Thursday, December 13, 2012

Accessibility Matters in Schools

Imagine an elementary classroom. The teacher passes out a worksheet. When it gets to the blind student the child can't read the worksheet because its not in Braille. The teacher didn't get the assignment to the TVI (Teacher of Blind & Visually Impaired) in time.  The rest of the classroom starts working on the assignment perhaps together.  The blind student goes to a quiet part of the classroom with a paraprofessional and the para reads the worksheet to the student. The answers are given orally. The students misses out on much the assignment.  The student didn't get reading or writing practice.  They missed out on part of the classroom discussion because they were on the sidelines. The student doesn't feel part of the lesson.  The student didn't get the same education as his/her peers.  

Thankfully I can say this doesn't happen very often for Abby.  She has a great team. and almost all items for her are Braille. (there always seems to be some stray item).  Abby's classroom teacher, TVI, paraprofessional and case manager all know its very important for Abby to have assignment in accessible format. For Abby that is Braille. She simply can't see text at all.  Abby goes to a great school.

Abby reading a book in Braille (alt text: a girl is outside reading a book in braille)

Let me tell you another story.  

Let me take you back to the beginning of this school year.  Abby's class starts to prepare for state-wide testing for the first time.  The class breaks into groups and go over over a practice test. Abby has a practice test and hers in Braille.  She is able to be  an equal part of the group assignment because she could read and access to the the same materials as her classmates.  She comes home EXCITED for the big test to start. This is what happens when accessibly for all in a classroom WORKS.   

There is so many things that can make a blind child feel isolated in a classroom but it should never be because of inaccessible content. 

The National Federation of the Blind protested yesterday at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle WA.Why?  Amazon's Kindle content and hardware is inaccessible to the blind. Maybe you are asking yourself why should it matter? Amazon is private company. Maybe you are even thinking... while accessibly is a great thing and other companies like Apple have made its content and hardware accessible to the blind  Amazon does HAVE to. I completely understand that side of the argument  till you get to one very big point. As soon as you bring its inaccessible content and hardware to schools its just down right wrong.  Amazon has decide to make a big push to get inaccessible Kindle content and hardware into classrooms. These actions are encourage schools to break the law. 

Now imagine the classroom with inaccessible Kindle content and hardware.  Now look back at my first story.  Its the same tale only replacing the inaccessible worksheet with the inaccessible Kindle. No its worse. The blind student will also lose out on the  experience of using the cool gadget.  This isolating the blind student even more than before. Please find out more about the NFB protest and its important issues at

A blog from the teachers point of view -Without a Classroom : Kindle Books For All :

A video on the issue.  



Anna said...

I'd like you to know you have a new "follower". Looking forward to reading more and learning through your experiences.

PletcherFamily said...

Hey there! I nominated you for a Liebster Award. Someone nominated me (another mommy of a blind child) and so I thought of you right away!

If you want to try it, go to my blog - and just follow the rules. It is pretty fun. No pressure!

Hope you are well.