[blindkid] Online Accessibility in College

Ashley Bramlett bookwormahb at earthlink.net
Sun Feb 22 22:25:11 UTC 2015

Hello Shellie,

You've gotten some good advice about readers especially from Kayleigh.
Some responses pointed to resources that cannot help like learning ally; 
that is for textbooks, not inaccessible  computer material.
I finished college what feels like not long ago, and am currently taking 
electives to keep busy while career searching.

As a student, I know what you mean. I ran into those issues too. Whether its 
on a website, a handout on blackboard, or other scanned image document, such 
files were not rendered accessible due to lack of the right coding for 
screen reader access.

Before answering your question, I would like to say you might have another 
solution other than a reader which costs money and scheduling issues.
I think its wonderful you are her reader; you're a dedicated mom; my father 
was my backup reader in college or till I found a paid reader.

Now, the solution is technological. For math or science, you need a reader 
But if its text, you might be able to use an OCR program.
Does your daughter have a OCR scanning program such as Openbook or kurzweil 
or off the shelf program like abby fine reader?
If so, you can send it to the program and at least for openbook or kurzweil, 
it OCR's it right away.
This works if it’s a file; usually a pdf file.
You cannot send material from the internet to it; it has to be a file.
But, even if its from the internet, you may be able to print it out. Then 
she can manually scan it into the OCR program. I've done this. It has mixed 
results depending on the text and clutter on the page.

Another solution may be to have a sighted person, preferabily a dss staff 
person, copy the text into a word file. Sometimes, simply doing this renders 
it accessible.

If this is not working, yes use a reader.
I've used readers extensively for reading text and research  material since 
libraries are often not accessible ranging from inaccessible databases 
online to all sorts of print material.

Here is how to find a reader.

I don't know if she lives on campus, but even if she does not, you might be 
able to get inside dorms to advertise.

Two primary things I recommend.
1. Type up a flyer advertising the position. Be sure to include the rate of 
pay and ways to contact her.
She can help in this, but you or another sighted person should do the layout 
and enlarge the top part to make it visually attractive.
Then place flyers where other students put flyers. This may be bulletin 
boards, dorm walls, student lounges, etc. Your campus may have procedures 
where to place signs or get them approved; follow such procedures.
At Marymount university, we were restricted to placing flyers on certain 
places. we could not put them on glass and some spots were for school issued 
ads as well.

2. Ask in classes. Her professors will let her ask for readers in classes.
Unless you want it to be a collaborative thing on homework, I suggest not 
hiring a reader in that class. I mean do not hire a reader in english class 
to read english  homework. I did this ocasionally, but I found us both 
getting distracted and either discussing other things like our opinion of 
the professor, the next exam, or just other stuff.

Like Kayleigh, I suggest interviewing prospective candidates; the library is 
a good place for that if it has study rooms, or maybe a professor will let 
her use his/her office.
Ask general questions in the interview like goals in college; experience in 
reading aloud, why they want the job, and something about reading like what 
books they like reading. Of course discuss if schedules are compatible and 
also have them read something similar to the reading they would be reading 
once hired. Keep in mind that most readers can only concentrate 2 hours at a 
time. reading aloud is hard on one's voice.

If you prefer not hiring students, asking at your place of worship, if you 
have one, and other community places of worship is a good idea.
Asking the lions club to spread the word to their members also works; I had 
a reader from the lions once.
Older people may be retired and more reliable as well as have flexibility 
students do not have.
But I prefered students as I felt more comfortable controlling someone 
around my age, not someone older than me.
But its up to her.

Hope this is useful, and please contact me on or off list if you have 
additional questions.


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