My classes this past semester have(mostly) been online; some tips from me.

Yes as the title above suggests all of my classes except for one this past semester have been online. Here are some tips I’ve learned from that experience. I hope they can help you

2. Since the instructor/professor can’t see you because it’s an online class email them asap to alert them of your disabilities. During the first part of the semester (the semester was split into two 8 week periods with certain classes the first section and the rest on the last.) During the first 8-week period I had to take an english class. Midway through it finally occured to me to email the professor and tell him that I couldn’t see to make sure my papers were properly formatted. I then explained about my disability, the screen reader I used, and anything else I thought might be useful. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

3. If someone corrects you in a duscussion forum about their name, which you mispelled, take it in stride. During that same english class I typed an m instead of an n at the end of someone’s name. They corrected me, I explained that I’d thought my screen reader was saying m instead of n and that I was very sorry. I also told them that people actually miss-pronounce my last name so I know how they felt. I think it helped.

4. Make sure every feature they’re going to use is accessible. I thought I had done that with my online orientation class, but apparently I’d neglected to check something. That something was whether or not the “Attach a file” thing in the discussion board was accessible. Bad news! It wasn’t so I had to have sighted help.

That’s all I can think of for now, but if I think of anything else I’ll be sure to either write another post, or add to this one. Thanks for reading! I hope you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

You don't look blind.

On my first day of class I walked in, and sat down. The teacher started lecturing on the first day’s lesson. Everything was going fine.

There was a slight hick-up on the way to the college when I realized that I’d forgotten my digital voice recorder. However, I remembered that I could record the lecture on my Iphone. So, for that moment at least it was fine.

I was sitting there staring at the white board in front of me. I could see that it was the white board because it looked different from the wall. Plus the teacher would occasionally stand in front of it. Occasionally when she stood there I could hear the sound the marker makes when someone’s writing on a white board. I was doing my best to pay attention to what the teacher was saying.

Then, the teacher asked for us to get into groups. She said that was the way we were going to work out problems in her class. Fine with me! So, we all get into groups, and start working on whatever problem we were assigned.

After about five minutes the teacher gets our attention again. She tells us that one of us is to introduce each member of our group. Then, explain how we got the answer we did.

I’m not quite sure how this occurred, but at some point the instructor started working out a problem on the board. She asked if we could all see it, and I whisper to my scribe that I can’t see what’s on the board I tell him that I’m also confused because I don’t know what’s on the board. So, he starts reading it to me.

I’m going to pause in my story, and say Teachers, instructors, and professors. Please for the love of your job tell the blind student what you’re writing on the board. Practice what you’re reading out loud before you have them in class if you have too. But please tell them what you’re writing. We need to know this information just as badly as our sighted peers.

So, back to the story. One of the girls looks over at my scribe, and says something to him that I don’t hear. He responds with “I’m telling her what’s on the board.” The girl says: “Why?” My scribe says:” “Because she can’t see.” Girl: *probably says something about moving.* Scribe: “No really. She can’t see. She’s blind.” Girl: “Really?” Scribe: “Yeah.” Girl: “Are you serious?” Scribe: “Yeah.” Girl: “That’s cool!” Girl to me: “Are you really blind??” Me: “yeah.” Girl: “I didn’t know that. You do it well.” Me not knowing what she meant: “Thanks! I try.”

I still don’t know what she meant. If it’s the blindness thing she was talking about. I wonder what she was expecting? I wanted to ask her that, but we moved on before I could. 🙂 Whatever she expected. I hope now she’ll expect more the next time she meets a blind person. Especially if it’s a student.

Thanks for reading!

And you thought finding a print version of a textbook was hard

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had to buy/rent print textbooks for college. What if the college bookstore doesn’t have any? Now what? Most people would go online to look for college textbooks. If they couldn’t find what they were looking for by title, and author they’d probably use the ISBN number. (that number with all the dashes on… I think it’s the back of the book) Instead of the title/author/edition number. I know because I’ve done this. There’s nothing like practicing what you preach.

I know I complained on twitter that finding a certain print edition of a certain book is difficult. Don’t get me wrong, it is. The good news is that I finally found the book I was looking for, and am now waiting on my order to get here.

I’m getting slightly sidetracked. When I sat down to write this wasn’t the focus of this article. Instead I want to focus on how hard it is to obtain an accessible version of a textbook. EG. .txt, .pdf ETC. Note: I’m writing this as if it’s happening right now, but here’s what I went through in a nutshell.

I did the “type in the author/title/book edition thing, and I couldn’t find it. So, I typed in variations of those things, and I still couldn’t find the correct edition. I can find individual chapters, which is grate, but not the whole book. I even tried typing in the ISBN number.

Today I’m going to try typing in the publisher. Usually if you do this the publisher’s website will show up in the search results. The keyword here is “usually” because nothing happened. I can’t find the publisher anywhere. Which is ashamed because I really wanted to request that textbook in an accessible format. Why is this so complicated? *imagines pulling out own hair. Doesn’t feel any better.*

Okay so, what if I have the cousin look. No luck there either. As she got the same results as me. I can buy a P. D. F. for from $67 up to $100, but with most of these offers I have to buy the print version first. Plus I’m not really sure how much money I have to spend. So, I’m just going to say none.

Okay, back to the drawing board. Amazon? Nope!Bard? (long shot, but worth a try. At this point I was getting desperate.) Still nothing, though I didn’t actually think there would be. How about Bookshare? Okay, this is weird. Every time I search for the author/title/edition, nothing. I’m not sure why, but my gut says they have the 9th edition. Too bad because my syllabus says that I need the 8th. 🙁

*fills out a book request form, sends.* *waits until the next day* *gets an email back asking if I can use the 9th edition* *responds with “Not sure. The one I requested is the one in my syllabus, so I would assume not”* The response says that it’ll take awhile to format it and stuff. No big deal. I know that. I can wait. I have the print version, so someone can read it to me. I’d prefer to read it for myself, but it’ll do for now. *emails instructor about using the 9th edition, recieves no response.*

Now, here’s the thing I’m not proud of. I ranted on twitter about being asked if I could use the 9th version. I’ll get into an explanation of that in another blog. I also realized after the fact that I should have went further with the coke and Pepsi thing, and say that it’s like being asked after you already said “Coke.” When asked what you would like to drink, but I didn’t. Long story short I felt bad about writing that, and I apologized. I’m sure you can find said rant on twitter if you really want to read it.

Long story short they are now going to add the 8th edition, but it’s going to take about six weeks. I’m glad they’re doing that, but it sucks that I have to wait so long.

This all took place within the period of three days. I should probably point that out. I didn’t start looking for it before hand because I thought it would be easy to find. Plus I hate downloading syllabuses a few days before class starts. Because if the professor/instructor changes anything, then you have to go re-download the syllabus again. Lesson learned don’t assume that finding a book in any accessible format, or any format for that matter is going to be easy. If you can start looking before your class actually starts, and you can feel yourself slipping slowly behind. Because you don’t have the textbook you thought would be so easy to find. I know I’ve definitely learned this lesson. P. S. I still can’t find the publisher’s website, and the office of disability services can’t find them, or a P. D. F that isn’t going to cost them an arm or a leg.

Thanks for reading!

Should I get print textbooks?

Since some colleges are going to start soon. I thought I would answer a question that I had before I started college. Should I get print books?

I was advised that I should. Just in case something was not readable in the text or audio version I happened to possess. It’s also important to point out that print might be the only available option.

I know that you may or may not like to bug others. Just to have a textbook read to you. Neither do I. However, if it means that I understand what the instructor is talking about the next day in class. Sure! I’ll do it. I hope this helps.

Thanks for reading!

A full review of Art for the elementary teacher.

I know, today’s Tuesday, but somehow my Monday ran away from me. So, here I am begging for your forgiveness for posting a school related thing on Tech Tuesday. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this. 🙂

I promised you that I would keep you up to date on how my classes were going this semester. Especially the art, math, and geography ones. So, I thought why not write reviews? So, here goes nothing

Let’s start with the art class. I went in with a bad feeling that this wasn’t going to work so well. Due to my horrible experiences from elementary school. These weren’t bad assumptions. However, I soon learned that my assumption were wrong.

As I had previously mentioned the art instructor had someone (more than one actually) in her family who was blind. So, that helped a lot. I explained to her my reservations, and she said she’d try to work with me. Which, she did.

The projects consisted of a lot of cutting. Which then turned in to a lesson how to teach left-handed people how to cut. Only because I’m left-handed, and I was holding the scissors wrong.

I had a scribe in there which helped also. He drew stuff when needed, and cut out things that I wasn’t sure I could. Such as shapes, and stuff. I knew I couldn’t see the lines to follow them, so he did it for me.

He also helped me pick out colors of construction paper. When we did our sewing project he helped me make sure I was sewing properly. Yes we did a sewing project in art for the elementary teacher. We made an angry bird.

When I was doing my project that I ended up using as my final presentation in there. He helped me out when I made mistakes. He also guided me in the beginning because I kept mixing up the over and under thing

Now for those presentations. We had to give at least three presentations. Two of them we got to sit at the table, and give them, but one we had to stand up. We had to actually teach a lesson, and she showed us how we should always have examples.

Because there were only seven or eight of us in the class. She made it sort of an informal thing. She just had us all meet around one of the back tables right before class each day. While there we completed a number of projects such as: the angry bird project, family portraits, self-portraits, and our final project. Our bird hat.

I think I really made the instructor think out of the box. When it came time for the family, and self-portraits. In the end she ended up having me make mine out of felt, and poster board. She and my scribe cut out my body, arms, hair ETC from the felt, and I placed where I thought they should go. The same thing was done with the family portrait.

Something that I found interesting. she used purple glue sticks. Instead of the regular ones. I don’t recall my art teacher ever doing that. Then again, I wasn’t in art for very long. She said it was because the kids could see the purple, and know how much glue they were putting on. Whereas, with the regular glue sticks they can’t. So they end up putting on more than what is needed.

She likes to say that I taught her, and the rest of my class a lot. I’m not denying that. I feel like that is my mission. 🙂 However, she taught me a lot as well. She taught me that art can be fun. Especially when the art teacher is willing to work with me. The blind person. I don’t mean sit there, and help me the whole class time. I mean come up with projects that I could do. Instead of wringing one’s hands, and saying “I don’t know what to do with her. I don’t know what to do.” Then, not taking anyone’s suggestions, or listening to what anyone had to say. Thank you art instructor. (here is where I would use her name… If I had gotten her permission for it. Except that I didn’t) I really, really, appreciate that you took the time to think outside of the box. 🙂

Thanks for reading!
P. S.. If you’re reading this. Thanks for having me in your class! 🙂

Trying something new: Online classes.

Hi everyone! So tomorrow I’m doing something I never thought I’d do. Or at the very least I said I was going to try, and avoid doing it.

What is it? I’m taking a couple of online classes. That avoiding doing it thing? Yeah… that worked until this semester. It turns out that the only way a couple of them are available is by taking them online. Boo hiss!

I’m really unsure what to expect. I’m not even sure if I’ll do alright in an online class. I’ve always felt better taking a class in the classroom.

The only class I’m really concerned about is my geography class. That’s because you have to label maps, and stuff. According to friends who’ve taken this class previously. At least the instructor knows about me, and as far as I know she is willing to work with me. Maybe she’ll have a solution that I don’t.

The other class I have to take that I’m worried about is an art class. At least that class will be taught in the classroom. I just hope the instructor comes up with some nonexclusive ways to modify her lessons. I hate being excluded from things because I feel like it takes away from my learning process.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. I don’t really have much to write about at the moment. I’ll be sure to update everyone on how the art class, and the online classes are going. As always, if you have ideas, suggestions ETC for what we should blog about/or make a podcast of. Please send them our way. Find our contact info on our contact us page, or in some recent blogs. Thanks for reading!

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Office of disabilities card

Hello!
I promised you I’d come back, and explain what the office of disabilities card is. What better day than to day… a monday, and college day. Here goes nothing.
Basically it’s this card that you’re suppose to take with you from class to class on the first day. It’s a laminated piece of paper. It has the Coordinator’s name as well as your name, student id number (used to identify you in college in the U. S.), and the ecomidations that your teachers/instructors/professors will need to make in order to teach you properly. It might contain things like “must sit in front of the room for listening purposes”
Only the office of disabilities can give you such a card. At least that’s how it works in my college. The purpose of us carrying it around is so the instructor/teacher/professor can match it to the copy they already have. As well as to match it with your face I’m assuming. They also use it to go over the ecomidations with you, and make sure they can understand them correctly At least I’m assuming that’s what their doing when they ask me questions. 🙂
Another thing is that the cards only last for two years. So after that if you’re still in college with that particular college you’d have to get it renewed. At least that’s how it works in the college I go to. If yours is different let me know. I’m actually really curious.
Thanks for reading!

The last straw!

I know that we normally do college stuff on Monday, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to post this story, so if you would please bare with me that’d be great. Here goes nothing!
A week or so ago we were in this heatwave thing. We had heat advisories, and everything. So, my dad decides that we’re going to go to class about 10-20 minutes early. Once we got there however, he discovered that there was another class happening in the classroom where I’d normally have class. (surprise, Surprise!) So we just stood in the hallway for a few minutes against the wall.
When we walked down the hallway my instructor came up to me, and said “I need to talk to you.” I said “Okay.” He proceeds to tell me that he was wrong, that he does in fact need to see my Office of disabilities card (more on that in another blog.), and that when I’d asked before he’d said that he honestly didn’t care, and meant it. (he’s an easy going guy.) He said that he’d gotten an email about it that morning, and asked that I show it to him when he came in the classroom. Before he walked away he said “I’ll be there in a few minutes.” (keep this in mind because I’ll come back to it later.) I agree, everything’s fine, and he walks away.
The next thing I know my dad’s walking away from me, and down the hall where my instructor is trying and failing to find something. (what he’s trying to find isn’t important to the story.) The next thing I hear is my dad asking “Did you need to see this card?” (refer to our conversation in the paragraph above.) So, the instructor starts looking at my card, and asking questions of… you guessed it… my dad. Also, what else was he suppose to do? I mean, my dad pretty much shoved the stupid card in his face.
Anyway, long story short. If you have to take your child to college/school for whatever reason let them advocate for themselves especially if they’re old enough too. I’d say start advocating for yourself (I’m talking to the children here, but this is also good advice for parents) as a teenager, perhaps younger, or slightly older. That is of course depending on both you, the parent/parents, and everyone else who could/should teach you how to advocate for yourself. I realize that you are mommy or daddy, but at this point (college) your child should know how to speak up for themselves. If they can’t speak up for themselves, that’s a completely different story. Most of all please pay attention. If your child just had a whole complete conversation with professor/instructor/teacher about what they need to give them, what they need to do, or whatever in the classroom don’t then go and pretty much undermine your kid. I’m speaking from experience when I say that it’s both annoying, and embarrassing for your child. It makes them feel less independent. Also, remember that once your child reaches college it is then their responsibility to complete their homework. Shouldn’t it then be their responsibility to make sure their accommodations are being met, to meet with professor/instructor/teacher if they have problems or questions, and most importantly shouldn’t they be responsible for everything that goes along with that?
Conclusion to the story:
In case anyone is wondering I came home, ranted to my mom, and she said she’d talk to my dad. Though, it probably should have been me I’m glad she did. So far he seems to be doing slightly better. There were other parts of the story that I didn’t include here because I didn’t feel like it was relevant to this blog, he’s still struggling with some of those things I think, and I can’t say for certain he won’t undermine me again. A situation like the one that presented itself a week or so ago hasn’t occurred yet.

A reflection over the physical science class I had last semester.

I’ve been contemplating doing this blog for a while. In part because I wasn’t sure if I had anything to say, or if I did how i would write it. However, after I thought about it for over a month now I’ve come up with some things that I wish either I or someone else had done differently. Before I get started I want to point out that none of these things listed below are no one in particular’s fault. In fact, I share the blame (if there’s any to go around) equally with everyone. I should have spoken up for myself, or in the case of number 3 become a computer programmer and invented a computer program that would work with any device on windows and Mac (hahaha) Now that I’ve made that clear here goes nothing!
1. I wish I’d asked for and received a braille periodic table. Because there is a unit in that course that focuses on the periodic table. When the instructor showed the print version (which he could pull down) I wish I’d had something to look at as well I had a parcial one that came with my braille science book in ninth grade, but it’s been so long since I was in school that my memory of it isn’t exactly clear.
2. I wish my Physical science book had been in braille. I think if I’d read it I would have comprehended more of the material rather than hearing it through text and speech programs.
3. I wish there was a way that you could take a lecture, and transfer the whole thing into words that could be written in a document. I know with at least one device it’s possible, but I use a Zoom h1. It would be easier then listening to 5 or six lectures per unit that are 3 and a half hours long in preparation for a test. This is what I did before each test.
Usually I do pretty good with audio, and I don’t mind using a text to speech program to read my textbooks, but for me there are at least two subjects where I’d rather read what I’m suppose to learn rather than hear it. Those subjects are math and science. Both of these are my two worst subjects, and as a future teacher I try really hard when it comes to these subjects.
I’m looking forward to the next semester, and I hope it brings me good grades, and teachers *clears throat* instructors… professors? who want to work with me. I have to say that it was kind of nice not to have to be the one that’s always experimented on because teacher/instructor/professor needs to learn how to teach a student, but needs someone to practice on. I don’t usually mind teaching the ones who want to learn, but on occasion it’s nice to have something of a break from it. 🙂
Thanks for reading!

So. Many. Assignments.

A while ago I told you that I would write a blog about how to deal with having multiple assignments due for one class. Since I forgot that I was suppose to do that it is now being done.
One thing I find that helps me is to remind myself when the tests are scheduled. This can be accomplished in a multitude of ways including: using the reminders feature on the iphone, starting a document and making a note of it, using the tasks feature on blackboard (if your college uses that), using a callendar to write down the dates an assignment is due, or using the schedule that your professor provides.
Note:
Even though I said “assignments” or “test” any of these options can apply for either assignments or tests.
Also I want to point out that if you use the schedule that your professor gives you (if you get one from them) please be aware that professors can change dates without changing on the schedule. So make sure you have it in a program, so that it can be edited. I know that’s comon sense, but sometimes we depend on our professor to do it. I know I did to a certain extent, and that is never a good thing to do.
I would reccomend that you get in the habbit of doing this during your first semester of college. Don’t wait until you have one of those semesters where everything is due at once, and you feel swamped. I learned a really good lesson by doing this during my spring semester, and I’m never doing that again.
If you have any other suggestions for this blog, feel free to let me know. 🙂
Also feel free to check out the about page called “favorite blogs” there’s some blogs on there you might be interested in. 🙂
If you’ve managed to make it this far without calling me stupid and closing this web page, thanks for reading! If you haven’t, then how are you seeing this. 😛

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