IPad sets blind students back 10 years behind their sighted peers?
Submitted by LAmoureux on Tuesday, April 3, 2012.
iOS & iPadOS
I recently had a parent of a blind student make this statement to me, and school administrators in a meeting, as she protested IPad training for her son. She was unable to provide me with any support of the statement, other than, "otherAT professionals in Idaho and Washington say so." She refused to provide me with the other AT professionals in the region, so I have been unable to find evidence to support her claim. I am attempting to be open minded, I recognise IOS isn't for everyone, especially every student, but I am having trouble believing the statement, and even more difficulty finding evidence to support the statement. Any information I can gather, that might help me in my recommendation of adaptive technology for blind and visually impaired students is welcome... I can see a HUGE discussion starting over this question *smile* but I have to ask, Does anyone out there have evidence to support this claim? Does anyone else feel the same, why? Please explaine... Thanks
I actually would disagree, because I have an iPhone, and I believe that the iPad is better than any notetaker available for the blind. With all the features my phone has, I could almost replace my PAC Mate.
I'm not sure what is really bothering this parent. Washington State Dept. of Services for the Blind does the best it can to provide VoiceOver training on iOS devices, but staff and resources are stretched thin because of budget cutbacks. I teach ZoomText for a private contractor, but love my iPad.
As you said, this needs a very large discussion, but my gut reaction is that this statement is utter rubbish. My gut has over thirty years experience of AT, so it knows what it's doing. Seriusly, the iPad offers so many advantages to VI students it's hard to know where to start. They take away the need for hugely expensive, out of date and ugly Braille note takers. Now, students are able to select there input/output method of choice and use it with the latest iPad. If a new feature is added, such as LTE for example, the student simply replaces the lowest cost part of the setup and buys a new iPad. In the past, students were left waiting for the next version of the Pac Mate or BrailleNote, sometimes for years. And then there's everything else you are able to do with an iPad...
Hi, I would point those professionals to Apple's accessibility web site, http://apple.com/accessibility. I think it speaks for itself. It could be that the content is not accessible but that is not iPad's fault.
I do disagree with the statement made by the parent however also believe that it's a matter of choice. As an A.T specialist I recommend equipment to students and clients seeking employment. I had a meeting with a student to assess the possibility of including an iPad in her arsenal of tools. They are using a new web based curriculum and all of the other students in the class are using iPads. This student uses primarily a voice note BT and was interested in the viability of using braille input and audio output. I demonstrated this and although the student does not want to make a change it was decided that she would keep the Voice Note as her primary tool and use the iPad with the Braille Pen slim for internet work. There may be a time when she will embrace the iPad and put aside the Voice Note however I believe all choices need to be made available to users. I definitely do not believe an iPad will set a student back however, The students ability to work with the device needs to be carefully assess and alternative input methods such as keyboards as well as output methods such as Braille displays need to be considered. Matching a person up with equipment that is going to make them successful takes time and may include a variety of devices.
I truely believe this comes down to a genuine lack of understanding on the part of the parent. If nothing else, using the blindness specific products, not the iPad or an iOS device would put their kids 5 years behind, this woman has it backwards! Sure iOS isn't for everyone and there is a learning curve, but the iDevices put everyone on a level playing field for once. This parent doesn't understand that though, and it sounds like they won't without some real convincing. Sad, really.
I really wish someone would support her argument though... So I could prepare the best presentation possible to help her understand how it works... *shrug* I was caught so off gard I forgot to mention that at the Idaho Commission for the Blind, adult rehab agency, I offer Mac and IOS training with VoiceOver and Zoom, and that I couldn't have participated in the meeting, as she demanded, if it had not been for my IPhone, and instant access to my E-mail... or that the school for the blind in the state also provides blind students with IPads because they couldn't afford BrailleNotes...