trust their instincts as to what they needed at the time. I have also taught basic literacy skills to adults and those experiences have allowed me to trust them and go with their instincts. All the books say that adults should be given adult reading material to read but the 60 year old man I taught, wanted to read children's books as his aim was to read to his grandchild when they were born.

 

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H810: Week 5: Activity 12.1

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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

 

 

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H810: Week 5: Activity 11.1

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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.

 

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H810: Week 5: Activity 10.2

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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.



 

 

 

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H810: Week 5: Activity 10.1

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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.

 

 

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