[bct] Re: Frustrations with how AT is taught

  • From: "Marsha Macchi" <marshamac@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2006 16:30:32 -0800

Hi, Marsha here.  To add to this thread, I believe that before AT is taught,
there should be a general level of concentration on how to solve problems.
I simply decry the current level of help that many students are getting.  It
has come to the point that teaching aides are being asked to do more and
more things for the student such as helping them find their book, getting
them braille paper, getting them from class to class, etc.  If these
students do not have the basic skills to solve problems, how can they learn
assistive technology or anything else for that matter?  Many of these kids
do not have a base to work from.
As a medical transcriptionist, I have had to solve problems on working the
crazy nonstandard software that is so often a part of our industry.  Having
learned the JFW keystrokes, shortcuts and accelerator keys and basic Windows
concepts, I have had to learn under fire if I wanted to get any work done.
I would not have been able to do this if I had not had problem-solving
skills overall.  It begins with the kid when he is in elementary school
where he learns to find his own braille book, get his own paper, how to ask
general directions on how to get to his classroom, how to get into a class
and score well in it even though that class is not particularly blind
friendly, etc.  Hope this lends a little different perspective on this
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Amy Billman" <abillman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 3:42 PM
Subject: [bct] Re: Frustrations with how AT is taught

> Maria,
> I have heard that as well, and have also dealt with similar situations on
> the employment side of things.  As a manager working in a call center, I
> given the responsibility of training a young woman who was blind that we
> just hired.  Unfortunately, when she began her training, I discovered that
> she had absolutely no knowledge of how to use Jaws, windows key strokes,
> nothing at all.  She had apparently lost her sight a few years before
> and while she did go through some rehab training she either wasn't
> present for or did not attend the computer training.  She expected the
> company to train her on how to use jaws and of course we could not do that
> because we needed her to be able to perform the functions of the job.  She
> expected the guy writing the scripting to basically give her a keystroke
> everything--even reading the current line was too taxing apparently.  She
> would have been fired had she not resigned before we had the chance.
> I think that it is really sad that not only are people not being given the
> computer skills that they need to be successful in college or in the
> world, but that there are so many people who have this attitude of "what
> will you do for me," rather than "what can I do for myself."  I've never
> understood that mind set.
> I graduated from high school in 1992, and even then I was being taught how
> to use a computer though of course everything was in doss at that time.  I
> suppose that the type of assistance you get depends on where you are
> and how good your school system is.  I agree with you completely
> to use word and the internet should be taught in high school so that
> are prepared whenever they go on to work or to get a degree.
> Amy Billman
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Maria L" <raynbo@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 5:47 PM
> Subject: [bct] Re: Frustrations with how AT is taught
> > I'm very sad to say that I have known several people who made it all the
> > way to college without appropriate training in AT.  Their parents
> > the university to provide all the accommodation that high schools did,
> > which obviously did not happen.  The students didn't gain much exposure
> > AT in the first place, so they definitely didn't know what they needed
> > even might want in terms of tedchnology.  I've heard stories of how
> > students struggled with the rehab system to provide them training, but
> > were given the answer that since they didn't use their computers very
> > much, the education didn't seem to be worth the cost.
> > I hope this isn't common everywhere, but I honestly don't know.  I do
> > that these people often struggle in university, and it's a sort of
> > cycle of not quite meeting everyone's expectations.
> > Then of course, there are people who have used special devices for
> > like notetakers, and have a really hard time transitioning to computers.
> > I think once people get into high school, they need to have training
> > programs like Word, the Internet, and have as much experience using both
> > the computer and the notetaker or other device as possible.  It's
> > easier to do this now, especially as more and more papers start being
> > required, but it still needs to be emphasized.
> > Hope this makes sense, a little.
> > Maria
> >
> > ----- Original Message ----- 
> > From: "Amy Billman" <abillman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> > To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> > Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 13:04
> > Subject: [bct] Re: Frustrations with how AT is taught
> >
> >
> >>I have never understood why there are people who will either begin
> >>or start at a job without knowing how to use a computer.  These are
> >>fundamentals that are necessary especially if you are blind.  I
> >>that the student could easily claim ignorance--in other words he was
> >>unaware that a knowledge of how to use word would be necessary, but that
> >>is why there are VR counselors who can and should be assessing the
> >>and abilities of perspective students before they go off to attend a
> >>college or to a job.  We could all debate until next century, whether or
> >>not agencies such as services for the blind do their job and who fell
> >>short but that would not solve the problem and be a severe waste of time
> >>and email space. I believe that in part the reason why colleges do not
> >>always have people who are knowledgeable about any types of adaptive
> >>technology and on how to train a student to use various applications is
> >>because that is not their job. Students should know those things before
> >>they come to school.  It may be necessary for some outside training
> >>via one of freedom scientific's courses or the courses put out by the
> >>Access Technology Institute.  How to open and save a file, selecting
> >>etc etc, those are all things that are the most simplistic tasks and
> >>involve relatively simple windows key strokes. I believe that it isn't
> >>just understanding the use of jaws or whatever screen reader you prefer,
> >>but also the concepts of using windows--it is the whole package.  It's
> >> just like applying for a job--if the position requires that a person
> >> how to use Excel PowerPoint and Access, you don't go into the situation
> >> expecting that the employer will show you how to use those
> >> applications--nor should the school have to in this case, be the one
> >> is responsible for teaching any of the students how to use the
> >> applications needed to do day-to-day school work.  The hand-holding
> >> of has to stop once you leave home if you know what I mean...  If they
> >> are still living at home, the hand holding still cannot continue
> >> colleges are designed for teaching not hand holding.  hehhehNot
> >> is innovative enough to be able to figure out how something is used.
> >> there not some way that this individual can get the training that he so
> >> apparently needs outside of school?  I realize that this may put him
> >> behind in his education, but if he cannot save a document and you are
> >> always having to come to his rescue, it sounds like he already may be
> >> behind or headed in that direction.
> >>
> >> People who seem to refuse to teach everything about how to use a
> >> including Jaws irritate me!   You either need to teach the whole
> >> or nothing at all--none of this bits and pieces stuff!  That is a waste
> >> of time, not to mention a waste of funds paying someone who is only
> >> partially training someone!
> >> Your student doesn't seem to know what he needs, and no one has told
> >> or done their part to educate him about that.
> >> ****jumps down off of soap box****
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> Amy Billman
> >> ----- Original Message ----- 
> >> From: "Debee Norling" <debee@xxxxxxxx>
> >> To: "Blindcooltech@Freelists. Org" <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> >> Sent: Friday, March 24, 2006 5:07 PM
> >> Subject: [bct] Frustrations with how AT is taught
> >>
> >>
> >>>I just had a very frustrating experience I thought I'd share. I'm
> >>> 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
> >>> 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
> >>> truly inclusive. I hesitate to criticize such a caring guy, but he
> >>> 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
> >>> computer more, and we try to wean them away from depending on their
> >>> 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
> >>> supposedly in charge of the lab is never there because he isn't paid
> >>> be
> >>> there.
> >>>
> >>> So John is a beginner. He's been taught how to type in Word, how to
> >>> a
> >>> few simple JAWS commands and how to print. He hasn't been taught how
> >>> save. He doesn't know what saving is. So he simply waits until his
> >>> 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
> >>> 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
> >>> concepts. He shows people how to read the previous word, but not how
> >>> cope when things go wrong.
> >>>
> >>> I've noticed in general that AT people tend to get hung up teaching
> >>> 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
> >>> 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
> >>> my
> >>> boss, an able-bodied social worker type was in a huge panic because
> >>> 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
> >>> her.
> >>>
> >>> But even more than able-bodied, the print impaired, in my opinion,
> >>> 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
> >>> read the title bar in JAWS is not taught , because it isn't necessary
> >>> complete the assignments. But that means when the focus goes south,
> >>> 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
> >>> troubleshoot a printing problem.  They can use JAWS to spell the
> >>> 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
> >>> an
> >>> unfamiliar computer to find stuff. They know how to change fonts but
> >>> how to insert a paragraph from a document in a different directory.
> >>>
> >>> It seems a crime to me to teach computer stuff using a
> >>> 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,
> >>> 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
> >>> AT
> >>> these days?
> >>>
> >>> --Debee
> >>>
> >>>
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> >>>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >
> >
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