Over the Shoulder of a Blind Browser

Bernard Francis Goldbach


I wish to share several important conclusions about the integrated use of assistive technology, including how some fully-sighted students have assisted visually-impaired students in the classroom by using social networks and cloud computing services. During the past three years, I have worked closely with several students who required assistive technology. This technology helped them complete mainstream academic coursework with little need to top up their classroom time with special needs assistants. Several classrooms in Tipperary Institute have special workstations with 24″ displays and high-resolutions scanners for use by students who are nearly blind. However, after watching my own presentations being viewed by those with visual impairments, I have found several work-arounds that require no additional resources to be allocated. My success stories involve minor changes to assessible tutorials described in Moodle, whereby fully-sighted students snap, scrape and share visual objects on their own laptops. We use TechSmith’s SnagIt, Flickr’s photo-sharing groups, Evernote’s shared spaces and Google Documents. This paper presents samples of the lessons learned through the effective use of these social networks along with short screencasts that show the work flow of the classroom, from course planning through execution and lesson feedback.

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