The first evening of summer, the song “Here Comes the Sun” popped into my head, as I reflected over the school year and the progress one of my student’s has made independently using assistive technology. To motivate my student to read braille and develop her assistive technology skills, she learned to read lyrics to one of her favorite Beatle’s songs “Here Comes the Sun.” The song reinforced braille contractions the student previously learned: here, little, the, and, “ing,” “ong,” “er,” and “ar.”
Several of the student’s lessons focused on using Voiceover gestures to access her iPad. After practicing Voiceover gestures, the student used some of them to navigate to the YouTube App on her iPad and play the song “Here Comes the Sun.” The student practiced using a split tap to activate the YouTube app and the double tap to play the song. She used a two finger double tap to pause/play the song.
After listening to the song on her iPad, the student was given both a braille copy and large print copy of the song. She followed along in braille and then large print as I read the lyrics aloud. The student tactually identified several familiar braille words in the song: little, here, the, sun, it (in the contraction it’s). After identifying the words she could independently read, the student used the built in word processor of the BrailleSense Polaris braille notetaker to write the words in both contracted and uncontracted braille.
The student received spelling words every two weeks so she could read, write, and spell words and contractions in the song. Below is a list of words and contractions that were taught using the student’s assistive technology.
Spelling Words and Contractions
here, say, some, it’s, right, little, long, feel, year(s), smile(s), face(s)
A variety of assistive technology tools were used to learn to read the lyrics. I typed the song lyrics in a Google Doc for the student to access it visually using screen magnification software, auditorily using text to speech or a screen reader, and tactually with the refreshable braille display of a braille notetaker. When using her vision, the student read the lyrics to the song on her large screen laptop using Zoomtext and Read & Write for Google Chrome. The student independently increased the magnification to view extension icons to the right of the address field in the browser. She clicked on the Read & Write extension icon, placed the cursor at the beginning of the lyrics, and pushed the triangular shaped play button. The text was read aloud using the text to speech feature of Read & Write for Google Chrome.
The Polaris braille notetaker was used weekly to allow the student to practice reading and writing Unified English Braille (UEB) related to the song. During lessons, the student learned to increase/decrease the speech volume, toggle speech on and off, use first letter navigation to open the word processor, use commands to save and close word processing documents, as well as first letter navigation to locate documents in the File Manager. The student also opened word processing documents saved in the File Manager that contained practice activities reading the contractions in isolation, in sentences, and lines of the song. The student created word processing documents to complete her spelling tests. She wrote the words and contractions in both contracted and uncontracted braille. She knew when she spelled words correctly in uncontracted braille because the braille notetaker would automatically convert them into the correct contraction (i.e. right).
Additional ways the student utilized assistive technology to develop her literacy skills are below:
- Zoomtext magnification software to magnify words from the song written in isolation, in sentences, and the song itself
- Voiceover and Voiceover gestures on the iPad to read aloud the song lyrics. The student used the flick right gesture to navigate to Docs on her iPad, a double tap to activate the app, flick right to locate the document Here Comes the Sun, a double tap to open the document, and a two finger flick down to read aloud the text when the cursor was located in the main body of the document.
Since my student is a dual media learner, she continues to learn how to use a variety of assistive technology to access the regular education curriculum and develop her literacy skills. She receives instruction to use each device and apply it’s use to specific tasks in her classroom. As a TVI, I have found it is important to empower students by providing exposure to a variety of technology so he/she can choose which device will allow him/her to easily and efficiently complete tasks. It was fun participating in the student’s journey utilizing different tools from her technology toolbox to access the lyrics to the Beatle’s song “Here Comes the Sun.”