Re: MathML and PDF files
Thank you so very much. I will read this right now. Have a great one.
From: Adrian Spratt
Sent: Wednesday, January 6, 2016 5:43 PM
Subject: Re: MathML and PDF files
Keep looking. Here’s an example of a blind person who has made a career of mathematics:
From: David Moore
I did all you suggest to get my BS in mathematics and my MA in mathematics education at The Ohio State University. However, when it came to finding employment, my interviewers would shut down as soon as they saw that I was blind. Having two degrees did not seem to matter to employers. They still saw me as a helpless person who would cost the company lots of money. It is hard to get through college as a blind person, but that was nothing for me compared to finding a job. I never did find a job teaching mathematics. I worked in a call center, but they closed down. Hardly any are accessible with JAWS. I tutor math on my own. I am about to start my own JAWS tutoring and math tutoring free help for fun. There are so many blind people out there who have never turned on a computer. I am far way blessed than they are. I will offer my services for nothing, because there is so much to do just to get the blind using a computer and then learning JAWS. You may want to pass this information to your students to get them ready for employment after they finish school. Actually, the more you have to do things on your own in college, the better off you will be on a job. There is no Office for Disabilities at IBM or large company. The Office for Disabilities helped me so much when it came to getting my course work in electric format and all of that, but when I began looking for a job, it was a different world. Most interviewers have never heard of the term “accessibility.” You have to explain that there is JAWS, but you sure cannot use that word. I had to say something like there is software that will make your computer talk. Just saying that made most interviewers sigh and say, “Oh My!!!” The first question I got was, “How can you teach math being blind when you cannot see it yourself?” I just have to say that getting through college was a breeze compared to sitting before an interviewer when trying to find a job. Take care, Brian. I would love to do what you are doing. Have a great one.
That point about the time frame was well taken. I took my terminal Degree in May, 1982, when the IBM pc was a new product, and before TI taught PC’s how to talk. I remember I had 4 written exams in the fall of 1978, before I could spend full-time working on my dissertation. Each student had 24 hours to complete his exam, my chair gave me 48, as it had to be done twice. What I wouldn’t have given for my first XT back then. I was lucky UK understood.
The sad fact is, and I don't say this to be nasty or dismissive but to introduce a reality check, that even with the advances that have been made in accessibility, and there have been many just over the last decade, the world is designed for "the typical" and those with significant disabilities are not "the typical." This is one of the reasons I try to teach my clients (two of which are, at this time, graduate students) to learn to be their own advocates. I do not know of a single college student who does not, with pretty much frequency, need to have a sighted reader, particularly for older print material or, as you've found, niche material like mathematical books, etc. If colleges accept students with disabilities they are expected to provide reasonable accommodations, but very often they have absolutely no idea what that entails. I have to say that this is not necessarily their fault, either, because students with disabilities are a micro niche and even the disabilities coordinators may be encountering someone with "disability X" or "disability Y" for the first time, ever, and have no idea of what's what. It is absolutely impossible for any disabilities coordinator to have in-depth knowledge of every disability, or combination of disabilities, they might encounter. A lot of thinking on one's feet is involved and, very often, taking input from the client as to what they've needed in the past in similar settings. It's an uphill battle for all involved, including a lot of people who genuinely want to help you.
If you actually know what you need, and in a situation like this is will probably be a reader, then push to get one. Once you're in school you will find that "time is of the essence" will take on some real, new meaning even if you are given time accommodations for specific assignments. You are going to have to figure out what you will require to meet those deadlines and, if it's not already in place, start rattling cages to get it into place as promptly as possible.
If there is a state department for the blind and visually impaired in your state you would be wise to link up with them for assistance and advocacy. Even then, you'll still have to sometimes push for what you need.
I am not trying to be discouraging at all. You can be a college student and be blind, but your college experience will, by definition, be very different than that of most students and you will need to be thinking about what you need all the time, and trying to anticipate what you might need as your courses change.
One of the things that's driven me crazy as a JAWS tutor for students is the introduction of web-based course management systems. These things are great if you can see, and can instantly tell what out of the myriad features your given professor may or may not be using for a given course, but if you can't we know how JAWS reads every blessed thing on a screen, and lots of these screens are chock full of links that aren't used, but remain there as place holders. I have tried to encourage several local institutions to set up either "sandbox" versions of these systems with fake courses loaded so that those who have to access them with screen readers can have practice, and lots of it, prior to actually needing to use these systems for actual courses (or setting up fake courses in their real systems that they can enroll you in for practice). The electronic course management system could be an entire semester's class alone, and no one should be trying to learn how to use it while also trying to learn the actual material for a course.
You can do this, but you will, unquestionably, be working harder to get it done in ways that no one who is not in your situation will ever understand entirely, myself included.