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Developed by Harris Rosensweig and Kenneth Frasse 14/07/01

Objective of the Assessment Tool

The goal of this assessment is to appraise the skills of the 8 adaptive technology trainers employed by the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind (RNZFB) against recognized best practices in the field. In essence, when properly interpreted, this tool will serve to provide the Foundation with a snapshot of the trainers' skills and areas in which additional training may boost the competency and quality of the training provided its broad base of clients. Finally, the tool can serve as a point of discussion for the future of adaptive technology services and how they are implemented thru the RNZFB.

The tool was primarily developed from the model of training employed at SAF, a non-profit in Sunnyvale, California, and the competencies its trainers require to provide training to its clients with low vision and the blind. SAF has been providing adaptive technology services to persons with low vision and the blind since the early 1970s. The tool was also partially derived from the conclusions of the Focus on Access Technology Conference sponsored by the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision at Mississippi State University in March, 2000. The specific competencies assessed in order of importance are: instructional technique, writing ability, and computer acumen.

Approximate Time to Complete Each Appraisal: 3 - 3.5 hours or 2 per day

Special Instructions and Equipment Needed for Appraisals: Notification of each trainer of need to present in lecture style for 5 minutes on any piece of adaptive hardware or software to someone who has never used this hardware or software before (see Instructional Technique Lecturing Skills). Also, the assessor will need access to a computer with the following specifications: Pentium II or better, Windows 98 or ME, Microsoft Office 97 or 2000, JAWS for Windows and/or Window Eyes speech synthesis software, ZoomText and/or SuperNova display magnification software, and Kurzweil 1000 and/or OpenBook Ruby OCR software as part of the assessment.

Credentials of the Assessor

  • 11+ years experience working with persons with low vision and the blind around issues of technology and employment
  • Masters of Science in Rehabilitation Engineering Technology (San Francisco State University)
  • Management experience over past 5 years in department of 4 Access Technology Specialist staff
  • Managed and maintained $150,000+ (USD) access technology lab
  • Extensive public speaking experience on wide array of topics concerning service delivery with persons with low vision and the blind

Introduction (approximately 5-10 minutes)

Assessor's Notes

The introductory questions below are primarily intended for the assessor that may serve as the trainer's future manager. These questions are not needed as part of the overall appraisal.

Date:
Name of Trainer being assessed:
Appraisal location:
Location trainer currently works at:
How long a trainer?
Primary mainstream and access technology applications taught by the trainer:
Braille Skills: Grade I, II?
Training experience: 1:1, classroom, or both:
How did they acquire their training to become a trainer?
What skills do they believe they are lacking?
Do they understand the objective of this appraisal?
Explain assessor's role and credentials.

Competency I: Instructional Technique

(maximum score: 40 points)

(approximate assessment time: 1.5 hours)

Assessor's Notes

The key competency that any trainer should possess is sound instructional technique. They must be able to demonstrate keen analytical abilities to design curriculum, lesson plans, and related instructional materials. Trainers must also be able to understand how to relate their instructional materials into coherent lectures that emphasize techniques persons with low vision and the blind need to become effective users of mainstream and adaptive technology. Trainers also need to be flexible and adapt to the different types of clients they train. 

Analytical Skills (12 points)

Question 1 (4 points)

You are given a brand new notetaking device and asked to teach it in an upcoming class in one week. How would you prepare? How much time would you allot in your preparation?

Assessor's Notes

The assessor should be looking for the following from the trainer: how they would determine what features are important about the notetaker for teaching purposes, how they would learn these features and if they allot a realistic amount of time to the task.

Rating: _____

Question 2 (4 points)

You are a part of a team of adaptive technology specialists and act as the on-site trainer. The technology specialist has just finished an extensive scripting (configuring) job in JAWS for Windows with two of the mainstream applications at the job site. The client is now ready to be trained on the applications. What process do you go through to come up with a training plan?

Assessor's Notes

The assessor is looking at the trainer's thought process. If they ask to interview the technology specialist and to ask what was configured, what screens, what functions, what are the client's abilities with access technology, etc.

Rating: _____

Question 3 (4 points)

If someone called you and said that they were working in customer service, had just lost a lot of vision, and wanted to get training on some access technology what questions would you want to ask?

Assessor's Notes

Emphasis is on analytical ability and understanding of functional vision assessment e.g. the types of questions the trainer asks about the client's vision, what tasks need to be performed, applications and operating environment, etc.

Rating: _____

Total Score Analytical Skills: ______

Diplomacy Skills (maximum score: 8 points)

Question 1 (4 points)

After seven months of individualized training, a client complains to the Divisional Manager of the RNZFB that his training has not been focused or effective. The Divisional Manager is confused and wants a meeting with all parties. How would you proceed and what are the missing elements.

Assessor's Notes

This question should have the trainer reflecting on the notetaking they would've done over the course of the client's training, lesson plans taught, etc. How would they prepare for the meeting with the Manager?

Rating: _____

Question 2 (4 points)

Suppose you were in week 2 of training someone with low vision who aspires to work in customer service and whose primary means of accessing a computer has been display magnification software e.g. ZoomText Xtra. You notice that they are leaning in to within one inch of the monitor and have the magnification software set to 6x. Despite their obvious difficulties navigating the screen the person insists on using their vision. How would you approach the situation?

Assessor's Notes

Show's how the trainer may address the sensitive issue of vision loss. How do they speak with the client. What approach would they take to improve the client's access to a computer?

Rating: _____

Total Score Diplomacy Skills: _____

Lecturing Skills (maximum score: 20 points)

Task 1 (5 points)

The trainer is given advance notice that they will need to present in lecture style on any technology topic either software or hardware for 5 minutes to someone whose never seen or used this software or hardware before. The topic should have a beginning and an end.

Assessor's Notes

The topic should be clearly and concisely presented with a beginning and an ending.

Rating: _____

Task 2 (Windows Explorer)

Assessor's Notes

No advance notice is to be given to the trainer for this task!

Question 1 (5 points)

Teaching in lecture style, when would you tell a blind person to use Windows Explorer versus the Save As or Open menu items in an application? Note: Teach the assessor as though he is a beginning computer user

Assessor's Notes:

Answer is that you use Windows Explorer when you need to move or copy many files or create new folders. Time is important here, the trainer should take no more than 2-3 minutes to answer this question in lecture format. Presentation should be in lecture style and not conversational.

Rating: _____

Question 2 (5 points)

In lecture style, please explain the tree view and list view in Windows Explorer, the relationship between these two views, and how to navigate between them. Again, assume that the student is a beginning computer user.

Assessor's Notes

The trainer should be given access to a computer which has a speech synthesis program and Windows Explorer already running. The key to this question is how well the trainer explains these views. The tree view is often compared to a filing cabinet. SAF has found that it is best to not expand the tree view, but to TAB to the list view and to use the Enter and Backspace keys to move through folders. The primary areas of the tree view to cursor between are the 3 ½ floppy drive, C drive, and CD-ROM.

Rating: _____

Question 3 (5 points)

In lecture style, present how to select individual, contiguous, non-contiguous, and an entire folder's files in list view. Once the files have been selected what are the hotkeys to copy and paste these files. Again, assume a beginning computer user.

Assessor's Notes

The trainer should be given access to a computer which has a speech synthesis program and Windows Explorer already running. To select first file hit spacebar, alternatively move cursor to file or use first letter convention, contiguous file selection (shift and up and down arrows), non-contiguous file selection, hold down Control key as spacebar over each file to be selected, select all files in a folder (Control + A). Copy (Control + C), Paste (Control + V)

Rating: _____

Total Score Instructional Technique: _____

Competency II: Writing Ability

(maximum score: 30 points)

(approximate assessment time: 30 minutes)

Assessor's Notes

A trainer should be able to clearly document their interactions with clients and to write coherent letters to referral sources. Furthermore, they need to write lesson plans, class exercises, and instructional materials as part of their training activities. Specific attention should be paid to the coherence, structure, and content of their writing samples.

Task 1 (10 points)

The trainer is advised prior to the appraisal to bring in a recent writing sample (1-2 pages), preferably a business letter, research paper, or technical writing example.

Assessor's Notes

Fewer points are given to this writing task because the trainer has had time to prepare. Also, this writing sample can be scored during one of the breaks or at the completion of the appraisal. The following breakdown of points is suggested for this task:

  • Coherence: 5 points
  • Grammar: 3 points
  • Spelling and formatting: 2 points

Rating: _____

Task 2 (20 points)

The trainer is asked to write a business letter to the Disability Coordinator of a college that his client will be attending. The client has been assessed by the RNZFB and will need a computer, speech synthesis and OCR software, and a scanner to successfully perform their duties as a student. The trainer has access to a computer with any access technology they need to complete this task.

Assessor's Notes

More points are given to this writing task because the trainer must write a letter during the appraisal. The following breakdown of points is suggested for this task:

  • Coherence: 10 points
  • Grammar: 5 points
  • Spelling and formatting: 5 points

Rating: _____

Total Writing Ability Score: _____

***5-10 minute break***

Competency III: Computer Acumen

(maximum score: 30 points)

(approximate assessment time: 1.5 hours)

Assessor's Notes

A core knowledge of mainstream and adaptive technology is critical for the successful trainer. This knowledge should include basic skills in troubleshooting and configuring these technologies. The assessor should examine the trainer's technique and how clearly they describe to the assessor what they are doing. Teaching ability and computer acumen are examined in these questions.

A. Access Technology

Speech Synthesis (10 points)

Question 1 (1 point)

What are the two components that comprise speech synthesis?

Assessor's Notes

The correct answer is: a synthesizer and speech synthesis software

Rating: _____

Question 2 (1 point)

Can you adjust the speech rate for a particular speech synthesis program? If so, describe how you would do it.

Assessor's Notes

The assessor should look for the keystrokes the trainer uses to adjust the speech rate and if they ask for the specific speech rate to be adjusted e.g. global, keyboard, etc.

Rating: _____

Question 3 (1 point)

Have you installed a speech synthesis program before? If so, describe three key areas of the installation process.

Assessor's Notes

Some acceptable areas are as follows: choosing speech synthesizer, choosing Braille display and the port the display is connected to, selecting pre-configured application files to load, authorization key (if JAWS)

Rating: _____

Question 4 (3 points)

Can you create a frame/monitored area around a specific section e.g. clock in the system tray of a Windows 9x window using a speech synthesis program? If so, describe how you would go about creating this area.

Assessor's Notes

The assessor should examine the trainer's technique and how clearly they describe to the assessor what they are doing. Teaching ability and computer acumen are examined in these questions.

Rating: _____

Question 5 (4 points)

Have you performed any configuration with a speech synthesis program to customize how it responds with a specific mainstream application? If so, describe the problem you were faced with and the process you used to configure the speech program. Be as specific as possible.

Assessor's Notes

Again, the assessor is looking for the trainer's presentation style and their knowledge of how to configure a speech program.

Rating: _____

Display Magnification Software (6 points)

Question

What are the 4 primary features of a display magnification program that someone with low vision may find useful?

Assessor's Notes

The following will suffice: enlargement of text, enhancement of contrast, enlarge and enhance mouse cursor, alternative views, monitored areas

Rating: _____

Optical Character Recognition Software (2 points)

Question 1 (1 point)

Name two OCR programs

Assessor's Notes

Kurzweil 1000 and OpenBook Ruby

Rating: _____

Question 2 (1 point)

Define the term decolumnization.

Assessor's Notes

Decolumnization is the process by which an OCR program converts a document with a columnar structure e.g. newspaper article into a single column of text with all columns in the proper reading order.

Rating: _____

Windows Accessibility (2 points)

Name at least 4 accessibility features built-in to Windows 9x for persons with low vision.

Assessor's Notes

The following responses are acceptable: e.g. display schemes, small fonts/large fonts in: control panel, display, settings tab, advanced button, general tab, font size; mouse trails, mouse settings, changing screen resolution

Rating: _____

***10 minute break***

B. Mainstream Technology

Basic Computer Knowledge (2 points)

Name 5 ports on the back of a modern computer and peripherals that may be connected to these ports.

Assessor's Notes
  1. Serial or COM port: external synthesizer, Braille display
  2. USB port: scanner or mouse
  3. Display adapter: monitor
  4. Mini-DIN or keyboard port: keyboard or mouse
  5. Parallel or printer port: printer

Rating: _____

Troubleshooting Software (2 points)

You are working on a computer with speech synthesis in Windows 98. You notice that instead of speaking the labels associated with icons and graphics, your speech synthesis only says "graphic" where it once spoke text labels. What would you do to remedy this problem?

Assessor's Notes

Lower the number of colors in display properties

Rating: _____

Troubleshooting Hardware/Software (2 points)

You're working on a system that has an HP 6250C scanner with Automatic Document Feeder and OpenBook Unbound OCR software. When you load OpenBook you find that the software no longer recognizes the scanner. What process do you go through to troubleshoot?

Assessor's Notes

Look for the trainer's process. Is the scanner on, cabling, testing for scanner's presence via control panel, reinstalling the scanner driver to name a few

Rating: _____

Troubleshooting Hardware/Software (2 points)

You turn on a computer that has Windows 9x and speech synthesis on it. Once Windows has fully booted you notice that you don't hear any sound from the computer either from Windows or the speech synthesis software. How do you troubleshoot the problem?

Assessor's Notes:

The trainer will be let off easy on this question since the problem is that the speakers were not turned on or the stereo jack has slipped out of the sound card connector.

Rating: _____

Analytical (2 points)

You are given a Windows application you have never seen before e.g. Joe's database. How would you assess the accessibility of Joe's database for someone whose primary method of accessing a computer was speech synthesis? State the process by which you would determine if that application is accessible. What other technologies might you introduce to aid in the determination of accessibility?

Assessor's Notes:

The assessor should be looking for the trainer's ability to demonstrate their knowledge of how to analyze unknown applications. The trainer should mention some of the following: logical TAB order, tracking of the focus, hotkeys and accelerator keys to facilitate movement to specific Windows objects, mimicking of field information on a status line, Windows objects have unique Control Ids, field name and field data spoken as user TABs through fields. The last question invites the trainer to indicate if they have experience working with refreshable Braille displays.

Rating: _____

Trainer Appraisal Rating Sheet

Date and Location of Appraisal: ____________________

Name of Trainer: ____________________

Name of Assessor: ____________________

Instructional Technique Score: _____ _____ (max)

Writing Ability Score: _____ _____ (max)

Computer Acumen Score: _____ _____ (max)

Total Score: _____ _____ (max)

Comments:

Harris Rosensweig
Manager Adaptive Technology
Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind
Private Bag 99941, Newmarket, Auckland, 1031, New Zealand
Phone +64 9 355-6904
Fax +64 9 355-6919
Cell +64 21 545-001
Web site http://www.rnzfb.org.nz