[blindkid] apple netbooks

Heather Field missheather at comcast.net
Mon May 21 21:47:03 UTC 2012

It's the same old story where the teachers want to make "expert" 
pronouncements and simply have you follow them. Imagine for a moment what 
parents would say if a teacher said to them "wait till your sighted child 
has his computer skills and then get him a computer." This is just a silly 
statement that no parent would take seriously. These days, sighted children 
who cannot even walk yet are learning computer skills playing games on their 
parents' iPhones. as we know that parents give sighted children computers 
and, even if these sighted children have never touched a computer before, 
with a little guidance from their parents the sighted children learn to use 
their computers. They practise, experiment, try things out and ask questions 
and they become competent computer users.

I cannot imagine a single reason in the world why this cannot work the same 
way for your blind child.

You can buy the Mac or a Windows-based machine. If you get the Windows 
Netbook you can get him the free NVDa screen-reader, or get the 
screen-reader that is being offered free to all students (I've forgotten 
it's name right now) and you can begin to tell him the basics of computer 
use. Load up a couple of free, accessible games, teach him to send an email 
and access his favourite websites. If there's a question that you and he 
can't answer, he can ask questions of other blind computer users and learn 
to advocate and find out things for himself. When teachers of the blind say 
"wait till your blind child has been taught all the skills befor (insert 
activity her)" I just think it's moronic on their part. Whether it's using a 
cane, walking without sighted guide, using computers, cooking, whatever it 
is, I think it's totally counterproductive. I've just heard this rediculous 
advice from so many teachers of the blind and it makes no sense. Who waits 
till they know how to do everything before trying something new? Not me! I 
never have. I have never had a formal cooking lesson in my life from a 
teacher of the blind. Imagine my life when I left home at at nineteen if I'd 
waited to get special cooking lessons before trying any cooking. I would not 
have even been able to boil water. Why aren't blind children encouraged to 
dive in head first to new and exciting experiences. Working out one's own 
means of accomplishing new tasks is a fabulous life skills to develop and is 
preparation for later life when it is up to blind people to "make life work" 
in a sighted world.

"waiting" for the teacher of the blind to teach all these skills sends 
messages that are not positive. The unspoken message it sends to blind 
children is that they can't learn anything without the help of an expert. 
The unspoken message that it sends to his sighted peers and to his class 
teachers is that he's not like other children and can only learn things if 
he has a special teacher to help. The message that it sends to parents is 
they are powerless to help their own child, although they can help sighted 
children; somehow, with no basis in reality, the blind child is beyond their 
ability to assist.

As a blind person, who is also a teacher, I have lived both sides of this 
scinario and my advice to you is to buy whatever computer you prefer and 
have him jump in with both feet. ... Obviously just my opinion. :)

Heather Field

-----Original Message----- 
From: Rosina Solano
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2012 3:49 PM
To: blindkid at nfbnet.org
Subject: [blindkid] apple netbooks

Okay, I stated that I am looking for a netbook for my son for high school. 
I have also been advised to not jump into the ipad arena just yet, that he 
needs to learn the computer skills first.  I am okay with that.  Now I am 
wondering about apple versus other netbooks.  I know that there is a big 
price difference.  My idea is that is comes installed with Voice Over.  If I 
get a netbook then I also have to get JAWS for a screen reader.  So I am 
just wondering if using the apple netbook will do the same as any other 
computer.  I see that it is compatable with his braille sense plus.  So I am 
just looking for which way to go and why.  He needs to be able to email his 
homework directly to his teachers and get it back.  To do powerpoint 
presentations, etc.  He already has good braille skills and uses an abacus 
extremely well.  He does well in school, but we are WAY behind in the tech 
dept.  We live rural and so do not have it at home either, so
this is all new for all of us.  No cell phones, no ipods, nothing tech other 
than his braille sense.  I use internet several times a week at the local 
library, but if we get him going we plan on getting internet at home.  This 
is very overwhelming for us so please talk plainly.


Rosina Foster
MOPBC Missouri Parents of Blind Children
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