[blindkid] Elementary School iPad Experience

Rick Fox richardfox1 at comcast.net
Mon Jan 28 20:30:55 UTC 2013

Hello everybody,

I believe Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is applicable:

According to an explanatory brochure from the Federal Department of Health
and Human Services,

What Is Section 504?
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a national law that
protects qualified individuals from
discrimination based on their disability. The nondiscrimination requirements
of the law apply to employers
and organizations that receive financial assistance from any Federal
department or agency, including the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). These organizations and
employers include many hospitals,
nursing homes, mental health centers and human service programs.
Section 504 forbids organizations and employers from excluding or denying
individuals with disabilities an
equal opportunity to receive program benefits and services. It defines the
rights of individuals with disabilities
to participate in, and have access to, program benefits and services."

I believe The Fedral Government provides aid to schools to implement the
IDEA through the Department of Education. If this is so, the schools are
subject to Section 504.

Rick Fox 
-----Original Message-----
From: blindkid [mailto:blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Richard
Sent: Monday, January 28, 2013 1:43 PM
To: Blind Kid Mailing List, (for parents of blind children)
Subject: Re: [blindkid] Elementary School iPad Experience

Interesting link. That plan mentions iPads (and similar tablets) as well as
laptops, or some combination of the two as potential solutions. 

I would like to think that they would plan ahead enough to use accessible
source material, but I'm inclined to mention that here in Georgia, our
county has gone to a number of web-based text books for at least a couple of
years now. We have not been overly impressed with the result.

The school sounded sort of excited for Kendra at first because it would
offer her access. Turns out that really isn't the case. Sure, the web site
reads aloud, but JAWS cannot manage the site content, and her Apex is
entirely useless to access the sites. They did load at least one electronic
text book onto her Apex last semester. Turns out they managed not to provide
any page numbers at all in the book-- a rather important oversight. All
Kendra could so was search for a unique passage to jump to the right
section. It was really frustrating, and use of this text was quickly

Back to the web access for text books-- there's no way for Kendra to access
the buttons to select playback. We can start playback for her, but the
reading stops at fairly random locations and needs sighted assistance to
restart. Reality is she shouldn't even need our help to start reading at
all. Any typical, sighted 10-year-old can open a text or go to a web page
and click start with no help at all. Most importantly (at least in our case)
is the fact that JAWS doesn't see the content as accessible text, so there
is no braille access on a braille display.

Reading and listening are two different kinds of learning. Sighted kids with
electronic access to these materials have access to read or listen in many
cases. They also have full access to photos and illustrations. With present
technology, tactile access to graphics and photos is pretty much nonexistent
for a web site. Even worse. many of the web sites go out of their way to
limit ways to capture and adapt graphics. Best case, there is some sort of
caption or alternative description to say, "This is a photo of a statue of
President Lincoln", or the like. Then again, with conventional texts, we
often find non-text content to be ignored or at best, very minimally

I have also tried to capture text and move that to a more accessible
situation for Kendra from these web textbooks. The sites have generally
disabled that option, presumably to guard their copyright? Apart from some
absurd workaround like screen capture to OCR, I see no solution, and we're
not going to deal with hundreds or thousands of screen captures of
multi-columned text and try to convert e-books to the text which should
already be accessible to begin with.

In our case, we make a point of getting copies of the texts in both braille
and print whenever possible, though sometimes they are (we are told) simply
not available. My assumption is they will become less and less available in
the future as well. If you're working with braille and print copies at the
same time, you're already in a confusing situation with page numbers.
Electronic breaks with web-based materials, combined with trying to be in a
physical location by a computer, and a braillenote (etc,.) plus print and
braille books, and sometimes a brailler and an abacus or two, (etc.) seems
to make this transitional state between the print/braille materials and the
electronic realm an interesting logistical challenge.

Does anyone know who or what regulates, or at least guides accessibility in
terms of electronic text books?

On Jan 28, 2013, at 12:44 PM, DrV wrote:

> One of the topics I heard on the way in to work today was that LAUSD 
> is thinking about providing tablet devices to all 650,000 students in 
> the district. I googled & here is the link to an article on the subject:
> www.dailynews.com/news/ci_22437047/plan-supply-lausd-students-apple-ip
> ads-o
> r-other
> <http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_22437047/plan-supply-lausd-students-
> apple
> -ipads-or-other>.
> Needless to say, this will affect blind & vi students too.
> EricV

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