[blindkid] Ipad only

DrV icdx1111 at gmail.com
Thu Nov 13 07:18:26 UTC 2014

Nicely put.
The iPad is great & I can certainly understand the enthusiasm for the
advances in access that i-devices have made.
However, I get concerned when the idea is put forth that i-devices alone or
paired with a braille display represent ideal or even adequate access -
they are not.
I have a blind high-schooler & a blind middle-schooler. I am a big fan of
I'm not trying to be dramatic, but to take away my kids' computer & to take
away my children's electronic notetakers would severely handicap them &
would not afford them the full range of access to their school &
extracurricular activities. Many things either are not accessible still via
voiceover & many things can not be accomplished as conveniently nor as
efficiently as with an electronic notetaker. Students really need the full
complement of tools to fully & independently access their curriculums
effectively to the same degree as their sighted peers - electronic
notetakers, laptop, i-device, Perkins, Slate & Stylus, embossed books &
accessible graphics.
A lot of the information (pictures, figures, tables, charts, graphics) even
in the i-textbooks is NOT accessible with voiceover (Bookshare textbooks
also leave a lot of this important info out).
An iPad + refreshable braille display provides some access, but certainly
not full & equal access to a completely blind braille-using student.
I echo the recommendation for a formal tech assessment from non-district
blind tech experts.
Best wishes,

On Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 9:27 PM, Richard Holloway via blindkid <
blindkid at nfbnet.org> wrote:

> On Nov 12, 2014, at 11:47 AM, Amber Hall via blindkid <blindkid at nfbnet.org>
> wrote:
> > They've already bought the iPad for her. But she's the only one in the
> school with one. It's not a schoolwide thing right now. And the braille
> display is one we purchased for home.
> >
> > Sent from my iPhone
> I would be extremely hesitant to send my child’s personal braille display
> from home for daily use at school for a number of reasons— most notably
> that you will need to be able to then supply a replacement immediately at
> any time the unit is unavailable, or your child will have no display on
> what sounds like her (potentially) exclusive braille display at school.
> If your personal display vanishes or gets smashed by some mysterious
> student (etc.), the school is not at all likely to pay for repair or
> replacement. And if a student actually gets caught breaking it, good luck
> getting $1000 out of the kid's parents to repair your unit, at least
> without having to file a lawsuit...
> Also, it is quite likely that some support issues could arise, where the
> TVI could all at once be unable or unwilling to support this device. Even
> if you’re sure your current TVI would NEVER do such a thing, people get
> reassigned and retire.
> Besides, you’re putting tons of use on equipment you’ll need to pay to
> maintain and repair, and the last time I checked, it seems like each
> braille cell that gets replaced on most displays is about $100 per cell to
> exchange for a refurbished one, so repairs get expensive quickly, and I
> promise it isn’t a question of IF a braille display will fail, but WHEN,
> especially with daily use...
> I don’t know about all the rest of the parents here, but my wife and I are
> required to sign an agreement stating that we are responsible for equipment
> when it comes home from school, but I can guarantee you that if something
> goes wrong at school which our child didn’t cause on her personal
> equipment, there is not the slightest chance the school is going to step in
> and pay to repair to replace the item. (I’d like to see our school sign an
> agreement in the other direction, LOL)
> That you want to be supportive and work with the school is very kind, but
> the fact it, schools are supposed to pay for this equipment, and they are
> supposed to do so with our tax dollars. And if I may be so bold— yes, I get
> it that some of our kids cost the school districts more than they get for
> that one particular student, but then again, the bulk of our typical kids
> cost the system less than they are paid. It works a lot like they way
> insurance premiums work for car insurance. When an insurance company pays
> for a repair, it isn’t a gift to the person who gets the check— the damaged
> party is entitled to reimbursement, and the fact that it generally costs
> more to pay for a totaled car than the company paying out made from that
> one policy is just how the system works. School budgets are designed with
> the knowledge that various special situations will cost more than average.
> A notetaker is an expense the school system must cover, just like a Perkins
> Brailler, a teacher’s pay, a cafeteria worker’s pay, or a even a new tire
> for a school bus when it gets a flat.
> As I may have discussed on this list before, it occurs to me that many
> schools actually save a huge amount of money on Braille transcriptions by
> greatly reducing the need to transcribe items into embossed Braille by
> using things like electronic braille (particularly by way of notetakers). A
> $6,000 or $7,000 notetaker probably seems expensive to most of us. (It does
> to me!) But, what does the portion of a salary of a Braille transcriber for
> a single student cost? More than $7,000 a year most likely... And how many
> years does a typical notetaker last? (Presumably several?) Isn’t it
> reasonable to deduce that a notetaker is offsetting more than a the cost of
> ownership for numerous LEA’s simply in reduced transcription expenses?
> I’m not trying to present a formula for a school budget here, and
> sometimes TVI’s are transcribing a lot of the work too— I get that, but I
> know that we had a braille transcriptionist working close to full-time at
> our daughter’s elementary school a while back, and the vast majority of her
> workload was just transcribing for our daughter. (I was told this
> directly.) A huge amount of my daughter’s work is now supplied
> electronically. Only a small portion is ever conventionally transcribed
> now. In fact most of my daughter’s assignments are emailed to her and she
> emails back the work when it is completed. This saves countless hours of
> transcribing for the school, and lets our daughter turnaround work (and get
> feedback) at the same rate as with the sighted students in her class.
> My point here is that while this technology seems expensive at a glance,
> it often is SAVING the school tons of money, and it saves time (and
> therefore one could argue money) for many people who work with my daughter,
> and presumably that is a fairly commonplace savings for other Blind
> students’s schools. If the schools would actually follow the requirement to
> deal with ONLY electronic texts (web-based, iDevice based, etc.) which are
> actually compliant with accessibility requirements, they’d be saving even
> more money, but I’ll leave that for a different thread sometime.
> My apologies— I don’t mean to hijack this thread, but it seems really
> important to discuss this in general— It isn’t supposed to be about cost in
> the first place, but the irony I see is that while LEA’s tend to react by
> pulling away from these costly devices when they think they can, they’re
> really avoiding money-saving solutions. (“Penny-wise, Pound-foolish!")
> Our kids are entitled to have tactile access to read and write Braille
> like sighted kids are entitled to print they can read— be that on paper, in
> books or on screens, so the school simply must provide some sort of braille
> solution here— be that embossed paper, a notetaker, or possibly (if the can
> make it work as well as other solutions and you agree) a braille display
> that they own and maintain. And yes, no matter what, there will be needs
> for some conventional embossed braille, as well as tactile supporting
> materials— charts, graphs, maps, etc. I’m not saying that will ever vanish.
> I really think the school / LEA needs to offer some compelling reason for
> this switch, which I maintain would have nothing to do with things like
> their budget or their own convenience, because that would be ILLEGAL.
> The best argument I can see (for the school) would be to let tour daughter
> have technology that is the same as the technology assigned to the other
> students, which I read is not the case. Another point— since they are not
> using or supporting iPads for the other students, I’m guessing that means
> there are no spare units on hand if your daughter’s fails, and also that
> (unless you can do this at home) there is a strong likelihood that should
> her unit fail or be lost, there may not be a backup in place. (That may be
> easily handled with some cloud settings, but to which cloud account would
> the unit be backed up, being a school machine? What is the plan to keep her
> work safe and guarantee her access without indue interruption of the iPad
> is stolen by another student?)
> One last point, not to be overlooked, pretty much every IEP I have seen
> for a blind student indicates the nature of the technology the student
> requires. Generally, rather than "BrailleNote Apex", or “BrailleSense", it
> will say “notetaker with braille keyboard and display” or such, but it is
> very common to specify the needed equipment in a student’s IEP. This is
> required for all sorts of standardized testing where we live as well. If
> the accommodations aren’t in the IEP, the cannot be used for required state
> testing. So surely, I hope that any required accommodations in the IEP are
> covered by the iPad, if they think it can replace all the rest of this
> student’s current equipment (or whatever they plan to replace). I know in
> some cases, notetakers cannot be used because you cannot disable
> calculation features, but you cannot do that with an iPad either, (as far
> as I’m aware). The school can’t just arbitrarily ignore what is in the IEP,
> and you have every right to refuse to sign an IEP with any such changes to
> which you are reasonably opposed. Make a fuss. Be the squeaky wheel unless
> you are truly convinced the change is in your child’s best interest. Adding
> the iPad? Sure, give it a shot, but loosing the BrailleSense? No way.
> As others have suggested, I would definitely ask to see their technology
> assessment which supports a need for this change, but I’d also fight pretty
> hard to keep a notetaker available and look to the future with thoughts of
> an accessible computer at school as well— display and all, no matter what
> they suggest. (A BrailleSense may be a solution for the computer display as
> well via bluetooth.) Particularly if the sighted students have computer
> access, your child needs to have the same, but it sounds like the school is
> thinking that your child can just settle for an iPad to cover all her
> needs. The iPad solving everything, very simply, seems unlikely to me.
> Apologies for the long post and good luck!
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