[BCAB] Braille devices in education

Andrew Hodgson andrew at hodgsonfamily.org
Tue Jul 25 22:47:19 BST 2017


Hi Matthew,

Very interesting discussion, this is the sort of topic I wanted to raise when I put the original thread up to this list several weeks ago and it has taken time to get going.

If you look a couple of years ahead to when there is no BrailleNote other than the Touch, what could you see the school using at this point if you were using technology out today?

Andrew.

-----Original Message-----
From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Matthew Horspool
Sent: 25 July 2017 16:44
To: BCAB Discussion List <bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk>
Subject: Re: [BCAB] Braille devices in education

Hi Jackie,
Education is so fragmented these days that there isn't a simple answer to the question of what students are given. Certainly at Exhall we are still defaulting to BrailleNote, and mostly BrailleNote Apex because we have a bunch of them lying around and the upgrade to the Touch isn't worth it for us.
I do encourage students to learn to touch type and use computers in addition to their BrailleNotes, especially for research tasks and complex word processing projects where it goes without saying that windows will outperform the BrailleNote.
However, the BrailleNote is a much easier platform for reading electronic documents, e.g. novels and plays, because nonsense from the screen reader doesn't get in the way of the reading process. Even for complex things, like poetry anthologies with line numbers, I can give students BRF files that work perfectly on the BrailleNote - I think if they only had a computer we would end up presenting these as hard copy braille.
We even have some students doing maths on their BrailleNotes. I'm happy with that because of the Braille display and the WYBIWYG approach discussed in my last email to Tony. However, I wouldn't be so happy with them doing maths on a laptop. Obviously I wouldn't stop them if that's really what they want to do, but undoubtedly it would slow them down.
The proprietary, outdated software isn't a big deal for us - indeed, for our purposes, the BrailleNote Apex performs much better than the BrailleNote Touch because the Touch is trying to do too much.
Matthew


-----Original Message-----
From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Jackie Brown
Sent: 25 July 2017 14:17
To: 'BCAB Discussion List' <bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk>
Subject: Re: [BCAB] Braille devices in education

Hi Mike

Agreed, I can take in particularly manuals much better if I read rather than listen to them.

Teaching a child to read and write Braille, along with typing, is surely going to enhance their study, employment and other life skill prospects when they become an adult.  And if it is at all possible, I think giving a child the opportunity to learn Windows with Office applications as they mature must surely help.  Sean would know this as he teaches, but what are students given in class now these days?  Is it a Windows laptop with a Braille display, or a dedicated note-taker with proprietary, outdated software?

Kind regards,

Jackie Brown
Email: Jackieannbrown62 at gmail.com
Check out my website: www.thebrownsplace.info Follow me on Twitter: @thebrownsplace Skype name: thejackmate


-----Original Message-----
From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Michael Cassidy via Bcab
Sent: 25 July 2017 13:59
To: BCAB Discussion List <bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk>
Cc: Michael Cassidy <mike.cassidy at ntlworld.com>
Subject: Re: [BCAB] Braille devices in education

Hi all.

And there is still the pleasure of reading Braille both on the display and on the page; I still find learning from Braille preferable on many occasions than learning from listening to text.

Regards,

Mike
> On 25 Jul 2017, at 13:39, dennis huckle <muir1918 at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> Agreed Jackie,
> However I have been to schools who have one or two totally blind 
> pupils and staff at that time (the mid 2000's) wanted to take braille 
> input away from their pupils and just rely on qwerty.
> I do feel however that if you learn to touch type from an early age as 
> I also did it does help.
> Kind regards,
> Dennis huckle.
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of Jackie 
> Brown
> Sent: 25 July 2017 11:46
> To: 'BCAB Discussion List' <bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk>
> Subject: Re: [BCAB] Braille devices in education
> 
> This might be slightly controversial, but drawing from my own 
> education during the late 1960s and 70s.  I learnt Braille using a 
> Perkins for writing.  But I also learnt to touch type at a young age 
> too, and I really do think this is very important in education today, 
> and why pupils and students shouldn't just be given a Braille input 
> device.  I am so thankful that I had the option to type as well 
> because I can just switch from one to the other and not give it a 
> second thought.  And that's where devices such as ElBraille are great 
> because you have the best of both worlds if you want it.  Children 
> with partial or no sight should always be taught both Braille and 
> qwerty
input, it gives them a fighting chance when they grow up.
> 
> Kind regards,
> 
> Jackie Brown
> Email: Jackieannbrown62 at gmail.com
> Check out my website: www.thebrownsplace.info Follow me on Twitter:
> @thebrownsplace Skype name: thejackmate
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of dennis 
> huckle
> Sent: 25 July 2017 11:13
> To: 'BCAB Discussion List' <bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk>
> Subject: Re: [BCAB] Braille devices in education
> 
> Also there is a facality to attach an hdmi moniter so as the 
> instructor can view what the puple is doing.
> El braille is some thing I have just purchased and I am very impressed.
> Kind regards,
> Dennis huckle.
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bcab [mailto:bcab-bounces at lists.bcab.org.uk] On Behalf Of 
> Michael Cassidy via Bcab
> Sent: 25 July 2017 11:10
> To: BCAB Discussion List <bcab at lists.bcab.org.uk>
> Cc: Michael Cassidy <mike.cassidy at ntlworld.com>
> Subject: Re: [BCAB] Braille devices in education
> 
> Hi Andrew,
> 
> As one who has grown up with Braille but who has acquired qwerty 
> keyboard skills as well, I feel that as far as possible each student 
> should be assessed to find their most appropriate option. I would have 
> thought that the majority these days would be choosing the qwerty 
> option. For me, Elbraille looks a good option despite the price, and 
> there is the facility to attach a qwerty keyboard as required.
> 
> Cheers,
> 
> Mike
>> On 3 Jul 2017, at 16:50, Andrew Hodgson <andrew at hodgsonfamily.org> wrote:
>> 
>> Hi all,
>> 
>> Interesting question which I have been pondering on for a bit.  What
> Braille devices (notetakers, laptops, etc.) are people using in 
> education these days?
>> 
>> A while ago I was speaking to someone who was giving out BrailleNote
> devices (not the Touch, but the ones before that), as they had the 
> following
> features:
>> 
>> - Were durable;
>> - Had limited scope for damage or fiddling;
>> - Were simple to use;
>> - Allowed teachers to review the work that students were doing;
>> - Everything serviced (including software) by a single company.
>> 
>> I can see the advantages and disadvantages of all these, but I was 
>> quite
> impressed with the BrailleNote Touch for the education aspect, and 
> that it was giving students an Android device in a single package, and 
> teachers could look at the work students were doing if required.
>> 
>> Sean's recent email regarding the ElBraille raises a number of 
>> points,
> because obviously the unit is cheaper than a BrailleNote touch, and 
> also has multiple possibilities regarding using the copy of JFW on 
> other computers in the school (such as class computers, laptops etc.), 
> but from someone who has limited knowledge of Braille, are they an 
> attractive package for LEAs and schools to give out to students?
>> 
>> My own experience is using a standard laptop with WordPerfect (then 
>> when
> Windows was being used Word), with a screen reader.  I wouldn't have 
> used anything else for my schooling now, but that is how I work.
>> 
>> I realise the best approach is to work with the student and find out 
>> what
> works best, but in a lot of cases that isn't doable especially when 
> people try and get several devices of the same type and force these on 
> all students.
>> 
>> So, what makes a good device for education, and how are children 
>> using
> these?  What are the barriers, what is causing concerns from people 
> providing the equipment?
>> 
>> Discuss,
>> Andrew.
>> 
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