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Current Practices in Braille Instruction at University Teacher Preparation Programs L. Penny Rosenblum, Ph.D. University of Arizona NFB Braille Symposium.

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Presentation on theme: "Current Practices in Braille Instruction at University Teacher Preparation Programs L. Penny Rosenblum, Ph.D. University of Arizona NFB Braille Symposium."— Presentation transcript:

1 Current Practices in Braille Instruction at University Teacher Preparation Programs L. Penny Rosenblum, Ph.D. University of Arizona NFB Braille Symposium September 28, 2012

2 Session Schedule Part 1: Background and Procedure for the University Literary Delphi Study Discussion Part 2: Results of the Literary Delphi Study Discussion Part 3: Results of the Nemeth Delphi Study and Future Directions Discussion

3 10 Years Ago It Was Said… “There is widespread diversity and a lack of consistency in university-level braille courses with respect to the format of instruction, content and instructional materials, expected student outcomes, and standards and criteria for competence in braille literacy. There appears to be no consistent standard for training teachers of students who are visually impaired in braille.” (Amato, 2002, p. 149).

4 Background Information Approximately 30 programs in the US and Canada prepare teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs) and 5 programs prepare vision rehabilitation therapists (VRTs). Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) is a professional organization that in the past has had an accreditation process for university programs. Currently the process is being revised.

5 CEC Knowledge & Skills Standards Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) has developed a set of professional standards and ethics for the field of special education. From the CEC web site: “The special education preparation standards are the specialized knowledge and skills that are the foundation of professional preparation and that influence licensure. The standards provide benchmarks to states, provinces, and nations for program accreditation, entry-level licensure, professional practice, and continuing professional growth.”

6 CEC Specialty Standards for Blind/Visually Impaired Standard 4 = Instructional Strategies Knowledge standards B&VI4K4: Strategies for teaching tactual perceptual skills B&VI4K8: Strategies to prepare individuals with progressive eye conditions to achieve a positive transition to alternative skills Skills standards B&VI4S1: Select and adapt materials in braille, accessible print, and other formats. B&W4S2: Teach the use of braillewriter, slate and stylus, and computer technology to produce braille materials.

7 AER’s Personnel Preparation Division In Fall 2008 the division had a topical call to discuss issues related to literary braille instruction. A small committee was formed to gather data: Frances Mary D’Andrea – Former director of AFB’s Literacy Center and at the time a doctoral student at University of Pittsburgh Sandra Lewis – Coordinator of the TVI preparation program at Florida State University L. Penny Rosenblum – Associate Professor of Practice at The University of Arizona preparing TVIs

8 Purpose of the Study The approximately 30 university preparation programs each provide instruction in literary braille. Little is known about the content and requirements of the courses used by the universities. AER’s Personnel Preparation Division members agreed to explore the development of a minimum set of standards university programs could adopt.

9 The Instructors University instructors from the US and Canada (n=21) Within the last three years have taught at least one university course on how to read and write the literary braille code. Have taught the literary braille course at least three different semesters or quarters at a university. Have taught the literary braille course for three or more years. Have taught for one (or more) universities in the United States or Canada.

10 Instructor Demographics Position: 10 in tenure or tenure earning positions 7 hired specifically to teach the literary braille course Years Taught Literary Braille Course: 7 for 3-5 years7 for years 3 for 6-10 years4 for 16+ years Course Delivery Method: 1 taught face-to-face 9 taught on-line 7 used a hybrid format

11 Tools & Books Used in Class Tools to Produce Braille 21 Perkins Brailler 20 slate & stylus 16 computer programs that simulated braille Books 9 New Programmed Instruction 6 National Library Service 5 Braille Codes and Calculations

12 The Practitioners 20 TVIs (No VRTs/RTs responded) Within the last 3 to 5 years have completed preparation to be a TVI or RT/VRT Have taught at least 2 children or adults who use the literary braille code Are currently employed a minimum of 20 hours a week as a TVI or RT/VRT

13 Practitioner Demographics Type of program: 8 on campus 4 distance ed. 8 combination of both Type of degree: 5 bachelor’s 11 master’s 5 certification Gender: 19 female 1 male Ethnicity: 17 White 2 Hispanic 1 Asian American Age 9 = = = > 51 Braille instruction: 14 had one course 6 multiple courses Current Role: 15 itinerant 1 resource room 1 special school 3 other (includes 2 EI)

14 The Method of Data Collection: The Delphi Process A consensus building process. An iterative process in which experts are asked for judgments regarding a topic for which there is insufficient or incomplete knowledge. Experts participate in “rounds” where they rate items in an attempt to build consensus.

15 Suddenly You are a Mars Expert… For the Curiosity Rover’s mission to be successful it must take a photograph of a green Martian. Extremely important Important Somewhat important Not important Comments

16 DISCUSSION

17 Delving Into the Delphi Data The stem A beginning teacher should know how to… Three areas: Braille Production (n=14) Questions addressed use of the Perkins Brailler, slate and stylus and Perky Duck Braille Reading (n=8) Knowledge About Braille (n=10) Consensus set at 85% agreement on item

18 Importance Accuracy Extremely Important Important Somewhat Important Not Important 0-1 errors 2-3 errors 4-5 errors 6-7 errors 8+ errors No reference materials Use of a one-page reference sheet Use of braille word lists Use of literary braille textbook or code rule book (i.e., English Braille American Edition) or web site; for knowledge section only 3 choices (word list dropped after Round 1) Use of Resources

19 Follow Up With Instructors A final series of questions was sent to instructors. Questions focused on topics of items for which no consensus was reached by the end of Round 3.

20 Braille Writing, Perkins Brailler Consensus: Instructors & Practitioners It is extremely important that a beginning teacher of braille be able to write the 26 letters of the braille alphabet with 0-1 errors and no references using a Perkins Brailler. It is extremely important that a beginning teacher be able to write sentences of 10 words in contracted braille with 0-1 errors. No consensus on use of references It is extremely important that a beginning teacher be able to write passages of words in contracted braille. Practitioners agreed to higher level of accuracy than instructors No consensus on accuracy and use of references It is extremely important that a beginning teacher be able to write a passage of 300 words or more in contracted braille with no more than 2-3 errors. Practitioners did not reach consensus on accuracy No consensus on use of references

21 Braille Writing, Slate and Stylus Consensus: Instructors & Practitioners It is extremely important that a beginning teacher of braille be able to write the 26 letters of the alphabet with a slate and stylus with no more than 0-1 errors and no references. Practitioners did not reach consensus on importance Sentences of 10 words in contracted braille: No consensus for either instructors or practitioners about importance, accuracy, or use of references. Passages of words in contracted braille Instructors came to consensus this was not important; practitioners did not come to consensus.

22 Braille Writing, Slate and Stylus Consensus: Instructors & Practitioners Passage of 300 words or more in contracted braille Instructors and practitioners agreed: Not important In general, instructors rated this as more important than practitioners

23 Follow Up with Instructors: Accuracy When Brailling with a Slate & Stylus Do you support a standard that allows no more than 2 errors in 10-word sentences (approximately braille characters) when writing with a slate and stylus? Yes: 77.3% No: 13.6% Not sure: 9.1%

24 Comments Braille accuracy is braille accuracy. This doesn't say how many ten-word sentences we are talking about. I am assuming one. In one ten-word sentence I think two errors is too many. If we were talking about ten sentences containing ten words each then two might be acceptable. It is my opinion that this would be a minimum ability for those who are considered braille teachers.

25 Follow Up with Instructors: Use of References Should any standards for beginning teachers in reading and writing braille mention the use of references? Yes: 76.2% No: 9.5% Not sure: 14.3%

26 Comments Having some reference materials can ensure higher quality work. However, having too many will create a "crutch" and for some, be an excuse not to learn for use but learn for only general knowledge...too dangerous. I think that a standard should include the fact that teachers need to memorize the symbols of the code and the rules of usage, but that where they have questions when brailling, they should be able to use any reference that will help them produce high quality braille for their students.

27 Braille Reading, Oral Reading of Braille Consensus: Instructors & Practitioners It is extremely important that beginning teachers can read aloud the 26 letters of the alphabet with highest accuracy and no reference materials. It is extremely important that beginning teachers can read aloud elementary level passages in contracted braille. Instructors came to consensus that this skill should have highest level of accuracy. No consensus in either group as far as use of references. It is extremely important that beginning teachers can read high school level passages in contracted braille. No consensus in either group as far as accuracy and use of references.

28 Comments About Reading: Instructor: The student will need to demonstrate a skill they may engage in during their job as a first year teacher. Practitioner: The TVI needs to be able to read braille fluently at the level that they are teaching or aspire to teach. This sets a positive example for the student and enables the TVI to review and proof read written work.

29 Braille Reading, Proofreading Consensus: Instructors & Practitioners Proofread (i.e., find errors) in a passage: It is extremely important that a beginning teacher be able to read a passage with elementary level vocabulary (approximately 200 words) written in contracted braille with no more than 0-1 errors and only a 1-page reference. Practitioners did not come to consensus about use of references. It is extremely important that a beginning teacher be able to read a passage with a high school level vocabulary (approximately 200 words) written in contracted braille. Instructors agreed to use of a 1-page reference.

30 Braille Reading, Interlining Consensus: Instructors & Practitioners Interline (i.e., write print within) a passage: It is extremely important that a beginning teacher be able to interline a passage with elementary level vocabulary (approximately 200 words) written in contracted braille with 0-1 error. Instructors agreed to use of a 1-page reference. It is extremely important that a beginning teacher be able to interline a passage with a high school level vocabulary (approximately 200 words) written in contracted braille. Instructors reached consensus that the accuracy should be 0-1 error. Practitioners reached consensus that a 1-page reference be allowed.

31 Oral Reading Participants were asked if beginning teachers should read a minimum number of braille words per minute and if so how many words per minute this should be. There was great variability on whether this should be a requirement. There was great variability on the number of words per minute.

32 Follow Up with Instructors: Oral Reading Speed Do you support the establishment of a minimum oral reading speed for braille reading (in words per minute) to ensure sufficient familiarity and automaticity in the literary braille code? Yes: 54.5% No: 22.7% Not sure: 22.7% No consensus achieved

33 Comments …It is inappropriate and unprofessional for the TVI to stumble over the words or read so slowly that s/he is of no assistance to the student. This is a conditional "yes.” wpm seems reasonable, however, consideration must be given to whether the braille is single side only, or double sided and whether or not the beginning teacher is sighted and reading by sight, or is a braille reader to start with. Quite a few variables in this one. Being able to read at a reasonable rate is important, but I do think this comes with usage over time, so not sure if this is a necessary beginning skill since teachers are learning so much that is new when first learning braille.

34 What We Learned… Great variability in the ways university programs teach and deliver their courses. Overall instructors and practioners placed similar value on the importance and accuracy needed for specific skills. There was greater variation in the use of reference materials. Items for which consensus was not achieved included slate and stylus, use of braille emulation software, and oral reading rates.

35 DISCUSSION

36 What Happened Next… Two articles were published in JVIB on the literary Delphi study. Complete references are on last slide. Using a demographic survey and the Delphi method, information was gathered about preparation for beginning TVIs in reading and writing the Nemeth code.

37 A Brief Synopsis of the Demographic Study Leading up to the Nemeth Delphi Conducted by Dr. Derrick Smith and myself 39-item questionnaire about university preparation related to Nemeth, music braille, foreign language braille, tactile graphics, and abacus. 22 individuals representing 26 universities participated. Results are reported in an article listed in on last slide.

38 Points of Interest Literary braille was the primary focus of a course(s) at 25/26 programs. Nemeth braille was the primary focus of a course(s) at 24/26 programs. Foreign language braille, music braille, and computer braille most often were less of a focus of program courses. Abacus was part of all programs’ coursework. Tactile graphics were part of 25/26 programs’ coursework.

39 All University Programs Required Students to Demonstrate Mastery Numerals Numeral indicator Punctuation indicator English letter indicator Fraction indicator Fractions Operations Comparison Decimals Problems in Linear Format

40 80% or More of Programs Required Students to Demonstrate Mastery of Problems in Spatial Format Level Indicator Groupings Radical Indicator Multipurpose Indicator

41 Delphi Study Participant Criteria In the last three years taught at least one course on how to read and write Nemeth code Taught the Nemeth code for at least three semesters / quarters Taught the Nemeth code for at least three or more years Taught in the United States or Canada Taught skills for students to read and write Nemeth code

42 Delphi Study 3 rounds 29 reading statements and 29 writing statements Level of importance and level of references were polled (level of accuracy was not). Unlike the literary Delphi a group of practioners did not participate. Consensus was set at 85%.

43 Example Statements Write (Read) in context linear math problems using whole numbers, signs of omission, signs of operation, and signs of comparison. Write (Read) in context mathematic expressions containing radicals (square roots, cube roots, etc.) Write (Read) in context letters used to symbolize variables. Write (Read) in context indicators for angles, lengths, arcs, perimeters, areas, and volume.

44 Writing Competencies: Importance 11 competencies were rated extremely important and 1 was rated somewhat important Examples include writing in context: Linear problems Simple and mixed fractions Exponents Problems in linear format Problems in spatial format

45 Writing Competencies: References 17 competencies had agreement on the use of references For 11 of the 17 instructors agreed use of a code book was the acceptable option. Examples: Square roots and radicals Formulae for the area, surface area, and volume of geometric figures Symbols for congruence, similarity, parallel and perpendicular

46 Reading Competencies: Importance 18 competencies were rated extremely important and 1 was rated somewhat important Examples include writing in context: Linear problems Simple and mixed fractions Exponents Problems in linear format Problems in spatial format

47 Reading Competencies: References 23 competencies had agreement on the use of references For 9 competencies (elementary level math) instructors believed no references should be used. For 6 competencies instructors believed a code reference sheet should be used. For 8 competencies (high level math) instructors believed a code book should be used.

48 “…low levels of agreement were reached on more advanced concepts such as radicals and algebraic expressions. It would seem that while each of the instructors probably understands the importance of the advanced math Nemeth Code, they were not in consensus on the level of importance for pre- service teachers to demonstrate reading and writing competence at the beginning of their careers.” Smith & Rosenblum, submitted for publication

49 Thoughts on the Nemeth Delphi Results Beginning TVIs were expected to read Nemeth without references on more items than they were expected to write them. There were higher levels of agreement among the instructors on elementary and advanced math as compared to math concepts typical of middle school.

50 What the Future Holds… The university programs need to agree that the competencies identified in both studies are ones worthy of validation. A validation process needs to be developed with input from practicing professionals. A trial period needs to occur for the university programs and necessary revisions made. The competencies need to be adopted as standards by the AER Personnel Preparation Division and made part of the accreditation process.

51 DISCUSSION

52 Articles Lewis, S., D’Andrea, F.M., & Rosenblum, L. P. (2012). The development of accepted performance items to demonstrate competence in literary braille. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness 106(4), Rosenblum, L. P., Lewis, S., & D’Andrea, F.M. (2010). Current practices in literary braille code instruction in university personnel preparation programs. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 104(9), Rosenblum, L. P. & Smith, D. (2012). Instruction in specialized braille codes, abacus, and tactile graphics at universities in the United States and Canada. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 106(6),

53 Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum University of Arizona Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies PO Box Tucson, AZ Phone:


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