2002 Conference Proceedings

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Organizing One's Life In The Classroom: Strategies For Educators Of Visually Impaired Student

Larry L. Lewis, Jr.
HumanWare Inc.
ewis@humanware.com

Probably one of the most significant factors in any child's educational experience which determines whether or not he or she will successfully obtain and education and translate that success into competitive employment would be his/her ability to organize one's self. This truth is even more evident among students with visual impairments. The ability to organize one's life has a profound effect on rather or not an individual can manage his/her time effectively, and consequently complete the given task which is at hand.

Teachers of students who are visually impaired are constantly faced with the challenge of instilling the value of organizational skill building in their students from a very early age. If a teacher neglects to prioritize this lesson, the results produced by the student risk being abysmal at best. If strategies implemented to teach this lesson are successful, the student may indeed perform on a competitive level with sighted peers in both educational and vocational capacities.

In order to develop such strategies, two essential issues must be addressed. Firstly, before a student can develop organizational skills, the student must first adopt a reading and writing system wall suited to meet his given needs. In many cases, this writing system will be Braille. In some cases, this writing system will be QWERTY input. Secondly, once this writing system has been identified and the teacher has begun to incorporate it into the student's individualized education plan, a portable, efficient solution should be identified which enables the student to capitalize on the desired writing system.

The BrailleNote family of products presents to the teacher of the visually impaired an entire product line which can capitalize upon the student's preferred writing system while offering either refreshable Braille output, synthesized speech output, or a combination of both media for the necessary feedback the student to successfully complete a variety of classroom related tasks in an independent and timely manner. Also this line of products utilizes a Windows-based operating system which enables the student to produce results compatible with "mainstream" applications which the sighted instructor is using.

Task-related activities which can be completed using such a technologies include:

  1. The acquisition of, and the completion of written classroom assignments relating to reading comprehension, vocabulary, or spelling proficiency skills.
  2. The procurement and storage of one's textbooks for relevant courses.
  3. A robust scheduling tool to schedule due dates for assignments, study group activities, class scheduling, and school-bus routes.
  4. An every-mail client to disseminate all pertinent information.
  5. A technological solution which can multi-task and interact between its respective applications as well as mainstream applications.

Incorporating an appropriate adaptive technological solution as an organizational tool can make learning such skills exciting for the student. It also enables them to inclusively keep pace with their sighted classmates. Lastly, it ultimately may be the determining factor as to whether or not they become employable on a competitive level. Timeliness, accuracy, and efficiency are the end results of adopting a strategies which incorporates a level of literacy with a modern approach to information management.


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