Re: Improving my teaching approach and/or sensitivity

Carolyn Arnold <4carolyna@...>

My instructor at Morehead, Barbara McGinnis was that way. She knew JAWS upside down and backwards and was comfortable with keyboard commands.

Bye for now,


-----Original Message-----
From: Gudrun Brunot []
Sent: Thursday, February 4, 2016 1:37 PM
Subject: Re: Improving my teaching approach and/or sensitivity

Turning the monitor off is an excellent idea. I had a trainer in the Washington area who is especially good because he is sighted and use JAWS, just so he'd understand the interface. The sighted trainer has often an extra edge in that he knows what's supposed to work, whereas the blind trainer can get stuck in "there's just no feedback" in a specific tricky situation or a poorly laid-out website. Please, no offense to blind trainers. I've had several who've saved my sanity many times and to whom I am eternally grateful.


-----Original Message-----
From: Nicole Massey []
Sent: Thursday, February 04, 2016 8:56 AM
Subject: Re: Improving my teaching approach and/or sensitivity

For the congenitally blind you may have problems with directions like "the lower right hand corner" as they tend not to have the relational perspective for such things. The use of accelerators is of great importance, along with things like link lists and the like. Referring to specific controls without a positional reference will work better for blind users.
Think of it this way -- by using a physical layout as a reference instead of these screen reader specific methods, you are doing the same thing as if you were using OS/X terms for a Windows user. The user doesn't function in that environment, he or she functions in one where the screen reader is the interface. Also note that unless the user is working at a higher level in the knowledge worker field of his or her choice, one that deals with high-power cohorts, he or she may never have much reason to even know the sighted methods of accessing information. For most computer users their interest is in getting something done, not knowing how it works, in my experience.
I suggest to any person who works with the blind/VI community to turn the monitor off and the screen reader on from time to time to get a feel for just what the user is experiencing.

-----Original Message-----
From: Brian Vogel []
Sent: Thursday, February 04, 2016 9:35 AM
Subject: Improving my teaching approach and/or sensitivity

Hello All,

I have recently been e-mailing back and forth with several members here off-forum about topics and issues that go beyond the scope of discussion here. In the course of a specific exchange, and from the previous occurrence here of someone telling me, "that's a sighted answer," I composed the following in an e-mail, which I'll share here verbatim:


I actually try to avoid purely visual descriptions to the extent I can. You may find the following amusing, and it took me a long time to get comfortable asking it, but the first question I ask any of my clients when we start tutoring is, "How blind are you?" I often have very sketchy information about what residual vision, if any, they have and it's critical to know that (and whether it will remain) as far as how to approach certain things. I then follow up with, "Has your vision always been this way or could you see previously?" Both of these answers factor in to whether I ever mention specific colors, for instance, because the actuality, as opposed to the abstract concept, of color is meaningless to those who've never had the sensory experience of color. Everyone, though, has to have the concepts of left, right, up, down in both the vertical and horizontal planes, so I don't hesitate to say something like "at the lower right" because I know that that translates in a very specific way once you have any orientation at all to "how you get where" in relation to your own computer screen. If this is a bad idea, for reasons I can't fathom as a sighted person, I welcome suggestions as to what is more appropriate and efficient for communicating location information for access. Mind you, I do use specifics like "in the main menu bar," "in the insert ribbon," "4th button over by tabbing," etc..

I've never understood "the furor" that some people get into over the use of common computer actions like click, right click, triple-finger double-tap, etc. I mean, I realize that a screen reader user does not literally click or right click, but they had ought to know that click translates to select (most of the time), double click translates to activate, there exists a "right click" function to allow you to bring up context menus (which are often a godsend), etc. This is a situation where I actually feel it's incumbent on the student to ask if they do not understand what a specific "sighted" reference which is what they'll always be hearing from someone other than a fellow screen reader user translates to in "screen-readerese." You're never going to get a sighted assistant telling you to "press spacebar to select/activate" something, they'll tell you either to select it or to click on it. If you go to training classes for non-screen reader software you absolutely have to know and understand how common computing control jargon "translates" for you. Mind you, if I've got an absolute beginner I teach the translation at the outset but what I don't do is use screen readerese unless it's essential. I think that limits independence rather than building it.


Just as I said yesterday that it is members of the cohort here, not I, who are best able to determine if a given document is accessible via JAWS. The cohort here is also better able to instruct me in where my assumptions, presumptions, techniques may either be completely wrong or in need of some improvement.

The only thing I will ask is that if something in the above is considered really offensive, please don't excoriate me about that, but make me aware that it is offensive and why. I am honestly trying to get better at what I do both as a tutor and as a sighted person working with people with visual impairments. I know that my frame of reference is different than yours, or at least could be, and that it may be in need of adjustment. The only way I can make that adjustment is to put my thoughts out there and ask for help.

I'll close with a quotation from Carlin Romano that I think has direct parallels here, "When intellectuals take their ideas to the mass market, they are not just doing a good deed for the mass market. They are doing a good thing for themselves. The mass marketplace of ideas proves to be a better critic of big assumptions in any field than is the specialized discipline, or one's peers."


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