2003 Conference Proceedings

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A Framework for Braille Literacy: Strategies & Solutions for Meeting the Assistive Technology Needs of Blind Students

Presenter
Donna McNear
Rum River Special Education Cooperative
Cambridge, Minnesota
Email: dmcnear@ecenet.com

At the end of this session, participants will...

The professional literature on braille literacy documents that assistive technology devices are seen as essential and critical literacy tools for students who read and write in braille. But are teachers using these assistive technology/literacy tools to maximize student learning and do they know how to cope with the challenges and barriers they face in order to provide assistive technology to students?

During the past year, teachers were introduced to A Framework for Braille Literacy: Integrating Assistive Technology Tools in the Literacy Curriculum. It is a document designed for teachers to increase their knowledge and skills in integrating assistive technology in a braille literacy curriculum. It is a results-driven framework that focuses on what students should know and be able to do. A Framework for Braille Literacy is based on a continuum of 56 braille literacy tasks that students need to perform in school, home, and community environments in emergent, academic, and functional levels of literacy. Teaching strategies include how to complete literacy tasks with tools such as tactile image makers, electronic braillewriters, electronic braille/audible notetakers, refreshable braille displays, translation software, and associated computer applications.

As teachers acquire the knowledge and skills to provide braille instruction based on student outcomes with literacy skills and using assistive technology tools, they also need knowledge and skills in order to face the challenges they experience.

The Framework for Braille Literacy has been expanded to include strategies and solutions teachers can use to overcome the challenges and barriers they face in order to provide assistive technology services to students who are blind and visually impaired and read and write in braille. Teachers encounter many challenges and barriers as they attempt to provide effective educational services to their students. There are few resources that provide concise and specific strategies for guidance in the process to acquire the assistive technology devices necessary for students to achieve in the general education curriculum.

The Framework for Braille Literacy: Strategies & Solutions for Meeting the Assistive Technology Needs of Blind Students has identified seven challenges teachers face in meeting the assistive technology needs of students. The seven challenges are: (1) attitudes, (2) high expectations, (3) teacher knowledge and skills, (4) professional development, (5) advocacy, (6) systems change, and (7) funding. This session will provide participants with strategies and solutions to use as tools, ideas, and resources to assist teachers and other team members in the process of providing appropriate assistive technology to their students who are visually impaired and read and write in braille.

The strategies and solutions contain innovative and creative thinking ideas such as teachers as change agents, action research, savvy advocacy, planning toward ideals, developing a vision of the future, and reflective practice.

By engaging in activities to learn strategies for meeting the seven strategies, teachers will be better prepared to use these assistive technology/literacy tools to maximize student learning and know how to cope with the challenges and barriers they face in order to provide assistive technology to students. Ultimately, students will have the assistive technology tools they need to achieve in the general education curriculum.


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