A new challenge

Every so often my academic life gets a little challenging. I’m not talking about taking on too much because I am unable to say no because trust me, I know how to say no. I’m not talking about the social aspect (What are parties) lol. I’m not even talking about having a new roommate though I hear that can certainly be challenging.

I’m talking about being given an assignment that you’ve never heard of and not knowing how you’re going to complete it. For me such an assignment came this semester. I have to complete something called a reading inventory. Apparently it’s a book of tests that you have to give to a student that you pull out of class. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand how to give it. The problem is that I’m not sure how I’m going to give it.

Let me explain. In order to give this reading test to the student one has to be able to read along while observing how they read (mistakes, skip over words, put in new words, look at you for help etc). The problem is that I can’t read it (I have a screen reader). The problem is that I can’t read with a screen reader and listen to someone talk/read at the same time. This is definitely where a braille display (that I don’t have) could come in handy.

my question

Have you done anything like this before without a braille display? How? Do you have any suggestions I can use for this and any future assignments? if so, they’d be greately appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

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. πŸ™‚ 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!

Do you think you know more than me?

Earlier I was asking a friend who also writes for this blog about a paper I have to write. We started talking about how Jaws in particular doesn’t say “0.5 inches” when using the tab key. I should point out that NVDA doesn’t either. Anyway, that reminded me of a story, and I’m not sure if I ever posted it on here. Therefore, I’m telling it here. If I have posted it on here, sorry!

When I was in high school I had this English teacher who in my opinion thought she knew more than me. One day I walked into class, and she told that my paper wasn’t formatted correctly. Okay, no problem. It should have ended there, right?

She could have stopped there, and I could’ve not said something about jaws not saying “0.5 inches” when the tab key is pressed. Instead I did, and she said “I called the Missouri school for the blind, and they said that the margins are accessible.” Here I’d like to point out that all I’d said in response was that jaws says random numbers when tab is pressed. I said “Okay, but jaws still says random numbers when the tab key is pressed.” Long story short she continued to argue with me about until lunchtime.

I think it was a miss-understanding. I think if she would have asked about the tab key instead of the margins she would have understood what I meant. It would’ve saved me a lot of trouble.

another story happened with her that same year. At that time I had all of my textbooks in Braille. That spring in early April the school flooded, and the room where my books were got flooded as well. Some of my books including a volume of a literature book I needed got ruined. She argued with me about that one as well. I tried to explained that it got ruined by the water, and she kept saying that I had it. Um… how are you suppose to read a water-logged Braille textbook. I mean, you can’t read a print one, and Braille is a lot like that. Once the pages are stuck together, and the Braille dots pressed down to the point that they’re unreadable, good luck!

what I really wanted to ask here that day, and the day of the tab key incident is if she thought she was smarter than me. Me, who had used this product for years, and me, who had read Braille for years. Does a little knowledge do that to her head? Wow!

Teachers I beg of you, don’t do this to your students. Don’t assume that just because you’re a little older, went to college, called someone, or whatever it is that you know more than them. Don’t just automatically assuming the student is lying because they want to get out of work. If she would’ve known me as well as she thought she would’ve known that I wasn’t. I just wanted to get my diploma, and get out of there. So that I could attend college, and move on with the rest of my life. Remember, and think about the impact that you leave on your students. Because this is what I remember about her most. Not the funny jokes she told, not anything else she could’ve/or did do in the classroom that year, and I certainly I don’t remember any other conversation we had. Just this! Two incidents that I will never forget.

the lesson that I hope all teachers will take from this is to never assume that you know more than the student. Maybe ask for a demonstration of what they’re telling you, or ask why they say what they said. I offered to do a demonstration, and she wouldn’t let me. My goal in writing this is to help all teachers become a better teacher. You can do it! I have faith in you. Thanks for reading!

A source that could help teachers who teach blind or visually impaired students.

Since I am in the education field I often get asked how to teach this or that to a blind or visually impaired student. I try to answer the questions as best as I can. Sometimes I feel like my answers just aren’t good enough. Because I only know about “My” blindness, and what works for me. It doesn’t mean that what works for me will work for everyone though.

I came across this link while doing research on a paper that I have to write. I thought teachers who teach the blind or visually impaired students may find this useful. It does not matter whether you are a regular classroom teacher, or if you teach special education.

It contains links to multiple subjects (they call them folders). These include: math, physical education, geography, and more. For more information: please click here to read all that they have to offer.

Thanks for reading!

I gotta have a print version too?

Apparently I do. I gotta have the print version of all of my textbooks before I can get the same textbooks in an accessible formatt that I can read. Why is this? Apparently it’s something to do with copyright laws, or something.

The short end of the story is that I’ve never had to order my own books. I just went to the college’s bookstore (when I attended classes on campus), and they helped me out. So, I’m completely lost. I have no clue what I’m doing. I still wish I didn’t have to buy print editions just to get one that I can read. That makes absolutely no sense to me. I can understand it if they have to scan it in, and create a P. D. F. or whatever. But getting those formatts from the publisher? I don’t understand the logic behind that one.

I guess I’ll keep trying until someone helps me out. I emailed the person in charge of the office of disabilities at my new college. So, we’ll see what happens. Now I’m going to go work on homework, and try not to think about giving myself a headache.

Thanks for reading!

Applying to college? My experience

I recently applied to complete my b/s in special education. I guess I didn’t realize how the admissions process works. So, I’m blogging about it for anyone who may be curious.

When I applied for my a/a in general education I had no clue about the applications process. I wasn’t exactly enthused about this college because it was actually the second one that I applied to. That being said, I don’t remember anything about the process.

My first worry about this application wa,s was it accessible? The answer, surprizingly was yes. All six pages of it. Which I completed.

Then, comes the waiting part. Was I excepted? I couldn’t wait to find out. What felt like forever had passed before I got the letter. However it was only a few days. I was excepted. *dances*

When my mom opened it she tried to tell me that I wasn’t excepted. Then, she said “April Fools!” I said: “This isn’t the time for jokes, and this isn’t April.” She thought that was funny.

Then came sending in my college transcript. I tried several times, but couldn’t get it to work. Finally today I figured out that the college was trying to charge me a fee. Note to all future college students. When requesting a college transcript keep plenty of money in the bank for this reason. Thank goodness I had the money. πŸ™‚

Then, I had to switch my financial aid over. That turned out to be more accessible than I thought it was. All this time of having the previous college’s financial aid office help me. *sigh* Anyway, I got it all done, and I’m proud to say that I’m now a college student.

I’m still so excited to be a college student, and I can’t wait to continue my journey. If you’re a new college student see this link. I wish I’d had something around when I first started college. πŸ™‚

Reflection of my Geography: Western world class

I have debated writing a blog about this. I think I’ve finally decided to do this. So, let’s have it. Here goes nothing!

I kind of liked this class. I went into it feeling really nervous. Because my friends had told me what to expect. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete the map project. (a series of maps that is part of your grade in that class.) I worried about how I was going to do the tests. I worried about whether or not the tests had maps, or pictures that needed to be described. All before the first day of class I should point out that this was an online class. I would have taken one in the classroom, but there wasn’t one available.

*first day of class* *takes the attendance quiz to let the instructor know that I was going to be participating in the class. So I wouldn’t be dropped* A few weeks later: *gets email about the test. *asks instructor through replies how I’m going to take the test Tells her that I’m blind.* *continues to look for the book in any other textbook format other than print. Wants to read it on my own.* Instructor: *responds that she wasn’t told that I would be joining her class, and that I was blind. Apologizes. Asks if there’s anything I need. How do I usually take my tests?* Me: * feels really bad for not emailing her on the first day, and letting her know about my disability. Tells her how I usually take my test.* Instructor: *says she’ll send the test over to where I usually take them.*

Test time: *bad weather hits. Causing the cancelation of all classes* A couple of weeks later just about: Me: *emails instructor to ask about test.* Instructor. *admits she forgot, and apologizes* Me: *eventually takes first test. Passes.*

Map project due: Me: *panics* How am I going to do this? Me: *emails instructor with problem.* Instructor: *admits when didn’t think about it, and that she’d work on it* I should point out here that I had a few weeks before it was due. Also, I was use to being in the presence of a teacher. So, it didn’t even occur to me to email her about my blindness.

My alternative for the map project when it finally comes in is going to be turned in a little later than everyone else’s it, but that’s alright. I have her permission to do this. She tried several ideas with the office of disabilities coordinator, but none of them worked out. Finally they just had to order a Braille atlas. It was in Grade one Braille. Someone please tell me that there’s a grade two world atlas floating out there somewhere?

Now, here’s where it gets complicated. Instead of working with the only employee at the school who knows Braille, or pulling in another blind student who may or may not know how to work the embosser in the music room. She prints out all of the labels. Now admittedly, the college employee only knows grade one Braille, but I’ll take, and be grateful for whatever I get.

Yeah. You heard that. She used print labels. The whole time I was finding whatever I was suppose to find. I was thinking: “What if I had no sighted help, and no way of getting it?” I’m sure that someone at the college would’ve helped me, but print labels? I want to do as much as possible by myself. *cries inside* I don’t even like having someone read a print book to me. unless I absolutely can’t find it in another format

In all though, it was a good class. The instructor was grate about working with me. I mean she even had alternatives set up in case I needed help. You know, just in case no one was around to help me. Which, was grate in itself.

Geo instructor! If for some reason, somehow you come across this. Please know that I appreciated you helping me. While I would’ve loved to read my own textbook, or complete the map project by myself. I understand that you can’t think of everything. I hope that by reading this, or by my being in your class. You’ve learned something about blind people that you didn’t know before, and will apply it to your next blind student. Because really, that’s why I do these reflections. So, that anyone who is in the field of teaching can learn from others, or my experiences.

Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading!

Circle weaving.

I’m fortunate to have an art teacher who’s had a blind person in their family before. I say that because I think that helped her be more creative. Plus she consulted me, which is a plus

Having said that. I want to talk about one of my projects I did in art for the elementary teacher. It was actually pretty cool.

It started out as an alternative project that she gave me because I couldn’t do what everyone else was doing. It turned into one of my presentations. What was it? Circle weaving.

It was pretty easy to do, and it was enjoyable. So I thought that the others in my class might enjoy it too.. Except that I got frustrated because I kept making mistakes, and had to unravel what I’d done in order to fix them. Here’s the basic process. You have a cardboard loom, so that’s step one. Step two is yarn about 2 strands. Step 3 If you’re right handed I think you go clock wise around the loom. If you’re left-handed like me, then you need to go counter-clock wise. Step 4. You go over and under, so you start at the beginning of the loom, and you go over that section, then under the next one. Maybe it will be better explained in a video somewhere. Oh! Don’t forget to tie a knot in the yarn before you start in order to tie the two pieces together. Tape the tail down to the middle of the loom, then cut off the tail before you start. (Don’t cut off the knot) I don’t guess how big doesn’t matter, but we used three feet for our yarn, which is from your nose to the tips of your fingers I think.

Anyway I decided to use it as a presentation. In this class you have to give 3 presentations complete with lesson plans.

Why did I put this on here? I thought it might be fun to try with kids, or for blind people who just like that sort of thing. Even if you don’t. Give it a try. A note: I’d probably do this with seventh and eighth grade aged children. You can relate it to math concepts such as: Parallel, Perpendicular, to teach angles such as right ETC. (this of course is depending on the type of weaving you’re doing)

Plus it can help that blind student get a grasp of things such as the ones mentioned above. It’s something we can feel, and if you do it right. They can make something like a container that they can use. πŸ™‚

Thanks to my art teacher who inspired this blog, and to everyone else who is reading this right now. I’m running out of school related stuff again, so if you have something. Please speak up. πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading!

Don't cut yourself.

As most of you already know. I’m taking an art class. It’s called Art for the elementary teacher. If you didn’t know, I’m taking an art class called Art for the elementary teacher. loll.

It’s going better than expected. It turns out that the teacher had someone in her family who was blind. While that is kind of cool. I’m still having to teach her stuff.

If I had a picture of a pair of scissors I’d place it here. Unfortunately, I don’t. So you’ll just have to imagine one.

You know how when you’re little your mom tells you not to do certain things. Such as, don’t touch the stove, it’s hot. Don’t play with matches inside the house. Don’t run in the house, and my favorite Don’t cut yourself

The first time I had to use scissors in the art class I thought the teacher was going to panicky. I’m not really sure why, but I’ve always held the scissors backwards when I cut. People have showed me how to hold them, but it never felt right. I suppose it didn’t help though, that most scissors are made for right handed people, and I’m left handed.

So, after showing me the proper way to cut. I start using my fingers to feel which way I’m cutting. Pretty normal, right? Except the next thing I hear is the art teacher saying “Don’t cut yourself.” Okay then?

I mean, it’s not like I’m going to just be cutting, and all of a sudden go “This looks like a good weapon.” *stab* *insert picture of bleeding finger here*

Okay, I understand that she panics. However, telling me “Don’t cut yourself.” Over and over again makes me… panicky, and annoyed. Trust me! That is not a good thing

Believe it or not. I actually do know how to use scissors properly. I know better than to stab myself (on purpose, or other wise) I taught myself to move my fingers out of the way when I cut. I mean, I may hold the scissors the wrong way, but I know better than to cut myself. One cut in elementary school taught me that much.

During today’s class I accidently nicked her finger. I haven’t been using my fingers when I cut. Instead she’s been using hers. (Oops!) No blood was shed, so that was good. I really did feel bad for doing that though.

Thanks for reading!

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