The new school year is beginning and Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVIs) are gearing up to work with a new group of general education teachers. Here are some ideas and resources to help smooth the way for a successful school year!
Create a student video
This is a creative and fun way for students to learn to self-advocate! First, review with your student his/her visual diagnosis, acuity, preferences and IEP modifications. Be sure to discuss the student's hobbies and any interesting facts the student might want to share with teachers. Then, create an positive video that highlights the student's sparkling personality and that simply explains the student's classroom needs. Share this upbeat video with the student's new general education classroom teachers - and watch how the teachers put aside their concerns as they see on what the student CAN do!
In the video below, Samantha is transitioning from elementary school to middle school. At the end of her school year, Samantha's TVI video taped Samantha who explains about her eye condition (albinism), how it impacts her vision, her IEP modifications and a little about her dancing abilities!
Video Information: Ericka Tinsley, Samantha's dynamic TVI, video taped Samantha and together they used iMovies to edit the video.
Our students are all unique; every video should reflect the specific student's needs and personalities. Here are some ways to customize your student's video:
- Include demonstrations on how the student uses his/her technology - this is especially beneficial if the student uses a screen reader and/or a refreshable braille display!
- Brief description/demonstration of technology you will use in the classroom (such as a screen sharing app like Join.Me for low vision students).
- Younger students may not be able to accurately describe their IEP modifications; the TVI may add this information.
- The video can be set up as an interview, where the student answers specific questions.
- Students transitioning to college can create a more traditional video explaining your needs, the professor's responsibilities (such as access to PowerPoints) and possibly a brief demonstration about how you use your technology to accomplish tasks.
- PARENTS: Create a video with your child!
(When you create a student video, will you share it on Paths to Technology? Having additional student videos with other diagnosis and IEP modifications would be great resources for everyone!)
How to Create Accessible Materials
In the past, the VI team (TVIs, braillists and paraprofessionals) were responsible for creating braille hard copies; however, with our new digital classrooms and students with 1:1 technology, most materials are automatically accessible or can quickly be fine tuned to be accessible. When materials are created correctly, students using screen readers - including screen readers paired with refreshable braille displays - are able to instantly access their materials. TVIs should show general education teachers how to successfully create accessible digital materials. There are numerous Paths to Technology posts, typically found in the Digital Transition section on how to create accessible Word documents, PowerPoint Presentations, and how to add a image descriptions (alt text). There are posts on how to check if your Microsoft documents on a PC (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) are accessible. There are posts on how to create accessible iBooks using iBooks Author, Book Creator and more.
Note: Accessible digital math equations can be created and read; however, the ability for students to input accessible math equations using a refreshable braille display is severely limited at this time. Currently, graphics are often produced tactually (not digitally). New cutting-edge technology, such as SAS Graphics Accelerator, enables students to create and interact with accessible charts and graphs. As technology continues to advance, the ability to input digital math and to access digital graphics will improve.
Paths to Technology Resources
Share the Paths to Technology website and specific links to posts that would be beneficial with your general education teachers. The Starting with Tech > Tips for Classroom Teachers is chock-full of information for general education teachers. Paths to Technology has new posts daily, so check back frequently.
Use the Technology Search section on Paths to Technology to do general searches, to search for specific topics and to search for specific posts.
Co-teaching Responsibilities (TVI and General Education Teacher)
- Co-teach technology skills: The TVI typically teaches the accessibility piece of using a device (such as magnification options, screen readers commands, etc.) while the classroom teachers teach the specific apps used in his/her classroom (such as how to use a calculator app).
- Co-Teach, encourage, and then expect student to self-advocate.
Work together to select websites, videos, apps and materials that are accessible or that can be made accessible. Examples:
- Looking for accessible videos? View Free Accessible Educational Videos that are Captioned and Described post
- Looking for a screen-sharing app? View Join.Me a Screen Sharing App post
- Looking for an accessible school planner/organizer app? Try iStudiezPro app for iOS, Mac and PC (Android version coming soon)
- Form a plan for creating accessible materials; the TVI can teach or guide the general education teacher on how to create accessible digital materials.
AFB has wonderful resources listed in their Your One Stop Shop for Back-to-School Resesources As a Student Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired article.
Remind your general education teacher that he/she is not alone - he/she will be working with a VI team that knows all about the student, the student's unique needs, the technology the student will be using and who will help adapt educational materials as needed! Working together as a team, the TVI and general education teachers will pave the way so that every student can be successful and independent in the classroom!