Main content

Alert message

Neuroscience and Writing

While preparing a workshop on writing by students with visual impairments, I found a general education web site about writing.  This was the National Writing Project at www.nwp.org One of the articles at this web site was about how writing can impact the brain.  That article is “Writing and the Brain: Neuroscience Shows the Pathways to Learning” at http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/3555 As I read the article, I thought about the need for students with visual impairments to write more and to write as part of a collaborative effort.  Logistics may make that harder for students who use Braille but I think it behooves us as teachers of students with visual impairments to think of ways to make that happen. Jim Durkel APH Materials Coordinator
2580 Hits
0 Comments

Resource for Working on Listening Skills

This website is actually designed for ESL students, but can be used with a variety of students working on listening skills. Often students are listed as auditory learners but have not worked on developing their listening skills, so this website might offer one resource.  http://www.esl-lab.com/
2500 Hits
0 Comments

The Accessibility of Four Types of Electronic Documents

Accessibility of electronic files as supplements for online courses or lessons is an important issue for students with disabilities.  General education teachers, who actually do most of the electronic production for students, do not seem to understand the accessibility issues of these documents.  If a document is not made accessible, the user with disabilities can experience difficulties in: document navigation, clarity of content, searching for specific information, and user fatigue due to the complex document layout.  There are four major types of electronic files that are used for online or off line lessons. The Four Types of Electronic Documents Electronic documents are used for various reasons, such as: activities, reference material, supplemental information, worksheets, and other assignments.  Students get the documents through email, by downloading them from learning management systems or through a file sharing system. Depending on the author, accessibility of these files can vary greatly.  The electronic documents...
Continue reading
3890 Hits
0 Comments

An Abundance of Training on the Web

When I joined the Texas Deafblind Project over twenty years ago, there was very little training available on working with students who faced the unique educational challenges of deafblindness.  Now, the abundance of workshops and conferences is impressive.  More importantly (as we all face challenges in getting to these events) the number of web-based training activities has sky-rocketed.  Here are just a few of my favorites from TSBVI and Perkins. From Texas School for the Blind & Visually Impaired: Communication for Children with Deafblindness and Multiple Impairments Cortical/Cerebral Visual Impairment Training School-Based Therapy Training Module: a primer for occupational and physical therapists (OTs and PTs) regarding how to work with students that have deafblindness. From Perkins School for the Blind: CHARGE Syndrome: An Overview By Pam Ryan CHARGE Syndrome: Behavioral Issues By Dr. Timothy Hartshorne CHARGE Syndrome: Teaching Strategies for Children By Sharon Stelzer CHARGE Syndrome: The Impact on Communication and...
Continue reading
3116 Hits
0 Comments

PDF Conversion to Braille Ready Files

A greater percentage of the worksheets that teachers need for translation into braille and tactile graphics are being sent to the braille production staff via email or other file sharing method such as Dropbox, Box.net or a local ISD file sharing portal.  This is a good thing because the files are getting to the production staff at a much quicker rate which ultimately means that the materials will be under the fingers of students sooner. Files sent to the production staff usually come as Word documents, PDF documents or spreadsheets.  All these types of files require editing preparations before they are ready for braille translation.  PDF documents are a special case. PDF documents sent for reproduction in Braille documents are received from teachers in one of two ways, bitmap or text tag.  Bitmap is a fancy word for picture or image file like jpeg, tiff, gif, or pic. A text...
Continue reading
4545 Hits
0 Comments

iPad Apps to Investigate

Dropbox - Free online storage. Get documents from any internet ready device. (computer, iOS device, Android device). Can pay for more storage monthly. Evernote - Free note taking app; also free online storage. Can add Webpages, pictures, text. When webpage added, links still work from the evernote document. Can pay for more storage monthly. Quickoffice Pro HD - Create, edit and share Microsoft® Word, Excel and PowerPoint files; access and manage email attachments with the most popular file formats; get to your files remotely via cloud storage services (MobileMe, Dropbox, Google® Docs, Box.net, Huddle, SugarSync, Evernote, and Catch); file support-ms office (97-2008) DOC, DOCX, TXT. Moe's Notepad - $0.99. A notes app. Audio - trim, change volume, strip silence, reverse, change speed; visual - organize any number of images and/or videos; image - crop, resize, change brightness; drawing - rectangular box or freehand; video - trim, create thumbnail, grab frames; text...
Continue reading
2581 Hits
0 Comments

Tactile Map Editor

The University of Oregon Geography Department houses the Spatial and Map Cognition Research Laboratory (SMCRL), under the direction of  Amy Lobben, Ph.D.  It is a multi-year project for the study of map use, navigation, and spatial thinking.  Some of the topics included in the study are: behavioral and neurological correlates of map use and navigation spatial thinking human-environmental interaction spatial and map task measurement navigation tactile maps and mapping visual search and visual variables spatial memory mental mapping route planning map 'phobia' There are several resources created by the project.  According to the SMCRL website geography.uoregon.edu/maps, the resources are “part of an ongoing effort to improve the: availability of tactile map resources, ease and independence of mobility, and availability of geographic education materials for users who are blind or low vision.”  One product of special interest is Tactile Map Editor.  It  is a software application for producing computer generated tactile maps...
Continue reading
2004 Hits
0 Comments

Learning and the Brain

I heard this story from National Public Radio (NPR) on the morning of August 29.  Here is the link. http://www.npr.org/think-youre-an-auditory-or-visual-learner-scientists-say-its-unlikely? The version you can listen to is different from what you can read.  And that is the point of the story. In summary, the idea of learning styles- auditory, visual, kinesthetic-turns out to have no scientific basis.  And learning is stronger when the same information is given in a variety of ways.  It helps with attention and retention. In my mind, I am trying to see the difference between “learning style” and “learning media”.  Students with visual impairment may have limited access to a variety of media.  However, teaching only to a student’s strongest media may limit their learning.  For example, giving a student everything auditorially because that is their strongest learning media, may impact their ability to pay attention and retain information.  Ensuring that students who primarily use auditory information...
Continue reading
2044 Hits
0 Comments

TVIs Needed for AT Survey

Researchers from Texas Tech University and Missouri State University are surveying TVIs in the United States to determine what assistive technology competencies they possess.  If you are a certified TVI, please consider completing the online survey at this link http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/tvitechnology by October 31st! All participants who complete the survey will be entered into a drawing to win one of many wonderful AT prizes.  See the survey for more information.
2588 Hits
0 Comments

Top 15 Reasons To Be Part of the DBMAT and Texas Chargers Family Retreats This Year!

Texans are fond of saying that it ain’t bragging if it’s true!  Well, Texas claims the right to do some serious bragging that we have four strong, ever growing, and active family organizations.  Not only should we be proud that we have so many, but thankful that they lead our community in making services, supports, and connections the best they can be for individuals who are visually impaired and deafblind.    These four organizations are the Texas Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (TAPVI), Texas Parents of Blind Children (TPOBC), Deaf-Blind Multihandicapped Association of Texas (DBMAT), and Texas Chargers. In this blog, I want to highlight the two organizations that are part of the deafblind community – DBMAT and Texas Chargers, Inc. – and their family conferences.    If you haven’t had the opportunity to participate in one of these annual events, this is your year! The 39th Annual DBMAT Family...
Continue reading
2511 Hits
0 Comments

E-Texts

For my first blog entry, I want to share an editorial that was written by Nicholas Carr and first published in the Dallas Morning News on August 5, 2011. You can find the text of the editorial here: http://www.macon.com/schools-beware-the-e-book-bandwagon.html Let me start with a disclaimer that I am a fan of Nicholas Carr. This link will open a webpage containing a quick biography of him: http://www.nicholasgcarr.com I have been struck by his thoughts about how recent changes in technology are affecting brain development. What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains is amazing and scary all at once. It is also controversial and not universally accepted. Contrast Carr’s editorial with Governor Rick Perry’s call (reported April 7, 2010) to do away with all paper textbooks by 2014: http://www.nbcdfw.com/Gov-Perry-Wants-School-Texts-to-be-Online-Only-by-2014.html Clearly, Texas is not the only state looking at doing away with paper texts. And I will agree with some of the points...
Continue reading
2931 Hits
0 Comments

Teaching Business Software Applications

A few years ago one credit of the required 21 credits needed for graduation from high school in the state of Texas is Technology Applications. Included in this curriculum are three choices that meet the State Board of Education standards. The choices are: Computer Science (geek stuff for writing computer scripts), Multimedia Production (video editing, animation, and graphic design), and Business Computer Information Systems (business computer applications). By imposing this, schools were trying to make sure students have some computer technology skills by graduation. It is no longer a required credit for graduation. This means school districts are on their own. Some districts still have it as a “local” requirement for graduation. For us as vision teachers this may be a relief, however, this can be a problem. One of the choices, Business Computer Information Systems (BCIS) give students a basic knowledge (exposure) to spreadsheets, word processing, databases, desktop publishing, and...
Continue reading
2847 Hits
0 Comments

Braille Music Resources

Lately there has been a resurgence in braille music, however teachers have very little opportunity for learning the code themselves.  The most commonly used resources come from Dancing Dots, located here and the Internet: www.dancingdots.com. Look for the resources page and you will find several books available for learning braille music. However the Royal National Institute for the Blind in England have created a resource for teachers to learn the music braille code. Americans will need to change the names of the note values, as we use different vocabulary. An example would be quavers in America are labeled eight notes. I have downloaded the lessons in MS Word format and braille format and performed a search and replace to allow me to use American vocabulary. If you want to do the same go here: http://tinyurl.com/2u4mekz. I had to shorten the web address, as it was extremely long. Look on the page...
Continue reading
2811 Hits
0 Comments

Free Software for Students

Many of our students have full access to screen reading software in their school, but they do not have access to their computer at home. Does this scenario sound familiar? Now your students can have their own screen reading software at home on a USB drive. One of the software programs is open-source, which to some people means free, when in fact that is not how it is defined. "Open source software is the shared intellectual property of all developers and users and, thanks to the collaboration, achieves a higher level of quality than software produced using conventional means. " (http://www.directimaging.com/). The opensource screen reader is NVDA, which stands for NonVisual Display Access. Being opensource, the speech engine available for use is not as advanced as commercial screen reading software, but that is also improving with each revision. Download NVDA here: www.nvda-project.org. The next screen reading software available for free is...
Continue reading
2418 Hits
0 Comments

Single Switch Software

I had promised teachers on my campus some resources for switch accessible games.  The first website is called One Switch, and is located in the UK. It has games, switch interfaces, dyi switches, software, links, and so much more.  Check out the Library page, which has a link to 100+ switch accessible games. Not all of the games are accessible for all students, but have some fun looking through the possibilities.  Here is the link: www.oneswitch.org.uk. The next site is in the US, but their parent site is in the UK  and has not only switch accessible software, but story building games.  The story will be different for each choice the student makes in the adventure. Here is the link to the choose and tell games: http://www.inclusivetlc.com/. Don't forget to check out all of the other wonderful software and hardware available on this site. The next site is for a free...
Continue reading
2112 Hits
0 Comments