[Athen] Biology Diagrams in distance education class

Sean Keegan skeegan at stanford.edu
Fri Jun 13 15:48:36 PDT 2014

Hi Lorraine,

A few questions:

1) Does the student read any braille or at least have some familiarity with braille/tactile graphics? I realize you mentioned the student relies on information being verbally described, but I am just trying to get a sense of how significant is the tactile limitation.

2) Would the student have access to an embosser or PIAF machine?

3) Are you able to send hard-copy materials to the student in a timely manner?

I think you have a few options to consider, although none of them may be the ideal solution alone.

1) Create text descriptions for the relevant parts of the images being used in the course and provide this information as you would alt text or within the reading materials itself. IMO, this may be a bit too generic and while it could satisfy basic web accessibility guidelines, it may not be all that helpful to the student participating in the course.

That said, I suppose you could also hire someone to record verbal descriptions of the images/information and post those to the course interface for the student to access.

2) Create tactile graphics of the images that cannot be described in text. For images that are complex, you may need to break the image into more simplified representations so as to ensure the tactile components are sufficiently emphasized. By this, I mean one image may have two or three tactile versions to maintain clarity of communication.

3) Use a bit of #2 above, but involve the use of a Livescribe Pen. You could create the tactile graphic and at the end of some reference line attach a piece of Livescribe paper. Using a Livescribe Pen, you could then provide a description for what is being represented. You would have to send the Livescribe Pen back and forth to record the appropriate content or possibly use more than one pen (here's an example of recording content: http://cnettv.cnet.com/take-better-notes-livescribe-echo-smartpen/9742-1_53-50129234.html). The student could touch the lines and then use the reference line to "find" the Livescribe Pen region and then use the pen to listen to whatever was recorded for that part of the image.

4) Similar to #3 above, but use the Livescribe Pen paper as the paper upon which the tactile graphic is delivered. Then you do not have to cut out pieces of Livescribe paper to attach to the tactile graphic.

5) Hire a reader.

I am sure there are other (and better!) options available, but these are a few that jump to mind immediately. I think much of this will also depend on the student's ability to work with the materials and what may be realistic options given the short duration of the online class.

Take care,

On Jun 13, 2014, at 1:49 PM, "Norwich, Lorraine S" <lnorwich at bu.edu> wrote:

> HI


> We have a blind student in a distance education program who has to take a Biology class. The class is 7 weeks with a lot of diagrams embedded in the distance education blackboard course. She does not have good tactile ability and relies on information being verbally described.


> Any ides, thoughts on how to make this work would be helpful


> Sorry about cross posting


> Thanks


> Lorraine




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