COVID-19 school closures have thrown students and teachers into the 21st century and for many students with visual impairments, this new classroom format has brought about positive changes! Virtual video conferences and digital materials are now the new method of instruction. Teachers are embracing digital platforms and visually impaired students who have or who are building strong tech skills are thriving! Approximately 5 weeks into remote instruction, an 8th grade student with low vision shares her experiences about remote instruction, how and why she has improved her tech skills, and why she is using her preferred devices differently. This low vision student reflects on how she "saves her eyeballs" for more visual tasks such as math and how she "outsources to her ears" reading documents and textbooks using text-to-speech.
Dr. Yue-Ting (Ting) Siu, the student's TVI, sets the stage by providing background on this student's journey:
This is a partial recording of one lesson where I met with one of my low vision students via FaceTime (we've been meeting on FaceTime since we all have i-devices and it's been the easiest; I text her and her mom to confirm meetings so that parents are always aware when we are meeting). She is currently in 8th grade, and this is our 2nd year working together. When we first met at the beginning of last school year, she was so embarrassed she wouldn't even meet me on school grounds - I had to do home visits for vision sessions for the first half of the year! She couldn't and wouldn't talk about her visual impairment and refused to use any accommodations or assistive/access technology. The only thing she accepted using that was different from her peers was a Macbook that her parents had purchased for her (other kids in her school use a Chromebook). Now, fast forward one year later...we've done a lot of work on being able to talk about her low vision, her accommodations, and tools/strategies for getting her work done more efficiently. However, it wasn't until the school closures that she really started to embrace using her technology and how to work more efficiently as a low vision student.
In this recording, check out how she talks about:
- The importance of having her work available in a digital format
- Working across multiple devices
- Being strategic about when to use visual versus auditory access
- How to justify her accommodations and differentiated learning strategies
Applications Mentioned in the Recording
- Kami Extension: PDF and Document Annotation (Type on PDF)
- Read&Write Extension
- Also mentioned making PDFS accessible: generic scanning, OCR, Text-to-Speech