[Athen] Accessible Cryptography for a Blind Student?

Robert Beach rbeach at KCKCC.EDU
Fri May 9 05:54:22 PDT 2014

If they know grade 1 braille, this should be fairly easy to produce, if you have braille production equipment. If not, you can send it out. Maybe a local transcriber would be a good idea since there probably won’t be much.

Robert Lee Beach
Assistive Technology Specialist
Kansas City Kansas Community College
7250 State Avenue
Kansas City, KS 66112
rbeach at kckcc.edu

From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Alexa Schriempf
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2014 6:15 PM
To: Access Technology Higher Education Network
Subject: [Athen] Accessible Cryptography for a Blind Student?

Dear ATHENites:

A math instructor who will have a blind student (JAWS user, Word Doc, IE and Firefox, and some but not fluent Braille) in her course this summer has wisely anticipated the following access challenge:

"I'm planning to have most of the course focus on number theory and combinatorics, which are both very arithmetic subjects. I shouldn't need many pictures or diagrams. But I was hoping to spend a little bit of time on classical cryptology, and have students try their hands at code-breaking. Typically how this works is that I would write some message, encode it, and give the students the encoded message to decode. For example, if I were teaching substitution cyphers, I might give them the code:


which decode to IF IT WEREN'T FOR THE LAST MINUTE, NOTHING WOULD GET DONE. (K is substituted for I, Z for F, G for T, etc). Such problems are solved by noticing which letters or sequences of letters appear most often, and making guesses.

I'm wondering if you think there is a way to convert these problems into an accessible format. Reading the encoded message aloud would probably not be very helpful, although some braille alphabet equivalent might work. I'm hoping that this will be somehow feasible, because these types of problems are very engaging. The cryptology section would probably be at the end of the course, so we have time to figure it out. I just thought I would mention it now in case it is going to be difficult."

I have of course emailed the student to see what might work best for them but any suggestions from the list would be deeply appreciated!

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