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A Pilot Study The Use of Braille and Access Technology Among Young Adults Who are Blind: Practices, Tools, and Attitudes Frances Mary D’Andrea July, 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "A Pilot Study The Use of Braille and Access Technology Among Young Adults Who are Blind: Practices, Tools, and Attitudes Frances Mary D’Andrea July, 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Pilot Study The Use of Braille and Access Technology Among Young Adults Who are Blind: Practices, Tools, and Attitudes Frances Mary D’Andrea July, 2008

2 Why Braille? Why Technology? Changes to educational practice related to braille reading and writing. New technology increases access to print and electronic information. Paper braille (also referred to as “hard copy” braille) more available than ever before.

3 Research Questions: What kinds of literacy practices do young adults who are braille readers engage in? How did they learn those practices? How do young adults use braille, print, and electronic materials? What are their attitudes towards paper braille and toward access technology?

4 Grounded Theory A theory-building process Does not test a hypothesis, but seeks to understand and explain phenomenon Uses focused interviews to gather data Themes emerge as data are coded (Glaser, 1978 & 1992; Dick, 2005)

5 Participants in Pilot S 1 : early 30s, AT and braille user, AT instructor Telephone interview S 2 : 16 years old, AT and braille user, high school student Face-to-face interview

6 Main Interview Questions What kinds of AT do you use? What do you remember about learning to read & write braille? How do you use paper braille now? How do you use technology for reading & writing? What do you think paper braille is useful for? What do you think technology is useful for? What advice do you have for students/teachers?

7 Emerging Themes Having choices about practice and devices Convenience, access, availability Metacognition Formal and informal learning contexts Learning from school/teachers Self-taught Learning from peers who are blind Learning from trusted others who are sighted Attitudes & preferences about practices and devices Generally articulated strong preferences Recognition of advantages and disadvantages

8 Quotes about Choice “Well, I use a Braille Note religiously, a Braille Note 32.” “Every blind person, whenever a new screen reader comes out, we want to get our hands on it because we want to see how accessible it is and compare it to WindowEyes, JAWS, or whatever.” “And it’s a quick and easy and portable way, I mean, I can take that to a meeting and if someone says, ‘Hey, what’s your schedule next week?’ I can easily look at that,” “I read the same book in braille and then I read it in audio and I understood it better in audio for some reason.” “if I’m giving a speech or a presentation--a lot of times, not all the time, but a lot of times I will print it out in paper braille or put it on a paper braille.”

9 Context Quotes “I started learning braille... I believe I was in first grade and I had a teacher at the school for the blind” “I went and figured it all out from there. Just messed with things and saw what they did.” “Actually one of my friends that I was talking to online said something about it.” “I had a professor who was really interested in, you know, using Windows and just how a blind person would use Windows.” “We didn’t really start doing that until about, I want to say 6 th or 7 th grade because that’s whenever our computer teacher at the middle school was, um, starting to do that.”

10 Quotes Expressing Attitudes & Preferences “I had borrowed a Braille Lite a couple of times and just didn’t find them, I don’t know, just didn’t find them as useful and as convenient as a Braille ‘n Speak.” “if I’m ever doing a complex math problem and I need to line something up or look at something in math, um, I’ll do that, I’ll write that out in paper braille.” “There I would use braille [for Spanish class] because it’s, that would be hard to do in audio.” “I haven’t really found any [disadvantages to braille]. Except for the part where it takes up many boxes and teachers are about to faint whenever you take all those boxes in the room.” “Uh, well, a disadvantage to me is--it’s technology and technology never works 100% of the time.”

11 Emerging Themes (in pilot) The degree to which AT users are self-taught The importance of informal learning contexts for building AT skills The recognition that braille and technology are equally important, but perhaps for different tasks The importance of choice to match methods to goals of activity

12 Next Steps Interview more students ages using piloted interview protocol Analyze data using open coding to build categories & themes Ask more specifically about the ways that TVIs were helpful in the learning process for AT skills

13 Future research What impact does the use of technology have on access to the general curriculum? Are there “best” ages for introduction or is it always going to be an individual decision? Do strategies such as the use of speech and electronic braille have an impact on further development of braille fluency skills?

14 References Dick, Bob (2005) Grounded theory: a thumbnail sketch. [On line] Available at rounded.html Glaser, Barney G. (1978) Theoretical sensitivity: advances in the methodology of grounded theory. Mill Valley, Ca: Sociology Press. Glaser, Barney G. (1992) Basics of grounded theory analysis: emergence vs forcing. Mill Valley, Ca.: Sociology Press.


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