Reading speed is an important consideration, but please recognize that we don’t have data on sustained reading speeds for any student regardless of media or visual status. And we have no data on fatigue levels. We have to go with what we know to be the case—for example, my daughter with nystagmus was actually able to complete her high school work and standardized testing within the standard time frames. (She was permitted 1.5X time, but never utilized it.) She did spend extra time on her homework in comparison to her sister—but that is another story! Her SAT scores were in the mid 600s, and her only accommodation was a large print version of the test. So, although her reading speed was never measured in high school, she was able to meet the norm in testing situations and was an excellent student—B+ and As all around.
Fast forward to college—for a student who LOVES to read, she has abandoned leisure reading this year. She is struggling to keep pace with three full time courses and (she is taking all sciences—Wildlife Biology Major—with labs!) This is using magnification (IDEX > portable CCTV), texts on her laptop, iPad and her Kindle DX (which is a larger version of the kindle.) She prefers to read on the kindle DX because it requires a task light from behind rather than looking into a lighted screen like the laptop and Ppad present. (Doesn’t like reverse contrast.) So, again given the nystagmus and reduced acuity we KNOW it is more fatiguing for her to read than for her peers.
This isn’t a kid for whom braille or auditory media were ever considered—and I truly regret that. She has no alternative tools to use. When I get tired of reading a story, I rent the movie. When she gets tired of reading, her eyes are still taxed when watching the movie! Upon the advice of a colleague I am going download a screen reader to see if she can make the transition to using auditory media as an alternative tool in her toolbox. It just seems so late in the game for this—although I guess at 21 she isn’t exactly over the hill.
So, I exhort you, learned colleagues, please consider and advocate for the long-term picture. Kids don’t know what is good for them, and parents and teams must make conscious decisions that our students may not like. That is too bad—this IS a battle worth having, if it comes to that. Learning to use alternative media (braille, auditory, etc.) has LIFE LONG implications! If this message, written from the perspective of a mom, helps to convince your teams, parents, and students—please feel free to use it.
Thank you, colleagues, for all that you do!
Signed me—just a mom today,