By Lauren Lockhart, Languages Teacher, Royal Blind School.
Today, I was thinking how I take for granted all the consideration and time that goes into adapting resources for vision impaired learners.
I was preparing a redacted version of a French textbook for a Braille user and a Large Print user. The pupil uses a BrailleNote Touch (see previous blog), which means that I can transfer electronic Word files and she can read them in Braille. It seems easy, doesn't it? You would think that all I had to do was type out the textbook into Word and put it on USB. But, no. You cannot transfer a traditional worksheet to an electronic notetaker without considering a few things first.
Firstly, any activity that is associated with pictures can be ignored or avoided, unless the images are absolutely necessary to gain an understanding of the language. In languages, they are not generally crucial and can be replaced with tactile objects or description. Secondly, you have to really think about what is important in the textbook and how it has been organised. In languages, you can generally rely on there being a speaking, listening, reading and writing exercise. It is therefore crucial that you highlight this on the document, for both the Braille and the Large Print user. So it looks like this:
Activity 1 (Reading)
Activity 2 (Listening)
And so on.
This really helps both learners to navigate their way around the document (it helps a great many other students too!). Arial is a good font to use for the Large Print user and it is important to know at what size they like to read comfortably.
When you are considering a reading comprehension, the traditional approach would be title, text then questions. For a Braille user, it is much easier for them to know the questions before they read the text as it saves them going back through the text tactually. It then becomes title, questions, text, like this:
Activity 3 (Reading)
Read and find the expressions below in the text.
Example: a) fais tes devoirs
Travaille régulièrement, fais tes devoirs tous les jours et révise pour tes contrôles parce que les résultats scolaires sont importants. Demande à tes profs si tu ne comprends pas et ne t’inquiète pas pour ton avenir. Discute avec tes parents parce qu’ils t’aiment. Demande de I ’aide à tes copains aussi. Tu es jeune alors concentre-toi sur ton travail et garde confiance en toi, c’est le plus important. Bon courage et reste positif !
If there is an author of the text, put their names before the text. We forget that this information is gained visually when put at the bottom or after the text. We take it for granted that we can glance between the text and the questions, and visually search for the answer when doing a reading comprehension. This is a lesson to all of us, don't ever take these things for granted!