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This page was last updated on: 23 October, 2012
Let's Meet Frank
Has been adopted into a supporting family
Mother has been working with him to learn cause and effect
Has been learning hand over hand access for simple keyboards
Has a good seating and positioning system
Has good hearing
Is able to respond to verbal questions
Frank's Learning Challenges:
Total vision loss
Diagnosed as mentally retarded
Frank's Educational Needs:
Frank's mother wants him to be able to independently access reading material, and have the opportunity to answer questions and take tests.
Frank is totally blind, and has never had effective access to a computer. He has never been exposed to any educational assistive technology, nor has he ever been tested on what he is learning in school.
Frank was brought into an Augmentative Communication and Technology Clinic for evaluation by a rehabilitation engineer, physical and occupational therapists, social worker, and an expert from an institute for the deaf and blind. His mother was there to describe her thoughts on what she would like Frank to be able to do, and school officials were also in attendance to observe the evaluation.
The system that was evaluated was a combination of a screen reader designed specifically for people who are blind, and an Intellikeys membrane keyboard with custom tactile overlays designed by the engineer. The keyboard was set as the cursor up and down keys on a standard keyboard. Tactile wooden blocks in the shape of a square and a triangle (3 to 4 inches long per side) represented the up and down arrows. Combine with the screen reader, this allowed him to navigate though a children's story that had been downloaded from the Internet. As Frank read though the story, his mother asked him questions about the content to make sure he was listening to the text as it was read. He was able to correctly answer the questions.
The goal behind introducing this combination of systems to Frank was to get him used to using a screen reader to access a computer (he found the computer voice funny, and needed prompting to pay attention to what was being said), and the Intellikeys, which can be expanded to more complex keyboards as his computer skills increase. The OT and PT experimented with using Velcro as tactile indicators with a different key configuration that included left, right, up, and down cursors, as well as Yes and No buttons. When his computer skills improve to the point he can use this to navigate, he could answer yes/no questions at the end of any story he was reading. More complex overlays could be added over time to teach him the alphabet and numbers, and possibly the standard QWERTY keyboard used on standard computer systems. The school system purchased the equipment for Frank, and the Engineer met with his teacher to show her how the system worked, and is providing technical support as needed.