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NUBS or UEB: A Unified Braille Code Could Be Adopted Soon

The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) has released a three-part article entitled: The Evolution of Braille: Can the Past help Plan the Future? BANA website (http://www.brailleauthority.org/) Part 1 traces the use of braille as a viable reading medium from the 1960s to the present and takes a close look at how print has changed over the same period. Part 2 discusses the more technical aspects of braille translation, challenges faced by current transcribers of current codes, the need for accurate forward and backward translation with the least amount of human intervention, and the impact of the use of refreshable braille displays. Part 3 discusses the future; it explores the options for change and examines Unified English Braille (UEB) and the Nemeth Uniform Braille System (NUBS) as examples of code unification. BANA feels that it is at a critical juncture, and they have four choices: Continue to tinker with the current codes...
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Optimizing Vision

The student with low vision who is functioning in a general education classroom setting may be experiencing a multitude of visual challenges unique to the environments in which (s)he works.  As a TVI, I need to have a construct in my head in order to quickly organize my observations of each environment, so that I can make adjustments and/or recommendations for accommodations. For starters, I must consider the lights or brightness in the room.  There are certain eye conditions that make lighting either detrimental (ocular albinism) or vital (optic nerve hypoplasia).  Questions I might ask myself are:  What is the lighting source?  Is the student getting so close that her head obscures the light?  Would a task light help?  Where should the light be directed?  If an outlet is nearby, the APH lamp is wonderful.  Another option is a battery powered OTT® light that can be moved from room to room.  When positioning...
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Gayle Unplugged blog

Check out Gayle Unplugged:  a blog by a woman with blindness that offers practical advice on daily living skills. Gayle Unplugged blog.
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Emerging Writing

I just listened to a presentation on emerging writing in children who are 3-5 years of age.  What I kept thinking to myself was “How can we support the participation of children with visual impairments in emergent writing activities?” Here is a definition of emergent writing and a link to the paper it came from: “The broad construct of emergent writing includes the physical marks that young children make on paper, the meanings that children attribute to these markings, and the social contexts in which the writing takes place (Clay, 1975; Rowe, 2008).”p.54 Preschool lab Ohio State University  Getting the physical marks on paper may be the hardest part for a child with a visual impairment.  In children with typical vision, these marks start out as scribbles and/or pictures. For some children with visual impairments, just providing high contrast markers, good lighting, using a light box as a writing surface, using...
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"mouthing pillow"

While watching a video of a student we see on an ongoing basis, we got the input of one of our local occupational therapists, and what great input she gave!  We watched this student, who has visual impairment and very limited motor abilities, play by continually flipping a pillow onto her face.  While the pillow was on her face, she appeared to be moving her mouth a little bit.  This student, due to motor limitations, has not been able to bring objects to her mouth to explore them.  Our OT suggested creating a "mouthing pillow."  We used a firm, foam pillow that would not be floppy, made a pillow case from "headliner" fabric because it sticks well to the male velcro, and sewed elastic with notebook rings so that objects could be affixed and removed easily for washing the case.  The objects we selected it have characteristics similar to objects that...
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Writing, Organization, and Extended Time

While thinking about writing while creating a workshop on the topic, I was thinking about the practice of giving students with visual impairments shorter assignments (5 pages instead of 10) and/or extended time (paper due in 5 weeks instead of 4). Both practices may have merit but then I was struck by a possible third option.  That third option would be teaching better organization skills and keeping assignment length and due date the same. I was particular struck by this as I was approaching some writing projects of my own.  Regardless of the length of what I am writing, my habit is and always has been to do my writing within days (hours!) of the due date.  Not a good strategy.  I wonder how many students with visual  impairments use the same strategy?  I can tell you from experience this was not a good habit to get into once I was...
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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
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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...
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