[blindkid] Ipad only

Marianne Denning marianne at denningweb.com
Thu Nov 13 22:12:36 UTC 2014

David, I think you have a great idea there.  Unfortunately it isn't a
perfect world but it keeps getting better and better.

On 11/13/14, David Thomas via blindkid <blindkid at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> 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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Marianne Denning, TVI, MA
Teacher of students who are blind or visually impaired
(513) 607-6053

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