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Unit 1: module 1

Introduction to print disabilities and assistive technologies

 

About this course

Why is accessibility important?

What is a print disability?

Making accessible resources

Using accessible resources

Answers to exercises (no cheating!)

About this course

This self-study course has been developed by Load2Learn, a service providing accessible curriculum textbooks and images to support dyslexic, partially sighted or blind learners who have difficulty reading standard print.

It is part of the "Creating and using accessible curriculum resources self-study course" available on Load2Learn. Licenced under Creative Commons.

Why is accessibility important?

Research has demonstrated that the use of accessible formats can support pupils with a print disability in becoming independent learners, reducing their reliance on teaching staff support.

What is a print disability?

Activity 1

Think about what the term “print disability” may mean. Check your understanding at the end of this module.

Exercise 1

Think about which disabilities can be classed as a print disability under copyright legislation and the nature of that difficulty in relation to reading.

Many students may present with co-occurring difficulties, however try and think of these difficulties as a single difficulty.

Which of these disabilities is a print disability?

Put an X in the right column.

Disability

Yes

No

Maybe

ADHD

 

 

 

Autism

 

 

 

Blindness

 

 

 

Comprehension

 

 

 

Deafness

 

 

 

Dyslexia

 

 

 

Dyspraxia  

 

 

 

Partial sight

 

 

 

Physical disability         

 

 

 

SLI (Specific Language Impairment)

 

 

 

Definition of Print Disability

The definition of print disability can vary but generally print disability can be defined as:

“the inability to access information in a print format due to either a visual, perceptual, or physical disability” (Tank and Frederiksen, 2007, p. 292).

Legal provision for print disabilities – Copyright Licensing Agency:

“A print-disabled person is anyone for whom a visual, cognitive or physical disability hinders the ability to read print. This includes all visual impairments, dyslexia, and any physical disabilities that prevent the handling of a physical copy of a print publication.”

Further reading on Print disability definitions can be found on Load2Learn.

Activity 2

Read through the education licences to familiarise yourself with the detail and what the licences allow you to do.

Education licences can be found on the CLA website. These licences allow you to create and use accessible editions within your educational establishment.

The Print Disability Licence allows you to create, use and share accessible editions with others outside of your educational establishment.

Further reading on usage and storage of materials can be found on Load2Learn.

Key learning points

  • You are entitled to make an accessible copy of a document for a print disabled person.
  • An accessible document can be: large print, electronic copy, audio version, braille, Moon.
  • You may not create your own copy if a suitable commercial alternative exists.
  • You must own an original print copy of the book that you are accessing/creating the accessible copy of.

Making accessible resources

Making text accessible is easy, and by adding structuring your document you can quickly change it to meet the different accessibility needs of your learners.

Solution 1: Structured Documents

Creating a structured Word document will help the learner to navigate their way through the text, it will also enable you to create other accessible formats such as PDF, audio, braille and eBook files.

In a structured Word document you can quickly and easily modify font colour, font type, font size, background colour, line spacing and paragraph spacing.

You can use a structured Word document easily with accessibility software and equipment such as Zoomtext and JAWS.

You will find out more about creating structured Word documents in Unit 2 of this course.

Solution 2: Audio

Audio is a useful tool for learners who find it difficult to access printed text, such as a dyslexic learner. It can also be used as an additional format for a braille user. Many learners also like to use audio when revising.

In addition to the many audio files already available commercially and on Load2Learn, you can also create your own quickly and easily if you have a structured Word document available as a source file, along with free software to enable its conversion to an audio file.

There are a few types of audio formats that you can use:

  • Audio books in either real or synthetic voice including MP3 and DAISY available on software and portable devices.
  • Software that will read what is on your screen, known as ‘Text to speech’ and includes Adobe PDF readers, Wordtalk, Balbolka and screen readers such as JAWS.
  • Audio and text linked software such as DAISY and WordTalk where you can follow the text on screen whilst listening to the accompanying audio.

Videos showing blind and partially sighted learners discussing how they use technology to learn more effectively and independently can be found on Load2Learn. 

You will find out more about creating audio in Unit 3 of this course.

Evidence for Audio Books

In a 1998 study, three Year 5 boys, in a primary school, who were three years behind in their reading found the experience of audio-reading enjoyable and their self-confidence as readers improved.

“There was a marked reduction in the quantity of errors they made when reading independently and the type of error changed from largely graphophonic to syntactic and semantic.”

Furthermore, after one month into the study all three participants showed more interest in and awareness of literature and one of the boys was able to follow a text his teacher read with the class.

“The boys found audio reading was relatively effortless yet they perceived that they were reading books appropriate to their age and could read ‘hard words’ like their peers.” (Byrom, 1998, p.5)

“By the same token that some children require spectacles to enable them to read a book, others may require an audio tape to enable them to read the same book in order that they might all contribute to a stimulating discussion about the content” (Byrom, 1998, p. 6)

“In Denmark and other countries, DAISY technology is now widely used by people with dyslexia. They can listen to a book while reviewing the printed text on screen if they wish, which is a great help in spelling the words they hear. Today some of these people with dyslexia even regard the computer as their equivalent to the glasses of the weak-sighted”. (Tank and Frederikson, 2007, p.947)

Evidence for text to speech

During a Scottish Qualifications Authority Examinations trial students took their SQA standard grade examinations in ‘Accessible PDF’ format.

“Responses from school staff were extremely positive because of the independence offered by the electronic format and because of the potential to reduce demands on staff, accommodation and cost compared with human scribe or reader.” (Nisbet et al, 2005, p.1)

Students who used electronic English, French and History papers all found them easier to use than a scribe: the mean score for these subjects was 8.93 compared with 8.00 for scribes.

Research indicates that reading is less tiring and stressful when using assistive reading software and that “could double or triple the time that they could sustain reading” (Elkind et al, 1996, p.160).

Evidence for DAISY

“Research by Allinder, Dunse, Brunken, and Obermiller-Krolikowski (2001) and Meyer and Felton (1999) confirms that highlighting text as it is spoken can help learners pay attention and remember more” (cited in Silver-Pacuilla and Fleischman, 2006, p. 84)

Lewandski and Montali (1996) studied “the learning of poor readers and skilled readers who were both taught through a text-to speech application with simultaneous on-screen highlighting of the spoken word” and found that experiencing the text bimodally (visually and aurally) enabled poor readers to perform as well as skilled readers in word recognition and retention.

Solution 3: Simplified accessible images

As much of the curriculum uses visual references in both the classroom and in exams accessible images can be beneficial to blind, partially sighted and dyslexic learners provided as either tactile (or raised) images and large print (clear print with good contrast) images.

Accessible images can be created and used with simple design guidance, using textures in place of colour and varying line types to differentiate objects within the image.

You can create accessible images with graphic design software such as CorelDraw and Illustrator, as well as standard packages such as Word, and you can even draw freehand to create them.

Case studies can be found on Load2Learn.

You will find out more about creating accessible images in Unit 4 of this course.

Using accessible resources

It is important that when selecting a solution for a learner with a print disability that you consider the difficulties they experience, their individual requirements and their emotions about using the proposed solution.

Solution 1: Structured Word documents

Structured Word documents can be used in your standard Microsoft Word package and can either be read on screen or with the use of additional accessibility tools. You can also modify and create a hard copy.

Solution 2: Audio

eReaders

An eReader is a device such as an Amazon Kindles, Apple iPad, table and mobile smart phones that allows you to read text on screen. They enable the learner to read ‘on the go’ and may have inbuilt accessibility features. They are used more widely in the classroom as they will support the learner to engage in class activities.

Further reading on IPads and tablets in the classroom visit can be found on RNIB’s website.

Reading on e-Readers

Response from student in study carried out by Larson (2010) into the use of e-books:

“I would rather read an e-book [than a regular book] because there are so many cool tools to use and choose from. I still haven't used them all, and I'm done with the book.”

Opportunities for eReaders

“Digital readers show promise in supporting struggling readers through multiple tools and features, including manipulation of font size, text-to-speech options, expandable dictionary, and note capabilities.” (Larson, 2010, p.15).

Recently, research has also focused on the ways in which digital readers, such as a ‘Kindle’, may support students’ engagement with text. In 2010 Larson carried out a study in the USA which explored how two female participants, aged 7 and 8, utilised a digital reader (Kindle) both within a classroom and whilst at home. Both participants were informed that they were allowed to use the functions (i.e mark-up) but did not have to.

Findings suggested that using digital reading devices with students “promotes new literacies practices and extends connections between readers and text as engagement with and manipulation of text is made possible through electronic tools and features” (Larson, 2010, p.15).

“reading that is done on a Kindle or listened to on an iPod is just as valid and valuable as reading printed texts” (Moyer, 2011, p.255)

“With current technology, teachers have the ability to utilize this literacy strategy (use of audio-books) to offer their adolescent students another medium to read and experience literature in their classrooms. With the availability of iPods and similar audio devices, bringing the audiobook into the classroom becomes very simple and inexpensive” (Wolfson, 2008, p.111).

Portable audio devices

Portable audio devices include smart phones, MP3 players, iPods, DAISY and CD players. They enable the learner to listen to text anywhere and DAISY provides accessible structured audio. Learners will often use audio for revising and MP3 formats can be popular as they can be easily added to commercial devices such as smart phones.

Speech recognition and other ways of audio note taking

Speech recognition and audio note taking tools include Nuance and AudioNotetaker. They are most useful to dyslexic learners who have difficulty in writing quickly as they will convert speech into text.

Evidence for audio note taking

“By using the note tool, they engaged in new literacy practices by envisioning new ways to access their thought processes to engage in spontaneous, instantaneous response to the e-books” (Larson, 2009, p. 256)

Solution 3: Simplified accessible images

Accessible images can be used as Tactile or Large print images.

Tactile images are raised can be used with learners who have little or no sight. The images are touched rather than seen and the learner builds up a picture in their mind of what the image looks like rather like a jigsaw. Images are accompanied by a navigation description that will support them to read the image. However reading a tactile image takes a while to do so appropriate time and support should be allowed for the task.

Large print images or clear print images are used with partially sighted learners and have clear contrast colours on simplified images.

Both types of image can be used with dyslexic learners as the simplified images support learning methods that they find helpful such as breaking down information and presenting it in clear, uncluttered ways.

Activity 3

Find out how accessible resources are created and used in your organisation and think about how you would like this course to help you improve their provision.

Answers to exercises

Exercise 1

Disability

Yes

No

Maybe

ADHD

X

 

 

Autism

X

 

 

Blindness

X

 

 

Comprehension

 

X

 

Deafness

 

X

 

Dyslexia

X

 

 

Dyspraxia  

 

 

X

Partial sight

X

 

 

Physical disability         

 

 

X

SLI (Specific Language Impairment)

 

X

 

 

 

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