JAWS talking software uses a special command to do so much: Insert+4 is "Symbol to Print"
Open Word, turn JAWS on and have some fun

When you are in WORD and need to type all those fancy characters for Spanish….Insert+4 will bring up your Spanish symbols
¡Buenos días!
Adiós.
Hasta mañana.
¿Cómo está usted?
¿Qué tal?
or you speak a bit of Portuguese and need a cedilla mark: Açai

When you are in Math class, Insert+4 will bring up your math symbols
7 • 5


4÷2
5€
8×9


¾

and give you the ability to do those fancy symbols easily and quickly AND JAWS will say the names correctly

Insert+4 does so much more, so try it out!

Other lessons that will help teach

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2003 and XP  
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with JAWS  
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with Window EYES
 Eight lessons on Bookshare.org and JAWS  
 Everything you need to use GMAIL in basic HTML or standard view  
 SKYPE—for Regular Vision, Low Vision, and Blind  
 JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

 

I use this one particular method repeatedly because it serves me so well. Well, it actually serves my students well. Especially those who lose their sight later: Later is later than 3rd grade. You just need to employ different strategies to achieve the same goals.

One small example. A student came to me during the summer to gain Braille skills. He had been low vision trying to "do Braille" but poor vision gives poor speed.  He had learned most of the alphabet and a handful of contractions, but could not read Braille at all and had a difficult time remembering how to braille in general. I told him to close his eyes and feel…his fingers tuned in as his poor vision tuned out.  I had him place his fingers over top of mine as I placed my hands on the Braille sheet of words. I slowly moved my hands in the "butterfly" motion, which I call it, because your hands glide together across, split a few words in, and the right hand finishes the sentence and the left hand begins the next in a smooth floating motion…just like a butterfly. I increased the speed so he could feel the gentle and easy movement across the page. He had no idea it was that easy.

I told him he would be reading Braille by the end of summer if he would commit at least an hour, but I asked for 2 hours a day…Ok, I know in my head, what teenage boy is going to read for 2 hours a day in the summer, or really ever?..but I put it out there. I know with even a minimal amount of effort he can do it with the next method I use.

He first begins with brailling. He only brailles about himself. His life. What he likes or does not like. I have him braille 3-4 rows of the exact same words in a sentence, using all contractions. He first tells me the sentences he wants to use. I pick out all the contracted words and have him braille these first, over and over until his fingers start to flow. Then I have him braille the sentences. Example. I like to fish. (he will braille that for 3-4 rows–sometimes more depending on the ability of the child's learning patterns). Next row. I like to fish with my dad.
I have him use 11 x 11 paper, so really, only those 2 sentences fit on a page. He takes out what he has just brailled and positions his hands on the braille paper. At first, I need to help him read the page. However, by the second reading he can do it almost independently. Before he goes home for the day, he has his braille sheets to practice for the next couple of days along with flash cards of a brailled words that he had difficulty with in reading.

There are a couple things going on here. I need him to get the flow of his hands reading well so he cannot be struggling with reading the braille. That is where we get all those bad habits from; scrubbing the braille, flying fingers, 1 handed reading. The reading must be easy at first and if it is about the person, they remember. With the constant repetition of the words, he begins picking up the feel of the contraction and the word and flows through the page.

By the end of the summer, as in 2 months, he was reading Braille at 32 words per minute and he only practiced reading about 3 hours a week. On his final day of testing his skills, I asked him, "Are you surprised at how fast you can read Braille?" Very matter of fact, he said "No, you told me I could, so I expected it."

When he went back to his school, he emailed me and told me his teacher was very impressed with his braille reading ability, both ability to read it, but read it with a beautiful 2 handed flow.

Lessons that will help teach

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2003 and XP  
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with JAWS  
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with Window EYES
 Eight lessons on Bookshare.org and JAWS  
 Everything you need to use GMAIL in basic HTML or standard view  
SKYPE—for Regular Vision, Low Vision, and Blind  
JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

 

I have had many past students and people who just found me along the way ask why their Jaws does not work well with the Internet any more. As soon as I ask them what version of JAWS they are using, I have my answer.

In general, when you update the Internet, you need to update your Jaws. Example, when JAWS 7 was out, it ran great with Internet Explorer 7 (IE7), but then IE8 came out and if you did not update to JAWS 10 you would have problems. JAWS 11 worked even better with IE8 and JAWS 12 works great. So, if you would have purchased the upgrades when your purchased JAWS 10, you would be a happy camper because the upgrade fee would have been a lot cheaper than buying 3 whole new licenses.

Exceptions to the rule. However, when IE9 came out, JAWS 12 did not work well with it. IE9 needed a lot of work and JAWS worked on its updates also to make these 2 work together. Now it works well…but that took months.

In general, if your JAWS is working well with what you have, don't be anxious to update quickly. Let the companies work out the bugs in their hardware and software. Talk to people around you about their experiences and when you get the green light, update your JAWS and Internet together. And if you are having problems with your JAWS, it is most likely too old.

Lessons that help teach–Jaws 12 and above, where Jaws is indicated

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2003 and XP
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with JAWS
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with Window EYES
Bookshare.org and JAWS-Eight lessons to get you moving
GMAIL- Everything you need to use in basic HTML or standard view
SKYPE—for Regular Vision, Low Vision, and Blind
JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

 

 

I have many browsers on my machine as each one does something different…some very annoying features and some fantastic.

When I want a great virtual connection with video plugins and there is not a blind child on the other end, but I will be joining a meeting, I go Chrome. It truly is a fast browser. However, if I try to turn JAWS on while Chrome is open…. JAWS will NOT open. As soon as I close Chrome, JAWS starts chatting away. Let's just say there are compatibility issues here.

Internet Explorer (IE) offers some good features and in general, you can move around quite easily and get to where you want to go. There are hotkeys for almost everything and in general, it is very friendly. However, if you want to do video plugins, for example, Google chat or video plugins, JAWS in general will tell you what you are typing, if you hit backspace he may just say blank, blank, blank. When someone replies to you, you will NOT hear what is typed. So there are inaccessible features with IE and JAWS.

For a great browser that makes a huge majority of things accessible where they would not be, Firefox is it. Example, if you want to chat using Gmail, you hear everything you type, JAWS repeats the letters you erase, AND you hear everything the other person is typing. JAWS will even tell you someone is texting you and JAWS will tell you who it is. Firefox keystrokes can take you far and wide easily with JAWS.

Safari is completely inaccessible…well, you can fool it in some places, but forget it, and it is too much work.

However, none of the browsers offers you keystrokes to access video. Shameful!

So what should a blind person do if they want to video chat to their Mom and Dad in France or Argentina? Or a student to teach?…enter SKYPE. You can download special JAWS scripts to allow JAWS to talk everything in SKYPE. You can make calls, video, chat, add contacts, you name it, all for free, even calling thousands of miles away. When someone is texting you, SKYPE tells you their name and you hear a typing sound as they type in their text. When they hit enter and send the text to you, you hear everything in the text. You can disconnect and connect with ease. You can do everything you want using JAWS.

So for now, or at least with the knowledge I have right now, I find SKYPE to be the best in video, chat, text, and all features accessible with JAWS though it is not a browser but a great addition to browsers: Internet Explorer is good for a huge majority of surfing and Firefox if you just want everything accessible…or at least most things.

A student came to me when she was 16 years old. She had spent years trying to keep a brain tumor at bay, until one day, she woke and the majority of her sight was gone. She could no longer do the world visually. She was very depressed at first because she really wanted to graduate with her class and it was only a couple years away. But her hopelessness quickly transitioned into hope as she learned her blind skills.

She flew on the technology but resisted braille. She loved math though and was clearly unsure how to do it blind. We started with Nemeth code, NOT braille. She learned Nemeth very quickly and sailed through her math classes. Little did she know, she was learning the Braille code along with her Nemeth. When I finally got her to try a Braille book, she was a bit surprised how well she read the book.

Yes, I taught her braille going through the back door of ease versus the front door of resistance. Once a child gets something in their head of whether they will or will not do something, it is not worth the fight. As teachers, we need to bring them along on the journey by showing them how they can do their favorite things. Then the child discovers that they inadvertently learned what you wanted them to learn in the first place.

Lesson that helps teach

Braille Note Lessons to take you through the Basics to more advanced skills

Today I figured out a new feature in JAWS Tandem. JAWS Tandem is where I connect to people far away and can teach them a lesson virtually on their computer–I had guessed I could do this special trick, but did not have a chance to try it until today.

As one student was working on her Nemeth, reading from her book and inputting answers on her computer, we ran long on our time and she needed to go. She did not have time to email it off to herself to complete from home. She was working on a computer at school as her laptop had gone down the day before. So here comes the magic, I copied her work and pasted it to my computer, saved it and emailed it to her, so when she got home, she could open her email, download her homework and continue working on it.

With another student, somehow she managed to have many font sizes on her math work that she was working on during the day. It looked very odd, so I tried this feature again, by copying it off her computer and pasting it to my WORD on my computer. I have 2 monitors, so literally I can work off one while still be connected on the other. I figured out the problems on the page, then copied it off my computer and placed it back on hers all within 30 seconds. When I pasted it back, I then showed her what she had done to make it look so odd. The "ah ha" moment came and now she knows what NOT to do next time.

I still have that incredibly happy glow….as I just finished the last lesson of the day and just had to share the wonderful magic with all of you.

Lessons to help you teach

JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

GMAIL- Everything you need to use in basic HTML or standard view

Remote Access using SKYPE

SKYPE—for Regular Vision, Low Vision, and Blind

Skype texting and making a Video Call—with additional JAWS scripts

Skype texting and making a Video Call—no additional JAWS scripts

GMAIL-Google Talk, Firefox, and Chat

One of my older students is taking geometry, which has a lot of algebra and our wonderful Pythagorean Theorem. I went over the basics of the calculator on her laptop during the summer so she would be familiar with it when the time came to use it in class.

During our sessions, I always try to begin homework with the students so they know how to tackle it when they get home. She has a great spatial understanding of how to layout math problems, taking it from Nemeth and putting it in print, so it is just doing all the long calculations to get the correct answer that is required. The one attached to the computer is fully accessible to the talking software and is free, versus buying a scientific calculator for almost $300 somewhere else.

She would read from her Geometry Nemeth book, calculate the answer in her head as she typed it out on the computer, and then she would recheck her answer on the calculator. She grew in her confidence of finishing answers more quickly because now she had a way to double check her work to make sure she truly had the correct answer.

Get list at:  Calculator shortcut keys — This is free for download

As I set up and teach my students about SKYPE or Google Video, I often hear the phrase, "I don't need video because I'm blind!"

I remind them of our lessons on "looking people in the face," when talking to them, standing and walking tall and confident, and making that personal connection. It is the same principal. Sighted people want to "see" you. To make a good impression, we need to hold ourselves in a certain way and with the majority of people being sighted, they want to see, so let's be SEEN.

Even when I virtually meet with people around the country: Given a choice of whether we do just voice over a phone or video conferencing, across the board, people want video. It does not matter that you cannot see someone; video is like standing next to them, making that connection, almost like a touch. It is getting outside ourselves and thinking about what works best for that other person. Then finding a way to make it happen and accomplishing so much more in the process.

Lessons to help teach

GMAIL- Everything you need to use in basic HTML or standard view

Remote Access using SKYPE

SKYPE—for Regular Vision, Low Vision, and Blind

Skype texting and making a Video Call—with additional JAWS scripts

Skype texting and making a Video Call—no additional JAWS scripts

GMAIL-Google Talk, Firefox, and Chat

J was in middle school a year before I had met him. He had an incredible Special Education Teacher who noticed that he was getting closer and closer to his pages of work as the months went on. She also noticed that he would not walk around in any dark places. She convinced the parents to take him to an eye doctor and sure enough, he came back with a diagnosis of Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).

There was no Teacher of the Blind in the area, so the Special Ed teacher did the research on the Internet to pull a program together for him to start teaching him Braille. A year later, I enter the scene greatly impressed with what she created. She knew someone blind so she knew how to position his fingers on the braille sheet and brailler and she picked out a wonderful Braille program called "The Braille Connection" for children who knew print but were transitioning to Braille. J had learned many letters and some contractions, but his progress was slow. J was several grade levels behind his peers and struggled with learning. He was one of the kindest gentlest people I have ever met and he had many friends. His special ed. teacher was incredibly fond of him as all people in the building and really wanted to see him succeed so was really hoping there were more tricks to teaching students braille.

He had been very active in sports but started missing the ball; or rather, the ball started hitting him because he could not see it coming. When I talked with him, he said that he noticed something funny about his seeing years ago but never said anything to his family. His family was very poor and their focus was on survival. He just did not want to burden them.

One of the biggest challenges was J did not want anyone to know he was losing his sight and he said he would not do any blind skills outside the room. This is why he was learning slowly, he only spent 1 hour a day learning blind skills at school. But, I combined his learning of hard copy braille and the brailler with the Braille Note. As soon as he put his fingers on the Braille Note, brailled a letter and it gave him verbal feedback as well as tactile, he was hooked. He was so hooked that he wanted to take it home and practice. He knew he could succeed because the Braille Note told him what he was brailling and if he made a mistake, it was easy to correct. Within 2 years, he had learned the Braille code. This child labeled "slow" learned the whole Braille code in 2 years.

To challenge him, I would give him Braille to read and he would either input it into Duxbury or the Braille Note…This is the way he did homework also. Then he got hard copy braille reading practice and brailling practice at the same time. While in school, he always wanted to use Duxbury. He could enlarge it enough to see the braille, so what he was seeing matched the braille display hooked to the computer and to what he was hearing with JAWS. With him "seeing" the braille, then hearing it, then touching it, he was able to excel in his learning.

I have discovered there are many children that need multiple ways to learn one thing. By giving a myriad of options, people excel in the process.

Lessons that will help teach

Bookshare.org and JAWS-Eight lessons to get you moving

GMAIL- Everything you need to use in basic HTML or standard view

SKYPE—for Regular Vision, Low Vision, and Blind

JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

  TRACK CHANGES for students and teachers

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2003 and XP

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with JAWS

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with Window EYES

 

Oh so many years ago, leading up to my braille certification, I killed a LOT of trees in the process. I would braille hours every night after school and after work in order to learn that code. Using 11 x 11 paper and a great deal of it.

Today, things have changed tremendously. People who want to learn how to braille can download Perky Duck, which is free and is a minor program compared to its parent Duxbury, which is a very powerful and superb braille to print, print to braille translation program, but cost money. I also use the Library of Congress Braille Handbook and many supplements for my adult students to work from. They six key in their work, then email it off to me for correction. In this process, we save hundreds of trees. When there are too many students, I have them sign up with the Library of Congress, which the National Federation of the Blind has taken over in the correction and helping mode. They too are set up to receive everything through email and they respond using email also, with a grade and or corrections that need to be made.

When taking the Braille certification test, you can use your reference manuals. When I take them through the lessons, I have them mark the sections and underline the areas they are struggling with, so when the test comes and they are unsure, they can quickly turn to the answer in their book. A great supplement to the classes is the Braille Enthusiast's Dictionary. It has every word and contraction you can think of that may be in text.

When my students are preparing for the test I have them braille it out in Perky Duck or Duxbury to get an electronic copy. Then they move to the brailler and braille another copy out. Next, they compare their hard copy to the electronic copy. Proofreading your own work is one of the hardest things for students. It was for me too, so it is great with these new techniques to use to double check your work. If they are really in doubt, they rebraille another copy on Perky Duck or Duxbury. When they are practicing their proofreading or slate n stylus, once again, they can use Perky Duck to braille out all the different options they believe it to be.

I have had more people pass their braille certification quicker using these methods versus not using them. Using everything at our disposal gives us a better idea of how to help our students too. Many methods, mean more success, for more people.

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