Debee Norling

My power tip for parents and teachers

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3 posts in this topic

Since there are separate forums for parents and teachers I decided to post this here, so both groups might read it.


I work at a college helping print-impaired  students acquire and read textbooks, and as a big fan of bookshare, it's often my go-to source.


One thing I see happening frequently is that students are shown one reading technology and not given the opportunity to try others. For example, a student might have only used audio MP3 files, or read Daisy with Eclipse reader, or used a Victor Reader Stream.


I think it is super important for any student who is past elementary school to read bookshare using a variety of methods in order to figure out which one works best for him. Too many teachers and parents settle on the method they find most comfortable and never branch out to teach other techniques.


I am blind and work mostly with sighted people who have learning disabilities. Though it might be easier for me to use my Victor Reader Stream, I always demo VoiceDream Reader on an iPAD to these students first so they can both see and  hear the text. If it turns out that seeing the book isn't really helping, they can always try a portable Daisy player.


Recently I heard of a blind student who was taught to read using Kurzweil 3000, a visually-oriented reading and scanning solution whose primary audience is the learning disabled. She had not known that products which were easier to access with the keyboard existed, because the teacher who had worked with her had only taught K3000.


Remember that everyone learns differently, and people are more likely to enjoy bookshare if they use a tool best suited for both their limitations and strengths. I like Braille when I'm working with a technical book, a crafting book or reading cooking recipes. I like speech when I'm enjoying Science Fiction. And if it's a course I'm taking, then I like Daisy, where I have the book on my computer and can easily search, scan and take notes.


Last quarter, I had a low-vision student taking art history. We had her read the book using mainly speech on her iPAD, but I obtained the book in PDF from the publisher so she could magnify the pages with artwork she needed to actually see. Because she wasn't forced to read the entire book with magnification she did much better than she used to perform in high school, where a less informed teacher insisted she read everything with a magnifier.


This is one of my pet peevs; everyone reads and learns differently. It's our responsibility as bookshare promoters to see that a wide variety of tools are introduced and to remember always that one size never fits all!



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