Teaching Nemeth Code (braille math, for all you sighted people out there) is brought to life using Duxbury (a braille translation program) with a braille display and JAWS.

As students 6 key braille in the math problems, on a regular keyboard, Jaws speaks what they are brailling. Then they move their hands down to the braille display to check the problem and the answer. Using all these tools also makes it fun. Students will easily do math if it involves technology versus on a brailler. The keys are also a whole lot easier to push.

After the braille lesson, I take the exact same problems and we go to WORD and I teach them how to type out all the symbols and special features of math.

They now have a braille copy for themselves which they also open up on their braille note to study from, a print copy for themselves, so when the kids correct each others papers, they can correct the blind students also–using TRACK CHANGES (which automatically makes corrections in the paper when someone edits, and the blind student can easily read using JAWS) and their teacher has a final copy sent to them by the blind student in email. Math made magical!

Watch Video: Braille Note, Nemeth, Scientific Calculator

Lessons that help teach:

TRACK CHANGES for students and teachers

Duxbury 11.1 or higher: creating a Nemeth lesson for a speed timing in class

One of my virtual connections is in Belize. She is a Mom has a little girl and is trying to find out what to do to help her succeed. Recently, it has been my honor to help her little part of the world get set up with the technology needed for blind children. She works for the government and so has some power to make things happen. I often find this very interesting how people in power can make great things happen when they are faced with something different in their lives. They can also make bad things happen…but we are on a good road here.

In our own country Norte Dame had a professor with a blind wife and he made sure they had a great program for anyone who came their for education who happen to be blind. Another in power working for good.

Well, it just hit me today as my Belize mom and I were talking that I had never gotten her in contact with my students so she could ask them questions. Problem solved. She is now hooked up with one of my older and gifted students (will I guess I believe all my students are gifted-smile) to ask all the questions she needs. This connection has given her the vision into the future of possibilities for her little one. We all need a good vision of what we can do. Make those connections.

We learn more from our failures than our successes. I tell my kids that constantly. It is never bad to fail, but it is insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Learn from your mistakes and then CHANGE.

For the past 9 months I HAD been working with a web design firm that could not do what they said they could. They said it would be done in a month. Nine months later and still with incredible problems…I fired them.

Enter a new and incredibly talented designer…fortunately a friend also so the connection was fast as I told him about my web designer problems. He said he would take it on. Within a day of design, he had accomplished more than the people who worked on it for nine months. AND, his site already works beautifully with talking software.

Lesson: I learned a lot. If something is not working within the time frame someone says it should…CHANGE. I should NOT have waited 9 months and kept giving them chances when they proved over and over they could not do the job.

I see my students and their families doing this. My families made huge changes. They were in districts where the people there could not do what they said they could do…so they CHANGED. They asked around and then landed on my door step. Now, because of all the advances in technology I am able to reach far and wide. The parents who worked for a CHANGE got it and now their children are learning the blind skills needed to become independent.

Remember, it is insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Learn from your mistakes, then make CHANGE.

Talking software is not only great for blind and low vision students but for anyone with an inability to read print. I have had the pleasure of working with sighted children that had dyslexia, or some form of inability to read text.

I have used regular talking software and software that highlights the word as the talking software reads the print. In this way the child can follow the words as they are read to him.

Another great component of talking software is when the child is typing spelling words or trying to write a paper, there are commands to get the talking software to read back a letter, a word, the whole sentence, paragraph, etc.

I have seen children go from "not even on grade level" to their grade level within a short period of time. The joy when they are first exposed to the talking software and the hope they gain that they will have the possibility of reading and being able to do their own work, elates them.

Many of the commands and lessons I do with my blind/low vision students, I also do with any reading challenged individual. A reading challenge is a reading challenge whether you are sighted or blind.

Lessons that 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

 

Your Brain is what Sees
I have been reading "The Brain that Changes Itself" by Dr. Doidge over the past year…and rereading it. Research states that when you do not have vision, the touch and hearing part of the brain will take over for the visual cortex. For low vision children, if you blind fold them, they will learn quicker as their brain will tune into their fingers and hearing. If the child tries to use their poorest sense … their eyes, their hearing and touch will never be honed and they will be slower than their potential.

Researchers took completely sighted adults and blindfolded them and within a week, their touch and hearing took over their visual cortex and they could begin reading braille. Yes, when the blind folds were taken off the eyes completely regained control of the visual cortex. The power of the brain is incredible.

Researchers discovered that you do not need your eyes to see. It is the brain that sees. Whether the eyes, ears, or touch, whatever sense you have the brain will utilize and take over the visual cortex. If you lose your sight, you can train your hearing and touch to "SEE" like your eyes, and that is what gives you vision. It only takes practice. I have known and know people like this. They are the ones that have influenced the way I teach.

I see this all the time. My completely blind or almost completely blind students do the best because they tune in with their ears and fingers. They are the best in braille and technology and figuring things out tactually. The students who are low vision, struggle with the braille and other blind skills because they want to use their eyes–in general. They use the talking software but try and use their eyes. The result is they type slower than the completely blind children who are totally tuned into their ears and therefore their fingers are flying. Even if you look at totally sighted people, the fastest typists are those that never look at the keys.

It is the low vision children who have ambition and dreams for their lives, who call me years after graduation and ask for help in getting the training they need and realize it was a mistake not to take the blind skills seriously when in school. …something to think about.

As my students gain in knowledge, they are able to do more virtual interaction.

Today, I have students texting, video chatting, skyping, facebooking and emailing me. Students from hundreds of miles away to thousands of miles away. Ages 6th grade to 21 years old. My 21 year old is very advanced in his skills and very gifted with technology. He did not start technology instruction until he was 16, but took to it like a duck to water. He can just ask for any type of lesson and I know he can pretty much handle any detail with that lesson. As I sent him lessons on how to download video chat and texting for gmail, he suggested I add scripts to Skype to enhance all its features.

After creating a lesson on scripts for Skype, which makes every component accessible and enhances the fun, I sent that lesson off to another student. She needed help on the lesson, since she is only in 6th grade, so she texted me and I brought her computer up on my screen with Jaws tandem then added SKYPE and within minutes her issues were fixed and she was hearing all the joys of Jaws with her Skype. We then disconnected and she contacted one of her friends with the new enhancements of SKYPE. She later sent me a text saying how much she loved this feature because she no longer had to struggle over using the mouse—and when we started, that is all she wanted to use—hmmmm, can we say eye fatigue!!

Another student calls me through SKYPE from thousands of miles away and I was able to help him with downloading JAWS and real speak voices. Within minutes he has his lesson. Another student asks how to access something in Facebook. A quick response and she is off adjusting.

The excitement every time one learns one more thing to make their lives easier just keeps me going. No one should feel isolated any more with this great technology. When you need help or a friend, it is there. Not only do the students contact me, they contact each other, creating their own social network.

Lessons to help teach

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

JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

 

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

 

I have known B a long time. He started his education with me in kindergarten. For 6 years he learned braille and technology and was one of the kids near the top of his class. Then he moved away to a place where everyone was put on CCTV's (closed circuit TV) which enlarges all his work. He slowly went down that ladder of academic success. The school started cutting his work in half because he could not finish it and worse, he started failing. He lost all his braille, technology, and cane skills…really all blind skills…and now was a failing low vision student.

After a couple of years, his parents asked if he could come back to live with us. His behavior was a major issue when he came. He had developed the skill of just getting into trouble all time, picking fights with kids and ignoring everyone. Suspension was a norm in his life. I was guessing this was his way of getting back at the world for his loss of sight. He was disruptive because he knows he is smart but had no way to do the work.

Two years is a long time to be away from blind skills and we had to start over at square one. He quickly caught up with the technology and that became his main tool. The braille came slower and he hid his cane when he got to school. In two years he had significantly increased in skills and went back to live with his family. We emailed & phoned and kept in contact. His blind skills were going away quickly once again due to the lack of blind services where he lived.

Today we had a long chat over SKYPE. He is in college now and REALLY struggling. Help! Help! was loud and clear. He can't do college. Everything is enlarged and he uses a magnifier to see the print. It is too slow. He can't get through the work. We discussed many options, but he knows he must relearn JAWS and his blind skills if he is going to succeed in life. The next conversation will be about the training center for the blind….but that is to come.

Lessons that help teach

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

JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

 

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

 

A beautiful young lady with long golden hair came into my district at 16. I can picture her and her mom with their translator sitting across the table from me. They were from Ukraine. She had come to America for medical care and had been living with a family in Pennsylvania while going through treatment. Fortunately, her family got a VISA to come to the US also and now they were together again after years of separation.

The young lady had lost almost all sight and vision of who she was by 16. She knew a few words of English and her family knew none. At our first meeting I could see she was very depressed and her mother incredibly concerned and fearful. At our first lesson, her first English words to me were, "I want to die, blind people can't do nothing." It broke my heart, but I could clearly understand the desperation and sadness in her voice.

She had never touched a computer and knew nothing about technology. I started from square one teaching her computer skills at school. She learned English very quickly due to the JAWS talking software. We added Russian Jaws, which fortunately she knew Russian also, to give her the ability to check her work after she typed it in English. Within a week she understood the power of what this technology could do for her. Within 2 weeks she was flying on that keyboard. We only had 3 months of her total learning and I knew with school getting out she needed a computer at home to continue not just in her learning but regaining a vision of who she was becoming.

The Lions Club bought her a computer. As I was setting it up in her home, tiny tears trickled down her cheeks as she exclaimed. "I don't want to die any more. I know I can doing something in life now." This still brings tears to my eyes.

How many people have lost their vision of who they are because they believe something devastating has taken away everything? But it has not. Our trials lead us to testimonies of overcoming. This young lady continues to conquer one trial after another and also spurs others onto more than they thought possible.

She is in the process of becoming a teacher of the blind because she wants to give a dream back to those who have lost their vision of themselves also.

Lessons to help you

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

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

JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

 

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

  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

 

I have the pleasure of working with people in a variety of different situations. For instance, I work with parents who are home schooling their children or with administrators and students in school districts.

Many home schooling parents find me when I am speaking at conferences about Education of the blind & visually impaired. After the speech, they talk with me at length about how to improve their child's education. Quite often, they return home and tell their local school district the news. The district checks out my credentials and within a short time we have contract for services to be provided to the home schooled child.

Many parents of home schoolers do not know that you can intermingle school district services and home schooling. School Districts can count the child on their roster and get funds for them, while supplementing the parent's teaching skills, such as with calculus or blind education or sign language. This can be a great relationship, and in general I see it working incredibly well.

Virtually, I go into the home when scheduled. The parent takes the lessons right along with their child. I send new lessons after our initial instruction for them to continue to work on the skills. The really nice thing about home schoolers is we can meet any time of the day or week. The flexibility is wonderful.

In one particular situation that came up over a year ago, a parent had become very frustrated with the school and the school lacked the skills to help. Her child was not successful and the struggle to get the correct services became overwhelming.

We began instruction and her child began to flourish with the deaf/blind techniques taught. As time went on, I explained other ways to integrate school into her child's life so she could gain more social skills, though she was already making many friends through email.

Many blind children feel very isolated so friends are important. Emailing and connecting with others is one of the first lessons I focus on when starting with a child. They need their peers to connect to. These friendships immediately get them on board with what I am teaching and they see their world expand quickly.

The child mentioned above has now been integrated into school activities and is really enjoying life. Both parent and child have regained faith in the educational process…or at least parts of it. But they have found that happy medium of home schooling and going to school outside the home. Many ways, offer many possibilities!

Lessons to help teach

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

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

JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

 

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 high school students just began Spanish this year. Anyone who has taught Spanish Braille knows it is VERY different from English Braille. When I asked her if she knew that her JAWS could talk Spanish also, she said "NO" but in an amazed REALLY sort of hope. She is only familiar with English speaking JAWS and had no idea of other possibilities that talking software can do for her.

We began with adding a new Spanish voice profile. Next, we went to Word and started typing Spanish words and having her talking software repeat the word back so she could start working on her pronunciation. Then we practiced going back and forth from her regular voice to Spanish voice as I could see she would get stuck with the Spanish and not know how to get back again. Repetition always seems to be the key.

Tomorrow she gets to learn how to insert all those wonderful special Spanish characters into Word using special commands so JAWS will speak the Spanish words correctly. THEN she gets to learn how to read those characters in Braille. Life is always so exciting as we let our vision grow out of who we are and what we are capable of doing.

Lessons that help teach skills

Spanish JAWS, computer, translation program

Typing out Special Spanish Characters on a Laptop

JAWS, Spanish & Math

Jaws and typing out Spanish characters in Word

Setting up JAWS to Speak another Language

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