[bct] Re: Frustrations with how AT is taught

  • From: Krister Ekstrom <krister@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 25 Mar 2006 11:12:28 +0100

Hash: RIPEMD160

I recognize your frustration. I hope i translate this correctly into
English, but i often say that there's a million ways to work in Windows,
everyone is correct but only one is conformistic. By this, i mean that
AT teachers at least here in Sweden tend just to teach keystrokes and
shortcuts and not what the dialogs in which the user is do, so the user
knows that he/she should tab 12 times to get to a certain button, but
they don't know what happens if they tab one step too far or that they
should hit alt-f12 to do a certain thing in one application and when
this doesn't work in another app, the user gets frustrated or panicy.
I didn't start in DOS when i first started using computers, i was one of
very, very few in Sweden who started using a Mac due to my job back
then. A guy who later became my boss taught me a very good strategy, and
when i help blind people out, i always teach this strategy and it goes
like this: Learn your application by familiarizing yourself with its
menus, because if you do you'll get a grip of the program and as a plus,
you'll soon learn the shortcuts you can use.

Debee Norling wrote: | I just had a very frustrating experience I thought I'd share. I'm curious | what you others think. | | I work at a community college where I'm in charge of alternate media. Our | Access technology specialist, (I'll call it AT for short) is a sighted guy | and he's part-time. He is a speech pathologist with a ton of experience | teaching dragon. He really doesn't know JAWS all that well, but he is smart, | concerned about making the campus accessible and seeing that courses are | truly inclusive. I hesitate to criticize such a caring guy, but he does | teach JAWS with a keystroke cheat sheet at his side. And I'm sure he | couldn't use the computer with his screen turned off. | | I think this guy's one downfall is that he is typical faculty; he teaches a | few classes and just isn't here full-time. | | We are always trying to encourage our print-impaired students to use the | computer more, and we try to wean them away from depending on their mom | reading aloud, or using large print or whatever. We want them to be | conversant with Microsoft Word for preparing their papers, and with Kurzweil | or similarly appropriate AT for reading their books. | | We have a new blind student, I'll call him John Doe, who recently started | taking tests on the computer using JAWS and word. John has been brailling | out his tests and I've been transcribing them in to print. But we all want | to see John become more independent. | | Today, our AT guy got John all set up, but he couldn't stay because he | only gets paid for an hour or two on Fridays. | | John spent four hours taking his test and then he printed it. | Unfortunately, he printed 200 pages of gibberish. There was nobody available | to help him. I work several buildings away from the computer lab, I'm | encouraged to focus on my learning disabled students, and the guy who is | supposedly in charge of the lab is never there because he isn't paid to be | there. | | So John is a beginner. He's been taught how to type in Word, how to use a | few simple JAWS commands and how to print. He hasn't been taught how to | save. He doesn't know what saving is. So he simply waits until his test | period is over, gets escorted back to the disability services office and | tells his story there. John also has a physical disability so he needs help | getting from one building to another. But in no way is he mentally impaired; | he's just very new to computers. | | At this point I am called. Even though they don't want me doing faculty's | job, they want me to fix computer issues when everyone is in a panic and | nobody knows what to do. I get there, and John has very carefully closed | out of Word the way he was taught and his four hours of work are lost. They | were never saved. | | This happens all the time because our AT guy teaches keystrokes and not | concepts. He shows people how to read the previous word, but not how to | cope when things go wrong. | | I've noticed in general that AT people tend to get hung up teaching what to | me seems very silly; students will learn how to bold and center, but they | won't know what to do when they need to copy a file off a CD on to a flash | drive. Even when people are taught how to save, they frequently have no | concept of file management. I'm forever bailing out people who saved a file | in the wrong folder and now they cannot locate it. Just a few days ago, my | boss, an able-bodied social worker type was in a huge panic because she | thought she'd lost her power-point presentation for some important meeting. | I have JAWS on her computer because I'm always rescuing her, and this time | she'd put it in "My Pictures" instead of on her desktop. Someone else | recommended she save to her desktop so she could find things. I'd like to | sit her down and teach her how and where to properly save, but she wouldn't | sit still long enough. | She knows all sorts of fancy tricks in Power Point, but she panics so much | that even the simplest file management tasks seem to thoroughly flummox her. | | But even more than able-bodied, the print impaired, in my opinion, need a | firm foundation in how to think. Multiple-choice tests and memorizing steps | to perform a procedure do them no favors. In our AT lab, the command to | read the title bar in JAWS is not taught , because it isn't necessary to | complete the assignments. But that means when the focus goes south, the JAWS | users have no skills for coping. | | My biggest beef with AT, which is a micro-example of how all computer | courses are taught here is that people are taught rote methods for | accomplishing tasks. They can create a formula in Excel but they can't | troubleshoot a printing problem. They can use JAWS to spell the current | word, but they can't restart it when it crashes. They are taught where | programs are located on computers in our lab but not how to poke around an | unfamiliar computer to find stuff. They know how to change fonts but not | how to insert a paragraph from a document in a different directory. | | It seems a crime to me to teach computer stuff using a paint-by-numbers | method. | Sometimes I work with a new blind student, especially when I have to rescue | him from something that happened while I was off doing my real job, and I'm | always amazed at just how much hand-holding these people need. Are my | standards too high, or are we just doing a really lousy job of teaching AT | these days? | | --Debee | | -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1.4.2.2 (MingW32)


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