[blindkid] Ipad only

David Thomas david.thomas at davidthetechguy.com
Thu Nov 13 21:54:36 UTC 2014

Hello I am a blind high school student, and I thought I would way in. If it was a perfect world I would purchase the new notetaker as well as an iPad, and compliment them with a Mac. The reason I say a Mac is because you have the best of both worlds, and can install Windows on the device as well. If you use the notetaker as a braille display you can carry both braille display, and the note taking functionality in one unit. 
> On Nov 13, 2014, at 3:18 PM, DrV via blindkid <blindkid at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> 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
> technology.
> 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,
> Eric
> 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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