[Nfbmo] Fw: blind student takes science class

DanFlasar at aol.com DanFlasar at aol.com
Tue Nov 22 21:47:33 UTC 2011

   Thanks for theforward.  There have been means of  translating 
mathematical notation into symbols entirely available using a  keyboard.  As a matter 
of fact, early mathematical programs and programming  languages only had 
ascii text available to program mathematics.  For  example, x squared would be 
typed in as X**2, x cubed would be X**3 and so  on.  It's not as elegant and 
concise, but it worked.  The problem here  is that text-recognition 
software and OCR programs cannot transform scientific  notation into keyboard 
   I don't see any reason why this couldn't be done.
   This does not, however, address the issue of graphs and  charts.
In a message dated 11/22/2011 10:29:28 A.M. Central Standard Time,  
GWunder at earthlink.net writes:

Thanks Jim.  Quite a good article.

-----Original Message-----
From:  nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf
Of  James Moynihan
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 9:05 AM
To: NFB of  Missouri Mailing List
Subject: [Nfbmo] Fw: blind student takes science  class

Fellow Federationists

Amanda Lacy was fortunate that  Professor Baldwin was willing to work with
her so that she could become  successful.  I was very lucky that Dick
Chiacchierini, my college  roommate tutored me so that I could pass college
algebra. Many blind  college students do not have instructors who take the
time and patience to  work with us.    These students drop out and  become


Jim Moynihan.
----- Original  Message -----
From: "Neuman, Dale A." <NeumanD at umkc.edu>
To:  <jamesmmoynihan at gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 8:15  AM
Subject: blind student takes science class

November 21, 2011,  4:51 pm

By Alexandra  Rice<http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/author/arice>

Amanda  Lacy was frustrated with her physics class and ready to drop it.

Ms.  Lacy, a blind student at Austin Community College, is a  

major who loves her classes but often struggles in  them, not because she
doesn’t understand the material, but because she  doesn’t have access to
adequate textbooks. And when she started taking the  introduction-to-physics
class, things got even worse, until a professor  stepped in with a solution.

The college provides blind students with  digital copies of textbooks so 

can listen to them on the computer  or read them using an electronic Braille
display. But the figures and  graphs in Ms. Lacy’s physics book don’t
easily translate the same way that  text does.

“There are many symbols that the computer doesn’t  recognize,” Ms. Lacy
said, “so it just comes out as gibberish.” For  example, Ms. Lacy said in
an interview, the computer will read ‘X squared’  simply as ‘X2′.

When Ms. Lacy showed her digital textbook to her  computer-science 

Richard Baldwin, he was shocked, she said.  He told her if someone didn’t
take her problem seriously there was no way  she would make it through the

So Mr. Baldwin started working  with Ms. Lacy for a few hours each week,
slowly going through the textbook  and trying to explain the graphics to her
in a way that she understood.  “He’d do whatever he could to get these
concepts across,” Ms. Lacy said.  “He’d scratch them out on paper, draw
them on my hand, things like that.”  While they were working together, Mr.
Baldwin began creating an open-access  online
tutorial<http://cnx.org/content/col11294/latest/> for blind  students
learning physics.

In Mr. Baldwin’s tutorials, equations are  written using only symbols found
on keyboards so that everything is  one-dimensional and presented in a 

that blind people can read.  Using the tutorials, Ms. Lacy excelled in her
physics class and received an  A in the course.

Working with Ms. Lacy taught Mr. Baldwin many things,  too, such as that
blind people can’t draw with much accuracy. So he came up  with a new
software for that as well. “I sent this thing to her at home,  and the next
time I saw her she was pretty elated,” Mr. Baldwin said. “She  told me,
‘Finally, I can doodle.’” Before that, her physics professor would  just
allow her to skip the problems that required sketches for answers.  Now, Ms.
Lacy says, she is working with the software so that when she takes  Physics
II she can turn in her completed homework with the rest of the  students.

Sometimes people ask her why she doesn’t just study something  easier for
blind students, like English or history, Ms. Lacy says. What  does she tell
them? “Because I’ll get bored.”
Dale A.  Neuman
Director, Harry S Truman Center for Governmental Affairs
Special  Projects Associate, College of Arts and Sciences
Professor Emeritus of  Political Science
816-235-6108 or 816-235-2787
FAX  816-235-5191
Neumand at umkc.edu

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