[Blindmath] psychology statistical diagrams

Bernard M Diaz b.m.diaz at liverpool.ac.uk
Mon Oct 25 12:59:33 CDT 2010


I've experience of generating only one diagram that NEEDED
3D - a plane embedded in 3D; that is a "surface"; and yes used
the Tiger system.  It took about 2 days playing to get a
not too successful result, which we did not use in the end!

I'm clearly not very good at this sort of thing, it needs
an artistic (I think that's the best word) flourish which
I guess I don't have.  And I guess, my knowledge of 3D use
is limited too ...
I'm sorry I've not looked at economic stuff, trends, and
time series stuff - which I suspect could all benefit
from the 3D aspect you suggest.  I suspect, for each, it
would be useful to know the approach chosen - if anyone
attempts to do (or has done it) please do share your

Simple "images" (essentially phtographic stuff rendered
into "tonal pictures") e.g. most of the Tiger examples
I've looked at: flowers parts, coloured country diagrams,
digestive systems, most maps - all work well. Where there
is an attempt to get tonal representation to mimic depth
cueing - what I've done suggests: a) its hard, and b) not
too successful at getting over what is intended.  But, as
I say, perhaps I'm not thinking about this in the correct
way - and would appreciate pointers.

A final note.  Many staff use Powerpoint. Where a diagram
is involved I suggest that they copy the "slide" then
edit that to remove all but the diagram.  Enlarge that
so that it fuses correctly ("touchably" .... is that the
correct word? This also involves thinking about any
colour coding used) and provide in the "notes" section
for that slide a textual description of the diagram using
the language guideline mentioned before.  Then, those
slides are "hidden" with a note that they are for
"accessibility purposes".  The idea is that the student
(or teacher) can fuse the diagram (slide object); Jaws
the notes section (notes object) while "touching" the
fused version, and have Jaws read any text on the slide
proper as well. Now this sounds horrendously complicated,
and it is, but works - sort of; providing the student is
keen, bright, and can hear and touch ... all big requirements
and probably not truly generic.  Ideally, if a suitable
description language were used (for the 2D diagrams) and
one that works for us is the old "pic" language (not
tried the latex equivalents) from Unix, then that might
be an alternative way forward ...
Of course having Powerpoint provide me with "a swiper" to
convert text to Braille dots (Nemeth for maths even?) that
we could paste onto the slide would be wonderful - but that
does not exist as yet (except as a separate tool - I believe).
The last nice thing would be for this to be done automatically
whenever "diagram material" was detected in Powerpoint
an "accessibilty switch" perhaps?

Kind regards - Bernard Diaz.

Roopakshi Pathania wrote:
> Hi Bernard,
> Thanks for offering such a lengthy explanation even when I did not
> fully explain my question.
> Yes, I was thinking that although 2D diagrams can be fused and then
> interpreted successfully with the help of Braille labels that is
> probably not the best solution when it comes to 3d images or
> complicated 2d figures. In my subject Economics, for example although
> the majority of diagrams are 2d, the intersection of 2 or more curves
> and the presence of lengthy labels can’t be presented as a single
> diagram unless I or any other student for that matter has some
> practice of making sense of these images. Of course as you have said
> verbal/ textual description helps a lot in these situations. But the
> problem of preserving complexity is also why I think that variable
> height tactile diagrams producing Braille embossers are useful.
> Regards
> --- On Wed, 10/20/10, Bernard M Diaz <b.m.diaz at liverpool.ac.uk>
> wrote:
>> From: Bernard M Diaz <b.m.diaz at liverpool.ac.uk> Subject: Re:
>> [Blindmath] psychology statistical diagrams To: "Roopakshi
>> Pathania" <r_akshi_tgk at yahoo.com> Date: Wednesday, October 20,
>> 2010, 11:41 PM Hi,
>> I've use a Tiger system and IVEO to generate high quality, with 
>> Braille labelling etc, image and diagram stuff. However, each took
>> (and I'm sighted) about half a day to produce. Yes, its great if
>> you have the time to do the design preparation, etc.  It may be the
>> best for those blind ... but I'm not sure.  Total number of such
>> tactiles produced ... about a dozen.
>> I now have about 2-300 swell paper diagrams under my belt. Several 
>> about 20 I think, used in University exams.  I've shown half a
>> dozen colleagues (in about 10 minutes each) how to do the same 
>> thing (all sighted alas, so perhaps not relevant). This was 
>> directed toward 3 blind students we've had. They tell me that they
>> prefer the swell paper ...
>> With each diagram (when it was lecture material) we provided a text
>> description (students have Jaws that can read the files) especially
>> if there is extensive labelling.  In exams, a laptop (with Jaws
>> etc) has the exam paper loaded. Every tactile has a text
>> description (using language such as "graph", "tree" or "indented
>> block" as appropriate to the subject). In addition there is an
>> "Invigilators Script" that alerts the invigilator/amanuensis to any
>> issues that apply to the tactile for example where ordinary text is
>> included on the tactile.
>> In tutorials, the sighted draw onto swell paper and we then fuse
>> these for the blind. We have used wiki-stix too (once) but this was
>> abandoned for verbal descriptions; and soon the sighted were using
>> them too (a picture here definitely less than a 100 words!).  The
>> essential idea we used was to restrict our thinking to a sheet of
>> paper in landscape on which gross position (left middle right/top
>> centre bottom) of objects was identified first e.g. boxes, circles,
>>  ellipses, stick men (UML diagrams), etc.  Then labelling of these.
>>  Then contruction based on that (e.g. line from the top left circle
>> labelled "A" to the centre bottom square labelled "user"). If
>> curves were required, we resorted to the fuser ... OK not very
>> complicated, but for computer science UML based design it seemed to
>> work and especially where the design aim was some hierarchical
>> decomposition (say).
>> Approximate rule of thumb for complexity was a) if there were more
>> than 20 objects (4 rows of 5, say) and more than 20 construction
>> elements then it seemed that no-one could retain the content
>> precisely in their head, without resorting to simplifications; b)
>> if you could exploit table like structure i.e. row column type
>> thinking then you could allow one axis to expand to up to 10
>> objects. c) random placement with interacting construction, i.e. 
>> lines crossing, and similar incidental complexity was a definite
>> no-no complexity wise; d) for all, if the diagram required
>> expressions (maths) especially if this was spatially formatted
>> (e.g. matrices) these took up a lot of explanation, and seemed to
>> detract from the use of the diagram language.
>> Not sure this helps given the relative simplicity of the diagrams
>> we seemed to be using ... but hopefully answers your question?
>> Regards - Bernard Diaz.
>> Roopakshi Pathania wrote:
>>> Hi Bernard,
>>> Having observed the tactile output from both a Braille
>> embosser and a
>>> fuser, I would personally go for an embosser as it
>> provides me with
>>> more independence; and my philosophy is all about
>> doing things
>>> independently.
>>> But I realize the advantages and disadvantages of both
>> technologies,
>>> so methinks your arguments are valid. Now coming to my
>> question for
>>> you: have you used fusers extensively for your
>> students? If so, what
>>> degree of complexity can you preserve in the diagrams
>> before you need
>>> to break down a single diagram into simplified
>> separate pieces?
>>> Regards Roopakshi
>>> --- On Wed, 10/20/10, Bernard M Diaz <b.m.diaz at liverpool.ac.uk> 
>>> wrote:
>>>> From: Bernard M Diaz <b.m.diaz at liverpool.ac.uk>
>> Subject: Re:
>>>> [Blindmath] psychology statistical diagrams To:
>> "Blind Math list
>>>> for those interested in mathematics" <blindmath at nfbnet.org>
>> Date:
>>>> Wednesday, October 20, 2010, 8:48 PM Hi Mike,
>>>> Fusers are standard equipment, used for example at
>> Liverpool
>>>> University to generate tactile versions of lecture
>> material, exam paper diagrams, and in discussions with students to
>> help
>>>> "illustrate" design issues aided by the diagrams
>> (e.g. in computer
>>>> science, discussion based around the use of UML
>> diagrams).
>>>> I believe that where-ever diagram material is a
>> key issue (note not
>>>> images) then swell paper technology, is quick,
>> easy, quiet, cost
>>>> effective and a highly functional additional
>> communication methodology, that is indispensable when teaching
>> blind students.
>>>> Other, more expensive solutions (e.g. braille dot
>> type systems) require training and preparation.  In contrast, it
>> takes a few moments to show teachers how to use swell-paper
>> technology (OK it
>>>> can be used more effectively after more extensive
>> training) but in
>>>> the group teaching environment, speed and
>> functionality given a
>>>> minority of blind, is a key issue.  Swell
>> paper fits that bill
>>>> perfectly
>>>> I recommend that where-ever there are blind, and
>> diagram based teaching is to be given, then a Zyfuse type system is
>> located there
>>>> and teachers and other students that
>> interact with the blind also shown how to use it.
>>>> In my experience, this is material produced for
>> blind students and
>>>> is already fused. It would be possible to
>> circulate unfused (pre-printed) sheets that the student fused.
>> However, I would guess
>>>> this would be unsatisfactory - how would the blind
>> student know
>>>> that it has fused completely and correctly? And
>> then there is a
>>>> safety concern; fusers run at high temperatures
>> that in unsuitable
>>>> environments might possibly cause a fire hazard.
>>>> It might be, that the printed sheets were given to
>> the student and
>>>> the student expected to transfer this to swell
>> paper and then fuse
>>>> that.  I believe this approach neglects a
>> teachers responsibility
>>>> to deliver accessible material, and is not a good
>> idea.
>>>> Finally, I am uncertain (for safety and other
>> reasons) whether a
>>>> blind student should be expected to operate a
>> fuser.  It is clear
>>>> they can, but whether that is sensible, depends on
>> the student, the
>>>> nature of fuser and technology, and the overall
>> environment in
>>>> which the technology is to be used.
>>>> I would guess that if you are being taught using
>> SPSS diagrams (for
>>>> example to comment on distributions, etc) or
>> expected to generate
>>>> them, then swell paper technology is a sine qua
>> non that
>>>> universities must provide. How they do it is then
>> merely an
>>>> operational and budget issue.
>>>> Kind regards - Bernard Diaz (Computer Science,
>> University of
>>>> Liverpool)
>>>> Mike Moore wrote:
>>>>> Hello,
>>>>> I am a blind student studying psychology at
>> university
>>>> in Northern
>>>>> Ireland.
>>>>> I am asking DSA (disabled student's allowance)
>> for a
>>>> fuser by Zychem.
>>>>> This item uses swell paper and I would find it
>> very
>>>> useful when using
>>>>> SPSS software to produce tactile diagrams in
>> order to
>>>> comment on the
>>>>> distribution/dispersion of frequency polygons
>> etc.
>>>>> I am having difficulty convincing them and
>> would like
>>>> to know if
>>>>> anyone else has used this item and how
>> successful it
>>>> has been.
>>>>> Kind regards,
>>>>> Mike Moore, University & College Student
>> Mentor
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