[nobe-l] Technical gaps that need to be filled for math classes.

Kendra Schaber redwing731 at gmail.com
Thu Jan 31 01:09:30 UTC 2019

Technical gaps that need to be filled for math classes.
Hi all!
I’m taking college algebra which has an awesome teacher and awesome support from my school’s Disability Services. Dispite this awesome support, the longer I’m in this class, the farther south I seem to be treading. No, it’s not entirely because I can’t solve a quadradic equation to save my life. It’s because I keep running into some major ethical and technical gaps that really need to be filled. I have an Orien TI84 graphic calculator, a Polaris Braille Sense with the Polaris Math app, a Dell laptop computer with both JAWS and NVDA installed on it, an iPhone SE with Voice Over and of course, this math class requires braille textbooks.
I’m not here to ask for spasific help in one area here. But I have quickly spotted some major gaps that I think all math students are facing that need to be dealt with asap.
Orien TI84 graphic calculator:
This graphic calculator is an awesome tool when you have mastered it. The ethical problem here is for those of us who are in our 30s and who are also not computer programers and who are also not young enough to have a sixth sense on how to figure out how to work technology. I’m one of the amiture folks who knows how to work technology once I have learned how to use this technology. I have noticed that the calculator is not as simular to the normal vertions as everyone wants you to believe. Whenever I have gone and had a sited person, tutor or teacher show me how to work this calculator, we often run into technical hang ups with the accessibility. For example, just before this writing, I was sitting in my math classroom after class itself had ended with my math teacher. He was walking me through how to discover the minamun point on a coordinent plane. We have noticed how much I’m slowed down when reading the points to hunt for this minamum. My teacher and I couldn’t figure out how to get the calculator to quickly list off this information without spending five minutes, (not egzaderating) just to read through the points to find the minamum. We have noticed that if I were to get ten of this kind of problem in my homework, that if I were to try this kind of problem without a pair of sited eyeballs, it would take me literarly, all day just to get through just that set of ten math problems. This example is just one of a few that I could list off the top of my head that are of this nature. While I’m on the same thread, this ethical technical issue also connects up to a bigger picture. I have noticed that everyone wants to point people like me to the usual resources like the school’s tutoring center, etutoring and of course, Professor U Tube and Professor Google and the manuals that are better served in the recycling bin. Sure, everything but the mannuals do have their place. Don’t get me wrong! But for people like me who are not born with NASA technical brains, we actually need our own teacher who already knows this calculator and who can actually teach better than the tutors that come from most school’s tutoring centers. The ethical issue is just as much a technical issue. These experts don’t igzist in most places where accessible tech is taught. I had to put out a call for help on the math list. Luckily, I managed to get a blind calculus student in college who knows this calculator. But I could just as easily have not found any one at all who could help me out. I also got more of the expected feedback in which I was told to go to the usual resources. But what people don’t truely don’t understand is that those resources leave just as many gaps as they fill whenever they do help out. Also, the U Tube vidios have so much visual information that they leave more gaps for a blind audience than they actually give to that same audience. Also, when you do run into something that is remotely useful, it costs an arm and a leg for those of us on SSI. So, either way, we are doomed for aquiring the right resources that are actually going to assist us normal non NASA brained folks.
The Polaris Braille Sense:
The Polaris Braille Sense is even more of a specialty piece of technology than the calculator. This awesome braille note taker is so new that there is not enough useful information that is presented in such a way that a blind person would benefit from when trying to learn how to use this note taker by using U Tube vidios. Just like the calculator, there are not enough specialty tech teachers who knows how to work this device. As the result, it can and does take months just to learn how to use the Polaris Braille Sense. There is a deeper layer with this device that I believe it leaves even more gaps than it actually fills. This gap is the Polaris Math app. True, this app is useful when you know how to use it, particularly when you need to send your teacher several coordinent plain graphs as homework or in a test. The problem is that there isn’t enough information that’s out there that a blind person would benefit from. Today, I watched a vidio which left out a few very small but critical gaps such as where the graph button is for example. Vidios like this often helps the sited person more than the blind person who is required to use this app every time they go to turn a graph into their math professor. Again, there are too many people who promptly point out the usual resources which do have their place but they also don’t understand that such resources leave more gaps than they fill. We simply need more blind tech specialists to teach the non NASA brained college student. Even my own tech teacher is a non NASA brained blind tech teacher. Because of this, her skills are limited even though she specializes in teaching access technology. But she even needs such experts to farther expand her education.
Braille books:
I love braille dearly!!! However, I can’t stand the way textbook producers drag their feet with making braille textbooks when the schools who use them pay thousands of dollars just to make them. First of all, way too many hard copy braille textbooks are slower than the class that they are suposed to work in. My math class requires a textbook that my math teacher spasifically picked out for me to use in his class. I got the first part just fine and like normal. But from last week on, they got delayed. I waited a few days just in case the snail mail was delayed only to discover apon farther digging that they got delayed by at least 2 weeks. Even without any other technical problem, this issue alone renders a blind person unable to do their homework independently. I now have to have a reader to cover this gap. I have also noticed some errors in the braille translation itself. Mind you, that’s not including the unrealistic expectation for a math student of any form to read 14 vollums of an encyclopitia styled textbook in 2 weeks. I scated around that by jumping dirrectly to the homework and studdying the rest as needed. In any case, those pesky hard copy braille books also address some bigger ethical issues that are gaps for decades.
Braille graphics:
Braille graphics are crazy and hard to produce. However, they are highly needed in the math and science fields. Because of this, graphs has to come up here. There has been talk of a piece of technology that’s suposed to make 2 demintional graphs. But where is it? Why hasn’t it ever made it on to the markets? This needs to be addressed now!!! For people like me, I can’t read a braille math book on my braille display and get the information that’s needed when it’s presented in the graphs that I would get in a hard copy braille text book. A 3D printer can’t address them because the graphs are 2 dementional, not 3 dementional. I have had a picture in my mind of a whole page that’s full of nothing but braille pixles that can pop up anywhere on the page to. Either write in regular braille text form, Nemeth Code, UEB code or graphs or the combination. This kind of technology does not igzist. This kind of technology hasn’t even been invented yet. It’s 2019, not 1999 and I still have not seen such technology. I thought it would be out by now, particularly because of how fast most technology moves. Also, I would want this braille page of braille pixles to connect up to a braille note taker as needed. I would want to read my homework with this screen but with the note taker, I would also want to do my homework because a blind student couldn’t read their homework and write it at the same time which is what is needed by the student. Because of this, a blind person can’t work their math textbooks nor read graphs in less they are done in hard copy form. Hard copy takes up way too much space, is too comberson to be realistic and is also not always consistantly ethical because it’s not always on the same time, same place, same date and same leval playing field.
With all that on the table, here is what this does to a blind person based on my own experiences. This slows the blind student way down, so much so, that the student in question can’t keep up with the class at all. They can’t independently do their homework without help and regarding the technology, without the correct knowledge, the tech is rendered totally useless. There are far better ways to improve accessability. Why aren’t these issues even talked about, brought up nor even passed around in normal conversation? I don’t even know the answer. But I know that there are still way too many dangerous gaps that need to be filled in order to get more blind students into the STEM fields. What do you all think of the ethics of these gaps?

Thank you for taking the time to read this E Mail! 
Blessed be!!! 
Kendra Schaber, 
 Chemeketa Community College, 
 350 Org, 
Citizen’s Climate Lobby,    
National Federation of the Blind of Oregon,  
Capitol Chapter, 
Salem, Oregon. 
 Home email: 
Redwing731 at gmail.com 
 Chemeketa Community College Email: 
 Kschaber at my.Chemeketa.edu  
"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear" Author Unknown. 
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