Annual Report of Research & Development Activities

Fiscal Year 2016

American Printing House For The Blind

Department of Research

MISSION STATEMENT

The American Printing House for the Blind promotes the independence of blind and visually impaired persons by providing specialized materials, products, and services needed for education and life.

Letter From Executive Director of Research

October 1, 2016

Dear Colleagues and Friends of APH,

It is my honor to present to you the FY 2016 Annual Research Report. This document highlights the work of the Research Department and Accessible Tests during the past fiscal year. This includes Educational Product Research (EPR), Director, Kate Herndon; Technical Product Research (TPR), Director, Larry Skutchan; Technical and Manufacturing Research (TMR), Director, Frank Hayden; and Accessible Tests and Textbooks (ATTIC), Director, Jane Thompson. We recognize and thank not only the Research Department staff and Accessible Tests staff, but also all APH staff, the Ex Officio Trustees, and the hundreds of consultants, field testers, and expert reviewers who have worked on the projects and helped develop the products that are made available to you.

Please read, review, and/or skim the Research Report. You will find interesting and exciting details on the major work for FY 2016. This includes the revision and update of Building on Patterns, and new collaborations with technology partners that have resulted in new inroads into magnifiers, screen readers, refreshable braille displays, and full page electronic tactile graphics. In addition, you can update yourself on the revisions to the Barraga Visual Efficiency Program and the Sensory Learning Kit. The report provides a taste of the exciting new direction of our CVI products and website. And there is significant work being conducted with our core curriculum products, and our STEM products. Our tactile graphics experts, along with our Model Shop, continue to provide new tactile tools as well as modernize existing products. And finally, major work has been completed on the Woodcock-Johnson® IV, the Boehm, and other assessment instruments.

When you combine the knowledge, skills, and dedication of our existing employees, with our new employees and new leadership, APH is well positioned for a great future. It is an exciting time in our APH history!

Best wishes to all of you for a successful year!

Ralph E. Bartley, Ph.D.
Executive Director of Research

Advisory Committees

APH especially wishes to acknowledge the superb leadership and guidance from the Ex Officio Trustees serving as members of the Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) and the Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC).

Educational Products Advisory Committee – FY 2016

Educational Services Advisory Committee – FY 2016

DEPARTMENT OF RESEARCH STAFF

Accessible Tests

Educational Product Research

Technology Product Research

Technical & Manufacturing Research

Agencies Participating in Research (165)

Consultants (112)

Field Evaluators / Expert Reviewers (299)

Braille Buzz

Bright Shapes Knob Puzzles

Draw2Measure Protractor

Earth Science Tactile Graphics (ESTG)

Echolocation and FlashSonar

Flip-Over Concept Books: FRACTIONS

Functional Skills Assessment

Gross Motor Development Curriculum

Health Education for Students With Visual Impairments Teacher’s Manual

Hop-A-Dot Mat

I-M-ABLE

Increasing Complexity Pegboard

Laptime and Lullabies

Mini-Lite Box Overlays

Orbit Reader 20™ (formerly Transforming Braille Display)

Paint-by-Number Safari (Series)

Place Value Setter

Sketch-A-Doodle

Social Thinking® Connections

SPORTS COURTS: Touch and Play

Submersible Audible Light Sensor (SALS)

Tactile Algebra Tiles

Teaching Street Crossing to Students With Visual Impairments: How to Teach, Not What to Teach

Video Mag HD

VIPS@Home: Parent Empowerment Program

Woodcock-Johnson® IV Large Print

ACCESSIBLE TESTS

Jane Thompson, Director of Accessible Tests and Textbooks 

Accessible Tests Department

Purpose

The Accessible Tests Department provides high stakes tests and test-related materials in high-quality accessible media. Accessible Tests addresses, conveys, and facilitates best practices and appropriate accommodations when testing or assessing individuals who are blind and visually impaired. The department promotes the inclusion of visual impairment professionals and individuals with visual impairments during test development, and it seeks to enhance the test performance of blind and visually impaired individuals through research, education, and communication.

Background

In FY 2000, the initiative called Test Central, which had been prepared by Debbie Willis while Director of APH’s Educational Research Department, received federal funding. In FY 2002, Test Central became APH’s new Accessible Tests Department. The primary focus of the department was and continues to be review and editing of high stakes test materials to be produced in accessible media, delivered in a timely manner, and administered to individuals who are blind and visually impaired. The initial goal of the new department’s charge was expanded in FY 2003 to provide practice tests and test-prep materials in accessible media. The department deals primarily with high stakes standardized tests for grades 3 through 12, including math, science, social studies, and English Language Arts tests. In addition, Accessible Tests staff has reviewed for bias and accessibility thousands of items for possible inclusion on future assessments.

Past and present customers have included the following: American College Testing (ACT®) Central Services; American Institutes for Research® (AIR®); Association of American Medical Colleges; Cheeney Media Concepts; College Board®; Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems (CASAS®); CTB McGraw-Hill; Data Recognition Corporation (DRC); Discovery Communications™; Dynamic Learning Maps™ (DLM®); Alternate Assessment System Consortium; Measured Progress™; Measurement Incorporated®; NCS Pearson, Inc.; New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP); Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC); Questar Assessment, Inc.TM; Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC); ThinkLink; Touchstone Applied Science Association; multiple states’ departments of education; National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC); and WiDA™ Consortium.

The number of unique tests that Accessible Tests has provided each year in accessible media continues to grow, as can be seen in the table that follows. In 2001, the number of unique tests produced was 232. In 2015, the number of different tests reviewed/edited/proofed/produced was 1,497. Further, by 2015, Accessible Tests had produced tests for every state in the United States via our routine test contracts and our working relationship with PARCC, Smarter Balanced, and the minor consortia.

Year Number of Unique Tests Quantity Invoiced
1998 16 334
1999 152 15,156
2000 161 15,614
2001 232 21,774
2002 236 152,444
2003 214 9,116
2004 173 9,604
2005 273 16,135
2006 371 24,929
2007 497 31,750
2008 551 34,179
2009 712 36,343
2010 711 17,733
2011 834 44,328
2012 751 19,359
2013 803 25,793
2014 1,041 39,761
2015 1,497 35,094

Work during FY 2016

Having all new APH Executive Committee members, with the exception of our Vice President of Finances and our Vice President of Public Affairs, changes were immediately underway at the outset of FY 2016. Jane Thompson was made the Director of Accessible Tests & Textbooks (AT&T), and Debbie Willis was given the goal and responsibility to work with APH’s Communications Group to develop a new Accessible Tests Resource Center (ATRC) as a mini-site of the APH Web site.

Willis and the team consisting of supervisor Dorinda Rife and Communications Director Scott Blome and staff Ricky Irvine, Malcolm Turner, and Paul Ferrara began to discuss, set goals, determine essential categories, define each category’s contents, and develop and revise the site. The ATRC site was successfully launched on March 4, 2016, and announced in the March 2016 APH News. A brief survey was developed to obtain information from the field on each of the 12 categories that make up the ATRC site as well as a brief survey regarding the site as a whole. These surveys will be provided to assessment personnel across the country late in FY 2016. Results will be compiled, analyzed, and a report prepared in late FY 2016 or early FY 2017.

In addition to development of the ATRC site, APH President Craig Meador charged Willis with the goal to gain a current perspective on what’s happening across the country with regard to assessing individuals who are blind and visually impaired. This goal came about as the result of a recommendation received from the Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC). To address this goal, Willis requested from all APH Ex Officio Trustees (EOTs) the names and contact information of each state’s primary personnel having responsibility for the assessment of individuals who are blind and visually impaired. A request for contact information was sent to each of the 141 EOTs. As of November, 33 completed forms were received at APH. This represents a 23% return from 26 state EOTs and one non-EOT. The 26 states and two organizations are California (3), Georgia (3), Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts (2), Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and the World Services for the Blind in Arkansas submitted by a non-EOT.

In an effort to identify even more assessment-related contact persons across the country, President Meador contacted EOTs again requesting the names and contact information for each state’s primary assessment personnel who have responsibility for the assessment of individuals who are blind and visually impaired. As a result of the second request, another 15 contact persons were identified, for a total of 48 completed forms for nearly a 35% rate of return.

A set of assessment-related questions was developed. Willis began to set up personal interviews when the contact personnel identified by EOTs could engage in a conference call. Each contact person who responded was asked to give his/her responses to the set of questions that had been developed for this purpose. As of June 2016, a total of 40 assessment personnel in 14 states had been contacted; 12 responded, and nine conference calls were completed.

In addition to addressing the new goals discussed above, Willis provided a presentation at the 2016 Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Conference on National Student Assessment with colleagues Diane Spence, Director of Texas Region IV Braille Services Division, and Ruth Lowe, Assistant Director of ETS® Office of Disability. The presentation was on "BANA Guidelines for Production of Braille of Tests." These guidelines, though not yet approved and finalized by BANA, were well received by the audience who welcomed and appreciated the need for such guidelines.

Willis also teamed with Martha Thurlow, Director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) and Sheryl Lazarus, Senior Research Associate at NCEO to prepare and submit a proposal for presentation at the 2017 Association of Test Publishers’ Conference on "Principles and Characteristics of Inclusive Assessment Systems." If accepted, the presentation will address issues of legislation, policy, accessibility, and impact of new NCEO guidelines on students who are blind and visually impaired.

At this point in time, the Accessible Tests Department has now worked directly or indirectly (via PARCC and SBAC) with every state in the country. Our ability and need to provide assistance to test takers who are blind and visually impaired, test publishers, and assessments teams has continued to grow at a brisk rate during the past 10 years. The volume of work has grown from reviewing and making suggested edits on approximately 100 unique tests to over 1,400 unique tests in FY 2015. Such growth is expected to continue. According to information provided by Chris Prentice Marketing Development Manager, APH’s test production demand increased 82.3% during the period from FY 2011 through FY 2015 with that same percentage expected to reach 96.2% in 2016.

Moreover, work and tasks have grown to include online assessments with access via assistive technology such as speech output and refreshable braille displays. Accessible Tests staff has also taken on writing and providing text-based descriptions of graphical information in order for the graphical information to be provided to test takers via speech output with or without accompanying hard copy tactile graphics.

Work planned for FY 2017

A primary focus of the Accessible Tests Department in FY 2017 will continue to be collaboration and education of test publishers, test developers, school psychologists, state assessment personnel, test administrators, parents/caregivers, and test takers regarding issues specific to assessing students who are blind and visually impaired on Common Core Standards, state standards, and making test items accessible in a wide range of media and via various assistive technology for visually impaired students of all ages. Parents, caregivers, and students will be given information on the Individualized Education Plan (IEP), assessment processes, accommodations, assistive technology, and select handheld devices so they can advocate for themselves and their children. Position papers, new and revised guidelines, online publications, catalogs, brochures, and so forth will be developed and disseminated to these stakeholders and to other interested parties.

Accessible Tests Department goals for FY 2017 include the following:

As of October 1, 2016, Debbie Willis will be a half-time employee with responsibility for the continuing development, refinement, and maintenance of ATRC. As time permits, she will also work with authors of the position paper "Intelligence Testing of Individuals Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired" to update this valuable position paper and make it available on either the ATRC mini-site or the APH Web site.

EDUCATIONAL PRODUCT RESEARCH

Kate Herndon, M.S.L.I.S.
Director

ADULT LIFE

Adult Life Needs

(Ongoing)

Purpose

To develop adult life products and services that are affordable, user-friendly, and consumer driven and that address the diverse needs of the blind and visually impaired population

Project Staff

Background

Product development in the area of Adult Life was initiated at APH in the summer of 1998. The first products derived specifically from this effort were made available during FY 1999. Product research, along with consumer and professional networking, has continued to characterize the development of products for adults.

Work during FY 2016

APH Adult Life products and their applications to specific populations were presented by the Adult Life Project Leader as follows: Daily Living Products for Adults and Students Who Become Adults: Labeling, Marking, and Organization; and Parenting with a Visual Impairment, Product Training Session at the Annual Meeting of the American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, KY, October, 2015; Self-Help Tools to Expand Veterans' and Elders' Visual Impairment Skill Set, Presentation at the AER Conference on Vision Loss in Older Adults & Veterans: Leveraging Our Collective Wisdom 2015, Norfolk, VA, November, 2015. The Adult Life Project Leader sought and obtained eight product ideas from the field, with six resulting in Product Idea Submission Forms, in the areas of daily living and transition needs and in other content areas relevant to product development at APH.

Work planned for FY 2017

Investigation and development of new products for adults will continue. The Adult Life Project Leader will continue to seek input from the field by networking with APH Ex Officio Trustees and consumer and professional groups. Focus groups will be conducted as needed.

CORE CURRICULUM

BUSINESS AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION

For FY 2016, there are no active Business and Vocational Education products to report.

FINE AND PERFORMING ARTS

Color-by-Texture Marking Mats

(Completed)

Purpose

To provide a variety of textured rubbing plates that offer immediate tactile feedback during coloring activities and educational tasks

Project Staff

Image of final cover art for instruction booklet

Background

As conceptualized by the project leader, the Color-by-Texture Marking Mats will offer a variety of textures made from durable, heavy-gauge plastic for the purpose of placing underneath coloring pages or braille worksheets for immediate tactile feedback as crayons are rubbed across the sheets. Textures represented in the set will consist of at least four discriminable, bold patterns (e.g., rough, bumpy, striped, and wavy).

The primary target audience for this set of coloring mats will include students with visual impairments and blindness who participate in recreational coloring activities, completion of worksheets/activities (e.g., drawing lines to matching images/words), and/or selection and marking of answers on tests.

These sheets will broaden APH’s product line of art-related materials and complement the use of existing coloring pages included in issues of SQUID: Tactile Activities Magazine, Lots of Dots Coloring Book Series, and Building on Patterns. There is potential to develop "Color-by-Texture" coloring books, similar to paint-by-numbers books, to encourage a student’s tactile discrimination skills and creativity.

In July 2012, the concept was considered and approved for development by both the Product Evaluation Team and Product Advisory and Review Committee. The presentation of the idea was supported by the project leader’s demonstration of actual samples that represented expected textures for the coloring mats. The product transitioned to the active timeline by the end of the fiscal year.

Significant progress was made in the prototype development arena by the project staff throughout FY 2013. Specifically, the project leader worked with Model Shop staff to create possible rubbing textures for coloring purposes. After various textures were generated and tested in various thicknesses of vinyl, the project leader narrowed the selection to six tactually discriminable samples described as the following: bold bumpy, small bumpy, diagonal striped, wavy, zigzag, and coarse/rough. It was noticed that depending upon which side of the sheet is placed under a coloring page, the resulting texture varied some, consequently expanding the number of producible textures. The textures afforded by a given sheet could also be expanded by how a crayon was either rubbed across the texture as a whole or glided within the grooves of the textured plates.

Once the final textures of the Color-by-Texture Marking Mats were determined, multiple copies of the 8.5 x 11" textured sheets were vacuum-formed using a heavy gauge, blue translucent vinyl. Concurrently, the project leader designed 25 coloring pages providing large areas of coloring space to adequately capture rubbed textures. Coloring pages reflected an assortment of objects such as a tree, teddy bear, boat, mitten, and butterfly. Each coloring page was produced via an established, oft-used in-house thermography method. Although coloring pages will be provided, the textured marking mats can be used for open-ended coloring activities as well. The package of coloring pages and textured sheets will be accompanied by a starter package of triangular-shaped and twistable crayons.

The first quarter of FY 2014 was dedicated to the refinement and expansion of the prototype components in preparation for field test activities. After authoring the content for the accompanying instruction booklet, the project leader assumed the responsibility of designing the graphic layout of the document and related photography. The product instructions provide an overview of the available textured mats and possible uses.

Images of six textures represented in the coloring marking mats: rough/coarse, wavy, bold bumpy, diagonal striped, small bumpy, and zigzag

As planned, 25 coloring pages were included with the six textured coloring mats. Anticipating that young children might experience difficulty keeping a textured mat in place while coloring, the project leader adapted the 8.5 x 11-in. tray currently used in the Sense of Science kits from a clear to opaque white vinyl; a non-skid backing was added. Field test results later revealed that this component was very popular and did indeed provide a sturdy working surface.

Photo shows a two-step process of inserting a blue textured mat into the non-skid tray and then overlaying with a coloring page (heart).

The instruction booklet also provided a variety of tips, techniques, and activities for expanding the use of the textured coloring mats. Examples included the following:

Photo of aluminum diagramming foil with embossed zigzag pattern

All of the prototype components, including six textured coloring mats, 25 coloring pages, two types of crayons (triangular and twistable) pre-labeled with brailled color names, and the non-skid tray were housed in a cardboard carrying box.

A field test announcement was posted in the December 2013 issue of the APH News www.aph.org/advisory/2013adv12.html. Over 40 teachers expressed interest in participating in the evaluation of Color-by-Texture Marking Mats. From this sample, 16 field evaluation sites were selected based upon geographic location, number of available students, and type of instructional setting; preference was given to those who have not recently field tested an APH product. Prototypes were mailed on January 8, 2014 and evaluators were asked to return their completed evaluation forms, along with student artwork samples, by the end of March.

By mid-April 2014, evaluation forms were completed by 15 of the originally selected field test sites; some teachers requested and were allowed additional time to review the materials. The project leader compiled the feedback into a final report.

Field evaluators represented the states of Alabama, California, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan (2), Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas [refer to Figure 1]. The majority (87%) represented itinerant settings (refer to Table 1).

Figure 1. Geographical Distribution of Field Test Sites

Type of Educational Setting (N = 15)
Itinerant Residential Resource
AL, CA, KS, OK, MI (2), MN, ND, NE, NY, PA, SC, TX IL OH

Participating evaluators varied in their teaching experience with the largest percentage (40%) reporting 1-5 years teaching experience, 33% reporting 11-15 years teaching experience, 13% reporting 6-10 years teaching experience, and another 13% reporting 16-20 years teaching experience. Various titles and professions were represented in this teacher sample (e.g., special education teacher, teacher of the visually impaired, certified orientation and mobility instructor, and certified occupational therapist assistant).

Nearly 75% of the teachers reported that prior to field testing, their students either "frequently" (27%) or "occasionally" (47%) engaged in coloring activities; the remaining 27% of the evaluators indicated that their students "seldom" colored. Clarifications provided by evaluators of their current uses of coloring activities with students with visual impairments and blindness reflected a diversity of approaches and materials, from adaptations to coloring pages with minimal enlargement, hot glue, or Wikki Stix®, to coloring tools such as screen boards and scented markers. purposes for coloring activities ranged from merely recreational (e.g., art and free time) to academic (e.g., creating bar graphs and class worksheets/projects). Some coloring activities were used to hone specific functional skills and concepts (e.g., fine motor development) for students with multiple disabilities.

Collectively, the field evaluators used the prototype of Color-by-Texture Marking Mats with 92 students. Figure 2 illustrates the distribution of students by state with the largest numbers located in Michigan (14), Alabama (11), Illinois (10), and South Carolina (10).

Figure 2. Distribution of Students by State

The student sample (N = 92) was nearly evenly divided between males (52%) and females (48%). Cultural diversity was represented by 63% White, 14% Black, 12% Hispanic, 4% Asian, 4% "two or more races," and 2% "Other."

The distribution of students by grade level spanned from pre-kindergarten (14%) to high school (18%). Noticeable percentages were in Grades K-2 (28%) and Grades 3-5 (24%), with a smaller percentage (15%) in Grades 6-8; one student was ungraded (see Figure 3).

Similar percentages of students were between the ages of 3 and 5 (21%), ages 6 and 8 (24%), and ages 9 and 11 (25%); 14% were between the ages of 15 and 17 and slightly fewer (11%) were between the ages of 12 and 14. Only 5% were adults between the ages of 18 and 20.

The largest percentage (43%) of students were reported as either large print readers or print readers, 26% were braille readers, 10% were auditory learners, and 11% were dual readers (e.g., reported combinations of braille/print, auditory/tactile, or auditory/visual). Smaller percentages of students were reported as prereaders (5%) or nonreaders (3%); one student utilized sign language.

Figure 3. Grade Level of Students

Similar percentages of students were between the ages of 3 and 5 (21%), ages 6 and 8 (24%), and ages 9 and 11 (25%); 14% were between the ages of 15 and 17, and slightly fewer (11%) were between the ages of 12 and 14. Only 5% were adults between the ages of 18 and 20.

As shown in Figure 4, the largest percentage (43%) of students were reported as either large print readers or print readers, 26% were braille readers, 10% were auditory learners, and 11% were dual readers (e.g., reported combinations of braille/print, auditory/tactile, or auditory/visual). Smaller percentages of students were reported as pre-readers (5%) or nonreaders (3%); one student utilized sign language.

Figure 4. Students' Primary Reading Medium

The majority (61%, n = 56) of the total population of students were reported as having additional disabilities (e.g., cerebral palsy, cognitive delays, autism, developmental delays, epilepsy).

The field evaluation form invited teachers to rate each feature of the prototype. Table 2 provides the average rating of each product feature.

Table 2: Overall Design of Color-by-Texture Marking Mats
Design FeaturesNumber of Evaluators Average RatingRating
5 4.5 4 3 2 1
Overall presentation of entire product N = 154.8787% 13%
Size of texture marking mats (approximately 8.5 x 11) N = 15 4.67 87% 7% 7%
Number of available texture marking mats N = 15 4.87 93% 7%
Texture difference between marking mats N = 15 4.73 73% 27%
Color (translucent blue) of texture marking mats N = 14 4.57 71% 21% 7%
Thickness/durability of texture marking mats for repeated use N = 15 4.60 80% 13% 7%
Use of texture marking mats on a variety of working surfaces N = 14 4.64 71% 21% 7%
Possible uses and applications of the texture marking mats N = 15 4.53 73% 20% 7%
Inclusion of crayon package(s) N = 144.8686% 14%
Tactile coloring pages N = 154.33 60% 13% 27%
Non-skid coloring tray N = 15 4.83 80% 7% 13%
Accompanying instruction booklet N = 15 4.70 67% 7% 27%

Although the average rating was high for the tactile coloring pages, this component did garner the most "3" ratings. A closer look at the related comments revealed not so much dissatisfaction with coloring images themselves, but with the thickness of paper that sometimes prevented ideal tactile feedback after coloring.

The textural differences between the marking mats were appreciated. Supportive comments ranged from "differences were easy to notice and feel" to "the choice seemed to increase interest (in coloring)." The size and number of marking mats were ideal (a rating of "5") according to 87% and 93% of evaluators, respectively. Teachers indicated that "some students had preferences for which texture mats they used" and that "when given a choice of two, the students were able to choose their favorite mat." All of the provided textured marking mats were used to some degree, either "frequently" or "sometimes" as reported in Table 3.

Table 3: Frequency Use of Textured Mats
Texture Mat Frequently Sometimes Never
Rough/Coarse 50% 50% --
Wavy 64% 36% --
Bold Bumpy 50% 50% --
Diagonal Striped 57% 43% --
Small Bumpy 36% 64%--
Zigzag 57% 43% --

Although an afterthought during prototype development, the addition of the non-skid coloring tray was well received and one of the most popular items; 73% of the teachers requested it as a standalone product available for separate purchase. As one teacher clarified, "Love the tray, easy to use, stays in place, gives student great working space."

All but one of the field evaluators (93%) indicated that the Color-by-Texture Marking Mats offered specific advantages over other materials and tools previously used for coloring activities by students with visual impairments and blindness. Notably the kit "allowed more independence" and "students were given greater control over their coloring by allowing them to pick a texture." As one teacher indicated, "These tiles (mats) are safer, fun, interesting, and more pleasant to touch than the old window screens which are still being used for coloring." The majority of evaluators (87%) indicated that their students were more interested in coloring after using the prototype with the specific explanations given:

There was evidence that teachers and students used the textured marking mats in combination with other materials and paper types (e.g., foil, commercially-available coloring pages, play dough), for additional craft activities (e.g., adding texture to pinch pots, designing greeting cards), and with various APH products (e.g., Building on Patterns coloring pages and Lots of Dots Coloring Book Series). One hundred percent of the evaluators who experimented with aluminum diagramming foil reported excellent results.

The majority of the evaluators (93%) recommended that Color-by-Texture Marking Mats be made available from APH; only one evaluator was uncertain and encouraged some tweaking. The most appropriate target populations for the kit as identified by at least 80% of evaluators included braille readers in preschool/kindergarten (80%), low vision students in preschool/kindergarten (87%), braille readers in Grades 1-3 (80%), students with multiple disabilities (80%), and students with Cortical Visual Impairment (80%). To a lesser degree, the prototype was assessed as appropriate for low vision students in Grades 1-3 (73%), braille readers in Grades 4-8 (73%), low vision students in Grades 4-8 (53%), and sighted peers (53%).

As requested, many of the evaluators returned student artwork and coloring pages created with use of the Color-by-Texture Marking Mats; examples are shown:

Photos of student coloring pages from field testing are shown including balloons with written/brailled text, T-shirt, butterfly, tree, kite, tulip, and teddy bear. Different rubbing textures (e.g., zigzag, bumpy, diagonal striped) are utilized in the artwork samples.

In September 2014, the project leader conducted a Product Development Committee meeting to review the field test results and review expected product components. Final design changes for Color-by-Texture Marking Mats were guided by field test feedback. Planned improvements included refinements to coloring pages (e.g., lighter weight paper, if possible), addition of a single textured mat with fun patterns and shapes (e.g., swirls, stars), inclusion of an ideal crayon package, and a sturdy housing box. An adhesive-backed sheet of brailled color names will be provided for application to the 16 crayons (if desired by the customer). Quota approval was requested and received from the Educational Products Advisory Committee at the 146th Annual Meeting in October 2014.

Initial project tasks during the first quarter of FY 2015 involved the fabrication of sample layouts of two additional coloring mats—the Fun Shape Mat and another that mimicked a screen wire (or crosshatch) texture. After the project leader selected and approved the two new mat designs, Tom Poppe constructed the vacuum-form masters (a total of two 4-up patterns) to accommodate the production of the eight unique marking mats for inclusion in the final kit. Production tooling for the non-skid coloring tray, including the vacuum-form pattern and silkscreen art, was also built. An unplanned bonus was the discovery that the non-skid material, when applied to the underside of the tray and combined with APH’s DRAFTSMAN: Tactile Drawing Film, provided an ideal drawing surface. Using a standard ballpoint pen or stylus, students can create freehand drawings (e.g., tactile lines and shapes) on the non-skid material. This drawing tip will be added to the accompanying product documentation. (See related Annual Report on Sketch-A-Doodle.)

Photo of new Fun Shape Mat added to final kit.

The manufacturing specialist acquired additional samples of the translucent blue vinyl for the coloring mats. Production parts were formed using the vinyl, verifying that it was an acceptable material for creation of the eight distinct textures. The project leader approved the type and thickness of the vinyl. An outside vendor also submitted a sturdy storage/carrying box.

Work during FY 2016

During FY 2016, project staff efforts targeted documentation completion and the graphic layout of the instruction booklet and related braille translation. In October 2016, the project leader and research assistant furnished the final text and photographs to the graphic designer. Preparation of the layout design of the instruction booklet was completed the same month. The braille translation of the instruction booklet was quickly completed by the end of November. Concurrently, the project leader readied the final CorelDRAW® files of the 25 coloring pages. By the end of the calendar year, all tooling was in place for production purposes. On January 28, 2016, the manufacturing specialist presented the final product specifications document to Production and Purchasing staff. In turn, a production schedule was scheduled, with a pilot run anticipated in May, followed by three separate runs in July, September, and November.

Although optimistic for an early spring product introduction, the scheduled pilot run was interrupted due to difficulties during the vacuum-forming and printing of the trays. While monitoring the production of the kit, the project leader noticed the trays were not forming flat, which would lead to an unstable coloring surface. This mishap was easily remedied by allowing longer cooling intervals during the vacuum-forming process; however, new trays needed to be formed and screen printed, impacting the original production schedule.

In July 2016, the project leader approved production samples of the coloring pages and the color name sticker sheet. Final production efforts (e.g., kitting of the product on the production floor) concluded in August. On August 19, 2016, the availability of the final product was officially announced with a selling price of $119.00 (available with Quota funds). Related replacement parts were priced as well: 61-114-012 Set of Raised-line Coloring Pages $5.00. The project leader prepared content for the product brochure.

Purpose

Color-by-Texture Marking Mats will be showcased at the APH Annual Meeting in October. The project leader will demonstrate the final product at national conferences and local workshops. She will post a product feedback survey to garner input from customers, and explore the possibility of providing additional coloring pages and/or textured mats. If the finished product is selected for review by the Department of Education’s review panel, the project leader will prepare a formal report detailing the product’s relevance, research, and utility.

Feel the Beat: Braille Music Curriculum

(New)

Purpose

This product is intended to be used with students who read braille in grades 2 through 8 so he or she can learn both music and the braille music code using the same instrument and at the same time as sighted peers. Full implementation of the curriculum will allow students to learn to read and to write music braille.

Teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs) who do not know music or the braille music code can use this curriculum, and general music teachers who don’t know braille can also use this curriculum. The curriculum uses the Soprano Recorder, which is used throughout the United States, to teach beginning music concepts.

Project Staff

Background

Christine Short, an Ex Officio Trustee from Iowa, submitted the idea for this product. Christine developed the product over a period of years and has submitted it to APH for completion and production.

Relevance

The prevalence of recorder use in the United States was briefly surveyed with a poll to two groups of TVIs with members from all areas of the nation. TVIs were simply asked to reply if they had students in districts that still utilized the recorder as a tool to teach music. TVIs in Wyoming, Maryland, Philadelphia, Texas, Virginia, Iowa, and several others, including a residential school, all replied that recorders are still used in music classes.

APH does not produce a similar product. A search of the Internet did not produce a similar product. The product idea and introductory pages from music lessons were shared with two staff members at APH who have a music background as well as the music teacher at the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB). The music teacher at KSB notes: This is a great resource and very well written and easy to understand. Recorders are usually a great instrument to teach classes in general music about the basics of music and notes/rhythms, and I know a lot of public school teachers who use them quite a bit.

Comments from staff at APH:

Dawn Wilkinson: I don’t think it’s a necessary part of life, vital to daily functioning, or essential to our existence. But, people will snap this up like there is no tomorrow. What it does do is present a very easy and fun introduction to braille music; very different than the hideous experience I had with it. It also addresses that students will read a measure and then memorize it; never being able to play and read at the same time.

Terrie Terlau: I think this is well done. I learned to read braille music outside of school, and I never knew why the braille D indicates the note C, etc. Now I do! And the explanation of why braille note states whole, half, quarter, and eighth notes the way it does would have been very helpful for me to have known as a child. And it would be something fun for the child and TVI to do that would put the child on an equal footing with her sighted peers in music class. It also would be a good precursor for the instructional music materials that a music teacher at the California School has developed.

Work during FY 2016

APH reviewed this product submission based on the standardized process of product selection. The product submission form was submitted in April 2016. The Pre-Product Evaluation Team committee forwarded it to two project leaders for review. The project leaders submitted their respective Product Submission Review Forms in May 2016. The project leader presented the new product idea to the Product Evaluation Team on July 11, 2016. It passed and was assigned the category of Fine Arts and was sent to the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC) to be reviewed in the August 8, 2016, meeting. In the event that the product is selected for production at the PARC meeting, the project leader has contacted Christine Short and has received the files for the teacher and student books, the braille file for the student book, and a print hardcopy of both the teacher and student books.

Work planned for FY 2017

According to the author of the curriculum, the files contain typographical and various other errors. A review of the submitted files has shown this statement to be accurate. The files need to be "cleaned up" with regard to font size and type selection, formatting, typographical, and other errors.

Copyright permission for the use of some of the songs and the font used in the recorder fingerings may need to be acquired. The author has stated that the songs used are old enough so that copyright permission is not needed and the fingering font is a public domain font. However, this needs to be confirmed and permission needs to be obtained to use the songs and font if this is not the case.

In addition to the author, subject matter experts need to be identified. For example, a teacher certified in music and a braille transcriptionist certified in the music braille code will need to be identified. This group of individuals can then begin the work of proofreading the files. Field testers need to be identified. Once the files are complete and prototypes are printed and embossed, field testing could begin in late FY 2017 or early FY 2018.

Paint-By-Number Safari (Series)

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide an art product that gives a fun and educational glimpse into how subjects in the world look, live, eat, and function

Project Staff

Product Description

Paint-by-Number Safari is a series of paint-by-number books that represent five (possibly six) animal locations: tropical rainforest, jungle, under the sea, desert, and backyard animals. Each print tactile drawing has information relating to core subjects, (e.g., size – math, habitat – social studies, etc.). The product includes color mixing instructions to create "real-world colors." The target market is K-12 students who have visual impairment and blindness.

Background

Joyce Lopez, a product developer for PlayAbility Toys™, LLC submitted Paint-by-Number Safari. PlayAbility Toys™ is an established vendor for the APH (Rib-It-Ball, Paint Pot Palette). As with the other PlayAbility Toys™ products that APH sells, Paint-by-Number Safari will be an exclusive APH product (sole distributor in the United States).

Relevance

APH made the decision to produce this product based on a standardized process of product selection. Lopez submitted the product submission form on September 5, 2014. The Pre Product Evaluation Team (PET) committee forwarded it to the project leader for review. The project leader submitted the Product Submission Review Form on October 10, 2014. The project leader presented the new product idea to PET on November 18, 2014. It passed approval, assigned to the category of Fine Arts, and was sent to the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC). PARC accepted the product idea and assigned the grant number 569.

This product will be fully accessible to the population who will use it. Each drawing will be in bold black lines and embossed to a height approved by APH. All documentation will be in large print and Unified English Braille.

This product follows APH guidelines for determining relevance of a product. A quick search on the Internet proved that painting-by-number is a popular activity, enjoyed by people of all ages. This product submission was not the first time that APH received a paint-by-number product. APH received a previous new product submission, also in 2014, but that one suggested that APH add tactile attributes to an existing, commercially available product. Creating a new product affords APH the opportunity to design illustrations that follow large print and tactile graphic guidelines as opposed to retrofitting something originally designed for visual use, not touch. The product developer consulted with the art teacher at the California School for the Blind (CSB), who used samples with students who are blind and with low vision (all braille readers). She wrote a letter of support for the product submission citing her observations and the educational benefits of the product. It is also relevant because in the world of art, we learn that we can make anything whatever color we want; however, children who are blind often want to know the real colors for things. Paint-by-Number Safari will use the "real world colors" for each image presented, along with fun facts that describe the images and explain why and how things live and function. This blending of creativity, fun, and learning is an ideal combination for all children.

There is evidence of an examination of the need for this product. An individual who is blind suggested this product to PlayAbility Toys™. Via the APH News, APH posted a short product specific needs survey on the Internet. Respondents were individuals who are visually impaired or blind (VI/B) and teachers of students with VI/B. APH received 39 responses over a 25-day period. In short, 97.4% stated that they (if VI/B) or their students with VI/B want to know the "real colors" for things in nature, would use fun facts about animals as an opportunity for students to practice braille-reading skills, and believe that using a paint-by-number product provides an opportunity to practice following instructions (e.g., painting a section of the drawing with the correct color, mixing colors). All (100%) agreed that the drawing should include fun facts about how the subject looks, lives, and functions. Most respondents (92.3%) would use the fun facts about animals to engage classroom discussion and to promote understanding of vocabulary and concepts.

APH sought opinions of knowledgeable individuals to determine the need for this product. Prior to accepting the new product submission, APH staff considered the letter of support from the CSB art teacher. It was this experienced teacher who suggested that the product would be most beneficial and a meaningful experience for students who have visual impairment if designed in thematic units.

This product addresses an identified need for a person who meets the definition of "visually impaired." In her letter of support, the CSB art teacher wrote that the potential product offers students the opportunity to practice braille-reading skills. She found the subject matter engaging and the content (i.e., fun facts about animals) great for class discussion and learning new vocabulary and concepts. She stated that the practice and mastery of tracking raised lines might benefit children who encounter tactile graphics in other reading materials.

Work during FY 2016

APH conducted field testing for Tropical Rainforest, the first of the thematic books. Ten educational professionals in seven states submitted electronic evaluation forms. Twenty-one students submitted electronic evaluation forms.

Work planned for FY 2017

APH and PlayAbility Toys™ will complete Tropical Rainforest and make it available for sale. Work will begin on the second thematic book.

MATHEMATICS

AnimalWatch Vi Suite

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a fun and interesting iPad® mobile device application for students with visual impairments in grades 5-9 to build math problem solving skills using scientific information and data about endangered animal species

Project Staff

Background

AnimalWatch Vi Suite (AWViS) uses data and information about 12 endangered species in a series of 24 lessons designed to develop math skills of grade 5-9 students. This product includes an iPad® mobile device app, User’s Guide, tactile graphics and braille materials for braille reading students, tactile graphics for students with low vision, and a storage container. All items, including the iPad® app, were developed by the consultants; the braille and tactile graphics for preliminary field testing were produced by an outside vendor. After a local study at the University of Arizona was completed in December 2013, the consultants approached APH for production of the braille and tactile graphics and ultimately the distribution of the entire kit as an APH product. While the product idea was under consideration by APH, the consultants conducted a feasibility study throughout the state of Arizona, which took place from January 13 through April 25, 2014.

Two project leaders (Zhou & Hoffmann) reviewed the product submission in December 2013, and AWViS became an official product under development in July 2014. The results of the Arizona statewide study (mentioned above) conducted by the consultants were positive, confirming the outcome of the local study and supporting APH’s endorsement for product development. Feedback from the Arizona study recommended the following changes in the iPad® app: enhanced scratch pad capability (for math calculations) with a setting for gridlines, replacing help videos with a solution video for each math problem, reworking hints for all problems to provide scaffolding information, inclusion of units in the answer pad, audio feedback during keystrokes, audio read back of entered answers, inclusion of Nemeth code display for use with refreshable braille, introductory screens to familiarize users with the app, and a login screen that includes icons indicating a student’s progress within the unit. The product was also streamlined by the elimination of a print screenshot book and the miniature models of 12 endangered animals included in the original product design.

The consultants conducted a nationwide intervention study (field test) of the revised AWViS app with accompanying braille and tactile graphics during the 2014-2015 school year. In all, 44 teachers and 66 students in 22 states participated in the study.

An outside vendor (Tactile Vision Graphics, currently in Windsor, Ontario, Canada) was originally selected to produce the high-quality color tactile graphics that complement images in the AWViS app. The tactile graphics were designed with large print titles and labels for low vision students and with literary braille and Nemeth code for students who read braille; these versions were used in all field test studies. In light of new UEB regulations, the tactile graphics and braille app text will be offered in UEB in addition to literary braille and Nemeth code. To that end, translation of the tactile graphics and app text to UEB by the APH Braille Department took place between April and August 2015. During this time, single samples of all large print and literary braille/Nemeth tactile graphics were ordered and received from Tactile Vision Graphics for review by APH. Four of the sample graphics were not acceptable and required redesign. The project leader submitted new files for the four full-color tactile graphics to Tactile Vision Graphics for new samples in August 2015.

The technical data transfer necessary for programming and maintenance of the AWViS app took place in June 2015 from Tom Hicks at the University of Arizona to Lawrence Lovelace at APH.

Work during FY 2016

Field test evaluations from the nationwide pool of teachers and students obtained by telephone interview were analyzed by the consultants. In general, the response to the app and tactile graphics was very good, however the project leader decided to eliminate the solution videos embedded in the AWViS app for two reasons: (1) Less than 10% of the students involved in the national field test actually used them, and (2) after extensive analysis by math expert, Sara Larkin, it was revealed that many errors in terminology and presentation were identified in all but 12 of the 147 solution videos. A total redo of the solution videos is cost-prohibitive with regard to the continued development of this product.

The project leader found the new samples of the four revised tactile graphics provided by Tactile Vision Graphics unacceptable. It was decided that the tactile graphics would be produced by APH to minimize the ultimate cost of the product and to have better control over design details. APH is currently exploring two methods of making the full-color tactile graphics and will ultimately use the process that is approved by the consultants. The app part of the product has been kept up to date by Lovelace.

Work planned for FY 2017

The method to produce the tactile graphics at APH will be determined. The User’s Guide will be edited by the consultants to reflect changes in the product. After layout by the APH graphic designers, the User’s Guide will be converted to accessible BRF and EPUB® formats, which will be made available via free download from APH after purchase of the product (tactile graphics and braille text).

AnyMath Kit

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop an adaptable, accessible kit that allows blind or visually impaired users to graph and label a wider variety of math problems and functions than currently available kits do

Project Staff

Background

The idea for the kit took shape when the Core Curriculum Project Leader proposed reworking APH's Graphic Aid for Mathematics (GAM) to allow for easier graphing of curves and easier labeling. Eventually discussions led to the need for using low-profile hook material as the base of the board with grid lines represented by narrow gaps in the material. This allows users to apply certain kinds of string or cord to represent the curves and shapes. Also envisioned were a variety of pre-made geometric outline shapes, raised dots to represent points, and print/braille labels with letters and numerals, all backed with loop material to hold them to the board. The project came over time to be called Math Graphing Kit (MGK).

Project co-leaders obtained numerous samples of low-profile hook fabric and many kinds of cords, string, laces, and rope to try out. At length, a combination of a black background board, a white hook material, and two types of nylon cord in contrasting colors proved to offer good adhesion, reusability, and tactual readability.

The model makers produced a few sample boards, labeling tiles, and geometric shapes to aid in the in-house evaluation, and later 18 sets for the field evaluation.

The evaluation period was March through May 2014. Fifteen educational sites were selected for the field evaluation, some with multiple teacher reviewers for a total of 18 evaluations. Sites were located in the following states: Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio (two sites), Oklahoma, Pennsylvania (two sites), Texas, and Virginia. Nine of the sites were residential schools, and six were public school settings.

In all, 80 students participated in the field test. Here is a breakdown of their demographics:

Responding to a question on the overall utility of the kit, 17 evaluators (one of the 18 evaluators did not answer this question) said that MGK would be highly useful in their classroom exactly as envisioned in the evaluation kit (n = 5) or MGK would be highly useful if their suggested revisions were incorporated (n = 13) (one evaluator chose both).

As part of the evaluation, teachers were asked to devise three graphing or calculation tasks for each student to try on the MGK and to report whether students performed each task with more or less ease than when using other tools. A Likert-type scale was used for reporting these outcomes. The data indicate that of 196 tasks performed by 80 students, 125 (64%) were done with more ease on the MGK than on other graphing materials. Some evaluators, however, voiced strong support for both the Graphic Aid for Mathematics and Math Window® in specific situations, and the overall opinion was that all three products have their place in the math classroom.

Only one evaluation site expressed reservations about the grid board format (i.e., raised squares with gaps between them to form the grid), and even with those reservations had largely positive experiences with the kit components. Most of the changes recommended by evaluators involved preferences (such as more or different geometric shapes) rather than problems with the concept or basic design of the kit.

In the late summer of 2014, another opportunity to receive feedback about the kit arose when a teacher in Michigan asked to demonstrate it at a professional in-service. Project leaders sent her a prototype kit along with a simple questionnaire to gather impressions about the kit's potential usefulness. The responses to the questions were added to those gathered from the earlier field evaluation.

Because several evaluators had mentioned that the usefulness of the kit extends beyond graphing, and to reduce the possibility of confusion with the GAM, project leaders decided to change the product name to AnyMath Kit.

The project leaders decided on final design changes and additions to the kit and worked with the Model Shop and Technical Research to get the production tooling made. The most significant changes were the following:

Project leaders made the Teacher’s Guide content final, and the graphic designer created the art for the booklet and storage box.

Front cover of AnyMath Teacher's Guide

The manufacturing specialists worked with a local carton vendor to design a carrying box that will be durable and appealing.

An emphasis was given to designing tooling and procedures in the most efficient way to reduce time and waste of materials. It came to light during the year that laser cutting, which was assumed to be the best way to make the labeling tiles and shapes, would not work for the type of vinyl specified for these parts. Technical Research staff obtained new samples from a local vendor using a water-jet cutting process, and these proved to be acceptable.

Work during FY 2016

Progress this year was minimal because of difficulty locating a vendor that is willing and capable of producing the small parts and shapes, by any of the cutting methods investigated. Project staff met several times with vendors, sometimes getting hesitant or uncertain replies that indicated a reluctance to commit to the work. As of this writing, staff are waiting for two local vendors and one out-of-town company to reply or produce workable samples. Project staff have discussed changing the components or the materials used as a fallback option if nothing satisfactory comes from the vendor conversations.

Work planned for FY 2017

Any changes to the Teacher’s Guide necessitated by material changes will be incorporated in the final content. Final production specifications will be written this year by Technical Research staff after the vendor uncertainties are resolved. A pilot run should be completed during the year, and any lingering difficulties with coordinating manufacturing processes will be addressed.

Common Core Math Kits

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide teachers with manipulatives to teach and reinforce the concepts identified in the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics

Project Staff

Background

Forty-five states and three territories have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Students in these states will be tested on the reading and math standards in the 2014-2015 school year. Traditionally, students who are blind and visually impaired do not perform well in math or math assessments due to the visual nature of math. APH has developed the MathBuilders series for grades K-3 but has no formal collection of manipulatives and tools for other grades.

A math survey was sent to all Ex Officio Trustees for input as to the need for math products. Respondents were asked to rank a list of eight items as to their greatest need. These eight items were recommended by attendees at a "Meeting of the Minds" held in Louisville, KY; product submissions; and/or informal request received during product displays. Two of the three highest rated needs were Student Math Kits for Common Core Grades 4-5 (3rd place) and Student Math Kits for Common Core Grades 6-8 (2nd place).

Preliminary Research

In FY 2012, a product submission form was developed by the project leader and approved by the Product Evaluation Team and Product Advisory and Review Committee. A Product Development Committee meeting was held to get input from other project leaders. A group of eight TVIs met for 4 days in July 2012 to begin work on the project. It was determined that there was a need for two different tools for TVIs:

  1. A website that would identify existing products and manipulatives available to teach the standards for grades K-8 and high school
  2. Kits with tools and manipulatives for grades 4-5 and grades 6-8

The committee identified materials for grades 4-5 and for geometry for all grades 4-8.

In FY 2013, a website was developed to provide TVIs with a reference tool to determine currently available math products for grades K-8 that may be used to teach the standards identified in the CCSS or to share with classroom teachers who have a braille student in their classes. Additionally, the site links to other resources for TVIs including the Maryland Common Core State Curriculum Framework for Braille. Components for the kits have been outlined. Manipulatives were identified for kits for grades 4-5, and development was started by Technical Research. Tactile graphics needed to teach the standards for grades 4-5 have been identified.

In FY 2014, the website was completed for math products for the high school level CCSS. APH products are now linked to all CCSS for Mathematics grades K-12. In FY 2015, the website was monitored and updated as new math products became available from APH.

Work during FY 2016

The website was monitored and updated as new math products became available from APH.

Work planned for FY 2017

The website will be monitored and updated as new math products become available from APH.

Draw2Measure Protractor

(New/Completed)

Purpose

To give students who are blind or have low vision an angle measuring tool that is easy to use and more accurate than many braille and large print protractors currently available

Project Staff

Background

The Draw2Measure Protractor is an app designed for iPad®, iPhone®, and iPod® devices. The project leader submitted the idea in January 2016.

Angle measuring is a basic math skill that all students need, but the braille and large print protractors currently available for visually impaired students are not always accurate; these protractors provide tactual clues or bold marking lines every 5 degrees, but leave other values to be interpolated. When used properly, the Draw2Measure Protractor app can provide more accurate angle measurements (e.g., within ±1 degree range). In addition, the use of technology may add fun into teaching and learning process.

The Draw2Measure Protractor app allows students to measure angles in two ways. First, the student can place an angle over the screen of a device, such as a phone or tablet, and trace along the sides of the angle with a fingertip or stylus. The app records the locations of the sides and then calculates the angle. Second, for objects that may not fit on a screen, the student can find measurements by rotating the device itself, which uses a built-in gyroscope sensor to measure angles.

Although the Draw2Measure Protractor is specially designed for students who are blind or have low vision, it gives all students an alternative way to measure angles, thus meeting students’ diverse needs in math and science classrooms.

Work during FY 2016

The prototype of the Draw2Measure Protractor app for use in field testing was completed in March 2016. The prototype was then field tested in April 2016.

Nine teachers of students with visual impairments participated in the field test. They were from eight states including New Mexico, New Hampshire, Ohio, Minnesota, Arizona (2), New York, Colorado, and Wisconsin. Teachers were selected based on their levels of interest in the product, the number of students they had available to work with during the field test period, and the availability of devices.

Seven of the nine teachers (78%) were in itinerant placements, and two (22%) worked at residential schools for students with visual impairments. One teacher (11%) was a braille reader, and the rest read regular print. The average number of years spent teaching students with visual impairments was 11 years.

In all, 18 students participated in the field test. The following is a breakdown of their demographics:

Of the 18 students who participated in the field test, nine (50%) could successfully and independently measure angles using the app, seven (39%) could somewhat use the app, and two (11%) could not use the app. According to teachers' reports, the following were among the challenges students experienced when testing the app:

After testing the app with their students, teachers were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed that "using this app will benefit students who are visually impaired in math study." A 6-point Likert scale was used, ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree). Of the nine teachers, one answered 4 (somewhat agree), three answered 5 (agree), and five answered 6 (strongly agree). The average rating was 5.4.

Using the same 6-point scale, teachers were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed that "APH should make this app available for students with blindness or low vision." Of the eight teachers who responded to this question, one answered 5 (agree), and seven answered 6 (strongly agree). The average rating was 5.9.

Below are quotes from six teachers that reflect their overall opinions of the Draw2Measure Protractor app:

The teachers and students suggested a few revisions to the app, of which the following are the most significant:

After the field test, the app was revised according to field testers' suggestions and was released in summer 2016.

Work planned for FY 2017

The Draw2Measure Protractor app is now completed. Except for maintenance of the app, no other work on this project is planned for FY 2017.

Flip-Over Concept Books: FRACTIONS

Formerly Flying Through Fractions
(Continued)

Purpose

To provide teachers with a tool, in the form of a flip-chart type booklet, that will assist primary and intermediate students in learning fractions

Project Staff

Background

The product submission for this product came from a teacher of the visually impaired. The original product idea was to develop a pin screen that could be explored tactually. The pins would be stable enough to remain in position during tactile exploration, yet loose enough to depress with a template. Templates would be created for fractional sections of common shapes. The templates would be pushed onto the pin board, and the sections of the fraction would appear. A full-sized plate would be used to "clear" the pin screen. This tool would provide students who are blind and visually impaired with an instant tactile representation of the fractions that their sighted peers are seeing.

In January 2010, this product underwent product review. It was determined that the cost to develop and produce it as originally presented would be prohibitive. APH staff came up with two different potential options. The project leader at the time contacted the teacher who had submitted the product idea to discuss these options. After consulting with Technical Research and the teacher, a low tech option was chosen. For each fraction, there would be a small booklet. The booklet would be hole-punched in the upper corner with a ring binding. On the first page would be a circle divided into the appropriate fractional part with the fractional name; the pages that followed would include a tactile representation of the fraction as well as the fraction written in braille and large print. The teacher or student could then quickly flip to the correct fraction for identification or comparison. The book could be taken apart at the ring binding to easily compare fractions.

The project was turned over to project leader Sandi Baker in October 2011. It went to the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee in November 2011. A Product Development Committee meeting was held in January 2012. After much discussion, it was decided that this product will become part of the Flip-Over Concept Books series and utilize the format of the previous Flip-Over books, the exception being that this book will have two possible display options: flat or easel style. It will be an interactive print and tactile booklet that will provide support for students who are beginning to learn about and understand fractions, decimals, and percents, and will focus on halves, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, eighths, and tenths. This product will consist of a series of print/tactile panels and two booklet covers on which to display the panels. The print/tactile panels will be divided into five categories: Piece of the Pie, Pie Chart, Fractions, Decimals, and Percents. Fractions will utilize the same special binding as the previous Flip-Over books, and will include one 4-panel-wide booklet cover and one 2-panel-wide booklet cover.

In June 2011, the project leader met with Technical Research to present the layout design for the panels. In July, the project leader met with Technical Research to review the vacuum-form and line art. Also in July, the project leader completed the first draft of the teacher's guide and submitted it to the research assistant for review and editing.

In FY 2012, the content of the teacher's guide was finalized and turned over to Terri Gilmore for design.

The project was turned over to current project leaders in January 2014. After project staff met and reviewed previous product design, some changes were made. For example, easel style as a display option was dropped. Instead of providing two booklet covers, only one 3-panel-wide booklet cover would be provided. The teacher's guide was revised to reflect the changes.

In 2015, provision of print/tactile panels was revised after checking related math standards. Changes included dropping the Piece of the Pie category, reducing the number of panels in the Decimal and Percent categories, and adding a Comparison Sign category. Print and tactile graphics of the Pie Chart panels were revised to increase readability.

To increase the pace of the prototype stage, as well as to enhance the quality of the tactile presentations of the pie charts, the Tactile Graphics Project Leader encouraged a shift away from CNC-router generated parts. Instead, tactile masters of the pie charts were generated via the Roland® UV printer and were later used by Katherine Corcoran to make vacuum-form masters. By mid-summer of 2015, vacuum-form patterns of all needed panels were constructed. Print and tactile covers of the booklet were designed as well.

Work during FY 2016

Field test of the Flip-Over Concept Books - FRACTIONS was conducted during October and November 2015. Eight teachers completed the field test. They were from eight states including California, Illinois, Iowa, Montana, Nevada, New York, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Participants were selected based on the number of available students, diversity of setting, and geography.

Seven of the eight participating teachers were teachers of students with visual impairments, and one was an instructional assistant. Regarding their years of experience teaching students with visual impairments, four teachers were between 0 and 5 years, one was between 11 and 15 years, one was between 16 and 20 years, and two were more than 20 years. Six teachers worked in itinerant positions, one taught in a resource classroom, and one worked as a state math and science consultant for the blind and visually impaired.

In all, the participating teachers worked with 20 students in this field test. Below is a breakdown of students' demographics:

After testing the product with each of their student, teachers were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed that this product was helpful to that particular student for achieving his/her learning objectives. The scale ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree). Out of 20 students, teachers answered 1 (strongly disagree) for three students (1.5%), 2 (disagree) for one student (0.5%), 4 (somewhat agree) for one student (0.5%), 5 (agree) for eight students (40%), and 6 (strongly agree) for six students (30%, one student did not answer this question). The average was 4.5.

Based on teachers' observations, most students (13 of 18 students, two students did not answer this question) were very interested in using this product. The other five students were somewhat interested in using it.

After working with all students, teachers were also asked about their overall opinion of this product. Three teachers (37.5%) strongly agreed and five teachers (62.5%) agreed that this product could assist students with visual impairments in learning about the concept of fractions. All teachers (100%) said that APH should produce this product and make it available. Below are quote from some of the teachers:

Teachers and students suggested several changes. The development team discussed all suggestions and decided to incorporate the followings into the final design of this product:

As of this writing, large print guidebooks were completed and submitted for braille transcription. Project staff has been working on the product tooling.

Work planned for FY 2017

Product tooling and specifications will be completed. The project staff will monitor the quality of samples during the pilot and initial production run. Production will be completed, and the product will become available for purchase.

Geometro: GS10 Cylinder and Cone

(New/Completed)

Purpose

To provide students who are visually impaired with a set of cylinder and cone models for use in geometry study

Project Staff

Background

This product idea was submitted in August 2015 by Dr. Aniceta Skowron, the vendor of several Geometro products that APH sells. Like many Geometro products of the past, Geometro: GS10 Cylinder and Cone consists of 2-D shapes that can be assembled into 3-D models. The 2-D shapes are made from clear plastic and include black hook and loop material laminated along the perimeter of each shape to serve as fasteners. The set contains 10 pieces including six circles, two rectangles, and two circle sectors that can be joined to form two cylinders and two cones. The cylinders have the same base but different heights, as do the cones.

In August 2015, both project leaders reviewed and accepted this new product submission believing it would be a good addition to APH's existing Geometro products. The product would provide students who are visually impaired with appropriately sized concrete models through which they could tactually explore the properties of cylinders and cones. By building the models using nets, students could deepen their understanding of the relationship between 2-D and 3-D shapes.

In January 2016, the submission passed through the Product Advisory and Review Committee and became an active project.

Work during FY 2016

As with previous Geometro products, APH purchases the cylinder and cone models from the vendor. The project leaders met with the vendor and Technical Research to determine how the cylinder and cone models would be received from the vendor and how they would be packaged in-house. When this was determined, an agreement was signed between the vendor and APH allowing APH to become an exclusive distributor of the product in the U.S. Technical Research designed product specifications and turned them over in July 2016. No field test was necessary for this project. It will be released in September/October 2016.

Work planned for FY 2017

This product will be completed by the end of FY 2016. No work on this project is planned for FY 2017.

Math Flash Online

(Modernization)

Purpose

To develop an accessible software program that provides math drill and practice in a flash card format. This is a modernization of an existing product.

Project Staff

Background

Math Flash is a talking software program that currently runs under Windows®. Professionally narrated digitized speech present math problems in a flash card format and respond with fun positive and negative feedback. The program lets the teacher specify the kinds of math problems to use and the ranges of the numbers. It allows the use of the four basic arithmetic functions in any combination, as well as the use of positive and negative numbers. The teacher can also allow division with or without remainders. Math Flash generates the problems randomly, or the teacher can use specific problems and save the preferences to disk.

The program offers three main modes of presentation. Drill mode allows the student to practice problems and offers feedback after each answer is entered. Test mode presents the problems, but does not give feedback on the results until all problems have been completed. Auto mode presents problems, pauses for a group of students to shout out an answer, and then gives the correct answer and moves on to the next problem.

Math Flash received Quota approval from the Educational Products Advisory Committee and became available from APH in the spring of 2000. It has been a tremendous success and captures the attention of children and adults alike, both sighted and visually impaired.

The modernization of Math Flash will develop an online version with similar features that operates in a browser on multiple platforms.

Work during FY 2016

Identified tools and libraries for online development and programmed initial proof of concept prototype.

Work planned for FY 2017

Add features to the initial online version. Conduct an expert review of the program and make it available. Further enhancements will be added as feedback is submitted.

Math Homework Kit

(New)

Purpose

To develop an inexpensive, consumable set of items that allow blind or visually impaired students to make math graphs that can be turned in for homework, read by the teacher, and kept by the student for later review. Ease of use, readability, and marking on the top side of the graph sheet (rather than from the reverse) are among the essential aims for the product.

Project Staff

Background

Blind students in math classes face considerable challenges in producing graphs, particularly when those graphs are to be done as homework and turned in for grading. While a tool such as APH’s Graphic Aid for Mathematics works admirably for classroom demonstration, it is much too bulky to carry home, and each graph must be taken apart before another one is made. Some students have solved this problem by turning in photos of each graph they make on the board, but this method may be beyond the ability of many students. It also offers no tangible way to review the graphs after they have been taken apart.

Many students use raised-line graph paper and embossing tools as an alternative to the large graphing boards. The major drawback to this method is that the embossing must be done from the back of the sheet in order to be felt on the top surface, meaning that a mental reversal must be done on the image as it is being constructed. This, too, puts an extra burden on the student and makes the graphing task much more exacting. Waxed string products are also widely used, but these may fall off or cause sheets to stick together, and they provide no tactual contrast.

This project aims to give students and teachers an easy way to make raised-line graphs directly on top of a graph sheet. These graphs will allow for revision, be durable enough to carry around and review, and provide strong tactile and visual contrast for good readability. The materials will also be inexpensive and appealing to use.

The project leaders researched and experimented with numerous commercially available adhesive tapes and fabrics capable of producing tactual lines. Model Shop staff also produced some embossing tools and plates with raised points to try out. Although some of the ideas tried out may be worth pursuing later, they all gave way once the idea of using adhesive foam strips was tried.

Work during FY 2016

The project leaders submitted their idea and received approval for the project. They obtained some peel-and-stick foam sheets—one with a smooth texture and one with a glitter surface—which provide visual and tactile contrast. The model maker produced a set of sample foam strips and point symbols with various dimensions.

Project staff had discussions with a local vendor to see if the foam sheets could be "kiss-cut" into strips and point symbols as desired (i.e., die-cut but with the backing sheet left intact, so items can be peeled off the sheet). The vendor expressed confidence that it could be done.

Project leaders began working with the Purchasing Department to find a source for the glitter sheets, which are not as readily available in the quantities needed as the smooth sheets.

Work planned for FY 2017

A field evaluation is planned for the fall of 2016. The proposed kit will contain a quantity of each kind of foam, cut into strips and point symbols, and some APH Low-Relief Graph Sheets.

Project leaders will work with graphic designers to develop a cover sheet and logo for the kit. The evaluation results will be compiled and analyzed, and changes to the product design will be made as needed. Project staff will work on final product specifications.

Math Robot™

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide math flash card style functionality for both speech and braille feedback in a fun and compelling environment for iOS® devices

Project Staff

Background

APH has shifted its technological focus to portable devices, such as those running on iOS® and Android™ platforms, in response to requests from teachers and students. One such request was for an iOS® version of Math Flash. (See tech.aph.org/mf_info.htm.) Math Flash provides drill, practice, and tests for simple, configurable math problems with speech and braille feedback.

To respond to this request, APH began work with the following tasks:

Work during FY 2016

The following project-related tasks were completed:

Work planned for FY 2017

Project staff will work to complete the following tasks:

MathBuilders

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop instructional math materials for use with students in the primary grades who are blind and visually impaired either as a supplement to the classroom math program or as a core curriculum

Project Staff

Background

Math achievement of blind students has been consistently behind that of their sighted peers. In recent years, very little research and product development has been done to improve this situation. Teachers of students who are blind, however, have continuously requested special braille curricular materials for math similar to those in the Patterns program developed at APH to teach braille reading. Because of the dramatic increases in the number of blind students mainstreamed, the use of the itinerant special education teacher model, the math priority stated in GOALS 2000, and new teaching standards adopted by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, it became critical to focus once again on math materials for visually impaired students. This project received special funding as part of a 3-year research initiative to develop new products in math, science, and geography.

During the Mathematics Focus Group Meeting in September 1994, this program was discussed and specifications were determined. During FY 1995, work on the project included a review of the research and literature on math instruction for visually impaired students; analyses of math curriculum guides; thorough analyses of current textbooks to determine mathematical symbols, terms, and concepts being taught; a search of the catalogs for commercially-available math related products; and a review of programs on abacus instruction. By 1996, prototypes of eight Primary Math Units and a general guidebook began to take shape with guidance from William E. Leibfritz, math consultant. In July 1996, a group of teachers of the visually impaired met at APH to share ideas they found to be particularly effective for developing math concepts and practice materials for their visually impaired students in the primary grades.

In July 1997, project consultants, Leibfritz and Susan Millaway, met at APH and reviewed in detail the teaching strategies for the kindergarten and first grade Primary Math Units. A draft of an introductory book that presents the philosophy and overview of the program was developed by the project leader later in FY 1997. In FY 1998 and 1999, worksheets were developed to supplement the Lessons for Unit 1: Matching, Sorting, and Patterning for kindergarten through third grade.

In FY 2000, the decision was made to field test by units rather than waiting for the program to be finished in its entirety. Tooling of Unit 1 prototype worksheets for field testing began. In FY 2001, evaluation forms for the introduction and Unit 1 were drafted. Tooling of the prototype worksheets continued with coordination of the print and braille requiring much more time than originally planned.

In FY 2002-2003, Jenny Dortch completed the final draft of the introductory book and Unit 1. The evaluation forms for the book, lessons, and worksheets were developed. During FY 2004, the evaluation forms, Guidelines (introductory material), and Unit 1 Lessons for kindergarten through third grade were finalized and prepared for field testing. Materials were placed with teachers having braille reading students in kindergarten through third grade for approximately six to eight weeks and then returned to APH for compilation and analyses of data. Results were extremely positive with only a little revision required. Dortch continued work on Units 2, 3, and 4 during FY 2004 and 2005. These units cover Number Concepts, Place Value, and Number Operation. Eleanor Pester served as project leader during this phase of development.

In FY 2006, the project was assigned to Jeanette Wicker, Core Curriculum Project Leader (a newly created position). Revisions were made to Unit 1, Matching, Patterning, and Sorting and to the General Guidelines based on the feedback from the field testing. MathBuilders was selected as the name for the series. Manipulatives were added to Unit 1 based on feedback from field testing. Graphic design and braille translation were completed. Tooling for worksheets began. A consultant, Derrick Smith, was hired for Unit 6, Geometry and Unit 8, Data Collection, Graphing, and Probability/Statistics. Objectives were reviewed for alignment with Principles and Standards for School Mathematics from the National Council of Teachers of Math for Units 6 and 8.

In FY 2007, Unit 1 and the General Guidelines became available for sale. A prototype of the Geometry Unit was completed and field tested at 10 sites for 3 months in the spring of 2007. The text for Unit 8 was written, and the development of a prototype was initiated.

In FY 2008, revisions based on field reviewers’ comments were completed for Unit 6, Geometry. Production was completed, and the Unit became available for sale in May 2008. Field testing of Unit 8, Data Collection, Graphing, and Probability/Statistics was completed, and revisions were made based on field reviewer’s comments. A prototype of Unit 7, Fractions, Mixed Numbers, and Decimals was completed.

Unit 8, Data Collection, Graphing, and Probability/Statistics became available in September 2009. Unit 7, Fractions, Mixed Numbers, and Decimals was field tested in FY 2009. The development of Unit 5, Measurement began in FY 2009.

In FY 2010, revisions to Unit 7, Fractions, Mixed Numbers, and Decimals were completed. A specification meeting was held on May 3, 2010. Production was scheduled for February 2011. Unit 7, Fractions, Mixed Numbers, and Decimals became available for sale in April 2011.

Unit 5, Measurement was field tested from February to May 2010 at 13 different sites. An analysis of the evaluations provided feedback as to the needed changes to the prototype. Revisions to Unit 5, Measurement were completed, and manipulatives were finalized. Specifications were written.

In February 2012, Unit 5, Measurement became available for sale. Five of the eight units are now available for use in the classroom. The objectives for the last three units of the series were developed and organized in a series of meetings with the consultant for this project, Derrick Smith. Work on the last three units, Number Concepts, Place Value, and Number Operations was started. Some lessons were written and some worksheets designed. Technical Research began work on some of the manipulatives.

In FY 2013, project staff continued working on the last three units. Li Zhou was hired as the Core Curriculum Project Leader and will assist with this project. Lessons were drafted for Unit 3, Place Value, and work continued on Unit 2 and Unit 4. Technical Research created prototypes of several manipulatives and continued work to complete the remaining pieces.

A working session was held in June 2014 to complete revisions to Unit 3. Work began on writing and revising Units 2 and 4 during this work session. Prototypes of all three of the last units will be field tested together as the concepts of Place Value, Number Concepts, and Number Operation overlap. One set of manipulatives will be used for all three units.

In FY 2015, the project leaders and Smith continued to write the lessons for Units 3 and 4.

Work during FY 2016

Work continued on Unit 2, Number Concepts, and Unit 4, Number Operation. Smith had work sessions with the project leader in May to write lessons for the remaining two units.

Work planned for FY 2017

Project staff will complete the remaining lessons for Units 2 and 4. Staff will develop prototypes for field testing of all three remaining units including manipulatives and worksheet.

Nemeth Code Reference Sheet for Basic Mathematics [Modernization]

(Continued)

Purpose

To revise and expand the Nemeth Code Reference Sheet for Basic Mathematics, a quick reference sheet of basic Nemeth Code

Project Staff

Background

Ex Officio Trustees have requested additional supports for teachers and students using Nemeth Code. Additionally, with the advent of Common Core State Standards, the emphasis on high stakes testing, and the increased emphasis on STEM classes and careers, staff at APH reviewed existing products that needed updating. The current Nemeth Code Reference Sheet for Basic Mathematics is very general in the Nemeth Code listed. Some of the code would be taught in an elementary class while some would be taught in an advanced mathematics class.

In FY 2014, a Product Modernization form was submitted. The revised Nemeth Code Sheet will be three individual bi-fold sheets: Beginning Level, Intermediate Level, and Advanced Level. The Maryland Common Core State Curriculum Framework for Braille, Mathematics outlines the Nemeth Code needed by grade level to participate successfully in math classes. This document, the work of Gaylan Kapperman, and the work of Susan Osterhaus were used to identify the symbols to be included at each level. Osterhaus and Derrick Smith agreed to be reviewers, and to make recommendations as to the final content.

In FY 2105, the project leader developed a draft listing of the three levels of Nemeth Code using the Maryland Common Core State Curriculum Framework, the APH Nemeth Tutorial developed by Kapperman, TSBVI Nemeth Code Reference Sheets, and the APH Nemeth Code Reference Sheet for Basic Mathematics. These were sent to Osterhaus and Smith for review. Their suggestions for additions and revisions were incorporated. Additionally, Cathy Senft-Graves, Braille Literacy and Technology Project Leader, reviewed the listings for appropriate groupings of the Nemeth Code Symbols. The project leader finalized the content for the Beginning Level and the Intermediate Level.

Work during FY 2016

The project leader finalized the content for Advanced Level of the Braille Reference Sheets with input from Osterhaus and Smith. The project leader began the development of the chart of the Nemeth Code for each of the three levels.

Work planned for FY 2017

The project leader will finalize the three charts. Project staff will begin graphic design and braille translation of the three sheets in preparation for field evaluation.

Nemeth Tutorial

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a device-independent method for learning the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics that is both visually appealing and operates with refreshable braille displays for learners who are blind

Project Staff

Background

Nemeth code is a humanly readable markup language that uses a system of symbols and rules to allow technical literature be presented and read in braille. It is designed to give as accurate a representation as possible to help facilitate communication between a user who is blind and his classmates, colleagues, and the world.

Designed by Abraham Nemeth, a Mathematics professor who was blind, this code was officially adopted for the United States in 1952. The official Nemeth Codebook was published by APH shortly thereafter.

The University of Northern Illinois (NIU) created a comprehensive Nemeth code training course that ran on Windows® based computers. It logically presented concepts in learning order along with exercises for the learner.

Later, a team of programmers modified the software to work with the Braille Lite from Freedom Scientific® and the BrailleNote™ from HumanWare™. As those hardware devices became obsolete and trying to maintain the code to continue working on Windows® became burdensome, the project creator sought a means of making the material available to more people and to find a platform that could be maintained easily.

In 2012, NIU staff and APH proposed creating a Web-based learning environment that could work on a variety of devices and would look good to a sighted teacher. Staff began investigating what interfaces could be used to work with Windows®, OSX, iOS®, and Android™ that would both be visually appealing and show proper braille content on a refreshable braille display connected to a device running a screen reader on one of those platforms. Taking advantage of the screen reader's braille interface meant the user could run the tutorial without the requirement of installing any software, but getting proper Nemeth code braille to show up for each screen reader became a challenge.

During the first phase of the research, project staff worked to complete the following:

In FY 2015, staff completed all of the lessons and exercises, released the Nemeth Tutorial, added six-key input support for users without access to a braille display, and updated the layout and look of the site

Work during FY 2016

In FY 2016, staff updated the exercises to display printed math for sighted users, continued to improve the lessons and correct any issues in the lessons, updated the tutorial to support literary UEB explanations and examples, updated the order of lessons to simplify the tutorial, and removed issues with content being referenced before being covered in the tutorial.

Work planned for FY 2017

Staff will continue to improve the user interface, and fix any issues in the tutorial with a focus on the new sections regarding UEB Braille's use with the Nemeth code.

Place Value Setter

(Continued)

Purpose

To give early elementary school students with blindness or low vision a quick, fun, and hands-on way to learn about and develop a firm understanding of the basic math concept place value

Project Staff

Background

Place value is a positional notation system in which the position of a digit determines its value. For example, in the base 10 number system that we use every day, each place has a value 10 times that of the place to its right. As the basis for students' understanding of numbers, place value is a fundamental concept that must be acquired prior to moving onto more complex math skills and concepts.

To fully understand place value, students must gain knowledge of conceptual models of place value and then connect that knowledge with written representations. To facilitate number setting with written digits for students with blindness and low vision, a teacher of students with visual impairments in Manahawkin, NJ, submitted the idea of a new product Place Value Setter: In Braille and Large Print to APH in July 2014. After a thorough evaluation, APH accepted that idea and assigned it to the current project leader.

The Place Value Setter is designed to have number strips installed on a base board. Strips have written digits in both large print and braille, which allows braille students to work together with non-braille readers. Sliding the strips allows students to show place value digits. With that refreshable and concrete display, the Place Value Setter will give students with blindness and low vision as well as their teachers a prompt way to represent numbers using written digits. Designed for elementary school students, especially 1st to 3rd graders, this tool will be particularly useful for the following groups:

In 2015, prototypes for use in field test were designed and made. Field test documents were completed. Field test sites were identified. Field test began in September 2015.

Work during FY 2016

Field test of the Place Value Setter was conducted from September to November 2015. Eight teachers completed the field test. They were from seven states including Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, New York (2), Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. Participants were selected based on the number of available students, diversity of setting, and geography.

All participating teachers were teachers of students with visual impairments. Their years of experience teaching students with visual impairments ranged from 2 to 41 years, with the average being 14 years. Most teachers (6, 75%) worked in itinerant positions, one teacher (12.5%) worked at a residential school for students with visual impairments, and one (12.5%) worked in an inclusive classroom at a regular school.

In all, the participating teachers worked with 30 students in this field test. Below is a breakdown of students' demographics:

After testing the product with each of their student, teachers were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed that this product was helpful to that particular student for achieving his/her learning objectives. The scale ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree). Of 30 students, teachers answered 2 (disagree) for one student (3.33%), 4 (somewhat agree) for seven students (23.33%), 5 (agree) for 14 students (46.67%), and 6 (strongly agree) for eight students (26.67%). The average was 4.9.

After working with all students, teachers were also asked about their overall opinion of this product. Five teachers (62.5%) strongly agreed and two teachers (25%) agreed that this product could help students with visual impairments study the concept of place value. One teacher (12.5%) somewhat agreed with that. Seven teachers (87.5%) thought that this product would be highly useful in their classrooms if the changes they suggested were made. One teacher (12.5%) thought that this product would probably not be very useful in her classroom. Following is a quote from a teacher: "To gain a full understanding place value requires the student to understand the connection between base ten units, how they can be bundled and unbundled, and positional notation. In my opinion, the place value setter goes beyond where other manipulative tools leave off in that it reinforces positional notation and helps students' conceptual understanding in a way that cubes or rods alone cannot. The place value tool is helpful for students with blindness or low vision because it brings all three conceptual requirements together and gives them a means of writing numbers with an understanding of how the digits have value based on their position within a number."

Teachers and students suggested several changes. The development team discussed all of them and decided to make the following revisions:

As of this writing, the large print product introduction was completed and was submitted for braille transcription. Project staff has worked on product tooling.

Work planned for FY 2017

Product tooling and specifications will be completed. The project staff will monitor the quality of samples during the pilot and initial production run. Production will be completed, and the product will become available for purchase.

Publisher Collaboration – Pearson (enVisionmath 2.0)

(New)

Purpose

To collaborate with a publisher of a mainstream math program in producing accessible materials for students who are blind and visually impaired that will allow them to participate fully in the regular education classroom

Project Staff

Background

The enVisionmath2.0 by Pearson Publishing for grades K-6 became available for sale in December 2105. The program is aligned to the Common Core State Standards and supports print, blended, and a digital learning experience. The program includes an online component that students use in conjunction with the print math book and a set of manipulatives.

APH was approached to work in collaboration with Pearson Publishing to develop materials including a set of manipulatives for students who are blind and visually impaired that aligns with the enVisionmath2.0 program.

Work during FY 2016

The product submission was reviewed and received approval from the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee in August 2015.

Sara Larkin, the Statewide Mathematics and Science Consultant for the Blind and Visually Impaired from the Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, signed a contract with APH to act as a consultant for this project. Larkin and the project leader met at APH in October 2015 to begin work on the project. They reviewed the manipulatives, the student books, and the teacher’s manuals for each grade level.

A contract was finalized with Pearson Publishing in February 2016.

Many existing math manipulatives from APH are accessible version of the manipulatives used in the enVisionmath2.0 program and will be included in the kits. Project staff began the process of designing and developing new manipulatives needed to accompany the kits. As many of the same manipulatives are used in several grades, it was decided to have one kit of manipulatives for grades K-2 and three separate manuals for each of the three grades. Larkin and the project leader met via telephone/video conferences throughout the winter and spring to develop the manual for Kindergarten.

Larkin and the project leader worked again at APH in June 2106 to complete a draft of the Kindergarten Manual. The draft of the first Kindergarten topic was sent to Pearson for review. Revisions to the manual were made based on this feedback. Pearson agreed to review the first topic of each grade level.

Work planned for FY 2017

Larkin and the project leader will complete the manuals for grades 1 and 2. The kits and manuals will be reviewed by teachers of the visually impaired who use the enVisionmath2.0 program with their students.

Tactile Algebra Tiles

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide math students who are visually impaired with an accessible version of algebra tiles, a math manipulative used in elementary, middle, and high school algebra study

Project Staff

Background

Algebra tiles are mathematical manipulatives that provide students with concrete models for understanding abstract algebraic concepts and procedures. With tiles representing variables and constants, algebra tiles can be used by students from elementary to high school for adding, subtracting, and multiplying integers; simplifying expressions; solving linear and quadratic equations; and multiplying and factoring polynomials. By providing students with a graphical way to solve algebraic problems in addition to abstract manipulation, algebra tiles are seen as helpful tools that meet students' diverse needs in algebra study.

Preliminary research has found that algebra tiles are commercially available through many vendors of educational manipulatives. However, these tiles are not readily accessible for students who are visually impaired. For example, the tiles come in different colors, but students who are blind cannot distinguish colors; the tiles are often small, which makes it difficult for students with visual impairments to manipulate them; and physically touching tiles, which might be helpful for visually impaired students, interferes with laying the them out into graphical patterns because they are not fixed on a desktop. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has developed a free online illumination of algebra tiles, but it is not accessible for students with severe vision loss.

In the summer of 2011, APH Core Curriculum Project Consultant, Jeanette Wicker, and Core Curriculum Project Leader, Sandi Baker, surveyed about 70 math teachers and teachers of students with visual impairments about potential math products. Algebra tiles were found to be one of the top three products that these teachers wanted the most for their students.

Therefore, the project leader submitted the product idea of adapting algebra tiles for students with visual impairments.

In 2014, the project leader presented the new product to the Product Evaluation Team and Product Advisory and Review Committee. Approval was received, and project staff began designing the product.

In 2015, design of the prototype for use in field testing was completed, and the Model Shop and Technical Research made prototypes for the field test. The project leader prepared field test documentations including a user's guide and evaluation forms.

Work during FY 2016

Field testing of Tactile Algebra Tiles was conducted during January and April 2016. Eight teachers completed the field test. They were from seven states including Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri (2), New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. Participants were selected based on number of available students, diversity of setting, and geography.

All participating teachers are teachers of students with visual impairments. Their years of experience teaching students with visual impairments ranged from 3 to 25 years, with the average being 7.6 years. Half of the teachers (4, 50%) worked in itinerant positions, and the other half (4, 50%) worked at residential schools for students with visual impairments.

In all, the participating teachers worked with 28 students in this field test. Below is a breakdown of the students' demographics:

After testing the product with each of their students, teachers were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed that the product was helpful to that particular student for achieving his/her learning objectives. The scale ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree). Of the 28 students, teachers answered 2 (disagree) for one student (3.57%), 4 (somewhat agree) for three students (10.71%), 5 (agree) for seven students (25%), and 6 (strongly agree) for 17 students (60.71%). The average was 5.4.

Based on teachers' observations, most students (21 of 28 students, 75%) were very interested in using the product. Five students (17.86%) were somewhat interested, and two (7.14%) were uninterested.

After working with all students, teachers were asked about their overall opinion of the product. Four teachers (50%) strongly agreed and two teachers (25%) agreed that the product could help students with visual impairments in algebraic study. One teacher (12.5%) somewhat agreed with this statement, and one teacher (12.5%) disagreed. One quote from each teacher is listed below that represents his or her opinion of the product:

Teachers and students suggested few changes. The development team discussed field test findings and decided to add one more steel board to the kit to provide more room for tile storage.

As of this report, tooling of tiles is completed. Large print versions of the teacher's guide are being finalized. The project staff is communicating with a vendor about customizing the steel board for use in the kit.

Work planned for FY 2017

Product tooling and specifications will be completed. The project staff will monitor the quality of samples during the pilot and initial production run. Production will be completed, and the product will become available for purchase.

Tactile Compass for Math & Art

Formerly APH Tactile Compass
(Completed)

Purpose

To provide elementary, middle, and high school math students who are visually impaired with a tool to draw tactile circles on braille paper and plastic films

Project Staff

Background

Drawing circles is a required skill for elementary, middle, and high school math students. However, limited by their vision loss, students with blindness are unable to use regular compasses. Tactile Compass for Math & Art is an assistive tool designed to enable students with blindness to draw tactile circles in their math and art classes.

The project leader submitted this product idea with recognition of some limitations of an existing product currently available through APH named Three Spur Wheels and One Compass with Spur Wheel. The existing product does not allow users to draw large circles, and its spur wheel is not sharp enough to draw on braille paper. The new Tactile Compass in development adopts a different design to avoid such limitations. Online research, as well as talking with several math teachers of students with visual impairments, helped confirm that a quality compass from APH was needed.

In 2014, design of prototypes for use in field test was completed. During the design phase, opinions of teachers of students with visual impairments were gathered using convenient opportunities (e.g., the APH 2013 Annual Meeting), and their suggestions were incorporated into product design when appropriate. In addition, a preliminary prototype was shipped to the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for a review by math teachers and for testing by students. Some of their suggestions were also included in the design.

Field test of the Tactile Compass for Math & Art was conducted from September to November 2014. Nine teachers completed the field test. They were from nine states: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. Participants were selected based on the number of available students, with preference for braille-reading students, and diversity of setting and geography.

Eight teachers were certified teachers of students with visual impairments, and one was an orientation and mobility teacher. Their years of teaching students with visual impairments ranged from 6 to 41, with an average number of years being 18.5. Four teachers worked in itinerant positions, two at residential schools, one in a resource classroom, and one in a day program (one teacher did not answer this question).

In all, the participating teachers worked with 29 students in this field test. Below is a breakdown of students' demographics:

Of all 29 students who participated in the field test, 18 (62.07%) could successfully draw circles using this compass, nine (31.03%) could somewhat draw circles, and two (6.90%) could not draw circles. Eighteen students (62.07%) could successfully set up circle radii using measurement marks on the compass, eight students (27.59%) could somewhat do that, and three (10.34%) could not do that. For students who did not use this compass successfully, some explanations provided by teachers were the following:

Teachers were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed that "this product meets the need for students who are visually impaired to draw circles." The scale ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree). Of all nine teachers, five teachers answered "5, agree"; three answered "6, strongly agree"; and one answered "4, somewhat agree." The average was 5.22.

Five of the nine teachers had, in the past, used at least one other compass for users who are blind. When asked how this new product compared with others, four teachers selected "this compass is much more functional than other compasses for students who are visually impaired." The remaining teacher selected "this compass is about the same as other compasses for students who are visually impaired."

During the field test, teachers' opinions regarding each part of this compass were collected. A few revision ideas were suggested, and of the ones suggested, these are the most significant:

  1. Offer additional spur wheel posts, so that students can draw circles in different textures. This is helpful for drawing graphics such as Venn diagrams.
  2. Change the name of this product because the old name "APH Tactile Compass" might sound like an O&M tool to some consumers.
  3. Make the pinpoint less sharp so that it does not tear paper easily.
  4. The maximum length of a radius (6 inches) could be reconsidered.

The changes below were made according to field test findings:

  1. A post with a double spur wheel was added.
  2. Title of this tool was changed to Tactile Compass for Math & Art.
  3. Pinpoint of the compass was revised so that it was not as sharp as before.

The user's guide of this product was completed. Project staff has been working on the tooling and product specifications. A local contractor for manufacturing the compass was contacted, and a request for samples was made.

Work during FY 2016

Product tooling and specifications were completed. Production of the first run was completed. The product will become available for purchase by the end of FY 2016.

Work planned for FY 2017

This product will be completed by the end of FY 2016. No work on this project is planned for FY 2017.

Tactile Five and Ten Frames

(New)

Purpose

To provide students who are blind and visually impaired a math manipulative comparable to that used in the elementary classroom by sighted peers

Project Staff

Background

Five and ten frames are graphic organizers designed to help young children visualize sets of five and ten. These frames can help students develop subitizing skills, the ability to instantly see "how many." When a student instantly "sees 5" on a domino or die, she is using her subitizing skills.

The understanding that numbers are composed of tens and ones is an important foundational concept. A strong sense of 10 is a prerequisite for number sense, composing and decomposing numbers, place value understanding, and mental calculations.

Many mainstream math textbooks incorporate the use of five and ten frames into math activities. In order for students with visual impairments to be included in the mainstream math class, it is important that they have similar tools.

Tactile Five and Ten Frames were planned for inclusion in MathBuilders Units 2 and 4. The design and development of the molds had previously been completed for these units. A product submission was received from a teacher of the visually impaired in Kentucky requesting the frames as a separate project.

The product submission was reviewed and received approval from the Product Evaluation Team in June 2015 and the Product Advisory and Review Committee in August 2015.

Work during FY 2016

The Model Shop and Technical Research prepared additional frames for field evaluation. The project leader developed a manual to accompany the kit. Graphic design prepared the layout of the manual and labels for the carrying case.

Work planned for FY 2017

The Tactile Five and Ten Frames will be evaluated by teachers of the visually impaired in the fall of FY 2017. Feedback from field evaluators will be used to make any needed changes to the kits.

Two-Dimensional Cross Sections of Three-Dimensional Objects

(Completed)

Purpose

To provide students who are visually impaired with three-dimensional models to gain a better understanding of two-dimensional figures that result from slicing three-dimensional figures

Project Staff

Background

The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics require middle school students to be able to "describe the two-dimensional figures that result from slicing three-dimensional figures" and high school students to "identify the shapes of two-dimensional cross-sections of three-dimensional objects." Recognizing limitations of using 2-D tactile graphics to convey 3-D information, the project leader submitted this product idea to provide students who were visually impaired with real 3-D models so that they could explore the aforementioned math concept in a relatively more genuine way. Lacking visual input, it is important for these students to get such alternative tactile experience to develop their understanding of 3-D relationships and expand their spatial imagination.

According to the submission, this product consisted of two cones showing all four conic sections and two cubes showing five polygons as 2-D cross sections. Preliminary online research found a commercially-available cone model showing the conic sections, but no products were found showing cross sections on cubes. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has developed free online illumination to demonstrate how to get various 2-D figures by slicing 3-D figures, but it is not accessible to students with blindness. The project leader also talked with several math teachers of students with visual impairments informally, and they thought this product would benefit their students.

In 2014, 3-D models were designed. In the final design, this product consisted of two cones and two cubes: cone 1 showed cuts of a circle and a hyperbola; cone 2 showed cuts of an ellipse and a parabola; cube 1 showed cuts of a triangle, a hexagon, and a trapezoid; and cube 2 showed cuts of a parallelogram and a pentagon. Textures were to be added to help with orientation for students with visual impairments. During the design phase, opinions of teachers of students with visual impairments were gathered using convenient opportunities (e.g., the APH 2013 Annual Meeting) and their suggestions were incorporated into the design when appropriate.

It was determined by the nature of the models that an injection molding process was to be used to produce them. After the final design became available, a local vender was contacted to get an estimate of production cost. Based on that estimate and a projection of future annual sales of this product, a consensus was reached among the project staff that cost to produce this product was too high for APH to continue pursuing it as a real, physical product.

To find an alternative way to still make this product available for teachers and students, downloadable models for 3-D printing were considered in the context that advances in technology would make 3-D printing more available to schools and teachers. Outside of the initial design cost, printable 3-D models presented as online files would not involve production cost. They would also be customizable, which added flexibility into teaching and learning. Both advantages made the development team decide to use printable 3-D models instead of real physical models with this product.

Printable cone and cube models for 3-D printing were designed. An online survey was also conducted examining current availability of 3-D printers among teachers of students with visual impairments as well as asking their opinion about APH providing printable 3-D models.

Printable models of cones and cubes were posted online for free download at Thingiverse®, a 3-D design sharing website (www.thingiverse.com).

Work during FY 2016

Technical Research has maintained the downloadable models at Thingiverse®. The models have been revised to improve their connection pins.

Work planned for FY 2017

This product is now completed. The printable models are available through Thingiverse® (www.thingiverse.com). No work on this project is planned for FY 2017.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION / HEALTH

Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a product to help early interventionists and parents teach and encourage locomotor skills and object control skills prior to young learners entering school

Project Staff

Product Description

Count Me In is a box of adapted sports equipment with quick-step instructions.

Background

APH considered creating Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box after Lauren Lieberman, The Brockport College at SUNY, presented to a standing-room-only crowd at the 2011 APH Annual Meeting of the Ex Officio Trustees in Louisville, KY. Attendees and APH’s Early Childhood Project Leader requested that the Gross Motor Development Curriculum include preschoolers. Because children who are 3 years old require physical and motivational supports that older children may not, the Physical Education Project Leader and the consultants decided to create Count Me In to meet the specific needs of very young children who are just learning to move independently in their environment. The product "box" will include adapted equipment for children 3-years-old and up to learn locomotor and object control skills.

Relevance

APH made the decision to produce this product based on a standardized process of product selection. Lieberman and Pamela Haibach (also a professor at The Brockport College at SUNY) submitted the project idea on October 17, 2011. The project leader presented the product submission to the Product Evaluation Team (PET) on November 3, 2011. PET voted to move the project forward. On November 9, 2011, the Product Advisory and Review Committee approved the project, and assigned it grant #507.

This product will be fully accessible to the population who will use it. The Count Me In instruction cards will be available in print, BRF, text file, and HTML to meet APH requirements for accessibility. APH has the online link to access the Motor Development videos. (See report on Gross Motor Development Curriculum.)

This product follows APH guidelines for determining relevance of a product. The consultants conducted research with over 90 children with visual impairments throughout the United States. (See report on Gross Motor Development Curriculum.) Motor skill activities help to improve agility, balance, motor coordination, manipulation skills, and eye-hand and eye-foot coordination (Lieberman & Pecorella, 2006). These skills promote independence, self-esteem, and a feeling of competence.

There is evidence of an examination of the need for this product. The most prevalent barriers for children with visual impairment to participate in general physical education are professional preparation, equipment, programming, and time (Lieberman, Houston-Wilson, & Kozub, 2002). Count Me In will help address professional preparation and equipment so very young children will have an opportunity to develop gross motor skills prior to entering school.

APH did not seek opinions of knowledgeable individuals to determine the need for this product because attendees at the 2011 APH Annual Meeting of the Ex Officio Trustees voiced the need for the product. (See Background section of this project.)

This product addresses an identified need for a person who meets the definition of "visually impaired." The adapted equipment in the "box" will include items that are not available on the commercial market. The custom-made items will help young children with visual impairment and blindness feel more comfortable and be motivated to move in their environment. APH is exploring several items for possible inclusion in the kit, including a beep-t-stand, a tactile guidebar, and motivational switches.

Research

Initial piloting of the guidebar at Visually Impaired Preschool Services in Louisville, KY, resulted in a new prototype with a tactile surface. An APH model maker and an electrical engineer created prototypes of a beep-t-ball, motivational switch, and tactile guidebar. The beep-t-ball was run through a battery of tests (hits with an aluminum bat), and multiple prototypes with housing and foam variations were tried. At the National Family Conference in Boston, MA, and at the Center for Courageous Kids in Scottsville, KY, young children used the beep-t-ball and running guidebar; the project leader took photographs at both venues. Students from the Kentucky School for the Blind and several adults with blindness played with the prototype beep-t-balls at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, KY. Manufacturing specialist Andrew Dakin researched a better fastener (than glue) for the tactile covering on the running guidebar.

The project leader, manufacturing specialist, and model maker were not happy with the weight and performance of the prototype beep-t-ball. They redirected to explore the possibility of a beep-t-stand. The project leader used the tactile running guidebar and the motivator switches in a simulation activity at the 2014 AER International Convention in San Antonio, TX.

References

Work during FY 2016

There was no major work on this project in the last year. Technical & Manufacturing Research will continue to work with the project leader and monitor the progress of this project. The project was on hold pending the completion of its sister product, Gross Motor Development Curriculum.

Work planned for FY 2017

The project leader will continue to test prototypes of adapted equipment and create the quick-step instructions from the completed Gross Motor Development Curriculum.

Gross Motor Development Study and Curriculum

(Continued)

A coach uses verbal instruction and physical guidance to teach a young runner proper arm movement for running.A teacher instructs a child who practices the underhand roll using a rope attached to the top of two cones as a cue to release the ball when the wrist touches the rope.

Purpose

To determine major needs areas in motor development for children who have visual impairment and to develop a comprehensive curriculum to teach locomotor skills and object control skills

Project Staff

Advisory/Review Team

Product Description

Gross Motor Development Curriculum (GMDC) is a book with an accompanying online video.

Background

The GMDC is a book and video for physical education teachers, teachers of students with visual impairments, orientation specialists, recreation specialists, camp counselors, parents, and families. The authors recommend using it in professional preparation programs in all of these fields. The book provides a description, a list of needed materials, directions, a task analysis, teaching modifications and adaptations for one perceptual motor skill, seven locomotor skills, six object control skills and two physical fitness skills. The book includes practice records to track a student's progress, which are available online also. The instructional video is available on the Internet.

In 2011, APH funded motor skill ability research of over 90 children who attended sports camps or residential schools for the blind summer programs. The authors and coaches filmed children while they performed 12 gross motor skills: Six demonstrated object control, and six demonstrated locomotor ability. They collected data from camps in Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania. The research showed a large motor skill deficit in all levels of vision and a significant deficit in children who are blind at all ages. This was the foundation to create the GMDC.

In 2013, initial editing of the video was complete. Development of the project was on hold pending completion of other products. Research in Developmental Disabilities published the following article, in which the authors acknowledged APH for financial support of this research project.

Before APH incurred the expense of adding captioning to the video, the project leader posted it on the APH Web site for volunteer feedback from the field. The authors showed the video at four conferences and to two graduate classes. Volunteer feedback on the video was minimal; thus in 2015, the project leader identified two adapted physical education professors, Dr. Patricia Hacker, South Dakota State University, and Dr. Rebecca Lytle, California State University at Chico to review the video. They provided feedback prior to field testing.

The authors had the following articles published from the research on this project:

Relevance

APH made the decision to produce the GMDC based on APH’s standardized process of product development. Lieberman, Ph.D., The College at Brockport, SUNY, submitted the New Product Idea Submission Form under the name of Comprehensive Motor Development Curriculum (Includes Playground Guidance) on March 15, 2011. The project leader presented the idea to the Product Evaluation Team (PET) on April 6, 2011. The committee approved it and forwarded the product submission to the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC). PARC members approved GMDC on April 13, 2011. After teachers and students field tested the prototype (book and video), the project leader compiled the data for the Field Test Report. The project leader included the report in the Quota Approval Form.

This product is fully accessible to the population who will use it. In order to meet APH requirements for accessibility, the GMDC will be available in print and electronic formats for use with screen readers. The video includes closed-captioning and a script, which refreshable braille displays read.

The GMDC follows APH guidelines to determine relevance of a product. According to The Society of Health and Physical Education (SHAPE America), the goal of physical education is to develop physically literate individuals who have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. SHAPE America outlines the national standards and grade level outcomes for K-12 physical education in their chart, Scope & Sequence for K-12 Physical Education. The information is available online at National PE Standards. The chart represents the grade levels at which teachers should introduce and provide practice opportunities for physical skills and knowledge, as well as when competency and application should occur. The chart provides score options of emerging, maturing, and applying for each skill. Standard 1 reads that the physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns. The Adapted Physical Education National Standards (2nd Ed.), published by the National Consortium for Physical Education and Recreation for Individuals With Disabilities lists Standard 2 as motor behavior. Whether a student follows general physical education national standards or adapted physical education national standards, motor skill development is required and relevant to education, resulting in student attainment of outcomes and producing physically literate individuals.

Students can meet the nine components of the expanded core curriculum (ECC) through physical activity, sport, and recreation. Fundamental motor skills are the foundation of the components that drive the ECC. For example, recreation and leisure skills for students with visual impairment must be planned and deliberately taught, and should focus on the development of life-long skills. Individuals with blindness do not learn social interaction skills casually and incidentally as do persons with sight; it is necessary to teach these skills carefully, consciously, and sequentially. Before a student can play goalball, he or she must learn the motor skills of a three-step approach: the lunge, the underhand throw, and the slide. Social interaction skills are practiced during instruction, training, and when playing on a team.

There is evidence of an examination of the need for this product. Fundamental motor skills are the foundation of the nine expanded core curriculum (ECC) components, one of which is recreation and leisure skills. Lubans, Morgan, Cliff, Barnett, and Okely (2010) reviewed 21 studies that identified strong positive relationships between motor skill competence (MSC) and health-related fitness (HRF) variables, such as cardio respiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance, composite fitness scores, body composition, and physical activity. Stodden, True, Langendorfer, and Gao (2013) studied the relationship between MSC and HRF. They learned that students who test poor in MSC are unlikely to demonstrate high HRF levels, and students who test high in MSC are unlikely to demonstrate poor fitness. Children with visual impairment consistently show that they lag behind their sighted peers in motor development and fundamental motor skills (Houwen, Visscher, Lemmink, & Hartman, 2008; Lieberman & McHugh, 2001; Skaggs & Hopper, 1996; Winnick & Short, 1985, 1999). At the time Lieberman submitted this New Product Idea Submission Form to APH, she and colleagues Matthias O. Wagner and Haibach submitted study results to Research in Developmental Disabilities (RDD) that showed children who are blind perform significantly worse in all assessed locomotor and object control skills. RDD published the article in 2013. In addition, adults and peers leave children with visual impairment out of basic games and activities during recess or on playgrounds (Lieberman & Robinson, 2004; Huurre et al., 1999). Peers generally chose last a child who is less skilled to participate in games during recess or after-school activities. This directly affects socialization and self-esteem (Ulrich, 2000). The better children (with visual impairment) feel about moving, the more they will move, which results in them being more fit. Lieberman explained that various motor skill assessments that are available on the commercial market are not validated for students with visual impairments. The TGMD-2 (Pro Ed) is validated for students with visual impairments; but when teachers use it, they do not have the adaptations and modifications to pre-teach students with visual impairment. Without the opportunity to learn a skill before testing, students with visual impairment are at a disadvantage. APH constructed Table 1: Motor Skill Identifier to identify specific skills within a particular assessment available to teachers. The assessments do not provide accommodations and modifications for students with visual impairment. APH's GMDC does.

Table 1: Motor Skill Identifier
Skill Assessments*
Balance APEAS II BOT™-2 DEVPRO
Run APEAS II BPFT BOT™-2 DEVPRO TGMD-2
Gallop APEAS II DEVPRO TGMD-2
Hop APEAS II BOT™-2 DEVPRO TGMD-2
Leap TGMD-2
Hor. Jump APEAS II BOT™-2 DEVPRO TGMD-2
Slide DEVPRO TGMD-2
2-Hand Strike DEVPRO TGMD-2
1-Hand Forehand Strike TGMD-3**
Dribble BOT™-2 DEVPRO TGMD-2
Catch APEAS II BOT™-2 DEVPRO TGMD-2
Kick APEAS II DEVPRO TGMD-2
Overhand Throw APEAS II BOT™-2 DEVPRO TGMD-2
Underhand Roll TGMD-2
Skip APEAS II DEVPRO TGMD-3**
Curl-ups/Sit-ups APEAS II BPFT BOT™-2 FITNESSGRAM®
Push-ups APEAS II BPFT BOT™-2 FITNESSGRAM®

*Adapted Physical Education Assessment Scale II (APEAS II); Brockport Physical Fitness Test (BPFT); Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, Second Edition (BOT™-2); DEVelopmental PROgramming Motor Skills Assessments (DEVPRO); FITNESSGRAM®; Test of Gross Motor Development, Second Edition (TGMD-2) and **TGMD-3 (in development)

The need for a curriculum was reinforced when the TGMD-2, 2nd ed. (Pro-Ed), dropped the balance skill from its assessment tool. Balance—a fundamental skill—is required for most other motor skills. The authors and project leader conducted a literature review.

The project leader then conducted another literature review on perceptual motor skills.

There is evidence that APH sought opinions of knowledgeable individuals to determine the need for this product. APH and the authors sought a panel of professionals and one parent to review and provide feedback to complete the written documentation and to provide guidance during instructional photo shoots. One member of the panel is legally blind and a 2X Olympian; she wrote the preface of the book. The panel's commitment to the project validates each member's belief in the need for the product. They agreed to participate as curriculum reviewers.

This product addresses an identified need for a person who meets the definition of "visually impaired." Individuals with visual impairment cannot learn incidentally; teachers and peers must purposefully teach gross motor skills. The curriculum provides step-by-step approaches to teaching strategies specific to persons with visual impairments for each locomotor skill and object control skill. These instructional strategies are pre-teaching, whole-part-whole instruction, verbal instruction, task analysis, and tactile teaching (tactile modeling, coactive movement, and physical guidance). The book also addresses the need for alternative communication methods and systems for students with dual sensory impairments. The research conducted by the authors in 2011 (see Background of this product report) confirms the need for students with visual impairment to be pre-taught motor skills prior to assessment. In 2012, the authors completed the manuscript, and the advisory panel reviewed it. The project leader, co-author Lieberman, and advisor Dr. Monica Lepore drafted the video manuscript. The project leader took the majority of the curriculum photography at Camp Abilities (NY), the National Family Conference (MA), and Center for Courageous Kids (KY). SUNY videographer students filmed the video at Camp Abilities.

Research

APH gathered field test data using several appropriate methods:

There is evidence that APH considered research data as part of decision-making in product completion.

The development of the GMDC followed APH Research Guidelines.

The research method used collected sufficient information. APH asked the evaluators to rate how parallel the content of the online video was to the content of the book. Four (80%) evaluators responded the two were very parallel, one (20%) said somewhat parallel, and no one selected the three remaining responses (neither parallel nor unparallel, somewhat parallel, or not at all parallel). Three evaluators provided the following comments.

It is very helpful to see the instructions in action to make sure I'm interpreting and applying the curriculum the way it was meant to be used.

As someone without a lot of experience teaching students with visual impairments, I found the combination of the video and the book very helpful.

Some terminology used in the video was not in the book. All the skills were in the same order.

The two professional reviewers and the several evaluators provided general comments on the video.

This is a great instructional video and shows many wonderful modifications for VI. I like the part of guiding and instructional strategies! This is great. As for the cues for the skills, I think this will be helpful in that there are a few modifications illustrated here as well. Also helpful for a teacher who may not know the basic motor skills. Wonderful project.

This will be a very helpful video if some of these comments about the errors are corrected. The information will be really good for those who do teach students with visual and auditory impairments, but it will also be good for those who are teachers of the general classes, and also for those who teach college/university introductory adapted physical education class. It has good suggestions and basic information that will give introductory students a good start in working with students who have these impairments.

I found the video to be very helpful and I don’t have any specific suggestions for any of the skills or techniques demonstrated. I was so grateful to be given the opportunity to review this curriculum and use it as a resource – my student and I both found it SO HELPFUL. My suggestion is that at the end of part one, you provide a brief summary of what you covered – like a quick recap with bullet points – to help those of us for whom this is all really new information. I think it would help us to absorb what we just viewed to have a quick recap.

I liked the video a lot. I think it is an excellent addition to the curriculum book. Hearing and seeing the skills, techniques and strategies in action was extremely helpful. It clarified sections, which in the written form in the book were less clear, such as the explanation of "whole-part-whole."

All evaluators (100%) said that APH should release the video to complement the book.

YES! Very helpful for those that may not quite understand the written instructions right way.

I think the video does a really good job of showing general PE teachers like myself what students with visual impairments are capable of. After working with my student on this curriculum, I want to invite her to be part of our Unified Sports team. Our team of coaches had not previously asked her because we weren't sure how to include her in many of the ball sports and now we have some concrete strategies to use.

It would be nice to break the video into chapters to navigate to more quickly as needed.

Getting the information in a variety of formats is helpful. Seeing the video reinforces the book.

The GMDC lists 23 tips for teaching children who have visual impairment. APH encouraged evaluators to submit tips that are successful in their classrooms.

Many general PE teachers use music in class, for many purposes. I use music to signal activity time–we play when the music is playing, we stop when the music stops. If we are doing station activities, students know that when the music stops and a new song starts, it is time to rotate clockwise to the next station. If you have any specific suggestions about the use of music that would be helpful, please include them.

The authors included three examples of coactive movement (slide, push-up, and weight shift for throwing or batting) in the curriculum. The majority (60%) of the evaluators said no additional examples are necessary. One teacher requested that APH replace the coactive example for push-up. Comments included:

Examples of modeling some of the other skills are available under other headings such as task analysis and tactile teaching.

I feel as though it gives an overview of what to do with the other movements.

I feel one from each domain was selected (locomotor, fitness, object control), and I also feel the ones selected are the more complex skills to teach.

APH asked evaluators to rate how complete or incomplete the book's list of task analysis/practice is for each motor skill. The majority (80%) responded very complete, and 20% responded somewhat complete. No one selected the three remaining response options: neither complete nor incomplete, somewhat incomplete, and very incomplete. Comments:

I think that the Run skill could be reworded and even made a bit more detailed. Leap: I was challenged to teach the concept of "pushing off the back foot" to one of my students. Thankfully, he was small enough for me to physically lift him off the ground during the execution phase, but that's not going to happen with my older and bigger students!

My student was especially excited by the horizontal jump. She did not understand how to jump prior to this instruction. Using the task analysis and giving her the instructions step by step, she was able to execute it on her very first attempt! It was such an Aha moment and she was so excited!

I think specific terminology used in teaching needs to be included. This is mentioned in the beginning chapters but not in instruction.

When working together with the student's P.E. teacher on the skill of overhand throw, the teacher had a slightly different way of instructing and breaking it down. The student felt inclined to follow his P.E. teacher's method.

APH asked the evaluators how satisfied they were with the book's explanation of the strategy of pre-teaching. Most (60%) responded very satisfied, 20% replied somewhat satisfied, and 20% said neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. No evaluators selected somewhat dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

I think the explanation of pre-teaching can help many APE teachers stay aware of the importance of collaborating with the GPE teacher if the student with VI is able to participate in the GPE setting.

It makes so much sense that because students with visual impairments can't use visual imitation to learn new skills, that they will need to spend some extra time beforehand in order to keep up with their sighted peers. This is both very helpful for me to understand and at the same time very frustrating because my time with all of my students is so limited (I see my students once per week and I split my time between two schools. But I will continue to carve out 30 minutes in the week prior to pre-teach the most crucial skills to my student.)

They could have elaborated more.

Most evaluators (60%) responded that they are very satisfied with the authors' explanation of whole-part-whole instruction, and 40% responded somewhat satisfied.

I appreciated the incorporation of research articles cited in this section, as far back as 1988. I feel it justifies the effectiveness of this method.

Again, it makes sense that a person would need to get the whole idea of a skill to understand how the parts are important, but will then need to work on each part individually before putting them together.

This is generally how a lecture with new material is presented: 1) this is what we will be covering (to prepare audience) 2) Cover all points 3) Summarize what was covered. This was my suggestion for part one of the video - nice intro, good job covering points, please add summary.

I found all the citation credits (which I know are necessary to include) distracting when reading this material. Even though it sounds simple, I found it a little confusing. It would be helpful to have more graphic examples available of this method.

The majority of evaluators (60%) responded very satisfied with the explanation of task analysis. One (20%) responded replied somewhat satisfied, and one (20%) responded very dissatisfied.

Some are too simple to read.

I feel task analysis is not only a teaching strategy, but also a reminder for us educators that teaching a skill takes time and several steps are involved for the whole movement to come together. Task analysis helps me to be patient and stay focused on teaching at the pace that's appropriate for the student.

I found the task analysis to be probably the most helpful strategy. The cues were almost always clear to my student and she frequently found success pretty quickly by following them.

More graphic examples are always welcome.

Four evaluators chose equally between very satisfied (40%) and somewhat satisfied (40%) in regards to the explanation of tactile teaching. One (20%) responded neither satisfied or dissatisfied with the explanation.

Tactile teaching has been helpful to communicate the correct/incorrect form of the movements to my students. If I'm not able to explain effectively the movement verbally, tactile teaching is the next step for me, and in many cases, my students were able to understand the movement better. If that wasn't as effective, we moved on to physical guidance.

The book's explanation of this strategy was clear and made sense. The examples provided were good ones. I think the reason that this strategy is so foreign to general PE teachers (and we may need some extra help with it) is because the idea of being very careful with our boundaries with students is stressed to us so often. For example, when teaching my student proper form for a push up, it was necessary to employ this strategy to help her understand proper form. For her to understand how to keep her back, hips and legs straight, I had to let her feel what that looked like when I performed the skill. But generally speaking, we would not allow our students to touch us like this and we are coached to be very careful in how we touch our students, which is why this strategy was not something that came as naturally and intuitively to me as some of the others.

As an itinerate instructor I did not have access to a gym, or equipment. It would be good to provide an example of tactile modeling for a skill that did not require equipment such as a trampoline or balance beam.

APH asked the evaluators to explain why they chose the teaching methods from the book that they used with their student(s). All agreed that it was student dependent (ability and pre-knowledge of a skill), and all used verbal instruction and tactile teaching. Two evaluators replied that they used "tactile teaching, physical guidance, and coactive movement." This may demonstrate a lack of understanding because physical guidance and coactive movement, along with tactile modeling are forms of tactile teaching. Perhaps both evaluators mistakenly typed "tactile teaching" instead of "tactile modeling." One evaluator describes using whole-part-whole first and then verbal instruction with task analysis, and then only if necessary, tactile teaching.

Three evaluators (60%) said they knew the teaching strategy terms physical guidance and tactile modeling before reading the book.

No evaluator used the section titled, "Teaching children who have deafblindness."

APH asked the evaluators to rate the value of Appendix A: Protocol for Children who Have Visual Impairment. This question sought their professional opinions whether they used or did not use Appendix A with students. The evaluators selected answer options "very high value" (40%) and "somewhat high value" (60%). No one selected neither high value nor low value, somewhat low value, or very low value.

APH asked the evaluators to rate the value of Appendix B: Lead-up Activities. Again, this question sought their professional opinions whether they used or did not use Appendix B with students. Like the previous appendix, the evaluators selected answer options "very high value" (40%) and "somewhat high value" (60%). No one selected neither high value nor low value, somewhat low value, or very low value.

APH provided the evaluators with the opportunity to submit any additional comments about the prototype product. Four evaluators submitted comments.

This is a wonderful resource, and I look forward to it being produced and available to the general public. I have actually used several of the modifications/adaptations for my students with vision, and it was effective for them as well.

As a general PE teacher who works in an inclusion model, I found this to be a tremendously helpful resource! Because everything is generally so visual in the PE environment and because severe visual impairments are a low incidence disability, working with students who are blind is very challenging. Having a resource like this will be so very helpful for teachers like me.

I think the teaching strategies in the appendix should be included in the section with the skills rather than an appendix.

I really liked the curriculum. It broke down the skills in a way that is easy to explain to students. It was printed in a larger font size that was comfortable to read and the many photographs were very helpful. The only area where I thought the explanation was not so clear was the section on "whole-part-whole."

The numerous citations interfered with the flow of the passage. The video provided a clearer explanation. I think the video is an important component. I found seeing the movements in action and hearing the explanation very helpful.

All evaluators (100%) said APH should publish GMDC (with video) and that they would recommend that their school purchase it.

The field test gathered data on 11 students, seven males (64%) and four girls (36%). The average age was 9 years old. One student was 6 years, five students were 8 years, three students were 11 years, and two students were 12 years. One student has retinopathy of prematurity, and two students have no light perception (Lebers). Evaluators said three students have visual impairment but gave no specific eye diagnosis. Evaluators stated the eye diagnosis for five students is unknown, but one of them sees shadows and some light. The TVIs and COMS knew the eye diagnosis for their students; the physical education teachers and adapted physical education teacher did not. Seven (64%) of the students have a disability accompanying their visual impairment. The data included seven locomotor skills, six object control skills, and two physical fitness skills on each student.

APH gathered data from a geographically diverse U.S. population. The evaluation sites are located in five states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Missouri, and Maine. The sites included one residential school for the blind, one state agency for the blind, and three public schools. APH sent out 11 field test packets, but six dropped out for various reasons, including the student left the school, student was out sick during the majority of the field test time, teacher felt his students (multiply disabled) were not a good match, teacher could not find the shipped book, and teacher's workload became too heavy. APH documents in the Research Department's field tester database teachers who do not complete the field testing with comments and reasons for dropping out.

APH gathered data from appropriately qualified individuals. The evaluators are a physical education teacher, a physical education and health teacher, an adapted physical education specialist, an orientation and mobility instructor, and a teacher with dual certification (i.e., teacher of students with visual impairments and orientation and mobility). The evaluators had an average of 15.3 years teaching experience and an average of 10.5 years of experience teaching students who have visual impairments. Table 2: Teaching Experience shows each evaluator's total years teaching and the number of years of experience in the vision field.

Table 2: Years of Teaching Experience
Respondent title Number of years teaching Number of years teaching students with VI
1. PE & Health Teacher 1.0 1.0
2. APE Specialist 4.5 1.5
3. PE Teacher 20.0 8.0
4. TVI & COMS 10.0 10.0
5. O&M Instructor 42.0 40.0

APH collected information on student outcomes through the student evaluation form and the pre and post practice records (Table 3), the latter of which are part of the GMDC.

Table 3: Gross Motor Development Curriculum – Practice Records
Notes:
* For teachers who did not truly complete all the Pre/Post records, APH recorded information so that Trial 1 was Pre trial and subsequent trials were Post trials. In this case, a successful completion of the Pre trial with only one trial date was equal to 1/3 of the score of a successful completion on a Pre Trial that included all three trial dates.
* APH recorded students who completed the Pre trial successfully as an N/A on improvement.
* APH recorded students who did not show improvement from Pre to Post (which includes those who actually scored lower on Post trials and those who failed to complete a successful Pre trial and did not complete a Post trial at all) as a No on improvement.
Skill: Balance
11 students completed Pre trial(s), and 11 completed Post trial(s).
* 18.2% (2/11) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 18.2% (2/11) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 63.9% (7/11) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.
* 82.1% (9/11) of students either showed improvement from Pre to Post trials, or completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Run
11 students completed Pre trial(s), and 11 completed Post trial(s).
* 9.1% (1/11) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 54.5% (6/11) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 36.4% (4/11) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.
* 90.9% of students either showed improvement from Pre to Post trials, or completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Hop
11 students completed Pre trial(s), and 9 completed Post trial(s). For the 2 students who did not complete Post trial, there is no reason given – they simply did not complete Post trials, but were not successful in Pre trial either—thus No improvement was shown.
* 18.2% (2/11) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 45.5% (5/11) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 36.4% (4/11) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.
* 81.9% (9/11) of students either showed improvement from Pre to Post trials, or completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Horizontal jump
11 students completed Pre trial(s), and 11 completed Post trial(s).
* 9.1% (1/11) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 72.7% (8/11) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 18.2% (2/11) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.
* 90.9% (10/11) of students either showed improvement from Pre to Post trials, or completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Skip
9 students completed Pre trial(s), and 9 completed Post trial(s).
* 22.2% (2/9) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 77.8% (7/9) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 0% (0/9) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Gallop
9 students completed Pre trial(s), and 9 completed Post trial(s).
* 0% (0/9) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 55.6% (5/9) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 44.4% (4/9) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.
* 100% (9/9) of students either showed improvement from Pre to Post trials, or completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Slide
10 students completed Pre trial(s), and 9 completed Post trial(s). The 1 who did not complete Post trial completed the Pre trial successfully.
* 10% (1/10) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 30% (3/10) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 60% (6/10) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.
* 90% (9/10) of students either showed improvement from Pre to Post trials, or completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Leap
9 students completed Pre trial(s), and 9 completed Post trial(s).
* 33.3% (3/9) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 66.7% (6/9) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 0% (0/9) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Bat
9 students completed Pre trial(s), and 9 completed Post trial(s).
* 44.4% (4/9) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 55.6% (5/9) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 0% (0/9) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Stationary dribble
11 students completed Pre trial(s), and 10 completed Post trial(s). For the 1 student who did not complete Post trial, there is no reason given – student simply did not complete Post trial, but was not successful in Pre trial either—thus No improvement was shown.
* 36.4% (4/11) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 45.5% (5/11) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 18.2% (2/11) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.
* 63.7% (7/11) of students either showed improvement from Pre to Post trials, or completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Catch
9 students completed Pre trial(s), and 9 completed Post trial(s).
* 0% (0/9) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 55.6% (5/9) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 44.4% (4/9) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.
* 100% (9/9) of students either showed improvement from Pre to Post trials, or completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Kick
9 students completed Pre trial(s), and 9 completed Post trial(s).
* 0% (0/9) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 55.6% (5/9) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 44.4% (4/9) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.
* 100% (9/9) of students either showed improvement from Pre to Post trials, or completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Overhand throw
11 students completed Pre trial(s), and 11 completed Post trial(s).
* 9.1% (1/11) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 54.5% (6/11) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 36.4% (4/11) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.
* 90.9% (10/11) of students either showed improvement from Pre to Post trials, or completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Underhand roll
10 students completed Pre trial(s), and 10 completed Post trial(s).
* 0% (0/10) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 50% (5/10) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 50% (5/10) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.
* 100% (10/10) of students either showed improvement from Pre to Post trials, or completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Curl-ups
9 students completed Pre trial(s), and 8 completed Post trial(s). The 1 who did not complete Post trial completed the Pre trial successfully.
* 55.6% (5/9) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 11.1% (1/9) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 33.3% (3/9) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.
* 44.4% (4/9) of students either showed improvement from Pre to Post trials, or completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

Skill: Push-ups
11 students completed Pre trial(s), and 9 completed Post trial(s). For the 2 students who did not complete Post trial, there is no reason given – students simply did not complete Post trial, but were not successful in Pre trial either—thus No improvement was shown.
* 54.5% (6/11) of students did not show an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 45.5% (5/11) of students showed an improvement from Pre to Post trials.
* 0% (0/11) of students completed the skill successfully on Pre trial.

APH asked the evaluators three questions that align to the national standards for physical education (Table 4).

Table 4: Responses to questions related to National Standards
Question Yes No
Could the student, during field testing, explain, "What are we learning?" 82% (9 students) 18% (2 students)
Could the student, during or after participating in field testing, explain, "Why are we learning it?" 73% (8 students) 27% (3 students)
Could the student, during or after participating in field testing, explain, "How will we know if we are successful?" 64% (7 students) 36% (4 students)

The evaluators listed all instructional strategies that they used with each student. The evaluators used pre-teaching with four (36%) students, whole-part-whole instruction with 11 (100%) students, verbal instruction with 10 (90%) students, task analysis with 11 (100%) students, and tactile teaching with seven (64%) students.

The student evaluation showed that prior to using the GMDC, seven (64%) students did not know that they had a choice between tactile modeling, co-active movement, and physical guidance when verbal instruction was not enough.

If a student required more than verbal instruction, which all students participating in the field tested did, physical guidance was preferred by most (64%) followed equally by tactile modeling (18%) and co-active movement (18%).

The evaluators said that all 11 students benefited from the whole-part-whole instruction.

If a student required additional materials, task analysis, or modifications and adaptations than what the book provided to learn and perform a skill, APH ask evaluators to list them.

Ten (91%) students required the use of verbal and tactile cues described in Appendix A: Protocol for Children who Have Visual Impairment. The protocols that teachers used most frequently and proved to be successful were for catch (cited four times); stationary dribble (cited three times); overhand throw, horizontal jump, and hopping (each cited twice).

Only four (36%) students required lead-up activities as described in Appendix B: Lead-up Activities. The activities that teachers cited as successful were slide and jump. One teacher cited that using a suspended beach ball on a string was not successful. However, the activity suggested a balloon suspended on a string; a beach ball is too heavy for that activity.

Evaluators stated that all 11 children benefited from using the GMDC. One evaluator commented that her students benefited, but there is a long way to go and that they will continue to work on these skills all year as part of O&M lessons because they wrote these skills into the IEP.

References

Work planned for FY 2017

The book will be available for sale by the end of the calendar year.

Health Education for Students With Visual Impairments Teacher’s Manual

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs) and classroom teachers with a manual that assists in the adaptation of teaching health education curricula to students with visual impairments

Project Staff

Background

Gatherings of professionals over the past 5 years (e.g., Meeting of the Minds, 2011 & 2014) established an identified need for teacher assistance when teaching the various aspects of health education to students with visual impairments. Recent published research and input from educators at residential and public schools has confirmed this need. The Health Education for Students With Visual Impairments Teacher’s Manual is designed to assist K-12 teachers adapt existing health education curricula for students with visual impairments. Because of the sensitive nature of the curriculum content (e.g., human anatomy, reproduction, etc.) and the teaching challenges presented by visual impairment, health education curricula require special adaptations in order to remain appropriate for the audience of visually impaired students. While not a curriculum itself, this manual is organized to include pre-teaching guidance for all content areas, links to videos that cover important concepts such as handwashing and accessible science experiments, a resource guide for appropriate anatomical models and reliable information sources, and a flash drive containing short videos on specific aspects of sex education. The curriculum areas for adaptation include diet and nutrition, personal health, sex education and birth control, disease and injury prevention, and safety.

Work began on this project in February 2015. Wild, Kapperman, Kelly, Ilic, Ryan, and Brewer drafted chapters entitled Diet and Nutrition, Personal Health, Sex Education, Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases and Disease Prevention, and Injury Prevention and Safety. A resource guide including sources for products and models as well as informational links was compiled and placed at the end of each chapter. All chapters for the prototype manual and video scripts were completed in the fall of 2015. Video scripts highlighting handwashing and food safety were composed but not pursued because appropriate videos with the same content exist and are readily available on the Internet.

Work during FY 2016

During the fall of 2015, Hoffmann and Vaught-Compton edited all chapters of the manual and prepared prototypes of print copies in three-ring binders for field testing. Kelly and Kapperman investigated the possibility of 3-D printing models needed for the chapter on sex education, but this was abandoned due to the high cost of the design process. Instead, Kelly and Kapperman worked with Dotseth to prepare teacher-made models of male and female genitalia and internal anatomy using simple and easily obtainable materials from hardware and discount stores. Detailed instructions for building the models including photographs were included in the sex education chapter. Twenty-five videos demonstrating the building procedure and appropriate uses of the models were prepared by Barker, Kelly, Kapperman, and Dotseth. All 25 videos were loaded onto flash drives along with an electronic version of the manual, and four age-appropriate sex education books in BRF format.

Field testers and expert reviewers were solicited via the November 2015 APH News and materials sent to 11 field testers and four expert reviewers in January 2016. In addition to the print manual and flash drive, field testers received all materials needed to construct the teacher-made models using the instructions provided by the manual. Expert reviewers received the same materials except the teacher-made models were premade for them. Both the field testers and expert reviewers also received a total of nine different models/kits that are recommended in the sex education chapter of the manual for their review. The models covered topics including male and female anatomy, self-exam health, birth control, and general sex education appropriate for a wide range of student ages. Note that the final product will not include models of any kind. Evaluations of the manual, videos, models, and braille books were received from nine field testers and all four expert reviewers by June 2016.

Hoffmann and Vaught-Compton reviewed the comments provided by the field testers and expert reviewers and incorporated suggested revisions into the manual. Professional photographs of the teacher-made models were prepared by Barker for the sex education chapter.

Work planned for FY 2017

Layout of the manual by APH graphic designers will begin in the fall of 2016. Barker will modify the videos according to suggestions made by the field reviewers and approved by the project leader. Braille translation and conversion to EPUB will take place after manual layout to provide accessible formats via free download with purchase of the product.

Hop-A-Dot Mat

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a durable foam floor mat in the shape of a braille cell that encourages young students to learn the braille cell and dot configurations for each alphabet letter (or single-cell contractions) through movement and activity, especially in recreational contexts with peers

Project Staff

The field test prototype of the Hop-A-Dot Mat

Background

The idea for Hop-A Dot Mat occurred to the project leader while attending a presentation by Dr. Penny Rosenblum at the 2014 Ohio AER Conference; the presentation outlined ways to provide a braille-rich environment for tactile readers. The project leader shared the idea of the Hop-A-Dot Mat with a teacher of the visually impaired who was attending the conference and who regularly works with young students. The teacher encouraged the project leader to submit and pursue the idea after citing the many benefits of the braille mat for her young braille students, adding that her "little ones love taking their shoes off and touching textures with their feet." This casual conversation sparked a variety of ideas for possible games and activities to enhance the use of the mat, including braille-learning sing-alongs.

The primary objective of the Hop-A-Dot Mat is to encourage young children to learn the braille cell and dot configurations for each alphabet letter (or single-cell contractions) through movement and physical activity with peers. As described in the product submission form, the product will consist of six interlocking EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) foam floor mats that can be displayed in the configuration of a large braille cell. Each interlocking square will have six removable foam circles. The circles, when removed, will provide large openings in the mat into which the child can place a foot/hand when locating dot numbers/positions. The removable circular pieces will be printed with the dot numbers and constructed so they are elevated slightly above the rest of the mat, forming short "steps." The students can then tactually locate these steps with their feet or hands when identifying dot positions. Fun, "Twister® game-like" contortions would be accommodated (e.g., letter "c" can be formed by placing left foot on Dot 1 and right foot on Dot 4 simultaneously). As a variation, the student can hop or step on the elevated circles to build a braille letter/single-letter contraction. As another option, the student can insert the foam circles into openings of the mat to build a chosen letter. Note: EVA foam is a nontoxic material that is safe (does not contain plasticizers), waterproof, and washable, thus suitable for use with young children.

The Hop-A-Dot Mat will allow young children to become enthused about learning braille in an active way. Many braille learning tools currently offered by APH present braille learning through sedentary activities, and routine tools and materials. Learning through movement and kinesthetic reinforcement appeals to young children who learn experientially through play, experimentation, exploration, and discovery. Young students with visual impairments and blindness especially need opportunities to be physically active to reinforce important skills related to body awareness and spatial concepts (e.g., top, bottom, left, right, next to, between). The following image from an online slide presentation posted by the New Mexico School for the Blind in 2010 illustrates the importance of movement specific to learning braille and is accompanied by the following quote: "The Arts are not meant to replace the traditional methods of teaching braille. Instead, they should be used along with teaching the contractions to increase motivation and learning. You will find the Arts make teaching and learning more enjoyable and meaningful." Movement stimulates the brain and strengthens memory.

Image from New Mexico School for the Blind's slide presentation. "The Arts" (the central hub) is surrounded by four areas including (clockwise) Visual, Drama, Movement, and Musical.http://www.nmsbvi.k12.nm.us/WEB/NEWS_HandoutDownloads/NMVisionBee_TeachingBrailleThroughTheArts_20Sept2010.pdf

The product submission form was shared with outside expert reviewers. Their ratings, according to specific criteria (e.g., overall need, appropriate target populations, originality), were collected prior to presentation of the product idea to in-house product review committees. Many of the reviewers’ comments alluded to anticipated benefits of the Hop-A-Dot Mat including the following:

On March 24, 2015, the product idea of the Hop-A-Dot Mat was considered and approved by the Product Evaluation Team who assessed its product development difficulty as "medium" and production difficulty as "high." The estimated yearly volume for the first 3 years is 800 units. On April 3, 2015, the Product Advisory and Review Committee reviewed and approved the development of the product. The product transitioned immediately to the active timeline and was assigned the grant number 583.

Throughout May and June 2015, rapid progress was made by the project staff with regard to prototype development. Specifically, the project leader located and acquired EVA foam in a variety of colors and worked with the model/pattern maker to create the first prototype options of the Hop-A-Dot Mat. Attention was given to making the removable braille dots sit higher than the mat itself to make locating the foam braille dots within the entire mat easier by hand or foot. The best foam colors and sizes for the interlocking frames and circles were chosen.

The remainder of FY 2015 was focused on the creation of suggested activities for the Hop-A-Dot Mat, as well as the development of accessory items (e.g., print/braille alphabet spinner) as suggested by the expert reviewers. Structural options for linking multiple Hop-A-Dot Mats were explored and tested as well.

Work during FY 2016

Prototype design and construction characterized the first and second quarters of FY 2016. A decision was made to include two Hop-A-Dot Mats in each kit—one with a blue frame with yellow numbered circles and one with a red frame with yellow numbered circles. As anticipated, the numbered circles where constructed by laminating two layers of EVA foam disks together; this extra thickness ensured a height difference between the circles and surrounding frame. Large adhesive-backed print numbers (output on the Roland® UV printer) were applied to the foam circles.

As the multiple Hop-A-Dot Mats were constructed, the project leader and model/pattern maker focused on the original design of the accompanying Print/Braille Alphabet Spinner. They made decisions regarding color, tactile arrow style, and braille/print letter placement. The spinner was designed with a flexible plastic "tongue" that clicks along a grooved vacuum-formed disk, providing auditory reinforcement. Additionally, the grooves of the disks assist in aligning the pointer with each alphabet letter.

The project leader located and gathered accessory materials (commercial and existing APH items) to accommodate a variety of braille activities that could be used with the Hop-A-Dot Mat. These materials included four Pop-A-Cells, a pair of tactile dice, and six bean bags in assorted colors. The project leader authored and graphically prepared an Activity Booklet for field test purposes. Activities included the following:

The Activity Booklet also offered "Body Building Braille Tips," which suggests ways to form braille letters with your body on the Hop-A-Dot Mat, as well as care and safety instructions when using the mat. The addition of a durable color-coded carrying/storage bag for each Hop-A-Dot Mat was the finishing touch to the prototype.

Front cover of prototype Activity Booklet for the Hop-A-Dot Mat

A field test announcement was posted in the March 2016 issue of the APH News (www.aph.org/news/march-2016/). Approximately 25 teachers expressed interest in participating in the evaluation of the Hop-A-Dot Mat. From this sample, 11 field evaluation sites were selected based upon geographic location, number of available students, and type of instructional setting; preference was given to those who had not recently field tested an APH product. Some selected sites allowed multiple teachers to share and evaluate the prototype.

Potential evaluators gave reasons for wishing to field test with their students with visual impairments and blindness; reasons hinted at the product’s usefulness even before formal field test. Their shared explanations included the following:

Prototypes of the Hop-A-Dot Mat and related materials were mailed on March 17, 2016. Evaluators were asked to return their completed evaluation forms and student outcome forms by May 15, 2016.

While the field test stage was underway, the project leader conducted a Product Development Committee (PDC) to acquaint members with the anticipated contents of the kit and to start investigating and acquiring material samples (e.g., EVA foam) from multiple vendors. Early experimentation of Roland® printed numbers on the thick EVA substrate was tested with successful outcomes. The tactile residue of the Roland® printed numbers proved a welcomed feature for the product and helpful to the end user.

In June 2016, the project leader compiled a final field test report. Field test evaluation forms were completed by 12 teachers of the visually impaired and blind. (One selected evaluator from Louisiana did not complete and return her evaluation form.) The field evaluators represented the states of Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky (2), Missouri (2), Ohio, South Dakota, and Virginia (2). The largest percentage (66%) of sites represented itinerant or itinerant/resource settings. Table 1 and Figure 1 show the distribution of field test sites according to type of educational setting and geographical location.

Table 1: Type of Educational Setting
Type of Educational Setting State Location of Field Test Sites Percentage
Residential MO, SD 17%
Itinerant VA (2), FL, CA, GA, OH, MO 58%
Itinerant/Resource AL 8%
Center-based/onsite Preschool/reverse inclusion KY (2) 17%
N = 12 100%

Figure 1. Geographical Distribution and Educational Setting of Field Test Sites.

Participating field evaluators represented a young generation of teachers of the visually impaired; 75% had 5 or less years of teaching experience and the remaining 25% had 6-10 years of teaching experience. A large percentage (83%) of the evaluators reported teaching braille reading "frequently" to their students with visual impairments and blindness. Prior to field testing, two of the teachers reported having created a floor-size representation of the braille cell; one did so using hula hoops, each labeled with a braille dot.

The field evaluators used the Hop-A-Dot Mat and related accessories with a total of 32 students who represented slightly more males (59%) than females (41%). The sample population represented cultural diversity: 72% White, 13% Black, 6% Asian, 3% Hispanic, 3% American Indian, and 3% two or more races. Half of the students had other disabilities such as autism, cognitive disabilities, developmental disabilities, and orthopedic impairments.

Students ranged in age from 3 to 16 years of age. Equal percentages were either 3 to 5 years old (25%) or 6 to 8 years old (25%). Another noticeable percentage (38%) were 9 to 11 years old. Only 12% were teenagers. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Students’ Age Range

With regard to grade level representations, equal percentages of students were classified as either preschoolers (19%) or kindergarteners (19%); 28% were in Grades 1 to 3, 25% were in Grades 4 to 6, and 9% were in Grades 7 to 9. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Students’ Grade Level

Nearly equal percentages of the student sample were reported as primarily braille readers (31%) or large print readers (28%); 22% were dual readers (e.g., auditory/braille or braille/large type), 9% read print with magnification, 6% were prereaders, and 3% were primarily auditory readers. (See Figure 4.)

Figure 4. Students' Primary Reading Medium

The students’ level of braille knowledge varied with 25% unfamiliar with braille; 38% were familiar with the braille configuration and dot numbers, 28% knew the braille alphabet letters, 19% read uncontracted (letter-for-letter) braille, and 25% read contracted braille.

The field evaluation form allowed teachers to rate each feature of the Hop-A-Dot Mat. [Note: Two Hop-A-Dot Mats were provided to each evaluator in two different color schemes—blue frame with yellow braille dots and red frame with yellow braille dots.] Table 2 provides the average rating for each feature of the mat.

Table 2: Overall Design of Hop-A-Dot Mat
Rating Scale: 5 = Excellent to 1 = Poor (or Unneeded)
Product Feature Number of Evaluators Average Rating 5 4.5 4 3 2 1
Overall size of Hop-A-Dot Mat N = 12 4.5 67% 8% 25%
Quantity of provided Hop-A-Dot Mats (2 total) N = 12 5.0 100%
Visual contrast of blue Hop-A-Dot Mat with yellow foam dots N = 12 5.0 100%
Visual contrast of red Hop-A-Dot Mat with yellow foam dots N = 12 4.92 92% 8%
Size of numbers on foam dots N = 12 4.92 92% 8%
Ease of assembly/setup (i.e., linking squares and inserting foam dots). N = 12 4.92 92% 8%
Storage style (i.e., each Hop-A-Dot Mat stored in its own individual carrying bag) N = 12 5.0 100%
Durability of Hop-A-Dot Mat N = 12 4.75 75% 25%
Portability of Hop-A-Dot Mat N = 12 5.0 100%

Specific evaluators’ comments related to the features of the Hop-A-Dot Mat supported its overall strong ratings; comments included the following:

Planned improvements to the final product were decided based on ratings and comments. One such improvement will be the provision of braille number stickers to label the foam circles. This adaptation was used by one of the field evaluators using APH’s number stickers.

The field evaluation form allowed teachers to rate each and every feature of the Braille/Print Alphabet Spinner. Table 3 provides the average rating for each feature of the spinner.

Table 3: Overall Design of Braille/Print Alphabet Spinner
Rating Scale: 5 = Excellent to 1 = Poor (or Unneeded)
Product FeatureNumber of EvaluatorsAverage Rating54321
Overall visual presentation/color contrastN = 114.9191%9%
Overall sizeN = 114.7291%9%
Arrow position and styleN = 114.1845%36%9%9%
Alternating color bandsN = 114.9191%9%
Readability of print lettersN = 114.3664%18%9%9%
Readability of braille lettersN = 114.9191%9%
Random order of alphabet letters on spinnerN = 114.5573%9%18%
Auditory sound made my spinnerN = 115.00100%
Auditory sound made my spinnerN = 115.00100%
Auditory sound made my spinnerN = 115.00100%

Note: One of the 12 evaluators who shared the prototype with another colleague did not receive the spinner for review, therefore only 11 evaluators reported ratings for this component.

Specific evaluators’ comments related to the features of the Braille/Print Alphabet Spinner supported its overall strong ratings, including the following:

Planned improvements to the spinner were decided based on these ratings and comments (e.g., to enlarge print letters some). The majority of the evaluators (83%) recommended that APH offer the Braille/Print Alphabet Spinner as a separate product as well, apart from the Hop-A-Dot Mat. They also encouraged the development and production of a similar number spinner. Teachers suggested that the Braille/Print Alphabet Spinner could be used for a variety of word games and activities. One teacher stated, "This spinner is simply fantastic! I will be using it for many different things."

One hundred percent of the field evaluators thought the accompanying Activity Guide sufficiently described the purpose and the use of the Hop-A-Dot Mat; they unanimously liked the layout and design of the booklet as well. Related comments included the following:

The Activity Booklet presented an assortment of activities and games that could be played using the Hop-A-Dot Mat and related accessories. With the exception of one, all of the games and activities were performed with students during the field test period. The games "Build-A-Cell," "Spin-A-Letter," and "Bean Bag Braille" were among the most frequently used. These three activities/games were also reported as the students’ favorites. Table 4 indicates the frequency of use for each game/activity.

Table 4: Frequency of Game/Activity Use
Activity/GameNumber of EvaluatorsFrequentlyOccasionallyNever
Build-A-CellN = 1267%33%
Roll-A-DotN = 1250%17%33%
Letter TwistN = 1225%50%25%
Roll-A-LetterN = 1225%42%33%
Spin-A-LetterN = 12 75%17%8%
Pop-A-Cell to Hop-A-DotN = 1225%33%42%
Bean Bag BrailleN = 1258%33%8%
Two-Cell RockN = 128%8%83%
All Feet on DeckN = 128%17%75%
Spell Your NameN = 1217%42%42%
Braille Cha Cha ChaN = 1217%25%58%
Braille PunchN = 128%17%75%
Puddle DotsN = 110%36%64%
Build-A-NumberN = 128%33%58%
Color-A-CellN = 120%0%100%

As expected and encouraged, the teachers and students created games of their own using the Hop-A-Dot Mat such as "Alphabet Relay" and "Which One is Missing?" The project leader intends to incorporate these additional activity ideas into the final Activity Booklet. One of the evaluators suggested creating a blog with additional ideas.

Along with the Braille/Print Alphabet Spinner, additional game accessories were included with the prototype of the Hop-A-Dot Mat including a pair of tactile dice, four APH Pop-A-Cells, and six bean bags. The evaluators were asked if each accessory should remain a part of the kit, and if so, to indicate the ideal quantity. Table 5 shows the results of their feedback.

Table 5: Need for Accessories
AccessoryNumber of EvaluatorsYES, include with Hop-A-Dot MatNO, omit from Hop-A-Dot Mat
Pair of tactile diceN = 1283%17%
Pop-A-CellsN = 1267%33%
Print/Braille Alphabet SpinnerN = 11100%
Bean BagsN = 1283%17%

Evaluation of the tactile dice (purchased from an outside vendor, but used in many of APH’s game kits) illuminated the need for less "prickly" dots. The project leader will pursue the product idea of a more tactually pleasant pair of dice for immediate or eventual inclusion with the Hop-A-Dot Mat.

The Hop-A-Dot Mat was favorably received by the students themselves. Evaluators indicated that 100% of the students enjoyed using the mat. Comments ranged from a short, enthusiastic "Loved it!" to lengthier explanations for its positive reception: "Greatly improved overall class interest in braille in general," "This was a great rewards for completing work!" and "My students asked to play Hop-A-Dot at the beginning of each class period." According to 92% of the evaluators, the mat enhanced students’ interest in braille. Some of the comments captured on the Student Outcome Forms included the following:

In some cases, the transition between the large presentation of the braille cell and standard braille size posed difficulties for students, yet 58% reported no observed hindrance. Usually this type of challenge was experienced by students with intellectual disabilities.

Half of the field evaluators indicated that sighted peers participated in the use of the Hop-A-Dot Mat with their students. Specific comments highlighted how the mat provided social interaction opportunities:

The majority (75%) of the evaluators indicated that the Hop-A-Dot Mat offered specific advantages over other braille awareness/instruction products including "ease of use," "getting kids up and moving enhances learning," "the physical aspect of it," "very engaging," and "a way for regular ed staff to better understand the braille cell." Ninety-two percent of the evaluators indicated being more impressed and pleased by the Hop-A-Dot’s usefulness for students with visual impairments and blindness compared to their original expectations prior to field testing. Using a rating scale of 7 = Strongly Agree to 1 = Strongly Disagree, the evaluators gave a combined score of 6.67 when asked to indicate how well the Hop-A-Dot met its original goal and objective of increasing braille awareness and knowledge within a recreational context. As shown in Table 6, data collected on each of the 32 returned Students Outcome Forms reiterated this positive impact.

Table 6: Impact on Student’s Braille Awareness and Knowledge
Did the Hop-A-Dot Increase Student’s Braille Awareness and Knowledge? N = 32
Strongly AgreeAgreeSomewhat AgreeSomewhat DisagreeDisagreeStrongly Disagree
38%34%22%6%

Teachers described the impact of Hop-A-Dot Mat on their students’ braille knowledge and awareness:

Table 7 indicates the evaluator ratings for the product usefulness for promoting other skills and concepts beyond braille knowledge and awareness.

Table 7: Other Skills/Concepts Promoted with Use of the Hop-A-Dot Mat
Skill/ConceptNumber of EvaluatorsAverage Rating7654321
Social InteractionN = 115.6555%18%8%18%
Self-ExpressionN = 125.0817%25%33%25%
Physical Activity/ExerciseN = 126.5067%17%17%
Body Awareness and CoordinationN = 126.0850%25%8%17%
Tactile DiscriminationN = 124.8017%17%33%17%17%
Understanding Spatial ConceptsN = 125.5025%33%17%17%8%

Data collected via 32 Student Outcome Forms also illuminated strides made by individual students (see Table 8). Many of the students improved in multiple skill areas: 31% in two skill areas, 16% in three skill areas, 9% in four skill areas, and 9% in five skill areas.

Table 8: Individual Student Improvements in Skill Area(s)
Did you observe the student improve in any of the following areas after using the Hop-A-Dot Mat [check all that apply]? N = 32
Social Interaction Self-Expression and CreativityPhysical Activity/ExerciseBody Awareness and CoordinationTactile DiscriminationUnderstanding of Spatial ConceptsOther skill/concept (indicate)
47%22%44%38%5%14%9% (Team Work)

One hundred percent of the field evaluators recommended that APH produce Hop-A-Dot Mat. Supportive comments regarding its strengths included the following:

As Table 9 reveals, the most appropriate target populations for the Hop-A-Dot as assessed by the 12 field evaluators were tactile and low vision preschoolers, kindergarteners, and students in early elementary grades. However, use with older students was possible as well.

Table 9: Appropriate Target Populations
Target PopulationPercentage of evaluators (N =12) indicating appropriateness of product for target population
Preschoolers who are blind83%
Preschoolers who are low vision83%
Low vision students in Grades K-283%
Tactile readers in Grades K-2100%
Low vision students in Grades 3-550%
Tactile readers in Grades 3-575%
Low vision students in Grades 6-817%
Tactile readers in Grades 6-825%
High school students with low vision/blindness8%
Students with additional physical disabilities33%
Students with deafblindness33%
Sighted peers50%
Adults who are beginning braille readers17%
Low vision adults8%
Sighted adults25%
Other (indicate):* Sighted adults when playing with a visually impaired child. * Any NEW braille reader.

Formal field test feedback was complemented by supportive and enthusiastic comments from writers of Building on Patterns who got a sneak preview of the Hop-A-Dot Mat and the Braille/Print Alphabet Spinner during their onsite work meeting at APH in June 2016. They wanted to see the product available as soon as possible.

The last quarter of the FY 2016 was focused on preparing for the production of the final kit and determining revisions to the mat and related materials based on field test feedback. The project leader regrouped the PDC members to transition the product to the "tooling" stage. The graphic designer initiated work on the layout of the Activity Booklet.

Work planned for FY 2017

Quota approval will be requested for the Hop-A-Dot Mat from the Educational Products Advisory Committee in October 2016 during the Annual Meeting. The project staff will oversee the remaining steps to ready the product for availability; tasks will encompass the following:

Actual production of the final kit will likely occur in the last quarter of FY 2017. Project staff will monitor the quality of the received and formed product components during the initial pilot run.

PE Web Site

(Ongoing)

Purpose

To provide individuals with visual impairments and blindness, parents, and teachers with a resource list that promotes health, physical education, and recreation

Project Staff

Background

APH funded a 3-year study on parent-child physical activity intervention among families of children with visual impairments. The investigators who conducted the study were Moira Stuart, Ph.D., Northern Illinois University; Lauren Lieberman, The College at Brockport; and Nicole Riscica, The College at Brockport. During year three of the study, APH produced a resource manual for the participating families. Upon completion of the study, APH decided to make the information available on its website. Staff updated the original resource manual and launched it on the APH Web site. Viewers can navigate between PE programs, nutrition, organizations, articles, books, equipment, events, magazines, mailing lists, national services, regional and state services, sport camps, stories, toys and games, videos, and websites. This is a live document; viewers can submit items for review and possible placement on the PE Web site: www.aph.org/physical-education/websites

Work during FY 2016

Staff posted the 2016 winter and summer sports camps in January. As camp directors submitted updates, APH edited the camp listing and dates as needed. Staff updated the Events page to include 2016 events, such as the 2016 National Goalball Championships. Staff created a new page called Stories to house an electronic book of personal, recreational stories told by individuals with deafblindness. To promote the new Stories page, staff created a Feature titled, "Common Core Through Recreational Physical Activities and Poetry." Staff updated the entire site and converted it to WordPress®, featuring more visuals.

Work planned for FY 2017

Work will continue to launch new material and to keep the PE Web site up-to-date.

Physical Education and Health Special Projects and Needs

(Ongoing)

Purpose

To research, identify, and develop products that promote physical activities, good health practices, social interactions, and self-advocacy

Project Staff

Background

APH recognized the need and began to develop products and fund university research in the area of physical activity in relation to students and adults who have visual impairment, blindness, and deafblindness. The positive feedback from the field prompted a new designation in the budget for Health and Physical Education.

Staff created the APH Physical Education, Recreation, and Health website. APH has since produced two books for teachers, one book for middle school students through adulthood, one storybook at 4th grade reading level, and one electronic book featuring stories by adults with deafblindness; three kits to teach and promote walking/running, jumping rope, and playing tennis; a variety of sound emitting balls; and a portable source.

The project leader continues to maintain the PE Web site and to work on Gross Motor Development Curriculum (GMDC) and Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box.

Work during FY 2016

Staff completed the field testing of GMDC, and prepared it for production. The project leader placed Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box on hold, until the completion of GMDC.

Work planned for FY 2017

Work will continue on Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box. Work will continue on the PE Web site.

SPORTS COURTS: Touch and Play

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a variety of interactive sports courts and fields (e.g., basketball, tennis, football, bowling) with interactive pieces to demonstrate player positions and game rules. The tactile displays will be accompanied by reference booklets coauthored by a team of experts who regularly provide instruction in this content area to students with visual impairments and blindness.

Image of binder art used for prototype of SPORTS COURTS: Touch and Play

Project Staff

Background

The prospect of developing an interactive set of tactile sports courts and fields was originally explored by the Tactile Graphics Brainstorming Committee in August 2002. Over the years, the project leader consistently incorporated the development of such a product into her annual budget reports. However, the project was repeatedly sidelined due to higher priority research projects. The product idea gained some careful consideration after repeated product submissions were received from teachers in the field, especially from those who routinely teach physical education to students with visual impairments and blindness.

SPORTS COURTS is expected to address the following needs and requests from the field:

Feedback regarding the need for SPORTS COURTS was most directly indicated by 32 respondents to a product-specific survey conducted by the project leader in February 2012. The following are the results of that study.

Survey respondents represented the following states, as well as one Canadian province: Washington (2), California, North Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico (2), Minnesota (2), Iowa (2), Missouri (4), Illinois, Indiana, Alabama (2), Florida (4), Pennsylvania (2), New York (2), Massachusetts (2), Alaska (2), and Calgary, Alberta (1). (Refer to Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Distribution of Survey Respondents by Geographical Location

As Figure 2 illustrates, the respondents reflected a dynamic group with a variety of titles including Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Rehabilitation Teacher, Braille Specialist, Vision Specialist, and Physical Education/Recreation Specialist.

Figure 2. Survey Respondents’ Professional Titles

Survey respondents indicated a multitude of barriers to a student’s involvement and understanding of sports if he or she is visually impaired or blind. The top three barriers related to 1) adequate instruction time, 2) others’ attitudes regarding the student’s ability/interest, and 3) available time for instruction. Instructor’s knowledge/+Background+ and availability of sports equipment were additional obstacles. The student’s own attitude toward sports and scheduling conflicts seemed to have the least negative impact. (Refer to Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Barriers to Student’s Involvement and Understanding of Sports

The frequency of teaching concepts related to sports courts and fields to students with visual impairments and blindness was nearly equally distributed across the continuum of "frequently (two times a week or more)" to "occasionally (once a month)" to "seldom (two or three times a year)"—31%, 28%, and 34%, respectively. The remaining percentage of respondents reported "never," "depends on grade level," "one time a week," or no response was given. (Refer to Figure 4.)

Figure 4. Frequency of Teaching Concepts Related to Sports

The following graph reflects the "Top 10" most needed sports courts/fields based upon the respondents’ rankings. The "Top 10" included (from most to least) soccer, basketball, baseball/softball, bowling, beep baseball, goalball, track and field, football, volleyball, and tennis. Diminishing in demand were swimming, bocce, hockey, golf, badminton, speedball, lacrosse, and rugby. (Refer to Figure 5.)

Figure 5. Top 10 Requested Sports Courts and Field Layouts

Respondents were asked to indicate the overall need for SPORTS COURTS on a scale from 5 = extremely needed to 0 = not needed. Nearly half (47%) of respondents thought the product was extremely needed, and 31% gave it a "4" rating. (Refer to Figure 6.)

Figure 6. Overall Need for SPORTS COURTS

The results of the SPORTS COURTS survey were presented at APH’s 144th Annual Meeting during a product input session. Although the session was attended by a small audience, a lively discussion addressed possible structural formats from magnetic to VELCRO® brand compatible platforms and from mostly ready-made (static tactile presentations) to very interactive 3D models. To spark conversation, the project leader presented an interactive tennis court she fabricated with moveable players, tactile court lines/boundaries, braille labels, and a 3D net.

On May 8, 2013, the project leader submitted a formal product submission form describing and recommending the development and production of SPORT COURTS. The product idea was approved by the Product Evaluation Team on May 29, 2013, and by the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC) on June 13, 2013. The product development difficult was rated as "high," as well as the production difficulty. An estimated development time (PARCing Lot to stock) of 2.5 years was forecasted.

Appropriate target populations for SPORTS COURTS will encompass the following:

Components proposed by the project leader for inclusion in the kit include the following:

Toward the end of the fiscal year, the project leader and Tom Poppe fabricated some possible 3D pieces (e.g., bowling pins, two sizes of goal posts, basketball goals) for consideration, as well as a thermoform pattern of a tactile tennis court.

Significant updates on SPORTS COURTS occurred throughout FY 2014, characterized by the continued development, design, and generation of the first court layout—Tennis. Multiple copies were produced using a prepared vacuum-form pattern and silkscreen art. The project leader devised a way to produce the 3D net with a commonplace needlepoint canvas material. Strong magnetic tabs were located and tested for secure placement of the 3D parts on a metal surface (i.e., APH’s ALL-IN-ONE Board). The colors of the pedestrian pieces from Tactile Town were updated to include a red player.

Prototype of tactile tennis court layout prepared for SPORTS COURTS

In early January 2014, a team of consultants, some who had previously submitted similar product submissions for tactile court and field layouts, joined the project. The lead consultant, Dr. Lauren Lieberman, worked directly with the project leader to decide on planned courts and fields and related components, based upon earlier survey results. A magnetic platform, based on the initial tennis court layout, was deemed the right direction for the courts versus a VELCRO® brand style surface. The foldable feature was also advantageous for convenient storage in a binder.

The project leader and consultant outlined the purpose, target populations, and expected product components of the kit for the Product Development Committee (PDC). It was decided that the following 11 x 17-in. tactile/print layouts would be readied for field test purposes:

Additional sports chapters, minus tactile/print layouts, would be provided for Softball (reviewed in combination with the Baseball layout), Ultimate (played on a flat grass field), and Speedball (usually played on a soccer field or basketball court).

Tentative template and logo design for sports chapters of SPORTS COURTS; the front cover of the "Tennis" chapter is shown.

Ideal field test times were discussed and tentatively planned, as well as probable field test sites—five summer camps and 15 academic settings. The co-authors/consultants were contacted, contract agreements were signed, and delineation of authoring tasks was determined via a teleconference call. Per the consultants’ request, the project leader developed an initial design of the Tennis chapter that could serve as a starting point for later refinements; a complementary tennis logo was designed to match the basketball motif. Eventually, final content headings were determined by the authoring team and shared in a Google Docs™ template; regular updates were made to each sport chapter throughout April and May.

Concurrent with the aforementioned project-related activities, the project leader assisted APH Development Staff in pulling together product information and budget estimates for grant submission purposes. Several positive outcomes resulted from this mutual effort. Initially, after reviewing a grant application and taking a tour at APH’s research and manufacturing plant, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Southern granted $1,000 to APH for the development of the SPORTS COURTS kit consisting of 15 different interactive, tactile sports models and guidebook www.aph.org/development/thanks/. Secondly, APH was notified that the development of SPORTS COURTS will be featured in the September 2014 issue of TENNIS magazine, a national magazine that goes to every USTA member in the United States; complementary photo(s) of students with visual impairments and blindness exploring the tactile court layout will be included. The project leader assisted with the photo shoot taken at the Kentucky School for the Blind.

Photo of two middle-school students with visual impairments tactually exploring the prototype of the tennis court included in SPORTS COURTS (prototype version)

Throughout June and July 2014, the project leader and Tom Poppe concentrated on design of the actual court and field layouts. Because of higher project priorities in Technical Research, the project leader personally assumed the complex task of creating a matrix to accommodate and ensure minimal silkscreen setups using a limited number of ink colors; she also outlined the vacuum-form master setups with a total of eight 2-up patterns needed. This matrix served as a roadmap for all subsequent work on the prototype versions of the courts/fields. Each court/field design was planned taking into account proper dimensions, typical court/field features, visual contrast, texture application, and print and braille label placement. A unified look and feel for the overall presentation of all of the courts and fields was maintained throughout the design process.

Prototype development also encompassed the original molding and fabrication of related three-dimensional manipulatives such as goal posts, bowling pins, basketball nets, and players. Separate thermoform patterns were built to produce magnetic X and O pieces to demonstrate defensive and offensive player positions of team sports (e.g., football, volleyball, soccer). Andrew Dakin and Andrew Moulton generated the basketball backboards via a 3D printer; Tom Poppe fabricated the remaining 3D parts and embellishments.

In August 2014, the project leader took the opportunity to gather additional names and contact information from those attending the 2014 International AER Conference in San Antonio, TX, who might be interested in serving as field evaluators. The field test opportunity was announced at a general session presented by Dr. Lieberman. A total of 20 teachers completed and submitted forms that also captured their ideas for product components. Many of the requested design features echoed the planned blueprint for the product with emphasis on appropriateness for both students with low vision and blindness, portability, simple-but-functional presentation, durability for indoor/outdoor use and by multiple users, easy to share, proper dimensions/ratios of courts, foldable, and different shapes for offensive and defensive players.

Although originally optimistic that the field test stage might begin during FY 2014, it became apparent that the complexity and scope of prototype development, as well as the project staff’s involvement in other project endeavors, would dictate a lengthier timeline.

A steady pace of activities and tasks by the project staff characterized the first two quarters of the FY 2015. Significant strides were made in the preparation and design of the dual tactile/visual layout of each sport court or field layout. First, the dimensions and important features of each field/court were researched; the most tactually meaningful way to show each layout was then determined. Effort was made to incorporate interesting textures and varying elevations of graphic elements into all of the sports layouts (e.g., water texture in Swimming layout, rough sandy bunkers in the Golf layout).

After the tactile layouts were established, complementary silkscreen art was created to generate the print counterparts. Attention was given to utilizing and juxtaposing high-contrast colors within a given field or court layout, always with the low vision reader in mind; large print text was incorporated as well.

To generate multiple copies of each layout for field testing purposes, 2-up images of the sports layouts were screen printed in-house. The printed sheets were then vacuum-formed to create the final combined tactile/color layouts and were trimmed to finished size. Each layout was captured on a single 11 x 17-in. sheet and hinged slightly off center and three-hole punched for inclusion in a binder.

Photo shows Model/Pattern Maker vacuum-forming a printed Swimming pool layout.

The design of the accompanying 3D features (e.g., players, nets of various lengths, goal posts, bowling pins, basketball nets) was concurrent with the development of the tactile/print sports layouts. The 3D parts were created using a variety of mold-making techniques (e.g., liquid resin process or 3D printer). Hook material and/or magnetic attachments were added to each manipulative for eventual positioning on the corresponding sport field or court. Careful attention was given to the incorporation of high-contrast colors, textures, and recognizable features. For example, the three-dimensional players contrast in both color (red versus yellow) and texture (smooth versus rough). Additionally, the three-dimensional pieces accommodate multiple uses across all of the court and field layouts. For example, the two sizes of goal posts can be used as supports for nets (as in Tennis and Volleyball), goal posts (as in Football), hoops (as in Basketball), or flags (as in Soccer and Golf).

Under the corners of each sports layout are four corner magnetic tabs which secure the layout to a metal surface such as APH’s ALL-IN-ONE Board (as shown in the photo) or to a cookie sheet. The three-dimensional pieces have magnetic bases that can be used in combination with the sports layouts. The layouts can also be used as stand-alone displays on a flat desk or table surface.

Basketball layout is on APH's ALL-IN-ONE Board with 3-D players and basketball goals positioned on the court.

Following the construction of the tangible parts (court/field layouts and 3D items), the project staff’s attention shifted to the editing and layout design of the accompanying sport chapter booklets. Using the chapter content previously submitted by the consultants/contributing authors, the project leader performed the following tasks:

Each sports chapter was printed separately as a saddle-stitch booklet and 3-hole punched for inclusion in the binder with its corresponding tactile/print sports layout.

Chapter subheadings include the following:

A field test announcement was posted in the April 2015 issue of the APH News, www.aph.org/advisory/2015adv04.html it included a link to a short Google DocsTM survey (goo.gl/forms/1gu7j9MUpZ) that each interested field test evaluator was required to complete to be considered for selection. Besides basic contact information, the survey gathered feedback regarding each respondent’s student population (number and grade level), preferred testing session (summer or fall), types of fields and courts most likely needed, and reason(s) for desiring to field test. Responses to the latter question illuminated the obvious need for the product as demonstrated by the following statements:

Survey respondents’ indication of which sport court and field layouts they would likely use during field testing reinforced the need for particular layouts. As illustrated in Figure 7, basketball, track and field, and soccer were among the most needed; conversely, badminton, lacrosse, and golf were among the least in demand.

Figure 7. Need for Sports Layouts by Type

A total of 40 teachers and parents expressed interest in participating in the evaluation of SPORTS COURTS: Touch and Play by completing the initial survey. A spreadsheet of possible field test sites was generated. The titles of survey respondents included teachers of the visually impaired, orientation and mobility instructors, adapted physical education teachers, a goalball specialist, a braille specialist, and program directors, a vision rehabilitation therapist, and one parent. From this sample, five summer camp sites and 12 fall session field test sites were selected. Participants were selected based upon geographic location, number of available students, and type of instructional setting; preference was given to those who had not recently field tested an APH product.

A total of 20 complete prototypes were built and available for field testing by mid-June 2015. On June 17, five prototypes were mailed to five summer camp evaluators who represented the states of Louisiana, New York, Florida, Ohio, and Alaska. On September 1, 12 prototypes were mailed to the fall-session evaluators who represented the states of Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Washington, Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota, Texas, and Missouri, as well as Canada. Two prototypes remained at APH for tooling and in-house reference, Quota approval, and product display purposes. The remaining prototype circulated among the co-authors for their review.

Each prototype of SPORTS COURTS: Touch and Play included the following components:

Photos show an assortment of 3D manipulatives in combination with the sports layouts—flag on golf green, football goal, and bowling pins at end of alley.

Each prototype was accompanied by an extensive Product Design Evaluation Form, as well as a Student Outcome Form (to be completed for each student involved in the field test activity). Summer camps were asked to return their completed forms by September 1, 2015, and fall-session evaluators were asked to return completed forms by November 20, 2015.

Work during FY 2016

Field test evaluation forms were returned by 18 reviewers representing a variety of professional titles including teacher of the visually impaired, certified orientation and mobility specialist, adaptive physical education teacher, goalball specialist, learning media specialist, youth and family service director, and research assistant/graduate student. Some of the field evaluators requested more time to field test the prototype; extra review time was granted. Multiple evaluation forms were returned from coaches and other specialists using the prototype at Camp Abilities Brockport in New York, but some of their forms were incomplete. As a result, this site was not included in the final evaluator sample (N = 18) for determining average ratings; however, the reviewers’ collective suggestions/comments were recorded throughout the final field test report and taken into consideration. One selected evaluator from Indiana submitted a 2-page summary of her review of the prototype in lieu of a formal evaluation form. Three of the originally selected field test sites from Canada, Minnesota, and Ohio did not return evaluation forms. A final field test report was prepared in April 2016.

The field evaluators (N = 18) represented the states of Alaska, Arizona (2), California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, New York (2), Pennsylvania (2), Texas, and Washington. Table 1 shows the distribution of field test sites according to type of educational setting and geographical location.

Table 1: Type of Educational Setting
Type of Educational Setting State Location of Field Test Sites Percentage
Summer/Sports Camp AK, AZ, NY (2) 22%
Residential CA, MA, TX 17%
Itinerant FL, GA, ME, MO, ND, NE, PA (2), WA 50%
School Based Day School AZ 5%
Summer Camp (summer session)/Itinerant (fall session) LA 5%

Participating field evaluators varied in their teaching experience with students with visual impairments and blindness. The largest percentage (33%) reported 6-10 years teaching experience, 17% reported 16-20 years teaching experience, and 6% reported 11-15 years teaching experience. The percentage of teachers with less than 5 years of teaching experience mirrored the percentage of teachers with more than 21 years of teaching experience—22% within each category.

The majority (72%) of field evaluators indicated that the lack of available instruction time was the most common barrier to students’ involvement and understanding of sports. Other barriers included lack of instructional materials and others’ attitudes regarding the students’ ability and interest.

The evaluators varied in their frequency of teaching sports-related concepts to students with visual impairments and blindness prior to field testing: 39% addressed these concepts "occasionally (once a month)," 33% reported "seldom (2 or 3 times a year)," 11% reported "frequently (2 times a week or more)," 11% reported "never," and 6% reported "once a week." They utilized a variety of materials to encourage the students’ participation in sports including beep balls and sound sources, APH products (e.g., 30-Love Tennis, Everybody Plays! How Kids with Visual Impairments Play Sports), and teacher-made tactile boards and models. The majority (72%) of field evaluators indicated having to create teaching tools on their own such as tactile diagrams of baseball fields, tennis courts, and bowling alleys using craft materials (e.g., yarn, glue, tape, puff paint, Wikki Stix®, etc.).

The field evaluators used SPORTS COURTS with a total of 89 students who represented slightly more males (53%) than females (45%); the gender of two students was unreported. The distribution of the student sample across the various types of instructional settings is shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8. Distribution of Student Sample by Educational Setting

As evident in Figure 9, the student population represented cultural diversity: 39% White, 17% Hispanic, 15% Black, 4% Asian, 3% American Indian, and 4% Two or more races; the ethnicity of 18% of the students was unreported. One-fourth of the students had other disabilities such cerebral palsy, severe or moderate cognitive disabilities, ADHD, autism, and hearing impairment.

Figure 9. Students’ Ethnicity

Students ranged in age from 6-48 years old. Nearly half (49%) were 14-18 years old and 34% were 10-13 years old. Identical percentages were either 6-9 years old (8%) or 19-48 years old (8%). The largest percentage (40%) of students were in Grades 9-12, 33% were in Grades 6-8, 8% were in Grades 4-5, 6% were in Grades K-3, and 7% were high school graduates. Grade level was unreported for 6% of students; one adult did not graduate from high school.

As shown in Figure 10, the majority (72%, n = 64) of the students were braille readers. Each remaining classification of primary reading medium was represented by 13% or less of the student sample that included large print readers, auditory readers, dual readers, and regular print readers.

Figure 10. Students’ Primary Reading Medium

The field evaluation form allowed teachers to rate each feature of SPORTS COURTS. Table 2 provides the average rating for each product feature.

Table 2: Overall Design of SPORTS COURTS
Rating Scale: 5 = Excellent to 1 = Poor (or Unneeded)
Product FeatureNumber of EvaluatorsAverage Rating54321
Overall design/presentationN = 184.3950%39%11%
Overall visual presentation of individual court/field layoutsN = 184.8389%6%6%
Overall tactile presentation of individual court/field layoutsN = 184.7883%11%6%
Variety/assortment of provided court/field layoutsN = 164.7581%13%6%
Size of foldable 11 x 17-in. court/field layoutsN = 184.7278%17%6%
Use of court/field layout in combination with 3D manipulativesN = 174.1247%35%6%6%6%
Durability of court/field layoutsN = 184.4450%44%6%
Portability/storage style of court/field layouts (i.e., hole-punched and included in binderN = 184.6767%33%
Separate booklet style of each sport chapterN = 154.9087%6% (4) 6% (4.5)
Content sections for each sports chapterN = 184.6178%11%6%6%
Binder cover design and sports logosN = 184.8389%6%6%

The field evaluation form also invited the instructors to assess each 3D manipulative. Table 3 provides the average rating for each of these pieces. Evaluators who did not have access to a magnetic board chose not to rate the 3D pieces due to nonuse or gave the 3D part the lowest possible rating.

Table 3: Overall Design of 3D Manipulatives
Rating Scale: 5 = Excellent to 1 = Poor (or Unneeded)
3D ManipulativeNumber of EvaluatorsAverage Rating54321
Bowling pinsN = 154.3360%27%6%6%
Red basketball netsN = 144.1450%29%14%7%
Football U-shaped goalsN = 144.4371%15%7%7%
Tall white goal postsN = 154.4067%20%7%7%
Short white goal postsN = 154.4773%13%7%7%
Red 3D playersN = 154.2767%13%7%7%7%
Yellow 3D playersN = 154.3373%7%7%7%7%
X playersN = 144.5779%14%7%
O playersN = 144.5779%14%7%
Red flagsN = 144.6493%7%
Nets in various lengthsN = 154.6080%13%7%

The majority (83%) of evaluators indicated that SPORTS COURTS offered specific advantages over other similar products, homemade or commercially available including the following: "the quality was great," "much more colorful (for LV students)," "better, more durable Braille than most graphics," "it was mad of a very nice, durable material," "saved so much time from trying to create diagrams for students," "consistent and clear lines," "creative color combinations," "made the whole court/field accessible," and "durable—ready to use!" As indicated in Table 4, SPORTS COURTS was assessed by field evaluators as appropriate for a broad range of students and instructors.

Table 4: Appropriate Target Populations
Target Population Percentage of evaluators (N = 17) indicating appropriateness of product for target population
Tactile readers in Grades 4-6 88%
Low vision students in Grades 4-6 88%
Tactile readers in Grades 7-8 94%
Low vision students in Grades 7-8 88%
Tactile readers in high school 88%
Low vision students in high school 88%
Adult tactile readers 76%
Adults with low vision 76%
Students with additional physical disabilities 59%
Students with cognitive disabilities 64%
Students with deafblindness 76%
Sighted peers 82%
Teachers of the Visually Impaired 88%
Orientation and Mobility Specialists 94%
Adaptive Physical Education Teachers 94%
Parents of students with visual impairments 82%

On April 26, 2016, the project leader conducted a meeting with the PDC team. Anticipated revisions to product were reviewed, as well as expected production processes. Notable structural improvements to the product based on field test results were the following:

On May 31, 2016, the project leader conducted a follow-up meeting to address continuing concerns about amount of product assembly expected of the customer. A compromise was reached to have in-house production staff apply all magnetic backing to needed parts and the customer would apply VELCRO® brand strips or tabs to the remaining parts.

In July, the project leader and Tom Poppe reviewed needed revisions to each sport layout. Tooling of the 2-up vacuum-form pattern for Basketball and Track and Field was undertaken first. The transition from silkscreen art (as used for the prototype) to the Roland® printing process (as expected for final production) required testing and reselection of colors based on the UV printer’s ink palette. Registration of the print and tactile artwork is critical.

Field evaluators’ location of some inconsistencies and errors in the sports chapters regarding game rules, strategies, and so forth led the project leader to request additional review by APH staff who coached, played, or were avid fans of a sport(s). Approximately 20 APH staff representing various in-house departments "stepped up to the plate" to offer their expertise on many of the chapters. Their feedback proved invaluable to the accuracy of the content. The project leader also invited feedback from a local high school coach. By the end of summer, the graphic designer initiated work on the layout design of for the sports chapters.

Work planned for FY 2017

Project staff will usher the project through the remaining goals of documentation completion, tooling construction, and specifications for eventual production. Due to the complexity of the product’s design and number of related components, final product availability will not likely occur until FY 2018.

READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS

All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express
Formerly Magnetic Dolch Word Wall

(Completed)

Purpose

To offer a magnetic set of Dolch words (or sight words) for a myriad of activities performed by large print and braille readers. The size of the labels would be much smaller than APH’s existing Expanded Dolch Word Cards that measure 3.5" x 2" and serve primarily as flashcards. This "downsizing" will facilitate the presentation of an interactive "word wall" on a magnetic surface. Note: This product is not intended to be a replacement for APH’s existing Expanded Dolch Word Cards.

Photo shows the cover art of teacher's guidebook for the All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express

Project Staff

Background

Note to reader: The original product title, Magnetic Dolch Word Wall, is retained for the FY 2012 and FY 2013 sections of this report. Thereafter, the newly-assigned, final product name, All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express, is used throughout the remainder of the report. In July 2013, copyright/trademark issues necessitated a change to the product name prior to production.

Dolch words are the 220 most common words found in children's literature based upon research conducted by Edward Dolch. These words are often called "sight words" because some of them cannot be sounded out and need to be taught by sight. There is also an additional set of 95 common nouns. Since these words are extremely common, learning them helps children increase their fluency (words read per minute). Students with high fluency have better comprehension and are more successful readers.

The project leader submitted a Product Idea Submission for this product in November 2010. The idea was inspired by feedback received from evaluators of the ALL-IN-ONE Board, one of whom handmade a magnetic set of Dolch Word labels for use with the board. The planned magnetic braille/print words will duplicate those words included in APH’s Expanded Dolch Word Cards set. The smaller, magnetic label format will accommodate a variety of interactive reading activities. Target populations will include teachers and parents who work with beginning readers (low vision or blind).

The Magnetic Dolch Word Wall will address the following primary skills and concepts:

In July 2011, the Product Submission Form was reviewed by other APH staff, particularly those working on the Building on Patterns (BOP) series. One important observation was the significant variance in presentation order between the Dolch Words within BOP and the original classifications of the Dolch Words: Pre-Primer, Primer, First Grade, Second Grade, and Third Grade. This determination indicated that there was no need to sell the word labels according to their original classifications within separate packages; users of BOP would benefit from all of the word labels supplied as one single, comprehensive kit (in both contracted and uncontracted braille). One BOP author noted, "This set of magnetic words would make it easy for a teacher or parent to create activities to supplement the Dolch Word activities in BOP. For drilling, the words could be presented at one time and in less space than using the (current) Dolch Word Cards." This brainstorming group discussed additional possibilities such as color frames with guidelines for neatly positioning the labels in rows, columns, or groupings; an activity booklet; providing a storage tray for labels; offering optional VELCRO® brand fasteners if used on the opposite side of the ALL-IN-ONE Board; and providing blank tiles. Expanded kits of just letters and numbers were discussed as well.

The product idea was approved for development by the Product Evaluation Team on July 27, 2011, and by the Product Advisory and Review Committee on August 10, 2011. The product immediately transferred from the PARCing Lot to the active product timeline.

The preparation of print/braille labels needed for the field test of the Magnetic Dolch Word Wall was tackled intermittently throughout FY 2012 and often derailed due to higher priority products. Regardless, a significant portion of the tooling necessary to build multiple prototypes was accomplished. Initial efforts were undertaken by the project leader who developed CorelDRAW® layouts of the needed labels—both contracted and uncontracted. Text and background colors for the labels, as well as identifying orientation cuts (diagonal versus convex), were carefully assigned. Using the preliminary layouts developed by the project leader as reference, the manufacturing specialist created electronic files necessary for PED/clamshell generation. The project leader checked braille accuracy and location of braille and print on each label. Braille plates were tooled in August 2012 and used to cold form the braille into .005" clear and yellow vinyl. Formed sheets were then laminated to white-coated magnetic sheets. The project leader suggested a straight-rule die to cut the labels into strips to significantly reduce labor needed by the Model Shop staff. Strips of words were then hand trimmed to produce separate word labels of varying lengths; identifying orientation cuts were incorporated.

Less labor-intensive tasks involved the project leader ordering and collating other prototype components including three-ring storage binders, magnetic notebook pages, and zipper pouches. Two lengths of blue magnetic strips (eight of each type) were provided in the prototype kit to facilitate the building of sorting charts with multiple divisions and/or writing guidelines to allow students to neatly arrange the labels in straight rows on a magnetic surface as shown in the following examples:

Photo of Noun-Verb-Noun chart using magnetic stripsPhoto of "Opposites" setup using magnetic stripsPhoto of writing guide setup using magnetic strips

During the first quarter of FY 2013, the project leader focused on the written content and layout of the accompanying instruction booklet that gives basic starter ideas for using the magnetic Dolch words. The instruction booklet, which is complemented by photos illustrating possible activities and games, also includes a comprehensive list of all the Dolch words (in print and SimBraille), an Assessment Checklist to monitor a student’s progress (also provided on an accompanying CD-ROM), and a list of related references and articles including the following:

A variety of websites were referenced as well [that were eventually used by 60% of the field test evaluators for additional Dolch word reading activities]. The websites included the following:

The finishing touch to the prototype—an attractive binder insert—was created by the in-house graphic designer. Nineteen complete prototypes containing over 500 magnetic Dolch word labels were prepared.

Photo of field test prototype of Magnetic Dolch Word Wall

The field test opportunity for the Magnetic Dolch Word Wall was posted in the December 2012 online issue of APH News (www.aph.org/advisory/2012adv12.html). The announcement, as repeated below, clearly described the product (with accompanying photo), field test expectations, and the criteria for field test selection:

APH is seeking field evaluators for Magnetic Dolch Word Wall. Field testing will begin in February 2013 and extend until the end of the school year. The prototype provides over 500 print/braille magnetic word labels (in both contracted and uncontracted braille), magnetic sorting strips, magnetic divider/storage pages, a housing binder, and suggested activities. [Note: The magnetic labels can be used in combination with APH’s ALL-IN-ONE Boards].

Evaluators will be asked to a) use the prototype with as many students as possible within the given timeframe, b) complete a product evaluation form, and c) report student outcome data. After returning a completed evaluation form, the field test site will be allowed to keep the prototype for future use. The number of field test prototypes is limited. Field test sites will be selected based upon geographic location, type of setting, and the grade levels/ages of the students.

If you are interested in possibly serving as a field evaluator, please provide the following information: name, title, school/agency, complete contact information (phone number, mailing address, e-mail address), expected number of students, and the educational levels/ages of your students.

Over 50 teachers across the country expressed interest in field testing this product. From those interested, 17 were selected as evaluators. The prototypes were mailed to evaluation sites by the end of February 2013. The project leader sent intermittent reminders to field evaluators to record each student’s monthly progress related to word recognition within the student’s reading level(s) (e.g., Primer, First Grade, etc.), including the "Noun" category, if applicable. Instructions for documenting student outcomes were explained in the cover letter as so:

In order to collect student outcome data, use the Dolch Word Assessment Checklist (a Microsoft® Excel® file on the accompanying CD-ROM) before using the prototype to document each student’s current recognition of the Dolch Words. To make this task less daunting, you don’t need to indicate recognition for each and every word in the list. Begin by determining the current level of your student (e.g., Primer, First Grade, etc.), go to that section of the form, and indicate the student’s recognition of the words listed in just that section. Then do the same within the "Nouns" section of the form. [If the student can only read the word in uncontracted braille, please insert a "U" next to that word.] The form automatically calculates the percentage of words known within each section. Save the form as a new file using the student’s initials or first name only. You are asked to assess the student’s progress on two more occasions over the course of field testing—at the end of March and at the end of April. (A sample is shown below.)

If you are working with an older student/adult who can already read all of the Dolch Words before the use of the prototype, complete an Assessment Checklist form that indicates recognition of 100% of the words within the first column under the "February 2013" date.

Partially-completed Dolch Word Assessment Checklist presented as a sample for field evaluators

Sixteen of the 17 participating field reviewers returned their evaluation forms by the end of June 2013. Although the return date was indicated as May 15, 2013, a few teachers needed and requested additional time to complete their evaluations; this extra time was allowed. Product evaluations were completed by 16 teachers representing the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri (2), Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia [refer to Figure 1].

Figure 1. Geographical Distribution of Field Test Sites

The evaluation sites represented a variety of instructional settings as detailed in Table 1.

Table 1: Type of Instructional Setting
Type of Instructional SettingPercentage of Evaluation Sites
Residential 31%
Resource19%
Itinerant 38%
Itinerant/Resource6%
Day School/Mainstreamed6%

Participating evaluators varied in their teaching experience with equal percentages reporting 6-10 years teaching experience (19%), 11-15 years teaching experience (19%), and 21 or more years teaching experience (19%). Newer teachers with 5 or less years of teaching experience comprised 25% of the evaluator population. Another 12% reported 16-20 years of teaching experience. Only one teacher did not indicate her years of teaching experience.

Additionally, evaluators varied in their knowledge of braille—from the novice to the expert with NLS Certification in Literary Braille [refer to Table 2]. The evaluators’ levels of braille proficiency are shown in the following table; in some cases, an evaluator’s knowledge of braille fell within multiple categories/descriptions.

Table 2: Evaluators’ Level of Braille Knowledge
Level of Braille Knowledge% of Evaluators (n = 16)
NLS Certification in Literary Braille12%
NLS Certification in Nemeth Braille0%
NLS Certification in Textbook Formatting0%
Completed university coursework in Literary Braille69%
Completed university coursework in Nemeth Braille50%
Read contracted braille fluently without use of a reference guide25%
Read contracted braille fluently with occasional use of a reference guide38%
Read contracted braille with frequent use of a reference guide19%
Read uncontracted “letter-for-letter” braille without use of a reference guide44%
Read uncontracted “letter-for-letter” braille with use of a reference guide0%
I cannot read braille—contracted or uncontracted6%
Level of braille knowledge not reported6%

The student sample of 48 students ranged in age from 4 to 18 years of age with the largest percentage (53%) between the ages of 7 and 9; 19% were between the ages of 10 and 12; smaller percentages fell within the age range of 4 to 6 (8%), 13 to 14 (4%), and 18 years old (6%). The age of 10% of the students was unreported.

Figure 2. Students’ Age

student population was nearly evenly divided between males (46%) and females (44%); the gender of 10% of the students was unreported. The student population also reflected cultural diversity: 63% White, 10% Black, 6% Asian, 4% Hispanic, and 2% American Indian; the ethnicity of 15% of the students was unreported [refer to Figure 3.]

Figure 3. Students’ Ethnicity

Reports of the students’ grade levels indicated that a full 69% of the student population were in kindergarten through fourth grade; two additional students (4%) were in elementary grades (unspecified) as well. Smaller percentages were in preschool (2%), Grades 5 to 7 (10%), and Grades 9 or 12 (8%). The remaining percentage (6%) was defined as either in middle school or high school (grades unspecified) [refer to Figure 4].

Figure 4. Students’ Grade Level

The largest percentage (46%) of the student sample were reported as print readers who read either large print, regular print, or a combination of large and regular print. Another sizable percentage (29%) were reported as braille readers. An additional percentage (13%) were classified as dual readers—some combination of braille, large print, or regular print. Only one student was reported as an "electronic" reader. The primary reading medium of 10% of the student sample was unreported [refer to Figure 5].

Figure 5. Students' Primary Reading Medium

Over one-third (38%, n = 18) of the total population of students were reported as having additional disabilities (e.g., ADHD, cerebral palsy, deafness, speech impairments, anxiety disorders, dyslexia, learning disabled, and cognitive impairments).

Prior to using the prototype, 63% of the evaluators indicated that they had prepared or adapted large print and braille Dolch word labels for their students. Some of the documented adaptations included the following:

The field evaluation form allowed teachers to rate each and every feature of the prototype. Table 3 provides the average rating of each product feature.

Table 3: Overall Design of Magnetic Dolch Word Wall
Rating Scale: 5 = Excellent to 1 = Poor (or Unneeded)
Product FeatureNumber of EvaluatorsAverage Rating54321
Overall design/presentation of the product N = 164.19673
Instruction Booket N = 164.691231
Print/braille Dolch labels N = 164.441231
Contracted braille set
(black text on yellow background with diagonal orientation cut)
N = 154.73132
Uncontracted braille set
(black text on white background with rounded orientation cut)
N = 154.601311
Magnetic divider pagesN = 163.8865311
Magnetic sorting strips N = 164.3811311
Clear-view storage pouches N = 164.251033
Binder (for storage purposes)N = 164.258521
Assessment checklist N = 164.88142

Using a rating scale of 5 ("Very Well") to 0 ("Not at All), field evaluators indicated the degree to which Magnetic Dolch Word Wall facilitated a variety of skills/activities. Table 4 provides the average rating of each assessed item:

Table 4: Skills/Activities Reinforced or Facilitated
Rating Sale: 5 = Very Well to 0 = Not at All
Skill/ActivityNumber of EvaluatorsAverage Rating543210
Word wall display of new words to learn, identify, and read n = 164.561132
Interactive reading activities n = 164.006541
Review of various parts of speech n = 163.6357112
Sentence building or sentence completion activities n = 163.25534112
Alphabetization of words n = 164.631231
Sorting activities (e.g., nouns vs. verbs)n = 153.8774211
Comparison of contracted and uncontracted braille n = 144.4310211
Review of braille contractions n = 144.79113
Interactive gamesn = 164.25844
Independent learning/reading n = 153.675343
Shared reading activities with sighted peers in a classroom setting n = 123.17512112

Note: Some evaluators gave the following reasons for not rating various items: "not attempted," "did not use this way," or "not applicable."

A lengthy list of additional activities shared by the evaluators more than hinted at the product’s versatility. Examples of extended tasks included the following:

A significant percentage (88%) of the evaluators indicated that Magnetic Dolch Word Wall offered specific advantages over other classroom tools that they had used in the past to teach sight words. Testimonials from evaluators clarified the advantages:

As Table 5 reveals, the most appropriate target populations for the product as assessed by the field evaluators were tactile and low vision readers in Grades 1-3. However, application also extended downward to preschool students and upward to older students/adults learning to read braille. Sighted peers were also a likely audience.

Table 5: Appropriate Target Populations
Target Population Percentage of evaluators
(n = 16) indicating suitability
of product for target population
Tactile readers in preschool 56%
Low vision students in preschool 69%
Tactile readers in grades 1-394%
Low vision students in grades 1-388%
Older students/adults learning to read braille 81%
Sighted peers63%

Apart from enjoying the use of the prototype, many students made reported strides in their recognition of Dolch words. As previously mentioned, the evaluators were asked to complete a Dolch Word Assessment Checklist for each student using the prototype. Completed forms were submitted for 71% (n = 34) of the 48 participating students. Only three of the 16 evaluators were responsible for the 14 unreturned forms, mostly because of student confidentiality concerns. Table 6 highlights the improvements made by subgroups of students within each Dolch word reading level.  

Table 6: Student Performance Outcomes
Assessment Conditions/ResultsDolch Word Level
Pre-primerPrimerFirst GradeSecond GradeThird GradeNouns
Student knew complete list of words prior to using prototype n = 5n = 3 n = 3 n = 4 n = 2 n = 2
One trial completed with less than 100% of words recognized n = 1n = 1 n = 1 n = 1 n = 0 n = 0
Multiple trials completed (2 or 3)n = 17n = 15 n = 18 n = 10 n = 11 n = 14
No trials completedn = 25n = 29 n = 26 n = 33 n = 35 n = 32
Improvement of word recognition after multiple trialsn = 17n = 14 n = 17 n = 9 n = 8 n = 14

One hundred percent of the evaluators recommended that APH produce the Magnetic Dolch Word Wall. Among the reported strengths were the following:

With regard to the last reported strength, at least half of the field evaluators expected to use the Magnetic Dolch Word Wall in combination with the following APH products: All-In-One Board (50%), Student Model All-in-One Board (50%), Braille Contraction Cards (69%), Building on Patterns (69%), Expanded Dolch Word Cards (63%), Word PlayHouse (56%), Braillable Labels and Sheets (69%), and Feel ‘n Peel Stickers (56%).

In July 2013, the project leader carefully reviewed the field test results to determine necessary revisions based upon evaluator feedback. These planned revisions were shared and discussed with the Product Development Committee, as well as with in-house braille readers. Notable improvements to the prototype included the following:

An unexpected, but significant change to the final product involved a change to the product name itself. Although 100% of the field evaluators approved of "Magnetic Dolch Word Wall," as well as the attractive cover design, separate trademarks on the word(s) "Dolch" and "Word Wall" precipitated a shift to a completely different title—"All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express." The new title was thoroughly searched and deemed free to use by APH’s Resource Department staff.

The remainder of FY 2013 was characterized by efforts related to preparing documentation and tooling needed for the final product.

In mid-October, Quota approval for All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express was requested and received from the Educational Products Advisory Committee during APH’s 145th Annual Meeting. The product and related field test results were shared during the Annual Meeting’s poster session event.

Throughout FY 2014, efforts related to this project targeted the completion of the teacher’s guidebook content, design, and construction of production tooling, and the development of product specifications. Specific tasks encompassed the following:

In early April 2014, a product structure meeting was conducted to verse Production staff with the planned product components and to determine the status of each, whether it was an expected catalog number, replacement part, or raw material item. An exhaustive list was developed as a production blueprint.

The original plan to include three-hole punched magnetic pages in the binder for label storage purposes was disrupted by the unexpected discontinuation of the part from the commercial source. In response, the project leader conceptualized and fabricated a partial mockup of a custom-made, double-sided pocket page that would ensure secure housing and organization of the many labels. In June, a vendor was contacted and several renditions (and related costs) of the pocket page were furnished and reviewed for final selection.

To expedite the preparation of the vacuum-form masters in the Model Shop, the project leader proposed the idea of outputting the multi-up braille label arrangement via the Roland® UV printer and circumventing the traditional metal pin insertion process for construction of the fiberglass master patterns. Technical Research and the Model Shop staff recognized this as a very possible route that would significantly reduce labor by half. Experimentation with this alternate process was underway in July; if successful, it could be utilized for the production tooling for this product and future products laden with braille (and potentially full graphic images).

By the end of FY 2014, tooling efforts were focused on the final approval of all related art files, construction of the vacuum-form masters, preparation of the silk screens, HTML conversion (for inclusion on accompanying CD-ROM) and braille translation (for free download) of the teacher’s guidebook, development of the final product specifications, and identification of vendors for parts related to the custom-made pocket folders and the magnetic/dry-erase board.

Throughout FY 2015, significant project milestones were met for the eventual production of All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express. Notable accomplishments by project staff included the following:

Photo of All Aboard Magnetic Dry-Erase Board

The project leader conducted regular meetings throughout the year with pivotal project staff to keep all informed of the status of related tooling. By June 2015, the manufacturing specialist presented an overview of the product specifications to the project leader for review and approval. In mid-September, a formal Specifications meeting was held with other APH department staff to review the intended production and assembly of the kit. Goal dates for the initial pilot and production runs were determined.

Work during FY 2016

Project staff monitored the quality of vendor-received parts and assisted Production staff with the setup of silkscreen and vacuum-form patterns during the production of the magnetic word labels. Despite the kit’s complexity, the pilot run of All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express ran smoothly and quickly. A follow-up debriefing meeting detailed minor adjustments to the product specifications and the manufacturing process prior to subsequent production runs; notable adjustments included the following:

On February 9, 2016, the availability of All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express (1-03558-00) was officially announced with a selling price of $269.00 (available with Quota funds). The related All Aboard! Magnetic Dry Erase Board was introduced with a selling price of $26.00 (available with Quota funds); the board is included with the kit and sold separately, in response to field reviewers’ recommendations.

Photo of final product of All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express

The project leader participated in post-production activities such as readying the product brochure content and demonstrating the product at workshops/training sessions. She also created a consumer feedback survey that she posted online to garner feedback from those who had purchased the final product. Survey link: www.surveymonkey.com/r/7WJGVKH

In late spring, Production staff initiated the transition from silkscreened labels to a more efficient method of printing the kit’s word labels via the Roland® UV printer. By the end of the fiscal year, all tooling had entirely shifted to the new printing process. The project leader provided approval of selected colors from the Roland® ink palette.

Work planned for FY 2017

All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express is now available from APH. The project leader will continue to demonstrate the product at future workshops and conferences. If the finished product is selected for review by the Department of Education’s review panel, the project leader will prepare a formal report detailing the product’s relevance, research, and utility.

Early Braille Trade Books

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide emergent and beginning braille readers with a wide selection of small books that provide practice and reinforcement of early reading skills and aid in the development of reading fluency

Project Staff

Background

The need for Early Braille Trade Books (EBT) was identified by the Early Literacy Focus Group conducted by Suzette Wright in the summer of 2005. These small books for emergent readers are used in classrooms to support the reading curriculum and are available from several publishers. In the winter of 2006, APH conducted a reading survey to determine the types and series of leveled reading materials used by teachers of the blind and visually impaired.

Using information gained from the 2005 Early Literacy Focus Group and the customer surveys, the Wright Group Books were chosen for the first project. Cay Holbrook, Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, agreed to serve as the consultant for this project. In July of 2007, Holbrook along with five of the original members from the Early Literacy Focus Group of 2005 met in Louisville, KY, to review and select books to be included in the kits.

Members of the work group included the following:

The group developed a rubric based on the work of Holbrook for selection of the books. They also reviewed 90 books from the Wright Group Sunshine Kits and determined the type of information about the book to include for the teacher. Hassman agreed to serve as a consultant to complete a text analysis of each book. One set of 13 books was selected for the development of an initial prototype to be used in field testing and review.

In FY 2008, the prototype of a kit of commercially-available leveled books adapted for braille readers was completed. The initial design of the prototype included a commercially-available book with braille overlays and a guide for the teacher. The teacher’s guide would include the number and frequency of the braille contractions in the book, punctuation marks, and composition signs, as well as the theme of the book with connections to the core curriculum and expanded core curriculum.

In the development of the prototype for field evaluation, the format for the teacher’s guide changed from a print document to a website hosted by APH. The EBT Web site allows the teacher to continually update the student record and access records of books. Anna Swenson became a consultant for the project and wrote the follow-up activities for each book.

The prototypes, including the website, were field tested from September 2008 to March 2009 at 15 sites with 22 different students. The evaluations were positive, and teachers unanimously recommended that APH produce the book with braille label sets and make the website available to customers. Changes and modifications were made to the materials and the website based on reviewers’ feedback.

A work session with the original six members was held in the spring of 2009. Additional books were reviewed, and three new sets were chosen to add to the series. The first set of Books, Sunshine Kit 2, became available for sale in 2009.

In FY 2010, the second set of books, Sunshine Kit 1, became available for sale in November. A total of 26 books were now available to teachers and emerging braille readers. Work began on two sets of nonfiction books at the first grade level. Books were analyzed for contraction type and count. Information on each book as well as activities to use with each of the books was added to the EBT Web site. A specification meeting for the two sets of nonfiction books, TWiG 1 and TWiG 2, was held in September 2010. The EBT Web site was updated to include a connection to the Patterns Reading Series from APH. As a teacher prepares for a lesson in Patterns, he/she may search the EBT Web site for commercially-available books in braille to supplement the new lesson.

In FY 2011, the first set of nonfiction books from Wright Group, TWiG 1, became available for sale in January and TWiG 2 became available for sale in February 2011. With the addition of the two new sets, a total of 46 books became available to emerging braille readers.

The committee selected Rigby Publishing for the next two sets of books. The committee met in June 2011 and reviewed books; they selected 15 fiction books and 14 nonfiction books to add to the EBT collection. Books were analyzed for contraction type and count. Titles were added to the website and the books prepared for braille translation.

Two new sets of books from Rigby were made available for sale in May 2012 adding 29 new titles to the collection. The website was updated to include the two new sets of books including a link to Books to Use with Building on Patterns. Seventy-five books at the first grade level are now available for TVIs to use with emerging braille readers.

In FY 2013, three books from the various collections went out of print. Project staff reviewed other books from various publishers to replace these books. Books were selected, and modifications to the kits and the website were completed.

In FY 2014, project staff continued to monitor the existing kits for books going out of print. The website was updated to include the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) level of each existing book. The Wright Group, the publisher of four sets of books, was purchased by another publisher; a decision was made by the new publisher to eliminate the Sunshine and TWiG series.

With the implementation of UEB and with the loss of the Wright Group Books, a new grouping system of the existing books was developed. Each set would now contain five or six books based on the leveling system used by Fountas & Pinnell and DRA. All existing Rigby books will be retranslated into UEB. The existing website will be retained to support books already in the field. A new link will be established for the books translated into UEB.

New sets of Rigby books were ordered for review. In May 2015, Swenson, Brasher, Susan Spicknall, and Dawn Wilkinson met with the project leader to review a selection of books. Thirty-three new books were selected to add to the existing 30 books for a total of 63 books. There will seven fiction sets and six nonfiction sets for braille readers in late kindergarten through first grade.

Work during FY 2016

Revisions to the EBT Web site began. The website will still support the older books in EBAE but will also introduce the new books in UEB. A conversion software was developed for the website that will allow a teacher to move the contractions learned in EBAE to UEB without the laborious task of reentering all of the contractions by hand.

The first three sets of books were transcribed and files were placed on the production server.

Work planned for FY 2017

The revisions and testing of the website will be completed. Graphic design will develop new labels and packaging materials for the three kits. Three sets of fiction books will be produced. Work will begin on the first three sets on nonfiction books.

Expanded Dolch Word Cards [Modernization]

(New)

Purpose

To modernize an existing product to reflect the change in the braille code from English Braille American Edition to Unified English Braille (UEB)

Project Staff

Background

These flashcards, consisting of 220 sight vocabulary words and 95 words with pictures, can be used for reading practice or an informal assessment of a student's ability to read words in contracted braille and to spell words in uncontracted braille.

Cards measure 3 1/2 x 2 inches with an orientation corner cut and an orientation braille line. Words are shown in contracted braille on one side and uncontracted braille on the other, with large print on both sides. Words on the contracted braille side will be converted to use contractions consistent with UEB. Also included will be blank cards for adding words, tabbed indexing cards, and a box for storage.

Work during FY 2016

The Expanded Dolch Word Cards were identified for modernization in order to update the product to incorporate UEB. Work has begun on the revision.

Work planned for FY 2017

Input from the Building On Patterns consultant group will be finalized. This group will be involved to determine the relevance and possible discontinuance of the line drawings meant to represent the word that is on a card. These line drawings are on approximately 30% of the cards in the current set. Braille files and print files will need to be produced. Production should start shortly after the beginning of FY 2017, and the product will then be available for sale.

Tactile Editing Marks Kit
Formerly Editing Kits

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide teachers of the visually impaired a consistent system and materials to use during the writing process with young braille writers

Project Staff

Background

The writing process is an integral part of language arts instruction. It is also a major Strand of the English Language Arts Common Core State Standards. The process includes five major steps: planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Revising and editing often involve a peer or an adult. During these phases of the writing process, a standard set of editing marks are used to denote the need for changes to the written draft.

The product submission came from a teacher of the visually impaired from Maryland. She noted the use of the Maryland Common Core State Curriculum Framework for Braille and specifically Appendix E: Tactile Editing Marks. As she worked with braille students, she created a kit to use during the revising and editing steps of the writing process. She requested that APH develop an editing kit for teachers and students as this is a time consuming process.

Preliminary Research

In FY 2013, the project leader evaluated the product submission, completed preliminary research, and submitted the findings to the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee for approval. The project leader contacted Swenson again for a formal agreement to begin work on the project. Swenson met with the project leader and Technical Research staff in June 2013 to outline the kit components. Swenson submitted her first draft of the teacher’s guide in July 2013.

In FY 2014, a final draft of the teacher’s guide was completed and proofed. A design for the tactile editing marks was completed, cutting dies were ordered, and sets of materials were purchased for field testing.

In FY 2015, field evaluations were completed by 14 teachers in 10 states. Results from the field evaluation were used to make revisions to the kit.

Work during FY 2016

New cutting dies for the labels and the stickers were designed and ordered. The teacher’s guide book and the editing marks chart were revised to reflect the changes based on feedback from evaluators. A specifications meeting was held in December 2015 and a production scheduled was developed. The production of the kit was completed and announced in the June 2016 APH News.

Wilson Reading System

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a remedial reading program for students with visual impairments

Project Staff

Background

The Wilson Reading Program, with its well-developed multi-sensory approach, is one of the most respected programs used to teach reading in the United States. This program has been used to teach reading to students with visual impairments who experience reading difficulties, but the program is not available for sale in large print or braille. Teachers working with students at Perkins School for the Blind, Arizona School for the Blind, and North Carolina Schools for the Blind have reported good results.

The project was approved by the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee in July 2006. Three teachers from Perkins School for the Blind, Justine Rines, Mary McCarthy, and Roz Rowley, were contracted as consultants for the project. A contractual agreement was reached with the Wilson Reading Systems to produce the materials in braille and large print.

As there are many components to the system, it was decided to produce the Readers Levels 1, 2, and 3 in braille as quickly as possible since the readers required no modification.

The Student Readers 1, 2, and 3 became available for sale in braille in February 2008. The consultant from Perkins developed supplemental worksheets that reinforce braille skills and knowledge of braille contractions.

The first three readers and the first six workbooks were reformatted for large type editions. The Readers and Workbooks became available in October 2009.

In FY 2009, prototypes of the first six workbooks were translated and the supplemental worksheets were revised and translated for use in field testing. A set of six modified workbooks was developed and translated for field evaluation. Work started on the prototypes of the Print/Braille Word Cards, Syllable Cards, Sound Cards, and Magnetic Tiles to be used in field testing.

In FY 2010, prototypes of the remaining components of the Wilson Reading System were completed. A call for field evaluators was sent to Ex Officio Trustees in May 2010 and also appeared in the June and July APH News. A 3-day Web Training was held on August 30, 31, and September 1. The three consultants from Perkins (Rowley, McCarthy, and Rines) with the trainer from Wilson provided training to 30 participants on the use of the Wilson Reading System and the modified and adapted braille materials. Dr. Cheryl Hannan trained teachers in the use of data collection tools that would be used to evaluate the effectiveness of these braille materials.

In 2011, field evaluators were recruited from the 30 participants in the Web-based training. Participants were to use the materials daily with their students to determine the effectiveness of the modified/adapted Wilson Reading System. Students were given a pretest, a posttest, and completed weekly DIBLES assessments. The yearlong evaluation of the modified/adapted Wilson Reading materials was completed in May 2011.

In FY 2012, Hannan, Dr. Jane Erin, and two graduate assistants completed the disaggregation of the data from the field evaluation and presented the results at the Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference in Louisville and the National Council for Exceptional Children Conference in Colorado. The data showed positive results and reading gains for braille readers using the Wilson Reading System.

Information from the field evaluation and the expert review were used to begin the revisions and modifications to the many prototypes of the components of the Wilson Reading System. In December 2011, the project leader and the three consultants from Perkins traveled to meet with Ed Wilson and staff at the Massachusetts office. The prototypes as well as the planned changes and information from the field testing were shared with Wilson Staff. Representatives from Wilson reviewed the materials and in March made suggested changes and approved the work. The project leader, the Perkins staff, and APH staff began revisions of prototypes.

In FY 2013, project staff completed the revisions to the readers, workbooks, modified workbooks, supplemental worksheets, letter tiles, and word cards. Revisions were sent to Wilson Reading for approval in November 2012. A final request for revisions and approvals was received from Wilson Reading in March 2013. Project staff implemented these revisions to all print and braille files. Specifications for production were partially completed.

In FY 2014, project staff completed the written specifications and a product specification meeting was held in February. A production schedule was developed for the remaining pieces. The Wilson Card Sets and the Wilson Letter Tiles with Magnetic Journal became available in July 2014. The production schedule of the Wilson Student Braille Kits was staggered. Braille Student Kit Step 1 was scheduled for August 2014, Braille Student Kit Step 2 was scheduled for September 2014, and Braille Student Kit Step 3 was scheduled for October 2013. All items will be available on Quota.

In October 2015, both the Wilson Reading System Braille Student Kit 2 and Wilson Reading System Braille Student Kit 3 became available for sale. Project staff continued to update files of existing products as changes, and revisions were made by Wilson Reading System.

Work during FY 2016

The conversion to UEB for the braille readers, workbooks, cards, and the WADE began. The Wilson Card Sets were reviewed, and cards were identified for revision. The cards are produced on sheets and thus several sheets were identified for revision. Production files were requested and received for revision of the Braille Kits 1, 2, & 3.

Work planned for FY 2017

Braille Transcription will complete the translation of the materials in the braille kits into UEB. The Art Production and Design department will complete new covers and labels for the braille materials. Production of the kits in UEB will begin.

SCIENCE

Adapted Science Materials Kit (ASMK)

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a set of science tools adapted for use by K-12 students who are blind or visually impaired, allowing them to participate in science activities alongside their sighted peers

Project Staff

Background

The Adapted Science Materials Kit (ASMK) consists, in part, of science measurement tools originally devised by educators at LHS (Berkeley, CA) and Delta Education® (Nashua, NH) in the mid-1970s. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, these tools and a set of corresponding curriculum modules constitute the SAVI (Science Activities for the Visually Impaired) program that was field tested by LHS from 1976-1979. These educational materials have been available from LHS and used with the SAVI, SELPH (Science Enrichment for Learners with Physical Handicaps), and FOSS (Full Option Science System) programs until recently. LHS stopped producing these measurement tools, which was brought to the attention of APH by TVIs. APH intends to kit all of these time-tested science measurement tools into one product along with other adaptive measurement aids, thus making them available again to the community of visually impaired students and TVIs.

ASMK will consist of the following items: 1) Balance; 2) set of 100 one-gram pieces; 3) set of 35 mass pieces (5, 10, and 20 grams); 4) 100-milliliter (ml) modified tripour beaker; 5) 1000-ml modified tripour beaker; 6) two 50-ml graduated cylinders with braille float scales; 7) two 100-ml graduated cylinders with braille float scales; 8) large print braille tactile meter tape; 9) 50-ml syringe with stop; 10) 50-ml syringe modified with notches; 11) large print tactile histogram board with round stickers; 12) funnel stand; 13) two tray inserts of the APH Multi-Section Tray; 14) talking Fahrenheit/Celsius thermometer; and 15) one pack of APH’s Genetic Code Large Print Braille.

Most of the items in ASMK are available from Delta Education® and have been field tested and used successfully by students with visual impairments and TVIs for more than three decades. These include the balance, set of 100 one-gram pieces, set of 35 mass pieces, 100-ml tripour beaker, 1000-ml tripour beaker, 50-ml graduated cylinder, 100-ml graduated cylinder, 50-ml syringe with stop, 50-ml syringe modified with notches, and the funnel stand. The original 35-piece mass set from Delta Education® was discontinued and replaced by a set imported by Delta Education® from another vendor. The replacement item complies with CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) standards for lead. All other items obtained from Delta Education® are made in the USA. APH will include a cautionary statement in the product booklet stating that all items are to be used by students under adult supervision.

Other items are established APH products: The talking Fahrenheit and Celsius thermometer from ThermoWorks, Inc., is available for separate purchase in the APH catalog. Two inserts of the APH Multi-Section Tray replace the sorting tray originally made for LHS by Marshall Montgomery. Genetic Code Large Print Braille was released as a separate APH product in March 2013.

The large print tactile histogram board will be custom made at APH. The 100-ml and 1000-ml tripour beakers will be modified at APH by punching a hole at the 100-ml measurement line and the 1000-ml measurement line, respectively. The tooling for all three of these items is complete; they will replicate the same items from the original SAVI program kits originally sold by LHS.

The remaining items including the large print braille meter tape and the 50-ml and 100-ml graduated cylinder braille float scales will be custom made at APH. Appropriate materials for manufacture of the large print braille meter tape and the 50-ml and 100-ml cylinder braille float scales have been identified. ASMK will be produced without additional field testing.

A 50-ml graduated cylinder with a tactile and braille float scale placed inside it

Work during FY 2016

Although our consultant Marshall Montgomery produced acceptable samples of 50-ml and 100-ml tactile braille floats, due to equipment, pattern, and materials problems he was unable to make an acceptable sample of the large print braille tactile meter tape. It was also brought to our attention that Mr. Montgomery is unable to fill orders for APH in the near future due to obligations to other institutions. Consequently, APH will be responsible for producing the large print braille tactile meter tape and tactile braille floats for the 50-ml and 100-ml cylinders in addition to the other items already mentioned. Acceptable samples of the meter tape and tactile and braille scales for the floats were recently produced in-house on the Roland® printer, finalizing the method for their full scale production. Tooling for these items is almost complete. Prices and availability of all items in the kit from Delta Education® were confirmed by the project leader. Work on a short print pamphlet began during the summer and fall of 2016, including text and component photographs.

Work planned for FY 2017

Tooling for the large print braille tactile meter tape and the 50-ml and 100-ml braille float scales will be completed. Layout of an accessible large print pamphlet describing the components of the kit will be completed by APH Graphic Design and produced in-house. A carry case large enough to contain all items will be identified by the project leader with the help of the manufacturing specialist. The project leader will prepare short videos describing the use of each item included in the kit; these videos will be available for free download with purchase of ASMK. The project leader expects this product to be available for sale before the end of FY 2017.

Build-A-Cell

(New)

Purpose

To provide an interactive set of biology manipulatives, accessible to students who are blind and with low vision, that allows them to construct models of plant, animal, and bacterial cells

Project Staff

Background

Requests for a product similar in design to the DNA-RNA Kit for cell structure have been noted at gatherings of TVIs and other professionals, such as the 2014 Meeting of the Minds at APH and the 2013 Unity Conference at the Tennessee School for the Blind. This product will fulfill these requests and align with the Next Generation Science Standards. The product will consist of full color, tactile outlines or templates of three types of cells (plant, animal, and bacterial) printed and thermoformed on separate 8.5 by 11-inch plastic sheets. These sheets will be three-hole punched to fit in a binder. The center part of the cell outlines will be covered with beige headliner material that sticks to hook material. The product will also include at least three each of full color, tactile organelles including mitochondria, chloroplasts, nuclei, smooth endoplasmic reticulum, rough endoplasmic reticulum, lysosomes, peroxisomes, vacuoles, cytoskeletal fibers, centrosomes, polysomes, ribosomes, and Golgi bodies. The organelles will be identifiable by their color and shape as well as a single braille letter that will refer to a key. The details of the organelles will be printed and thermoformed on plastic, mounted on 1/8-inch thick foam, and then die-cut into appropriate shapes. Hook adhesive dots will be attached to the underside of each organelle. Students can demonstrate their knowledge of plant, animal, and bacterial cell structure by selecting the appropriate organelles for a particular cell template and adhering them to the headliner material background of each cell type. A guidebook with instructions for use will be included in the kit.

The project leader met with the model maker in early spring 2015 to brainstorm on the original design of the product and prepare preliminary drawings to present to the APH product review committees. A New Product Idea Submission Form was submitted by the project leader on June 18, 2015.

Work during FY 2016

The Product Evaluation Team accepted the product idea on October 30, 2015. The Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC) recommended that Build-A-Cell enter the product development cycle on January 6, 2016.

Preliminary drawings of all manipulative components of the product were completed in June 2016. The model maker began the production of 11 sets of prototypes for field testing to take place in the fall of 2016. The project leader began work on a brief guidebook to include with the prototype product for field testing. A call-out for field testers was published in the August 2016 issue of the APH News.

Work planned for FY 2017

Field testing will take place in the fall of 2016, and evaluations from field testers will be returned by January 2017. The project leader will edit the guidebook as needed and work with the model maker regarding changes to the prototype itself. Final tooling including layout of the instruction manual and design of dies and thermoform molds will take place in the summer and fall of 2017.

Earth Science Tactile Graphics (ESTG)

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a set of color tactile graphics of diagrams and illustrations found in current high school Earth Science textbooks. The intention is to assist the classroom teacher or TVI in providing ready-made tactile representations of typical Earth Science visuals for their students who are visually impaired.

Project Staff

Background

Since the release of APH’s Life Science Tactile Graphics in 2010, the project leader received requests from TVIs in the field for an Earth Science product rendered in a similar way. Science textbooks are filled with visual images of all types (graphs, diagrams, illustrations, and photographs), many of which are not accessible to students with visual impairments, particularly those who are blind. Current technology now permits renderings of well-designed thermoformed images with varying tactile heights and high-contrast colors. This process inspired the concept behind Life Science Tactile Graphics and ensured its success; the project leader intends to replicate this for Earth Science Tactile Graphics.

A product input session during Annual Meeting 2012 provided a platform to gather ideas and interest levels for color and tactile presentation of Earth Science diagrams. Responses from attendees indicated a clear need for such a product and provided direction.

The project leaders selected 40 images for tactile rendering using Earth Science textbooks, the Next Generation Science Standards, and online educational resources. Fred Otto prepared each image in CorelDRAW®, modifying the original two-dimensional images as appropriate for tactile rendering yet still conveying the intended Earth Science concept.

Work during FY 2016

The project leaders prepared for field testing in the fall of 2015. Four graphics of varying complexity were selected for tactile rendering for the field test process. Patterns for the four graphics were prepared initially with the Roland® Large Format printer and completed by Katherine Corcoran in order to make the final thermoform molds. Appropriate numbers of the four tactile graphics were printed and thermoformed, and the same number of the remaining 36 two-dimensional images were printed. All graphics were subsequently collated into binders. Fred Otto wrote the Teacher’s Guide to accompany the set of 40 graphics. Rosanne Hoffmann prepared the online field test evaluation questionnaires. Field testers were solicited via the November 2015 issue of the APH News, and prototypes were sent to 12 field test sites in 10 different states over a wide U.S. geographic distribution in December. Eleven field test evaluations were received by the end of April 2016. The project leaders made changes to the Teacher’s Guide and graphics according to the suggestions made by the field testers. For example, colors were modified to enhance image contrast, arrows showing processes were modified to enhance clarity, and the design of a few of the graphics was changed almost entirely to better ensure comprehension. The revised graphics were turned over to the model maker who began preparing the patterns for the thermoform molds, and the Teacher’s Guide text was turned over to the Graphic Design Department in the summer of 2016.

Work planned for FY 2017

Tooling for the 40 tactile graphics will be completed and graphic designers will layout the Teacher’s Guide. Once approved, the Teacher’s Guide will be converted to HTML and BRF accessible formats. Earth Science Tactile Graphics will be presented at the APH Annual Meeting for Quota Approval in October 2016. A specifications meeting will take place in 2017 when all tooling is completed.

Light In-Sight: Reflection & Refraction Kit
Formerly Light Reflection & Refraction

(Continued)

Purpose

To give middle and high school science students who are visually impaired a tool to construct ray diagrams and to gain a better understanding of light reflection and refraction

Project Staff

Background

As important properties of light waves, reflection and refraction knowledge is required for middle and high school science students. For example, the Next Generation Science Standards require students to develop and use models to describe that light is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials. Although lacking visual input, students with blindness can learn about light through their sense of touch, such as using tactile graphics. However, since pre-made tactile graphics are static and difficult to manipulate, their use makes it hard to teach and learn in an interactive and dynamic way.

Recognizing the limitation of using tactile graphics, the project leader submitted this product idea to give students a new tool. This tool can be used in teaching and learning a variety of reflection and refraction related topics in science and physics classes (e.g., law of reflection, Snell's law of refraction, total internal reflection, formation of images in plain mirrors, apparent and real depth phenomenon, reflection by concave and convex mirrors, transmission through concave and convex lens, and index of refraction). Different from pre-made tactile graphics, it allows teachers and students to construct their own graphics from scratch and therefore leaves more room for exploration, discussion, and collaboration. It helps teaching and learning to occur in interactive and dynamic ways.

In 2014, the project leader presented this new product to the Product Evaluation Team and Product Advisory and Review Committee. Approval was received. A model maker and a manufacturing specialist were assigned. Design of prototype for use in field test was completed. During the design phase, the project leader consulted a science teacher of students with visual impairments; some of his suggestions were incorporated into the design.

Field test of this product was conducted during September and November 2014. Seven teachers completed the field test. They were from California, Michigan, New York (2), Oklahoma, Virginia, and Calgary (Canada). Participants were selected based on the number of available students, with preference for braille-reading students, progress of students' science curricula, and diversity of setting and geography.

Of the seven teachers, six were certified teachers of students with visual impairments, and one was a teacher consultant for students with visual impairments. Their years of teaching students with visual impairments ranged from 5 to 38, with the average number of years being 14. Five teachers worked in inclusive settings, one at residential schools, and one in a resource classroom.

In all, teachers worked with 10 students in the field test. Here is a breakdown of the students' demographics:

During the field test, teachers were given a list of light reflection and refraction topics that this product covered. They were asked to select the topics that were appropriate for their students' science curricula and then use this product to teach those topics. Sample teaching objectives addressed and activities performed by the teachers and students during the field test were reported as the following:

Then, for each of their participating students, teachers were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed that this product was helpful to that particular student for achieving his/her learning objectives. The scale ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree). Out of 10 students, teachers answered "5, agree" for five students and "6, strongly agree" for five students. The average was 5.5.

Responding to a question on the overall usefulness of the kit, all seven teachers either said that the kit would be highly useful in their classroom exactly as presented in the evaluation prototypes (n = 1) or would be highly useful if their suggested revisions were incorporated (n = 3). The remaining three teachers chose both.

Some sample comments made by teachers were the following:

A few revisions were suggested by the teachers and students; of the suggestions, these are the most significant:

  1. Offer two storage boards rather than one to give users more space to store drawing pieces.
  2. Offer more pieces of the longer arrows, such as the 5 in. and 7 in. arrow pieces.
  3. Offer more dashed-line pieces.
  4. Include drawing pieces of some other shapes to represent objects such as cars and buildings.
  5. Include a braille copy of the teachers' guide in addition to a large-print copy.
  6. List, in the users' guide, some online resources where teachers can get information about light reflection and refraction.

Revisions as suggested in items 1, 2, 3, and 5 were incorporated into the final design of this product. In addition, the title of this product has been changed to Light In-Sight: Reflection & Refraction Kit. Tooling of this product was completed. Ninety percent (90%) of product specifications were finished.

Work during FY 2016

An outside contractor was identified. Product specifications were completed. Initial production run started.

Work planned for FY 2017

The project staff will monitor the quality of samples during the initial production run. Production will be completed, and the product will become available for purchase.

Protein Synthesis Kit (PSK)

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide students who are visually impaired with an interactive model of translation, or the process of protein synthesis, or decoding a sequence of messenger Ribonucleic Acid (mRNA) to a sequence of amino acids

Project Staff

Background

The general educational materials market lacks suitable interactive models of molecular biology processes for students with visual impairments. These models are often made with inappropriate colors, are difficult to assemble, fall apart with tactile exploration, and are not tactually accessible to students who are blind. The PSK is designed to continue the concepts introduced by the DNA-RNA Kit, which demonstrates DNA structure and replication, and transcription of a single strand of DNA to mRNA. Both the DNA-RNA Kit and the PSK are interactive models that reflect the principles of universal design; when used together, they demonstrate the fundamentals of protein synthesis. The first part of the process, or transcription of a segment of DNA to mRNA, is demonstrated by the DNA-RNA Kit. The PSK demonstrates the second part of the process, or how mRNA is translated to a sequence of amino acids. Each product is indispensable to the other; the use of both products together enables all students (not only those with VI) to demonstrate the formation of single and double strands of DNA, replication of double-stranded DNA, transcription of a single strand of DNA to mRNA, and translation of mRNA to a strand of amino acids (protein).

The project leader and model maker designed an interactive model consisting of jigsaw puzzle-like pieces that represent individual subunits, or nucleotides, of transfer RNA (tRNA), start and stop subunits, and amino acids. Ten prototype sets were prepared for field testing that began in the summer of 2013 and was completed in the fall of 2013. Like the DNA-RNA Kit, the PSK subunits are made of die-cut, 1/4-inch thick foam pieces covered with thermoformed laminate of different colors and textures. A draft guidebook explaining how to use the PSK was included in the field test materials.

Field test results helped the project leader decide how many of each type of subunit (tRNA, Start, Stop, Amino acids) to include with the product and the numbers of replacement parts (subunits) to make available for purchase separately. Field testers made several suggestions for improvement of the model itself. Start subunits were redesigned to have a thermoformed raised line around the perimeter in addition to a triangle symbol preceding the word "Start" in print and braille. These features enhance the distinction between the similarly shaped Start and Amino Acid subunits and allow a student without vision to know she is handling a Start subunit immediately upon picking it up. Likewise, redesign of the thermoformed laminate of the Stop subunits includes a rough texture across the entire surface, except in the center where a square symbol is followed by the word "Stop" in print and braille. When a student without vision handles a Stop subunit, it will be immediately apparent by the rough texture. In response to field test comments, the project leader designed a color tactile graphic illustrating the final phase of mRNA translation, which will be included in every kit. This product received Quota approval in October 2013.

Work during FY 2016

The artwork and tooling required for the color mRNA translation tactile graphic was completed. Cutting dies and thermoform molds that reflect suggested changes from field testing were designed, ordered, and made. Layout of the accompanying Guidebook including photos of the actual product was also completed. The Guidebook was converted to accessible BRF and HTML formats, both of which will be made available for free download with purchase of the product. A specifications meeting took place in July 2016, and a pilot run of 50 units took place in August 2016. The project leader expects this product to be ready for sale by the end of 2016 or early 2017.

Work planned for FY 2017

No further work on this product is planned, but the project leader intends to make several short videos that explain the use of the Protein Synthesis Kit along with its sister product, the DNA-RNA Kit.

Snap Circuits Jr.® Access Kit

(New)

Purpose

To give blind and visually impaired students access to the popular Snap Circuits Jr. ® kit, an entry-level electronics kit used for instruction and recreation

Project Staff

Background

Technology staff became interested in the Snap Circuits® line of products after realizing how easily they could be made accessible to blind or visually impaired users. The products, particularly the Snap Circuits Jr.® kit, are already in widespread use in schools, and so making accessible adaptations of them can further the goals of STEM learning and inclusion.

Snap Circuits Jr.® kit and sample completed project

The kit has parts and plans for building over 100 basic electronics projects. Most of the projects produce an effect that can be experienced by a blind student, such as running a fan or making music or sound effects; thus, there is a "payoff" at the end of a completed project. In the kit there is a grid board with fixed pegs, to which all of the various electronic components can be snapped. By snapping components and connectors to the proper coordinates, users can complete a circuit and then close a switch to experience the result.

The instructions are given in a booklet in pictorial form; that is, students are required to duplicate images of the completed circuits. This presents the only major barrier to access because the other needed accessibility modification (labeling the components with braille) is relatively easy to accomplish.

The development of this project began with in-house trials and conversations, with several different options for adaptation discussed. It was decided that written instructions in step-by-step lists were preferable to tactile graphics, both for ease of use and ease of production.

The great interest expressed for the project led to contacts with Elenco®, the manufacturer, arranged through APH’s Vice-President of Development. Representatives from Elenco® visited APH in August 2015 and agreed to assist in the adaptation of the Jr. kit.

Work during FY 2016

The project idea was formally submitted and approved, and a project leader was assigned. Technology staff had previously made project notes and a timeline to guide the process.

The timeline specifies preparatory work, braille labels, and written instructions being done in the first half of 2016, along with presentations and discussions at conferences to gauge interest. All of these steps were completed, with Technical and Manufacturing staff overseeing the braille labels and the project leader writing instructions for 20 projects.

APH was able to purchase 105 Snap Circuits Jr.® sets at cost from Elenco®. Research staff worked with Development to explore funding sources to support and promote the project further.

Field testing in schools is planned for fall 2016. The project leader is arranging field test sites, and the required number of kits will be sent out in early September for evaluation.

Work planned for FY 2017

Responses from the field test will be compiled and analyzed, and final decisions about the product will be made based on the evaluators’ responses. Of particular interest will be questions about the extent to which the kit is used in the classroom and whether it serves more of an educational or recreational purpose.

Tooling for the braille labels will be revised if necessary. The written instructions will be formatted for large print, braille, and electronic versions. Production specifications will be written and the product made available for purchase.

Submersible Audio Light Sensor (SALS)

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a device that allows K-12 students who are visually impaired to participate more fully in scientific experiments and promote their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) related fields of study

Project Staff

Background

The SALS device detects changes in light during appropriate applications (e.g., chemical reactions) and converts this signal to equivalent changes in sound. This instantaneous feedback allows students who are visually impaired to "see" the same information as typical students in real time, allowing them to be active participants in science experiments rather than passive observers. SALS is unique in that the probe that detects light can be immersed in liquids in addition to detecting light in air.

The first prototype of SALS was developed in 2005 by a team led by Cary Supalo, a visually impaired scientist, as part of the Independent Laboratory Access for the Blind (ILAB) project at The Pennsylvania State University, funded by a 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Supalo was inspired to design the device after years of experience in the laboratory as an undergraduate and graduate student during which he was dependent upon others to conduct chemistry experiments. The SALS device was field tested with students who participated in the ILAB project over a 3-year period. During this time, suggested modifications from student field testers were incorporated into five subsequent generations of SALS, each one with design improvements. A second NSF grant beginning in 2007 provided funding for continued development and refinement of SALS.

All prototypes of the SALS device at this point in its history consisted of a light-detecting probe (photocell contained within a glass and plastic wand) connected to a standalone output or control box. Detected changes in light intensity due to chemical reactions taking place in a beaker or test tube, such as precipitate formation or pH indicator color change, immediately convert to pitch changes of sound output over a range of several octaves. For example, as a solid precipitate within a solution, less and less light is detected by the probe. Within the tone control box, this response is converted to lower and lower frequencies of sound waves and the device emits sound of decreasing pitch. Data collection is therefore in real time, which allows the student with visual impairment to make the same scientific observations as sighted peers. The control box of the prototype device allowed the user to listen to and store pitch data, and compare a current pitch to a reference pitch. Voice output capability further enhanced data retrieval and manipulation. In spite of many improvements over several years, the need for a more versatile and state-of-the-art device was clear, prompting a redesign effort.

Notably, SALS is not intended to provide precise quantitative data; rather, it indicates whether a reaction is taking place. Preliminary field test results showed that when used by students who are visually impaired, SALS both increased independence and promoted interest in STEM related fields.

As detailed in the SALS Redesign Proposal submitted by Mark Swain in April 2011, APH supported the following engineering changes in the SALS control box: improved audio, a simplified user interface, improved manufacturability to facilitate mass production, improved battery longevity, and interface capability for future applications using the same audio output technology (using sensors other than a light-detecting probe, such as pressure, temperature, acceleration, etc.). A July 2011 update to the proposal added modification of the SALS control box for Universal Serial Bus (USB) capability, thus permitting the use of an external flash drive. This feature facilitates speech data programming, mass data storage during an experiment and exportability to Microsoft® Excel®, software upgrades (eliminating the need to return units to APH for reprogramming), and access to USB communication from SALS to a personal computer (a future capability not included in this project). Although this engineering change impacted both the development time and final prototype cost ($14.00 per unit), it was deemed appropriate given the benefits.

Contract negotiations between Independence Science and APH were complete in November 2011, allowing Swain to begin work on a redesigned prototype. Mechanical, electrical, and software requirements were defined in December 2011. Most of the mechanical and electrical designs, including CADD (computer-assisted design and drafting) renderings of the control box housing, were completed between January and May 2012. Preliminary software development, including USB, speech, and tone generation, were completed by August 2012. Using code from hardware verification, the software for basic functionality of the light conversion to sound application was completed and speech capability perfected. A tool and die shop was identified for custom-machining of the prototype control box housing. After some of the circuit boards were reworked and the housing was delivered, a first new prototype of the SALS control box was constructed. The light-detecting probe was assembled and housed in a clear plastic test tube. The project leader received a video demonstrating basic functionality of the first prototype of the redesigned SALS device and light-detecting probe in June 2014. The internal parts needed to build five light sensors were ordered by Swain. Difficulties finding an appropriate light probe housing as well as software and hardware issues set back completion and delivery of the five prototypes needed for field testing.

It was not possible to find over-the-counter glass tubes of the correct size (rather than plastic, which floats and thus interferes with device functioning) to house the light probes. This problem was solved in January 2015 when custom made glass tubes of the correct size were ordered and received. Five light-detecting probes were constructed at APH with the internal parts ordered by Swain and the custom made glass housings. Five prototypes of the SALS control box built by Swain were delivered to APH in April 2015. The project leader collaborated with Supalo in writing an Instruction Manual and Activity Guide for field evaluation with the SALS units and light probes. Continued software development and update processing duties were transferred from Swain to Williams.

The project leader identified nine field testers over a wide geographic distribution via call-out in the April 2015 APH News. Evaluations were received from the nine field testers who worked with a total of 25 students in May, June, and July of 2015. Changes to the control box suggested by the field testers included improving connections from the device to the ear bud and AC charger jacks and applying nonslip bumpers on the bottom of the output box. Field testers also suggested changes in the Instruction Manual including better identification of control box buttons, tips on how to hold the light probe for the most consistent data acquisition, ways to prevent damage to the light sensor glass housing, and more suggested activities appropriate to the scientific use of SALS.

Work during FY 2016

One outcome of the initial spring and summer 2015 SALS field test was that SALS benefitted students with blindness, but not the students with low vision (because they were generally able to use their vision for the suggested experiments). Consequently, the project leader extended the field test by soliciting evaluations from three more TVIs and 17 more students in the fall of 2015. The evaluations and comments received by the second set of field reviewers in February 2016 reiterated those from the first round, thus confirming the value of SALS for students with blindness. During this second field test, Williams updated the SALS control box voicing using recorded files generated in the APH studio. In March 2016, Supalo hired Ashley Neybert, a chemist who is visually impaired, to design and test more suggested SALS activities to incorporate into the Instruction Manual.

During FY 2015, the project leader learned that APH would be responsible for finding manufacturers for all components of the SALS device (probe and control box) rather than Supalo (Independence Science), contrary to the original agreement between APH and Independence Science. Furthermore, in the 5-year period since APH’s involvement in the redesign of SALS, many changes with regard to electronic devices have taken place: cell phones and tablets are more accepted in schools, most students own or have access to cell phones and tablets, and scientific companies are developing applications, or apps, compatible with iPhone® and Android™ devices. Specific apps that exploit the use of these small and now commonplace devices connect with scientific probes directly or wirelessly via Bluetooth®. For example, temperature can be measured with a probe connected wirelessly via Bluetooth® and reported on a cell phone after downloading the appropriate app from Vernier Software & Technology, LLC.

The feasibility of using the SALS light-detecting probe with off-the-shelf mobile devices (instead of a standalone single purpose control box) was tested by Ken Perry, programmer at APH. A software app was created on Android™ using a library appropriate for any of the three main OS platforms. The app, which connected to the IOIO-OTG development board from Sparkfun (www.sparkfun.com) via USB or Bluetooth®, was able to read the same light values that the APH light probe normally sends to the standalone SALS control box and produce a corresponding tone. Work is underway to create a prototype Bluetooth® probe and iOS® and Android™ apps that will essentially replace the standalone SALS control box. This will result in lower production costs and decreased production time and ultimately translate to a lower cost to the consumer. The app software is less expensive and can be easily upgraded to include more features than what would be possible with the standalone SALS control box.

Feedback solicited from five of the original SALS field testers was positive regarding the development of a cell phone or tablet app that receives signals from the APH light-detecting probe and reports them as corresponding changes in emitted tone, instead of a standalone device.

SALS received Quota Approval in October 2015 during the 147th Annual Meeting of Ex-Officio Trustees.

Work planned for FY 2017

Development of the Bluetooth® light-detecting probe and Android™ and iOS® apps will be completed before the end of FY 2017. The SALS Instruction Manual will be modified concurrently to include instructions on how to download and use the SALS app on Android™ and iOS® devices. Tips derived from field test results regarding the best use of the light-detecting probe will also be included in the Instruction Manual. The section of the manual describing suggested activities with SALS will be expanded. When complete, the Instruction manual will be translated to braille. The Instruction Manual will be made accessible as downloadable BRF and EPUB® files available with the purchase of the SALS app and Bluetooth® light-detecting probe.

Talking Scientific Balance

(New)

Purpose

To provide students with visual impairments with an economically priced balance suitable for use in science laboratory activities that accurately measures mass to the hundredth gram (0.01 gram)

Project Staff

Background

This product idea was submitted in August 2015 by a college student with a visual impairment who identified a need, from his personal educational experience, for a talking scientific balance capable of measuring mass to the hundredth gram (0.01gram) for laboratory experiments in high school and college level science classes. This would place students with visual impairments on the same playing field as students with ordinary vision with regard to participating in massing (weighing out) very small quantities of chemicals or detecting very small changes in mass of an object or organism. Talking balances and scales are available, but most are associated with cooking and baking and measure in United States customary units (pounds, ounces, etc.) rather than the International System (SI) of units (grams, milligrams, etc.), which is the scientific standard. Some available talking balances do report mass using SI units, but usually only to the tenth of a gram, and a greater degree of accuracy is called for.

The Product Evaluation Team reviewed the product idea and sent it on to the Product Advisory and Review Committee in June 2016. On June 13, 2016, the Talking Scientific Balance officially became a product under development at APH.

Work during FY 2016

Work on this product has just commenced. The project leader began research for scientific balances accurate to the hundredth gram that can be interfaced with a speaking device. Feedback solicited by the project leader via the online APH News in the fall of 2015 from science teachers and TVIs verified the need for the development of such a product by APH.

Work planned for FY 2017

When appropriate devices are identified, the project leader will work with the programmer to make them accessible to students with visual impairments. The most accurate and economical device will be developed in this way.

Talking Scientific Thermometer

(New)

Purpose

To provide students with visual impairments with an economical scientific thermometer suitable for use in science laboratory activities that accurately measures temperature to the hundredth degree Celsius (0.01°C)

Project Staff

Background

This product idea was submitted in August 2015 by a college student with a visual impairment who identified a need, from his personal educational experience, for a talking scientific thermometer capable of measuring temperature to the hundredth degree Celsius (0.01°C) for laboratory experiments in high school and college level science classes. This would place students with visual impairments on the same playing field as students with ordinary vision with regard to measuring the temperature of various substances over a wide range. Talking thermometers are available, but many are associated with cooking and baking and measure in degrees Fahrenheit (°F) rather than the International System (SI) of units (°C) which is the scientific standard. Some available thermometers do report temperature using SI units, but usually only to the tenth of a degree Celsius. Vernier Software & Technology sells the Talking LabQuest 2, which reports measurements made with a wide range of detection probes including temperature. An accessible version of the LabQuest 2 is available from Independence Science, but it is very expensive and requires the purchase of a computer software program at an additional cost.

The Product Evaluation Team reviewed the product idea and sent it on to the Product Advisory and Review Committee in June 2016. On June 13, 2016, the Talking Scientific Thermometer officially became a product under development at APH.

Work during FY 2016

Work on this product has just commenced. The project leader began research for scientific thermometers accurate to the hundredth degree Celsius that can be interfaced with a speaking device. Feedback solicited by the project leader via the online APH News in the fall of 2015 from science teachers and TVIs verified the need for the development of such a product by APH.

Work planned for FY 2017

When appropriate devices are identified, the project leader will work with the programmer to make them accessible to students with visual impairments. The most accurate and economical device will be developed in this way.

Touch, Label, and Learn Poster: Human Skeleton (Anterior View)
Formerly Tactile Science Posters/Puzzles

(Completed)

Purpose

To create interactive tactile/color science posters and puzzles for students with visual impairments and blindness

Project Staff

Image of anterior view of human skeleton as shown in poster as used for field test prototype

Background

In April 2008, the project leader submitted a product submission form for the adaptation of commercially available science posters and/or puzzles for tactile adaptation. This product submission was written following the project leader’s review of various types of science wall charts and interactive puzzles purchased from Delta Education® and other popular school supply sources. Posters/puzzles illustrating the lungs, skeleton, brain, heart, skin, eye, ear, kidneys, digestive system, tongue, and so forth, were of particular interest for seeking permission to adapt for students with visual impairments/blindness.

The original goals of this project were 1) to utilize existing science posters/puzzles commonplace in the regular classroom, 2) to alleviate APH’s burden of creating original print artwork and contribute their tactile expertise by preparing raised-line counterparts, and 3) to provide braille awareness to sighted peers who are using the same posters/puzzles.

The product idea was approved in April 2008 by the Product Evaluation Team and in May 2008 by the Product Advisory and Review Committee.

Initial efforts by the project leader involved identifying and selecting ideal science posters to adapt. The considered posters for adaptation presented realistic and full-color layouts and were of a convenient size for capturing the detailed features via the use of a variety of tactile textures, line heights, and contours. The main concern was obtaining the poster(s) in bulk quantities, in a flat condition for convenient attachment of the tactile counterparts.

The project leader located one particular anatomy poster to serve as a starting place for adapting an existing, commercially-available science product. The goal was to prepare a tactile overlay to affix to the printed poster of the anterior view of the human skeleton and to supply a 3D skeleton model to complement and reinforce the poster’s content. Although contact with the poster’s manufacturer was made, and copyright permissions sought, delivery of multiple posters from the vendor took nearly a year. Unfortunately, once the posters were received, it was obvious that the original artwork had been significantly altered from a realistic style to a very cartoonish presentation; the new application of colors and changed perspective were unsuitable for tactile graphic duplication. At this point, the project leader decided to abandon pursuit of this particular poster for adaptation and search for other posters (or puzzles) for tactile adaptation.

During the first quarter of FY 2011, the project leader continued to review commercially-available posters and puzzles for tactile adaptation by searching common educational/science catalogs and online sources. However, given the apparent risk of adapting a commercially-available poster, the design of which could unexpectedly change down the road by the vendor and consequently affect established APH production tooling, the project leader decided to create a poster design from scratch. The design would serve as a basis for both the print and tactile presentation.

In February 2011, the project leader met with Model Shop staff to determine ideal poster size, type of poster material, and method of producing the tactile and print components. The project leader decided to incorporate an interactive feature into the poster (i.e., moveable print/braille labels with which the student could build a key or legend). In addition, the teacher could use the poster to assess the student’s knowledge of the location of each bone within the human skeleton.

Using CorelDRAW®, the project leader created a preliminary layout of the general layout of the poster, indicating overall dimensions, position of the skeleton image, and the needed labels. This file was provided to the outside graphic designer in April to create original artwork. Various versions of the poster art passed back-and-forth between the project leader and outside graphic designer throughout April and May; by early June, a final colorized version was approved for prototype development. Multiple, full-size printouts of the poster were generated onto .010" white vinyl using the newly acquired Roland® UV printer/cutter. These printouts were then supplied to the Model Shop for the creation of the tactile counterpart. Katherine Corcoran sculpted a tactile skeleton that registered with the print artwork.

Photo of model/pattern maker working on vacuum-form master for skeleton poster

Throughout FY 2012, project staff’s efforts focused on printing, vacuum-forming, and assembling the tactile/print posters for field test purposes. The generation of multiple prototypes was greatly impacted and delayed by the learning curve involved in Production staff using the Roland® printer for wide-format printing on heavy-gauge vinyl sheets (later ordered as rolls) and compounded by webbing issues experienced using shrink-controlled vinyl. The first stock of printed posters, minus one, was completely lost because of poorly-formed parts due either to misaligned print/tactile elements or stray tactile lines.

In May 2012, the posters were reprinted on a continuous-roll version of the thick vinyl material. Tom Poppe then cut the posters to needed size and vacuum-formed the posters. By the end of June, a total of 20 posters had been trimmed with radius corners and mounted to sturdy chipboard; a die-cut hole was added for optional wall hanging. The project leader added VELCRO® brand strips to each poster next to the numbered key. To pick up the pace of prototype development, the project leader hand-brailled nearly 700 print/braille labels to avoid a long delay in Technical Research and Production areas. Other tasks accomplished by the project leader included designing the print/braille layout of the accompanying answer key and brailling multiple laminated copies, locating and ordering a 3D human skeleton model to complement the use of the poster, and authoring the accompanying instruction guide highlighting specific features of the poster and basic facts about human bones.

The field test opportunity for the Label & Learn Poster: Human Skeleton (Anterior View) was posted in the September 13, 2012, online issue of APH News (www.aph.org/advisory/2012adv09.html). The announcement, as repeated below, clearly described the product (with accompanying photo), field test expectations, and criteria for field test selection:

APH is seeking field evaluators for Label & Learn Poster: Human Skeleton (Anterior View) that provides an interactive presentation for reviewing the names, locations, and relationships of major skeletal bones. The dual tactile/color design is intended for students with visual impairments and blindness in classroom settings with sighted peers. Using provided print/braille labels, a student can build a key that corresponds to numbered parts of the tactile/print skeleton. The poster is accompanied by a 3D display model of the human skeleton.

Field testing will begin in late October or early November and extend until the end of January 2013. Evaluators will be asked to a) use the poster with as many students as possible within the given timeframe, b) complete a product evaluation form, and c) report student outcome data. After returning a completed evaluation form, the field test site will be allowed to keep the prototype for future use. Field test prototypes are limited.

Field test sites will be selected based upon geographic location, type of setting, and the grade levels/ages of the students.

Over 40 teachers across the country expressed interest in field testing the product. From the pool of interested evaluators, 18 field test sites were selected. Prototypes were mailed to field test sites ahead of schedule on September 19, 2013. The prototype included the following components:

Prototype ComponentsQuantity
Human Skeleton Poster1
3-D Skeleton Model 1
Print/Braille Labels 2 sets of 17 labels
VELTEX® Brand Storage Panel 1
Print/Braille Answer Key 1
Print Instructions Sheet 1

The prototype was accompanied by an 18-page evaluation packet to be completed and returned by January 25, 2013. As appreciation for their time and effort, the evaluators were allowed to keep the prototype materials for future use with their students.

Product evaluations were completed by 19 evaluators representing the states of Alabama (2), California, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. Representation by residential versus itinerant settings was nearly evenly split—47% and 42%, respectively; resource settings accounted for 11% of the involved educational settings.

Participating evaluators comprised an eclectic assortment of teachers of the visually impaired, math and science teachers, health and adapted physical education instructors, vision therapists, and special education teachers. Nearly one third (32%) of the evaluators had 5 or fewer years of teaching experience, while 26% represented the opposite end of the spectrum with 21 or more years of teaching experience; 21% had 11-15 years of teaching experience; and the range of teaching experience was evenly represented by those with 6-10 years of experience (11%) and those with 16-20 years of experience (11%).

Figure 1. Geographical Distribution and Educational Setting of Field Test Sites

The student sample consisted of 148 students—a number of students that far exceeds typical field test populations encountered in other APH field test endeavors. The student sample was nearly equally divided between females (53%) and males (47%). (Refer to Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Students’ Gender

The student population reflected cultural diversity: 42% White, 37% Black, 13% Hispanic, 4% Asian, 3% two or more races, and 1% Other.

Figure 3. Students’ Ethnicity

The students’ reported ages ranged from 4-24 years of age, with similar percentages between the ages of 10-14 (45%) and 15-19 (43%). On either end of the age continuum, 5% were between the ages of 4 and 9 and 4% were between the ages of 20 and 24. The ages for 3% of the students were unreported. (Refer to Figure 4.)

Figure 4. Students’ Age

Slightly over half of the students (51%) were in high school; 30% were in Grades 7-8; and 11% were in Grades 4-6. Very small percentages represented grade levels that were not consistent with the anticipated populations for the product: 2% pre-kindergarten/kindergarten, 5% Grades 1-3, and 1% college level.

Figure 5. Students’ Grade Level

The primary reading media reported for the student population was diverse, with the largest percentage (48%) reading large print, another 13% reading print of an unspecified size or with magnification, and over one-third (34%) reading braille; 4% were dual readers (combination print and braille). The reading medium for one student was unreported.

Figure 6. Students’ Primary Reading Medium

A significant percentage (72%) of the students were reported as having additional disabilities including speech impairments, reading disabilities, learning delays, autism, and hearing loss.

The evaluators were also asked to report each student’s prior experience with tactile graphics and/or 3D models of the human skeleton. Astonishingly, despite the involvement by mostly older students, nearly half (46%) had no previous experience with either presentation format of a human skeleton—tactile graphic or 3D model, about one-fifth (21%) had experience using both, and the remaining students either had experience just using 3D models (24%) or just using tactile graphics (6%). Previous tactile experience was unreported for 3% of the students.

Figure 7. Students’ Prior Experience with Tactile Graphics and Models of the Human Skeleton

The field evaluation form allowed teachers to rate each feature of the prototype. Although high ratings were received for all of the design elements, evaluators were particularly pleased with the usefulness of the moveable print/braille labels, the overall size of the poster, and the appropriateness for use with sighted peers. Table 1 reflects the evaluators’ average ratings for each assessed feature of the poster, and Figure 8 shows the percentage of evaluator rating each poster feature as "Excellent."

Table 1: Overall Design of the Skeleton Poster and Related Items
Skeleton Poster FeatureNumber of EvaluatorsAverage Rating% for each rating
5 = Excellent to 1 = Poor
54.54321
Overall visual presentationn = 194.6663%5%32%
Overall tactile presentation n = 174.4747%53%
Types and numbers of bones identified on poster n = 174.4147%47%6%
Position of numbers (and associated lead lines) within the graphic n = 174.1229%59%6%6%
Location of key/legend within the poster n = 174.4776%12%6%6%
Usefulness of movable print/braille labels n = 174.9494%6%
Overall size of poster n = 174.8282%18%
Durability of postern = 184.3956%28%11%11%
Ease of hanging poster (if desired)n = 164.6975%19%6%
Appropriateness within an inclusive classroom setting with sighted peers n = 164.7588%6%6%

Figure 8. Poster Features Rated as "Excellent"

Despite the overwhelmingly positive assessment of the poster’s structural presentation, the project leader utilized the following graph to pinpoint where improvements could be made. Poster features not receiving an "Excellent" rating by at least 60% of the evaluators received closer attention (e.g., durability, lead lines, type/number of bones identified, and some tactile elements). Table 2 shows appropriate target populations for the poster as indicated by field evaluators:

Table 2: Appropriate Target Populations
TARGET POPULATION Percentage of evaluators (n = 18) who indicated that the Skeleton Poster was suitable for target population
Tactile readers in grades 4-894%
Low vision readers in grades 4-889%
Tactile readers in high school 83%
Low vision readers in high school 78%
Sighted peers 61%
“Other” populations identified
  • Older students with developmental delays
  • Lower functioning students
  • Students below 4th grade level
  • College students

Evaluators indicated that the skeleton poster accommodated a variety of skills and activities. Receiving average ratings of no less than 3.7 on a scale of 5 (excellent) to 0 (not at all), the activities/skills assessed included understanding the names and locations of main skeletal bones, transition from a 3D model to a 2D graphic, independent study and review of main skeletal bones, interpretation of a tactile display, shared learning experiences with sighted peers, and increased interest in learning more about the human skeleton. Table 3 provides average ratings and distribution of evaluators’ ratings.

Table 3: Evaluation of Skills and Activities Facilitated by Poster’s Use
Skill/activity facilitated by use of poster# of Evaluators% for each rating
5 = Excellent to 1 = Poor
54.543.532.5210
Independent study and review of main skeletal bones n = 184.4250%39%5%5%
Understanding of names and locations of main skeletal bones n = 194.5563%26%5%5%
Interpretation of a tactile display n = 194.3458%26%5%5%5%
Transition from a 3-D model to a 2-D graphic n = 194.0842%37%5%5%11%
Shared learning experiences with sighted peers n = 143.9950%43%7%
Increased interest in learning more about the human skeleton n = 193.7447%5%16%16%5%5%5%

Student performance outcomes were assessed by asking the evaluators to document each student’s correct identification of skeleton bones across three successive trials during the field test stage:

Figure 9 reveals that during the first trial, more than 80% of the students were able to identify the skull (cranium), ribs, hand bones, and foot bones using the 3D model. Upon introduction of the tactile/print skeleton poster, noticeable increases in students’ correct identification of other human bones, including the clavicle, scapula, sternum, humerus, ulna, radius, pelvis, femur, patella, tibia, and fibula were noted. After thorough instruction of the human skeleton using the tactile/print poster, strides were made in the students’ identification of the clavicle, scapula, sternum, humerus, vertebrae, ulna, radius, pelvis, femur, patella, tibia, and fibula. The skull, ribs, hand bones, and foot bones continued to be easily identified across Trial 2 and Trial 3.

Figure 9. Student Outcomes after Three Trials

As Figure 10 illuminates, more students improved in their identification of the skeletal bones between Trial 2 and Trial 3; while only 45% of the students improved between Trial 1 and Trial 2, 77% of the students improved between Trial 2 and Trial 3.

Figure 10. Improvements Made by Students between Trials

Apart from the reported outcome performances, the majority of students (89%) were reported as enjoying the use of the skeleton poster and related components. Specific accolades included the following:

One hundred percent of the field evaluators recommended that APH produce and make available the skeleton poster. Among the reported strengths were the following:

Reported weaknesses are being addressed via significant enhancements to the final product. Specifically, the durability of the poster is being upgraded by replacing a chipboard backing with a closed-cell foam substrate; this will prevent the poster from warping over time because of humidity. As requested by several evaluators, additional bones are being identified with new lead lines (e.g., mandible, carpals, metacarpals, tarsals, metatarsals, and phalanges). As preferred by 89% of the evaluators, additional braille/print labels are being added as well to reflect both the scientific and common names of each bone (e.g., sternum and breastbone, scapula and shoulder blade, patella and kneecap, etc.). As requested by 100% of the evaluators, a duplicate set of the labels will be included in the kit in case parts are lost. A better quality, larger storage panel will be provided to organize print/braille labels before application to the poster.

Two reported, seemingly unrelated issues were addressed with a single alteration to the poster. The first issue was related to the fact that students tended to memorize which number in the key corresponded to a labeled bone within the skeleton image. For example, #2 (permanently labeled in the skeleton image) always represented the clavicle, #3 always represented the scapula, and so forth, consequently negating true assessment over time. Unrelated to this issue was a second, oft-repeated concern that the braille numbers imbedded within the interior portion of the skeleton (i.e., #4 the sternum, #5 the ribs, #7 the vertebrae, and #11 the pelvic bone) were difficult to tactually locate because of the absence of lead lines. Lead lines, of course, could not be added for these bones because it would impose the intersection of lines within multiple areas of the skeleton, thus complicating the tactile presentation of the overall poster.

As previously mentioned, one major modification addressed both aforementioned issues. By making braille/print number labels moveable, like the name labels, the teacher could choose which bone was labeled #1, #2, and so forth. The hook-backed circular number labels could then be affixed to soft, loop VELCOIN® brand tabs, consequently making the locations of the interior bones more tactually apparent; the soft, loop tabs are more conspicuous by touch than the originally embedded braille numbers within the "busy" tactile areas.

Complementing the kit will be a simplified version of the poster with permanent print/braille numbers and name labels to serve as the Answer Key. Originally presented as an 8.5 x 11 laminated page, the upgraded format of the Answer Key will ensure the incorporation of large print and tactile/visual consistency with the poster image. In field testing, this Answer Key was used by both the teachers and students.

In late April, after the field test data was compiled and revisions determined, the project leader assembled the Product Development Committee to review the expected components and production methods/materials for manufacturing the final kit. An unexpected product name change occurred after field testing due to copyright issues related to both "Label & Learn" and "Learn & Label" options. An extended series title—Touch, Label, and Learn Posters—was available for use. The final name of this product will be Touch, Label, and Learn Poster: Human Skeleton (Anterior View).

The latter part of FY 2013 was devoted to tooling efforts by the entire project team. Together a plan was created for producing the poster entirely with in-house manufacturing resources—the Roland® UV printer and large-scale vacuum-forming. This approach has never been utilized for the production of APH tactile/print products; therefore, "baby steps" were taken to ensure accurate registration between the print and tactile images. Adjustments to both the print and tactile versions of the poster were completed by the end of August.

In mid-October, Quota approval for Touch, Label, and Learn Poster: Human Skeleton (Anterior View) was requested and received from the Educational Products Advisory Committee during APH’s 145th Annual Meeting.

The project staff’s primary focus during the first quarter of the fiscal year was on the layout and design of the accompanying Answer Key, the presentation of which significantly changed from the prototype version. The updated, foldable version is larger (14" wide by 23.5" long) and incorporates permanent print and braille labels within a vacuum-formed graphic. The relief image of the skeleton in the Answer Key is identical to that encountered in the poster itself, minus small adjustments (e.g., repositioning of lead leads) to accommodate print and braille labels. The model/pattern maker finalized tooling on this part in November. Bryan Rogers then created silkscreen art to align the print image with braille labels and tactile lead lines.

After completion of the tooling necessary for the production of the Answer Key, master vacuum-form patterns for the skeleton bone labels and the number labels were fabricated by Tom Poppe. The manufacturing specialist worked in tandem with the Model Maker to prepare registered screen art and related cutting dies. The project leader gave direction of font size, text color, and background colors. Timing was ideal for updating one label—_mandible_—to be consistent with the newly adopted Unified English Braille (UEB). As a result, this poster will be one of the newest APH’s products marketed as "UEB compliant."

Project staff held occasional meetings throughout the first and second quarters of FY 2014 to address various issues related to the production of the poster, issues such as needed quantities of vinyl for production, 2-up printing style, scoring of the vinyl during the printing process, elimination of static electricity to prevent ink-ghosting on high-coverage areas, and so forth.

By the end of March 2014, the project leader had approved all related tooling for producing the tangible components of the product, leaving only the content for the instruction booklet to update and finalize for production purposes. However, consistent work on the instruction booklet was curtailed by the project leader’s involvement in other prioritized projects (e.g., Quick & Easy ECC), multiple field test activities, and tactile graphic workshops provided locally and nationally in the spring. Attention to the authoring of the content and layout of the instruction booklet resumed in late summer.

Remaining tooling activities continued throughout the first and second quarters of the fiscal year. Specific highlights of the project staff’s efforts included the following:

As of July 2015, definite production dates were still forthcoming due to long-term planning for the acquisition of rolls versus sheets of GPA .010" vinyl. Multiple meetings were conducted throughout the remainder of the year to address this issue, not only for this product but for future products requiring the same material.

Work during FY 2016

Production and availability of Touch, Label, & Learn Poster: Human Skeleton (Anterior View) was possible after a long-awaited procurement of needed vinyl for output on the Roland® UV printer. On December 3, 2015, the availability of the final product was officially announced with a selling price of $169.00 (available with Quota funds). Related replacement parts were priced as well:

Photo of the Touch, Label, & Learn Poster: Human Skeleton (Anterior View) as it appears in the product brochure

The project leader demonstrated the poster at various in-house workshops throughout the year. The poster was also showcased at multiple conferences where teachers of the visually impaired expressed positive feedback about its design. The movable braille/print labels continued to be an appreciated product feature.

Work planned for FY 2017

Touch, Label, & Learn Poster: Human Skeleton (Anterior View) is now available from APH. If the finished product is selected for review by the Department of Education’s review panel, the project leader will prepare a formal report detailing the product’s relevance, research, and utility. Depending upon the feasibility and popularity of this first poster, the project leader may initiate development of additional tactile/print posters targeting concepts (e.g., structure of the eye, brain, heart, etc.) suggested by field evaluators. A consumer feedback survey will also garner additional poster ideas.

SOCIAL STUDIES

Address: Earth – Large Format Atlas, Section 3

(Discontinued)

Front cover of Section 2 of Address: Earth, Large Format Atlas, Maps & Charts

Purpose

The Large Format Atlas provides guidelines for the creation, format, and appearance of large print maps. Working relationships with the University of Louisville Geography Department, National Geographic, and experts in the fields of geography and history were established for the purpose of development and testing of the guidelines. Highly trained consultants have provided useful input in the production of a truly accessible, enhanced format (i.e., large print with additional, specific formatting for accessibility) atlas for students with low vision. These efforts will ultimately lead to an atlas that will be visible, understandable, and useful for the student with low vision who is a large print reader. Section 1 was made available in 2007, and Section 2 became available in February 2014. Section III was on track to be produced next, but the decision to discontinue was made based upon poor sales and the fact that most U.S. schools do not teach geography anymore.

Project Staff

Background

APH received a strong recommendation from the Publications Committee in 2001 and in previous years to produce a world atlas in large format. Previous attempts to create such an atlas met with poor results. It was decided to convene a focus group of people who had expertise in both low vision and geography, as well as people with experience in literacy issues and student use issues to develop guidelines for maps. The guidelines were developed in 2001 and 2002, and a work group was convened in order to learn to use mapping software. In 2003, the consultants began to write the chapter content for the atlas, while APH staff checked facts, made edits, and maintained good communication among all parties.

Vice President in charge of Public Affairs, Gary Mudd, and his administrative assistant, Nancy Lacewell, met several times with officers of National Geographic in Washington, D.C. They opened a dialogue between APH and National Geographic to explore the potential for a joint effort in producing a large print atlas. During these conversations, it became apparent that APH processes and National Geographic processes were not compatible and collaboration for production was not feasible. The decision was made to continue work on the atlas at APH with the expert help available from the University of Louisville, Geography and Geosciences Department. Two years later, National Geographic offered to review maps after they were developed by APH in collaboration with the University of Louisville, Geography and Geosciences Department. To date, National Geographic has reviewed maps for both Section 1 and Section 2 of Address: Earth; their reviews have been very useful. Changes were made to maps based upon recommendations from National Geographic.

With information about the latest technology, guidelines for the content and a proposed format of the atlas were shaped. The consultants and APH staff undertook work on the Section 1; it was completed and made available in September 2007. In 2007, the project leader and department director decided to engage geography and history experts to write the units. Most were professors of geography and social sciences at both U.S. and foreign universities. Ten experts joined the project. They wrote the units and some sidebars for Russia, Continental Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, Central America, and Meso-America. This writing continued through the first half of 2009. In 2009-2010, after the consultant units were written, APH staff continued to edit, find photos, request permissions, do layouts, refine maps, and prepare Section 2 for expert review.

Field testing of Section 2 took place, and content was refined based upon field test data. Final content of all print chapters was approved. Final content of the Maps & Charts books was approved. Braille translation on Section 2 took place in late 2012 and was completed in February of 2013. Clean files were generated from the Braille Department and used to develop the HTML file. The HTML file was completed in July of 2013 as were the content checks of all chapters and map books. The printing was completed in January 2014. The product was ready for sale in February 2014. After completion of Section 2, a new IGEN® printer was purchased.

Relevance

APH made the decision to make this product based on a standardized process of product selection and the recommendation of the Publications Committee. The product submission form was submitted in 1999. The Product Evaluation Team committee did not exist at the time. The project leader submitted the Product Submission Review Form on October 10, 1999. The project leader presented the new product idea to an in-house committee in 2000 as well as an expert geography and low vision panel. It passed and was assigned the category of Core Curriculum and sent to the Accessibility Committee who approved all of the accessibility options that had been selected by our expert geography/low vision panel. The project was then assigned the grant number 231.

There is evidence of an examination of the need for this product. The Publications Committee, which later became Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC), recommended APH develop the atlas based upon what they saw as a real need in the schools. The product leader examined all the common English language atlases and found them nonaccessible by students with visual impairments. The project leader also convened an expert committee to evaluate the need, and once need was established, to develop guidelines for the features of the large print, images, colors, conventions, and forms the atlas would adopt.

Field testing further substantiated a need for this project and the relevance of it. Students who took part in field testing did not want to return the materials and asked to keep them stating "This is so much better than what we have. Please may we keep these materials?"

This product was fully accessible to the population who used it. Each map conformed to the 69 guidelines drafted by the expert geography and low vision panel. All documentation was in large print and UEB Braille.

Work during FY 2016

Development of all the units for South America and the Caribbean was completed. Work was begun on the Central American chapter units. Maps for South America and the Caribbean were also completed. Sidebars for all the countries in the Caribbean and South America were completed. The product was discontinued in February 2016.

Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen

(Completed)

Purpose

To provide an interactive color/tactile map of the United States in combination with cutting-edge Talking Tactile Pen (TTP) technology that is usable by students with visual impairments and blindness in both residential schools for the blind and inclusive educational settings

Photo of prototype of Interactive US Map with Talking Tactile Pen. Pen touches on Arkansas and state capital, Little Rock, is announced.

Project Staff

Background

In August 2012, the project leader was asked to submit a review of the STEM Binder: Audio-Tactile Apps for the Talking Tactile Pen (Version 2.00) produced by Touch Graphics, Inc., and The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute. The developers of the product, Steve Landau and Joshua Miele, were impressed with the project leader’s critique of the product. The project leader’s assessment of the product consisting of color/tactile graphics with audio feedback documented the strengths and possible drawbacks to the presentation; the strengths far outweighed the negatives.

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

The project leader and other Research staff considered possible collaborative efforts with the vendors. Conference calls were conducted.

In late January 2013, Landau visited APH and met directly with staff from Educational Research, Technical Research, Production, and Marketing areas, as well as executive-level staff, to explore collaborative projects; Miele was part of these discussions via multiple conference calls.

Consideration was initially given to applying the Talking Tactile Pen (TTP) technology (i.e., a modification to a popular commercially-available smartpen, www.livescribe.com/en-us/smartpen/) to a project approved by the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC)—Detailed State Map Overlays. After much discussion, the generation of 50 individual pieces of tactile/print artwork and related programming of the penlet seemed a bit daunting for an unexplored process between the vendors and APH; delineation of tasks (e.g., printing, vacuum-forming) was uncertain and yet to be determined. As a result, the potential collaborative effort was scaled back considerably to the generation of a single, full-color, and tactile interactive map of the United States. The accompanying penlet would house recordable layers of information (e.g., capital, surrounding areas, points of interests, major cities) for each state. The mere tap of the pen to any state on the map would provide a wealth of information for a student’s independent exploration and learning. The content area of the product seemed applicable and far reaching to many grade levels, thus ensuring high volume sales to accommodate an affordable product. The project leader provided early guidance regarding ideal map size, recordable "state" layers, and tactile presentation.

In February 2013, a prototype purchase agreement with the vendor was finalized. A total of 20 workable prototypes of the Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen were planned for field test Purposes. The map will be dot-printed for TTP functionality[1] and vacuum-formed on a rigid vinyl substrate. The final design of the map will reflect mutual effort by the vendor and APH with respective logos visible on the final product.

On April 1, 2013, the product submission, more generally titled, "Talking Tactile Classroom Maps with Talking Tactile Pen" (with anticipation of future maps), was approved by both the Product Evaluation Team and PARC.

Throughout May, the project leader and Landau made decisions about the best visual presentation of the map. Details related to color assignment, thickness of state boundary lines, font style for the state abbreviations, discernible print symbols for the national capitol and state capitals, positions of inset boxes for Hawaii and Alaska, and menu icons were carefully scrutinized and chosen. By the end of the month, drafts of the tactile counterpart to the print map had been generated by the vendor and edited and approved by the project leader. Again, specific features were addressed such as tactile point symbols, tactile lead line styles, and elevation of land area, and so forth. The refinement of both the print and tactile features was guided by input from large print and braille readers at APH.

In late June, the consultant visited APH and worked directly with the project leader on the map’s design with actual tactile masters "at hand" for verifying chosen elements. Improvements were determined including a plateau effect to the land mass to set it apart in elevation from surrounding oceans and lakes, as well as more distinct tactile symbols for the state capitals that would ensure accurate pen contact and activation. The project leader and consultant also focused on determining needed state layers of information; they worked with APH’s Resource Department to identify public domain sites for obtaining state fact information without copyright concerns. By the end of the month, the consultant was beginning to populate the spreadsheet with the content for the penlet.

[1] Dots are printed in a special color on the surface of the pane. The dots have no visual effect other than imparting a slight gray tone to white areas. Dots are used by the TTP to determine locations of taps on the map surface. Touch Graphics’ use of dot pattern has been authorized by Anoto Corp. of Lund, Sweden, through its licensee, LivescribeTM Corp. of Oakland, CA.

In July, new tactile samples of the right half of the foldable map arrived from Spain (where the final prototypes will be fabricated). These samples reflected a variety of state capital symbols in three different shapes (i.e., cone, dome, and flat disk) in varying elevations. Guided again by feedback from tactile readers, an ideal shape was selected. Also incorporated was a new STOP icon for the user to conveniently interrupt speech.

The first quarter of FY 2014 was focused entirely on the final refinements to the tactile/print map and the preparation of audio content for each state and other features of the map (oceans, menu bar, mileage scales). The progression of the spoken state layers, prompted by consecutive taps of the touch pen to the map, was determined as follows:

The project leader was responsible for checking and approving the content captured and organized into a Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheet. Multiple drafts were reviewed and needed corrections were provided to the consultant. In November 2013, a complete tactile map with a fully-programmed pen was sent to APH for final approval prior to the fabrication of multiple prototypes. The spoken content was checked against the approved spreadsheet content, and pronunciations of cities, proper names, and so forth, were verified; Denise Snow Wilson assisted with the latter task. During this editing process, the project leader also prepared a list of necessary functional updates to address issues related to speech activation by the pen.

On January 8, 2014, a total of 20 complete prototypes (tactile maps and penlets) were available for field test purposes. The project leader authored and prepared the final layout of the instruction booklet; braille translation of this document was readied. The project leader also prepared an extensive field test evaluation packet that included a student outcome form with 25 assessment tasks to evaluate the functionality of the pen with the map and to assess each student ability to access the information he/she is seeking.

The field test opportunity for the Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen was posted in the January issue of APH News (www.aph.org/advisory/2014adv01.html). The announcement described the product (with accompanying photo), field test expectations, and the criteria for field test selection as repeated below:

APH is seeking field evaluators for the US Map with Interactive Talking Tactile Pen, the outcome of a collaborative effort between APH and Touch Graphics, Inc. This interactive color/tactile map of the United States works in combination with cutting-edge Talking Tactile Pen technology. With a simple, light touch of the pen to the map, a student has access to multiple spoken layers of information for each state including the state capital, 10 largest cities, immediate surroundings, land and water area, population estimate, statehood, nickname, state symbols (bird, tree, flower, and song), motto, famous people, points of interest, and interesting facts. The names of oceans, the Great Lakes, bordering countries, and mileage scales are also spoken. A dynamic menu bar at the base of the foldable map allows adjustments to volume, repeated information, and lockable layers of information; a convenient "Stop" button permits termination of speech and a "Help" button orients the user to the map’s layout and proper use of the pen. The audio content can be listened to through the pen’s own speaker or, for better quality sound, standard headphones or external speakers can be plugged into the audio jack near the power button. The Talking Tactile Pen comes with a USB cable to recharge the pen’s batteries after several hours of use.

Field evaluators will be asked to use the prototype with multiple students with visual impairments and blindness. Students may range in age, grade level, and primary reading medium (large print, braille, and/or auditory). Student outcome data will be collected by asking each student to perform specific tasks using the interactive map. Evaluators will then complete and return a product evaluation form at the end of the testing period.

Field test sites will be selected based upon geographic location, number of available students, and type of instructional setting. Preference will be given to those who have not recently field tested an APH product. The number of prototypes is limited. Field testing will begin in February 2014 and extend through the end of April 2014.

More than 30 teachers across the country expressed interest in using the prototype with their students. From those interested, 18 were selected as field test evaluators. On February 5, 2014, the prototypes were mailed. Some evaluation forms trickled back before the deadline, and some evaluators needed and requested additional time. All but one selected field test site returned a completed evaluation packet. By the end of June 2014, the project leader had compiled field test results and Laura Zierer had created an electronic spreadsheet with student performance outcomes for 63 students and related information. All results were combined into a final 155-page report prepared by the project leader.

Field test sites represented the states of California (2), Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York (2), North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma (2), Oregon, Utah, and Washington. These sites represented a variety of educational settings (itinerant, self-contained, residential, day schools).

Figure 1. Geographical Distribution of Field Test Sites

The teaching experience of the field test evaluators varied from 0-5 years (28%) to 21 or more years (33%); 33% had taught for 6-10 years, and the remaining 6% had provided instruction to students with visual impairments and blindness for 16-20 years. Fewer than one-fourth of the evaluators (22%) reported addressing geography/map skills with their students at least 2-5 times a week; the majority (78%) taught these skills once (or less) a week. Most of the evaluators (78%) had used other tactile/print maps with their students prior to field testing including APH-produced maps (e.g., US Puzzle Map and World at Your Fingers), as well as teacher-modified and/or acquired commercially-available maps.

Based on direct observations prior to field testing, the field evaluators reported the following map skills/concepts as the most challenging for their students:

As shown in Figure 2, the prototype of the Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen was used with a total of 63 students and adults representing nearly equal percentages of females (52%) and males (48%). Cultural diversity was reflected: 62% White, 19% Hispanic, 10% Black, 3% Asian, 2% American Indian, and 2% "two or more races."

Figure 2. Students’ Ethnicity

The largest percentage (44%) were between the ages of 10 and 14; another 19% were teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19. Opposite ends of the age spectrum were represented by 25% between the ages of 5 and 9 and 11% who were 30 or older. The age of one student was unreported. (Refer to Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Students' Age Range

As shown in Figure 4, the largest percentage of students (38%) were in Grades 4-6. The percentage of students in Grades 1-3 nearly mirrored that of students in high school—19% and 17%, respectively. A smaller percentage (8%) were in Grades 7-8. Because a sizable number of subjects were adults, grade level classification for 13% was not applicable. Only one preschooler and one kindergarten student participated, as well as one student in a special education class.

Figure 4. Students' Grade Level

As shown in Figure 5, braille was reported as the primary reading medium for 41% of the students. Sizable percentages of the student population were either large print readers (24%) or print readers (14%). Students using primarily audio materials composed 10% of the population. Four students were reported as dual readers, and the reading medium for three students was unreported.

Figure 5. Students' Primary Reading Medium

One-third of the students (n = 21) were reported as having additional disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism, learning disabilities, ADHD, seizure disorders, hearing impairment, and cognitive delays.

The subject sample varied with regard to their familiarity with US geography, their use of tactile and/or print maps prior to field testing, and their degree of interest in tactile and/or print maps prior to field testing. Table 1 highlights these differences:

Table 1: Students' Familiarity and Interest in US Geography
Familiarity of US Geography (N = 63)
Unfamiliar1524%
Somewhat familiar 3556%
Somewhat familiar/unfamiliar 12%
Very familiar 813%
No Response 46%
Prior use of Tactile/Print Map (N = 63)
None to date 1625%
Occasional use 3962%
Frequent use 58%
Unknown 12%
Frequent/occasional 12%
No Response 12%
Prior Degree of Interest in Maps (N = 63)
Uninterested 1016%
Somewhat interested 3454%
Very interested 1727%
Unknown 12%
No Response 12%

The degree to which the subjects’ interest and past experience with maps played into their success with the Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen is unclear, but the results for each performance task, as reported in the Student Outcome Forms (and documented in Table 2), were positive and encouraging.

Table 2: Student Outcomes on Performance Tasks
TASK Yes % No % NR % Y/N % TOTAL
1. Listen to the Introduction1. 561. 89%1. 71. 11%1. 01. 0%1. 01. 0%1. 63
2. Activate HELP 5181%1016%23%00%63
3. Touch any state without lead line 5689%610%12%0 0%63
4. Touch any state with lead line on East coast 5181%1219%00%00%63
5. Touch CO capital 5384%1016%00%00%63
6. Touch DC 5079%1321%00%00%63
7. Touch Gulf of Mexico, then REPEAT 5689%711%00%00%63
8. Touch SC's coastline 5283%1117%00%00%63
9. Touch 300 mile marker 4470%1829%12%00%63
10. Touch both location of Canada 5486%914%00%00%63
11. Activate 2nd layer of Hawaii 4673%1727%00%00%63
12. Activate "Population Estimate" layer of Hawaii 4673%1727%00%00%63
13. Activate "Largest Cities" layer of GA 5079%1219%12%00%63
14. Listen to all layers of state without lead line 5181%1219%00%00%63
15. Listen to all layers of state with lead line 4775%1321%23%12%63
16. Activate TX, STOP speech during "Surroundings"4571%1727%12%00%63
17. Activate CA, Stop speech during "surroundings"; then resume 4368%1829%23%00%63
18. Increase the volume 5486%711%12%12%63
19. Decrease the volume 5587%711%12%00%63
20. Activate CT's "State Symbol" layer 4673%1625%12%00%63
21. Activate IA's "State Motto" layer by skipping 4571%1524%35%00%63
22. Touch two of the Great Lakes 5181%1117%12%00%63
23. Activate "Famous People" layer of VT 4876%1422%12%00%63
24. Activate "Land/Water Area" layer of KY 5079%1219%12%00%63
25A. Activate "Nickname" layer, LOCK, listen to 3 states 4673%1524%23%00%63
25B. Undo the LOCK feature 3860%2133%46%00%63

A closer look at the student population’s experience with the prototype revealed that most (59%) needed "occasional assistance" and direction from the instructor during the use of the map, 22% required "continuous assistance," and 19% required "no assistance." It was also reported that over half (54%) experienced some difficulty using the pen with the map. Posed challenges, however, did not prevent 81% of the students from being motivated to use the product beyond usual class instruction time. In fact, 100% of the students were reported as enjoying the use of the map.

The field evaluators were invited via the field test packet to evaluate and comment on each feature of the Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen. Based on a rating scale from 5 (Excellent) to 1 (Poor), the average ratings are reported in Table 3.

Table 3: Overall Design of the Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen
Design Features Number of EvaluatorsAverage Rating% for each rating
5 = Excellent to 1 = Poor
5 4.5 4 3 2 1
Overall design/presentation N = 18 4.44 56% 33% 11%
Visual presentation of the map N = 18 4.44 67% 22% 6% 6%
Tactile presentation of the map N = 18 4.25 39% 6% 39% 17%
Pen—Ease of activating audio by touching a selected map feature N = 18 3.83 17% 50% 33%
Pen—Quality of narration/synthesized speech N = 18 4.22 50% 33% 11% 6%
Available number of recorded layers of US state information (13 total) N = 17 4.35 71% 5% 12% 12%
Usefulness of recorded layers provided for all states N = 17 4.23 59% 18% 12% 12%
Usefulness of recorded information related to oceans, lakes, bordering countries, mileage scales N = 17 4.18 47% 24% 24% 6%
Types of menu options (e.g., Volume, Help, Repeat, Lock, and Stop) N = 17 4.71 76% 18% 6%
Functionality of menu options (e.g., Volume, Help, Repeat, Lock, and Stop N = 16 4.38 56% 31% 6% 6%
Durability of map N = 17 4.24 41% 41% 18%
Folding capability N = 16 4.69 75% 19% 6%
Product Instructions N = 17 4.65 71% 23% 6%
Carrying/storage box N = 18 3.78 33% 33% 17% 11% 6%

As reflected in Table 4, the layers of state information were accessed and utilized to varying degrees with Layer 1 (State name) and Layer 2 (State capital) being the most popular and Layer 3 (10 largest cities), Layer 5 (Land area, water area, and percentage of state that is water), and Layer 6 (Population estimate) being the least accessed. This outcome was later apparent in the percentages of evaluators who indicated that Layer 1 and Layer 2 were most consistent with the information that students are expected to learn—88% and 82%, respectively. Conversely, smaller percentages indicated that Layer 3 (29%), Layer 5 (24%), and Layer 6 (35%) were important. Layer 10 (State motto) and Layer 11 (Famous people) were also not critical for students to learn as reported by 18% of the field evaluators.

Table 4: Use of State Layer Information
Layer of State Information Frequently Occasionally Usually Skipped
Layer 1: State name89%11%
Layer 2: State capital 83%17%
Layer 3: Ten largest cities 17%72%11%
Layer 4: Surroundings (land and water)22%61%17%
Layer 5: Land area, water area, and percentage of state that is water 5%39%56%
Layer 6: Population estimate 17%33%50%
Layer 7: Statehood 22%39%39%
Layer 8: State nickname 33%39%28%
Layer 9: State symbols 44%44%11%
Layer 10: State motto 22%50%28%
Layer 11: Famous people 56%28%17%
Layer 12: Points of interest 33%50%17%
Layer 13: Interesting facts 56%33%11%

The majority of evaluators (89%) thought the state layers were presented in a logical sequence. Although more than half (56%) of the evaluators thought no additional layers of state information were needed, some suggested additional data related to geographical landforms and terrain. Regardless of each layer’s use, the plethora of state information was reportedly one of the motivating features of the map; one teacher indicated that her student was "astounded at all the information available at her fingertips," and another student thought the map was "not as boring as (other) tactile maps."

Evaluators were asked to evaluate the tactile and visual presentation of the map separately. This delineation helped to narrow and target needed improvements to the map for both the braille and the low vision reader. Results of these separate evaluations are reported in Table 5.

Table 5: Tactile Presentation of the Map (N = 18)
Question YES NO N/A or N/R
Was the braille on the map readable?100%
Is repositioning of any braille labels needed?33%44%22%
Was it helpful to have the land area elevated higher than the water areas?94%6%
Were the raised lines used for state boundaries easy to tactually trace and discriminate?72%22%6%
Were the state capital dots/bumps easy to tactually locate?89%11%
Was the symbol (flat round disk) for the District of Columbia tactually distinguishable from the state capital symbols?61%33%6%
Were the tactile lead lines easy to locate and follow from the braille abbreviations to the location of each corresponding state?56%44%
Should any lead lines be readjusted in position and/or length?33%39%28%
Were the inset maps of Alaska and Hawaii ideally positioned on the map?89%11%
Did the three mileage scales clearly correspond with their specific regions for tactile readers?72%6%11% (N/R)11% (Unsure)
Did the dotted boxes ideally separate Hawaii and Alaska from the contiguous 48 states?100%
Was the tactile bar separating the map area from the lower menu helpful?100%
Were the tactile icons (e.g., Volume, Help, Repeat, Lock, and Stop buttons) in the menu bar easily identified and located?94%6%
Did any of the tactile icons pose any difficulties for tactile readers?50%33%17%

Likewise, questions were posed to specifically assess the visual presentation of the map for print readers. Outcomes are reported in the Table 6.

Table 6: Visual Presentation of the Map (N = 18)
Question YES NO N/A or N/R
Was the print text readable?89%6%6%
Is repositioning of any print text needed?11%67%22%
Are the colors utilized for the land and water areas ideal?83%11%6%
Does the text color ideally contrast against the background colors?94%6%
Are the black lines used for state and country boundaries ideal?89%11%
Are the black state capital dots/bumps easy to visually locate?100%
Is the symbol (flat round black disk) for the District of Columbia visually distinguishable from the state symbols?67%28%6% (yes/no)
Are the white dotted lead lines easy to locate and follow from the print abbreviations to the location of each corresponding state?83%17%
Do the three mileage scales clearly correspond with their specific regions?72%6%17% 6% (yes/no)
Does the dotted inset boxes ideally separate Alaska and Hawaii from the contiguous 48 states?100%
Is the black bar separating the map area from the lower menu bar helpful?100%
Are icons in the menu bar (Volume, Help, Repeat, Lock, and Stop) easily identified and located?100%
Do any of the visual icons pose any difficulties for visual learners?11%78%11%

The location of the menu buttons (at the bottom of the map) was approved by 94% of the evaluators; 78% thought the sequence of the icons from left to right was ideal, and 89% thought it was helpful to have the braille word to the immediate right of the icon it identifies. However, 67% reported some difficulty in touching the tactile icons (versus the corresponding braille words) with the pen to activate the menu options.

The degree to which each menu button was utilized varied. REPEAT was the most popular option; it was used "frequently" as reported by 61% of the evaluators. Interestingly, the HELP button was the least accessed. The LOCK button was reported as one of the students’ favorite features. The frequency of use of all the menu buttons is reported in Table 7.

Table 7: Menu Buttons—Frequency of Use
Menu Button Frequently Occasionally Never
VOLUME 28%72%
HELP 17%39%39%
REPEAT 61%28%11%
LOCK 33%56%11%
STOP 11%78%11%

Ninety-four percent of the field evaluators indicated that the Interactive U.S. Map with the Talking Tactile Pen offered specific advantages over other tactile/print maps of the United States. The instant auditory feedback, student’s independent use, and the wealth of information about the states were among the most oft-repeated benefits. Additional strengths noted included the following:

The majority (94%) of the evaluators prodded APH to develop and make the Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen available, with supportive statements such as "I will be using it in many geography lessons," and "This product is easily accessible for students of all ages and disabilities and would be one of the better products from APH." The most ideal target populations for the product, as assessed by the field evaluators, were tactile and low vision readers in Grades 4-6. Table 8 reports the map’s appropriateness for various target populations.

Table 8: Appropriate Target Populations
Target Population Percentage of evaluators (N = 18)
who indicated the US Map with
Talking Tactile Pen is suitable
for target population
Tactile readers in kindergarten 17%
Low vision students in kindergarten 22%
Tactile readers in grades 1-361%
Low vision students in grades 1-3 72%
Tactile readers in grades 4-694%
Low vision students in grades 4-6 94%
Tactile readers in grades 7-878%
Low vision students in grades 7-8 78%
Tactile readers in high school 72%
Low vision students in high school 72%
Adult tactile readers 61%
Adults with low vision 61%
Students with additional physical disabilities 50%
Students with cognitive disabilities 50%
Sighted peers 67%

In August 2014, Landau visited APH to work with the project leader to determine product revisions based on field test outcomes. Some of the revisions discussed included enhancing pen activation on some areas of the map, including a north indicator/compass rose, minimizing recorded information for a few state layers (e.g., largest cities and famous people), adjusting location of lead lines, including a separate state abbreviation reference sheet, allowing easier volume control, providing a more durable/portable box or carrying case, and anticipating provision of future updates to the penlet via downloadable files. A meeting was conducted with the Product Development Committee to discuss the eventual production of the map and related pen and to delineate production responsibilities between APH and Touch Graphics, Inc.

Quota approval for the Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen was received from the Educational Products Advisory Committee at APH’s 146th Annual Meeting. At the Annual Meeting, Steve Landau, Josh Miele, and the project leader presented the map/pen prototype and related field test results during a Product Input Session Download MP3. This session also garnered ideas from the audience for additional applications of the touch pen technology for future tactile products.

Momentum toward completion of production tooling by Touch Graphics, Inc., and APH for the Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen characterized the first three quarters of the fiscal year. Specific tasks included the following:

Work during FY 2016

During the production stage, the project staff monitored the quality of parts received from the vendor, as well as components produced at APH for the Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen. After encountering a few non-functioning maps in the vendor’s first shipment, the project leader and manufacturing specialist quality-checked all of the maps individually. The vendor quickly replaced the faulty components with functional ones.

The final product of the Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen

On November 10, 2015, the availability of the Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen (1-01150-00) was officially announced with a selling price of $259.00 (available with Quota funds). The product was demonstrated and showcased at multiple conferences throughout the year, including the Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference and the International AER Conference. The map’s availability is advertised on both APH’s Web site and on Touch Graphics, Inc.’s Web site: touchgraphics.com.

In response to frustration aired by some customers and in-house staff with regard to activating the map’s audio content using the pen, a short how-to video was prepared. The project leader provided the narration and script; Matthew Poppe assisted with final video and audio editing. On August 1, 2016, the product video was posted on YouTube™: youtu.be/pP3b_xj4oDI.

Work planned for FY 2017

The project leader and Steve Landau will continue to demonstrate the product at future workshops and conferences. If the finished product is selected for review by the Department of Education’s review panel, the project leader will prepare a formal report detailing the product’s relevance, research, and utility. Consideration will be given to the development of additional products using the touch pen technology and continuing related product endeavors and collaborations with the vendor.

Recognizing Landforms (revision)

(Discontinued)

Purpose

To revise and streamline this longtime APH product and make it more suitable for self-guided use or use in integrated school settings

Project Staff

Background

Recognizing Landforms has been in the APH catalog for more than 30 years; but, although it is dated in its outer presentation, it still fills a vacancy among products for conceptual and spatial development. The kit makes use of 10 thermoformed, multi-colored models to teach blind and visually impaired learners about landforms and the terminology associated with them. A series of lessons take students from the simplest tactile presentation (raised body of land surrounded by water) through increasingly complex representations of features such as mountain ranges, plateaus, basins, bays, inlets, river deltas, and so on. A slim booklet of instructions for teachers is provided, but the main instruction is carried by audio recordings on CD featuring a cast of amusing characters who solicit the user's help in tactually exploring the models. Informal review and quizzes are built into the audio narrative. The audio component was added on shortly after the models and instructional guide were developed and tested as a way to make the course more interesting for students.

Although the style and some references in the audio files are long out-of-date, the project leader believes that a self-guided format for the presentation is still valid and might be retained in a revised format.

As currently offered, the kit also suffers from unwieldy packaging and an outdated appearance. The goal of the present project is to renew Recognizing Landforms by trimming unnecessary content, freshening the audio, revising the packaging, and re-introducing the product with appropriate kinds of promotion.

The project leader solicited instructors, via e-mail discussion groups, to record their own audio files at various kinds of locations studied in the Landforms kit and submit them for possible use in the revised kit.

Two of the original landform models were identified for omission from the revised kit, one because it is a near duplicate of another model and one because it contains items related to content that is to be deleted.

Discussions were held with Steve Landau of Touch Graphics about the possibility of incorporating sound chips or scan coding to the landform models so that, when the student touched the desired feature with a scanning pen, audio feedback would be produced. The first such avenue pursued by the project leader, involving programmable Near-Field Chips and a wand for reading them, did not appear to be a practical option for adding audio directly to the tactile models; but the idea continues to be of interest if an appropriate and affordable technology arises.

Discussions were held among staff to decide if the best approach to revising the physical models would be to repair the existing patterns and tooling, which show significant signs of age and wear, or to remake them from scratch. A primary concern with the latter approach was the amount of Model Shop staff time that would be needed, which needed to be weighed against the potential demand for the product. Staff also suggested that the molded parts could be hole-punched for storage in a large binder, addressing the issue of the unwieldy storage box.

The project leader conducted an online survey to gauge teachers' level of interest in and experience with the existing Landforms Kit, and to see whether the concepts it teaches are valued today. The survey was announced in the APH News and posted to electronic mailing lists for TVIs in Science and Social Studies classes.

Seventeen teachers responded; of these, all stated that they believe the concepts to be important for their blind or visually impaired students to learn. Respondents' levels of experience with the Landforms kit varied, and among those who had used it, response to the audio tutorial feature was varied as well. The project leader has interpreted these results to indicate that the kit still has validity and serves a good purpose, but that the audio aspect of the kit is not universally seen as necessary.

Subsequent discussions pointed to the project continuing as a product revision rather than an overhaul.

Work during FY 2016

The project leader corresponded with two separate research and development programs about the possibility of using a smartphone or tablet camera to "read" a user’s hand positions and give audio feedback about the landform maps. Researchers at both programs expressed confidence that such technology is available, but discussions have ended there. No other significant work was done on this project.

Work planned for FY 2017

Two factors loom large over the future of this project: First, the time and labor needed for even a basic upgrade to the production tooling; second, the low sales for geography-related products in general. These factors combine to make it likely that the project will be formally discontinued.

Tactile World Globe

(Continued)

Purpose

To update APH’s Globe: Tactile and Visual by applying a topographical relief and braille labels for continents, oceans, and latitude/longitude lines

Project Staff

APH Globe: Tactile and Visual

Background

APH has a long history of designing and producing excellent tactile world globes for use by students and adults with blindness and visual impairments. Past models are showcased in the APH Museum. Among the most fondly remembered of these tactile globes is the 30" Floor Pedestal Globe that was first introduced in 1955. According to APH’s Museum collection database, the globe is described in the 1956 edition of the APH product catalog like so:

30-inch diameter, overall height of 51 inches; hollow-plastic construction; painted in contrasting blue and yellow to highlight land and sea areas; with brown stippling for mountainous areas; raised latitude and longitude lines; sturdy metal base
Cost: $225.00

The February 13, 1955, issue of The Courier-Journal Magazine, commemorating APH’s 100th anniversary, described this globe as "the first ‘accurately-exaggerated’ relief globe in the United States. The altitudes are exaggerated 30 times to the flat surface. With such a globe, the world will be at the fingertips of the blind student."

APH 30-inch Relief Globe

The 30-inch Floor Pedestal Globe, produced in conjunction with the Panoramic Studios of Philadelphia, was still available in the 1980 product catalog, although few were apparently sold. Production between 1975 and 1979 averaged 17 units per year. By 1984, the floor model had been removed from the APH catalog. Some of the original production copies of this globe are still displayed and used throughout the country in residential schools for the blind.

APH Geophysical Globe

In 1959, APH introduced two 12-inch plastic relief globes—the Panoramic Model Globe and the Geo-Physical Model Globe. These globes were painstakingly hand-painted by APH production staff; they featured topographical detail, and their visual simplicity was ideal for low vision students. Only slight differences distinguished the two globes—type of base (cup-shaped versus tripod), equator design (indented versus a thin lip), and degree of elevation in comparison with horizontal distances (32 to 1 versus 50 to 1). In later years, only the Geophysical Globe was offered, and its base had been updated to a permanent metal stand (as shown in the photograph).

The painting effort required to produce the Geophysical Globe eventually proved too laborious and expensive in the midst of an ever-increasing number of new educational products manufactured in-house during the 1990s. At the sluggish production rate of two painted globes per day, and complicated by the extra step of epoxy reinforcement and limited floor space for drying, an alternative manufacturing approach was needed.

In 1993, the current project leader and T. Poppe addressed the challenge of creating a new tactile globe that imposed less production time and translated into a cost-savings for the customer. Using a production approach conceptualized by the project leader—specifically, the application of two clear vacuum-formed hemispheres onto a commercially-available globe—the model/pattern maker undertook the tooling of a new "world" mold. The new mold featured a pebbly, braille-like texture for continental land masses with higher elevations noted by a slightly different areal pattern; raised latitude and longitude lines were formed as well. The two-part mold was used for vacuum-forming the northern and southern hemispheres out of clear thin vinyl; the two halves were then registered onto a purchased 12-inch table-top political globe. This manufacturing process translated into a 67% cost reduction and the introduction of a new globe—Globe: Tactile and Visual—in 1994.

The urgency to find a solution to the globe’s production difficulties, followed by immediate implementation of the new process, prevented the project staff from conducting a formal field test study of its design. Although the current globe design has served its purpose for two decades, the project staff have always desired to revisit the mold and make improvements to its tactile quality. Prompted by many compliments about the former Geophysical Globe, paired with the arrival of talking globes on the market, globe design discussions surfaced periodically throughout the years. Although tactile adaptations of commercial talking globes were considered in 2003 and proposed in a formal product submission to the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC), the discontinuation of such globes alerted APH that creating extensive production tooling for a potentially scrapped commercial product was a risky undertaking. In addition, talking globes have the disadvantage of presenting too many sight-dependent tasks, such as asking questions about very specific locations/landmarks; the detail required to perform the tasks cannot be adequately captured in a tactile counterpart.

In June 2012, the project leader visited PARC and proposed active development on the tactile globe. Her idea involved re-introducing the popular topographical relief style encountered in the Geophysical Globe and marrying it with the current print globe; inclusion of braille labels for continents, oceans, and latitude/longitude lines was planned. T. Poppe created a small sample of the anticipated globe design and shared it with the Product Development Committee on August 1, 2012. All attending supported the intended improvements. Production staff were copacetic with the suggested manufacturing procedures.

Significant progress was made on the design and development of the new Tactile World Globe throughout FY 2013. Guided by early feedback garnered during a Product Input Session at APH’s Annual Meeting in October, the project leader and T. Poppe made numerous decisions about various globe features including the type of tactile latitude and longitude lines, braille label positions for all continents and oceans, and topography enhancements to replace the less-desired "pebbled" texture of the existing globe. The staff also located a desirable non-glare vinyl to use for the prototype model.

By the end of March 2013, T. Poppe had completed sculpting the Northern Hemisphere. The decision was made to field test only the Northern Hemisphere to verify that the presentation was ideal for student use before significant tooling effort was undertaken for the production of the entire globe. A fiberglass master for eventual vacuum-forming of the Northern Hemisphere was built and tested. The first attempt to form a part proved successful; the registration of the tactile part to the print globe was ideal, and proper fit was verified. By the end of April, 20 complete prototypes were assembled, each with the transparent, tactile hemisphere applied permanently to the commercial globe.

Anticipating that sufficient time was still available to field test in the spring, the project leader posted a field test announcement in the April issue of APH News. The announcement was also e-mailed to those in Research’s field tester database who had expressed interest in evaluating social studies products. Although approximately a dozen teachers responded to the request, it was decided to postpone the field test activity until the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year to give teachers a lengthier and more convenient timeframe for evaluating the product. The same teachers who expressed interest in field testing agreed to the updated schedule.

Prior to field testing, the project leader constructed an extensive evaluation packet with multiple rating opportunities for each main design feature of the prototype. Beyond just a product evaluation form, a student outcome form was created to assess each student’s basic knowledge of a world globe prior to the use of the prototype. In addition, 25 assessment tasks were devised to test the readability of the new Northern Hemisphere. Carie Ernst reviewed the questions to check for clarity and accuracy from a cartographer’s expertise.

On September 17, 2014, prototypes were mailed to a total of 18 teachers of the visually impaired representing the states of Missouri, Michigan, New York (2), Texas (2), California (2), Louisiana, Tennessee, Nebraska, North Carolina, Maryland, Utah, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Montana.

A total of 14 completed evaluations and 37 student outcome forms were returned from participating field test sites by January 2015. Some evaluators were unable to complete the evaluation process. Nevertheless, sufficient data was collected to determine the effectiveness of the new bas relief design of the prototype globe. The project leader intermittently recorded data from these student outcome forms as time allowed. The research assistant created a Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheet to report the students’ performances on the pre-quiz and 25 related assessment tasks.

The 14 field evaluators represented the states of California, Ohio, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan (2), Montana, Nebraska, New York (2), North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.

Type of Educational Setting (N = 14)
ItinerantResidentialResource
OH, MI (2), NC, NE, NY, TX, UT
57%
LA, MD, NY, TN
29%
CA, MT
14%

Participating evaluators varied in their teaching experience with the largest percentage (33%) reporting 21 or more years teaching experience; 27% had 0-5 years teaching experience, 20% reported 6-10 years teaching experience, and another 20% reported 11-25 years teaching experience. Various titles and professions were represented in this teacher sample (e.g., teacher of the visually impaired, social studies teacher, teacher consultant for the visually impaired, orientation and mobility instructor, vision specialist, and paraprofessional). All of the evaluators were Caucasian/White.

The majority (93%) of the participating evaluators were familiar with APH’s existing globe and had used it with their student(s); 71% had the existing APH globe available for comparison purposes during the field test activity. All evaluators briefly described their current teaching strategies for teaching geography and map skills. Reported strategies included starting with handmade tactile maps of a familiar area (e.g., school, classroom) and then progressing to unfamiliar areas (e.g., globe, US map, world atlas), teaching cardinal directions, introducing concepts of keys and legends, presenting globes and maps in a systematic manner, and so forth. Over one-third (35%) indicated they teach geography/map skills to their students less than once a week. Equal percentages taught these skills/concepts either once a week (14%) or two or three times a week (14%). A smaller percentage (7%) indicated "more than five times a week." Among the most challenging concepts for the students to grasp were latitude and longitude/imaginary lines and points, location of continents and land features, where objects on a globe/map are in relation to other objects, understanding how the globe relates to a flat tactile map, and "seeing the whole picture and understanding where one part is in relation to another."

Collectively, the field evaluators used the prototype of Tactile World Globe (the Northern Hemisphere only) with a total of 37 students.
[Note: The decision was made to field test only the Northern Hemisphere to verify that the presentation was ideal for student use before significant tooling effort was undertaken for the production of the entire globe.]

As observed in Table 1, the 37 students varied in age, grade level, ethnicity, and preferred reading medium. A small percentage (16%) were reported as having additional disabilities besides visual impairments and blindness.

Table 1: Student Sample (Gender, Age, Grade Level, Ethnicity, Preferred Reading Medium, and Other Disabilities)
Gender
Female1951%
Male1849%
N = 37100%
Age
625%1232%
725%
825%
925%
10411%
1125%616%
1238%
1313%
14616%1438%
15514%
1638%
1725%514%
1825%
1913%
N = 37100%
Grade
138%616%
225%
313%
438%822%
5514%
613%616%
7411%
813%
9821%1746%
1000%
11719%
1225%
N = 37100%100%
Ethnicity
White1642%
Black719%
Hispanic719%
Asian411%
Two or More13%
Other: Moroccan13%
Unreported13%
N = 37100%
Preferred Reading Method
Braille2773%
Large Print38%
LP/Braille25%
Print411%
Print/Braille13%
N = 37100%
Other Disabilities
N = 37616%
Other Disabilities: ADHD, Cognitive Disabilities, Hearing Impairment, and brain tumor

As highlighted in Table 2, the 37 participating students also differed in their familiarity with world globes prior to field testing, their previous use of tactile maps prior to field testing, and their interest in tactile maps and globes prior to field testing.

Table 2: Students’ Familiarity with World Globes, Tactile Maps, and Interest in Both
Familiarity with World Globes Prior to Field Testing
Unfamiliar719%
Somewhat familiar2259%
Very familiar719%
Unknown13%
N = 37100%
Previous Use of Tactile Maps Prior to Field Testing
Frequently411%
Occasionally2670%
None411%
Unknown38%
N = 37100%
Interest in Tactile Maps and Globes Prior to Field Testing
Very Interested1232%
Somewhat Interested2362%
Uninterested25%
N = 3799%

The field evaluation form invited teachers to rate every feature of the prototype of the Tactile World Globe based on the mold of the Northern Hemisphere. Table 3 provides the average rating of each product feature. The ratings were complemented by specific comments and recommendations.

Table 3: Overall Design of Tactile World Globe
Design Features Number of EvaluatorsAverage Rating% for each rating
5 = Excellent to 1 = Poor
5 4.5 4 3 3.5 2 1
Overall design/presentationN = 134.2746%38%8%8%
Readability of brailleN = 144.9393%7%
Content labeled in braille (e.g., continents, oceans. latitude/longitude lines)N = 144.4357%36%7%
Quality of topography (e.g., elevated/contoured mountain ranges)N = 134.3554%7%15%23%
Tactile contrast between International Date Line and latitude/longitude linesN = 144.7179%14%7%
Tactile contrast between International Date Line and Prime MeridianN = 144.9393%7%
Tactile contrast of Tropic of Cancer and other latitude linesN = 144.7193%7%
Number and location of latitude lines labeled in brailleN = 144.0029%57%14%
Number and location of longitude lines labeled in brailleN = 134.1531%61%8%
Height of EquatorN = 144.8686%14%
Coastline elevation above waterN = 144.3657%29%7%7%
Visibility of printed content through clear overlayN = 144.0064%14%14%7%
Durability and rigidity of plastic overlayN = 144.4364%21%7%7%

Nearly 80% of field evaluators indicated that the new tactile globe design had specific advantages over other globes used in the past, namely: "easier to locate areas," topography ("gentle bumps to represent hills/land and more pronounced mountains"), addition of braille labels, latitude and longitude degrees, easily-discriminated tactile line types, and minimal glare for students with low vision. Several comments alluded specifically to the beneficial quality of the braille labels:

One hundred percent of the students reported that they enjoyed using the prototype globe with supportive, informal comments such as "Yeah, Braille words!" "Wow, it has braille on it," and "The bumpy land feels better than the prickly continents [in reference to APH’s existing world globe]." The students’ performance on 25 outlined tasks using the prototype globe revealed specific successes with the globe, as well as highlighted more challenging concepts. (Refer to Figure 1.) Inability to perform a task was often attributed to a student’s unfamiliarity with the concept, or to the fact that the concept/task was too advanced for the student.

Figure 1. Student Performance on Globe Tasks

Ninety-three percent of field evaluators recommended that APH replace its existing tactile world globe with the prototype’s design, assuming that the Northern Hemisphere’s tactile presentation will be used as model for the construction of the Southern Hemisphere.

Based on field test feedback, anticipated improvements will include the following refinements:

By the end of FY 2014, the project leader prepared a comprehensive report of the field test results. Quota approval for the Tactile World Globe was requested and received from the Educational Product Advisory Committee at the 146th Annual Meeting in October. Due to the project leader’s and model/pattern maker’s involvement in the prototype development of SPORTS COURTS (see separate project report), active work on the project was curtailed until the second quarter of the fiscal year.

In early February 2015, the project leader regrouped with Technical Research and Model Shop staff to review expected tooling revisions and review intended production processes and assembly procedures of the new globe. Due to T. Poppe’s continued work on SPORTS COURTS, tooling of the globe shifted to A. Dakin. Several world globes were provided to the Model Shop for reference during topographical construction/molding. Tooling work on the Northern Hemisphere was intermittent between March and June. In July, the project leader reviewed the current mold of the Northern Hemisphere and made a short list of needed inclusions (e.g., additional islands), as well as refinements to mountain elevations and a dashed line representing the International Dateline. In September 2015, tooling tasks shifted to the construction of the Southern Hemisphere.

Photo of model/pattern maker working on tooling for the Tactile World Globe

Work during FY 2016

Tooling for the Southern Hemisphere overlay characterized most of the work performed in FY 2016. Work on the project was intermittent as the model/pattern maker tended to the production tooling for other ongoing research products. However, by the third quarter of the fiscal year, a fully constructed globe, using vacuum-formed hemisphere attachments, was assembled. The project leader reviewed the globe and recommended minor refinements and improvements.

In July 2016, momentum toward tooling completion for the Tactile World Globe was slowed by the following tasks:

Concurrent tooling efforts included the design of an accompanying print and braille key, formatted at an 8.5 x 11 in. size, to capture the various tactile line types represented on the globe. This added component was also a suggestion from field evaluators. M. Poppe designed the print and braille layouts of the key, and A. Moulton prepared a 4-up arrangement for the model shop to use as a reference during vacuum-form setups.

Separate images of the print and braille key to accompany the Tactile World Globe

Tooling-related tasks continued until the end of the fiscal year.

Work planned for FY 2017

After tooling for the Tactile World Globe is completed, a product specifications document will be prepared by Technical Research and formally presented to Production staff. Feasible dates for the pilot run will be determined, and inventory of the older globe will be phased out. The project leader, model/pattern makers, and manufacturing specialist will monitor the quality of the first production run of the Tactile World Globe, which will likely occur in the second half of FY 2017. The project leader will assist with post-production tasks.

TECHNOLOGY AND MEDIA

For FY 2016, there are no active Technology and Media products to report. For related products, see the Assistive Technology section and the Technology Product Research section.  

EARLY CHILDHOOD

Art Digitizing/Modernizing of On the Way to Literacy Storybooks

(Continued)

Purpose

To replace deteriorating film art with digital art, slightly reduce page sizes to enable in-house production of the books on IGEN® equipment, update to utilize sans serif fonts, modify the books’ visual illustrations, produce in Unified English Braille (UEB), and consider modifications to include textures and interactive illustrations

Project Staff

Background

The 18 storybooks in the On the Way to Literacy series were first produced in the early 1990s using film art, then standard in the printing industry. The original film art for these books has deteriorated with time and printers are reluctant to use it; therefore, Production asked that the print tooling for the books be recreated in digital file formats. Because the cost of offset printing rises dramatically when fewer than 300 to 500 copies are printed, and books are not inventoried, Production staff recommended redesigning the books for IGEN® production. This would make it possible to produce smaller runs in-house. To make this change, it is necessary to reduce the page dimensions slightly.

Meetings with production staff defined additional objectives for the modernization effort. Redesign for in-house production provided the additional opportunity to update other aspects of the books. Consumers and focus group members have repeatedly noted the importance of providing read-aloud books that will also interest sighted peers. For this reason, print illustrations are being modified to make the illustrations more visually attractive for sighted audiences. Updated illustrations attempt to add elements that have visual appeal without introducing visual elements key to understanding the story. Some of the print illustrations attempt to accomplish this by suggesting indistinct background images or patterns intended only for the typically sighted reader. Others use decorative backgrounds to increase visual interest but do not add pictures of things likely to be remarked upon by sighted readers, thus leaving out the tactual reader. As the project got underway, the project leader also requested that a more "book-like" binding be considered for some books, a request also voiced by teachers and parents.

At the beginning of this effort, before the decisions were made to provide UEB text and redesigned tactile illustrations, the project leader and Director of Technical Research analyzed the 18 books in the On the Way to Literacy series and grouped them according to type and nature of the modifications to be made. Colors were chosen based on IGEN® swatches, and the Low Vision Project Leader was consulted regarding visual art modifications. The project leader worked with the in-house graphic designer and outside graphic designers, under the in-house designer’s supervision, to begin the modernization of the first five books (Something Special, That’s Not My Bear, Giggly Wiggly, The Littlest Pumpkin, and Jennifer’s Messes). Two other titles began the process of modification. During FY 2011, the project leader, Technical Research, and Production staff reviewed test runs of the newly modernized art for Something Special, That’s Not My Bear, and Giggly Wiggly, produced on IGEN® equipment. Some files were modified to address concerns with color consistency and margins. These required repeat testing.

Digitized art for The Littlest Pumpkin was also completed. Modernization of art for The Blue Balloon was designed by the project leader, and art files were completed. The graphic designer continued to work on digitizing and redesigning the art for The Longest Noodle. (Because the The Littlest Pumpkin, The Longest Noodle, and The Blue Balloon contain multiple large foldout pages, these books were not able to be resized for in-house IGEN® production.)

Due to work on higher-priority projects and the discovery of a "work around" for the deteriorating film art, as well as time required to fit test runs into a busy Production schedule, a decision was made to suspend work on the art digitizing/modernization of the On the Way to Literacy series in FY 2013. Nevertheless, a spreadsheet was developed specifying each of the 15 steps in the redesign and testing process with space to record target dates and progress for each of the 18 titles.

In late 2014, work began again on the project. The progress spreadsheet was used to track progress as files were updated, given to Production for test runs and embossings, and returned for approvals and modifications. Two books (That’s Not My Bear and Giggly Wiggly) were tested again on the IGEN® and test embossed. The Emergent Literacy Project Leader and Braille Literacy Project Leader examined the braille but did not approve. Improved braille was produced and approved after a second test embossing using the requested paper stock. Alignment of the print and braille text was also checked and approved. Files for both books were ready to be posted to the Production server, requiring only that the graphic designer receive from Production information about the numbering and file setup for IGEN® production; this was delayed by negotiations related to the new IGEN® contract.

Following negotiation of the IGEN® contract, Production supplied the necessary information for file numbering so that work could proceed. The new graphic designer was acquainted with the project, status of each book, and located the previous graphic designer’s files. He was provided with templates to guide layout of print and braille interlined text. He numbered the modernized files for Giggly Wiggly and That’s Not My Bear according to the system preferred by Production and posted them to the Large Type server for Production’s use. Specifications for both books were provided to Production in January 2015. At that time, the possibility of in-house production of the books containing large foldout pages (too large for IGEN® production) was revisited. A sample was requested.

Then, in early 2015, the final decision was made to update all 18 titles to UEB. The project leader conducted an examination of all books to assess impact on each book’s layout of text and graphics. Steps for UEB translation and production of new UEB braille plates were added to the progress spreadsheet. Beginning with the next book to be modernized, UEB changes are ongoing. Books already modernized will receive UEB updates later.

Modernized files (completed before the decision to move to UEB compliant) for Jennifer’s Messes and Something Special had been completed by the previous graphic designer. Braille alignment needed to be checked. The art also needed crop marks and correction of a card insert and punctuation sign. The current graphic designer made these changes. The books were test printed, test embossed, and approved for placement on the Large Type server.

Work began on the next title to be modernized, Geraldine’s Blanket. A UEB translation was made, checked, and approved. New braille plates were made. The print text with appropriate line breaks was given to the graphic designer with a graphic design job ticket and copy of the original book. The graphic designer and project leader met with InGrid Design about modernizing the print background art and fonts for the book.

Work during FY 2016

This year modernized digital files for Something Special and Jennifer’s Messes were posted to the Large Type server for Production’s use, and final specifications for both books were turned over to Production. The new digitized and redesigned print art files have now been used to produce Giggly Wiggly, That’s Not My Bear, and Something Special.

Final digitized and redesigned art files for Geraldine’s Blanket were completed, tested on the IGEN®, and approved. New plates bearing the UEB braille are ready, and specifications are nearly complete. The file is posted to the Large Type server and is ready for Production to use.

As another significant improvement to this series of books, the project leader has advocated updating the tactile illustrations in some books to include collage style illustrations with a variety of textures. Research published recently confirms the effectiveness of this type of illustration. This year, Craig Meador, APH President and other in-house staff supported an initiative to redesign The Caterpillar, an On the Way to Literacy book written by Josephine Stratton (1991), to create a briefer text and illustrations utilizing textures with multisensory and interactive elements.

The project leader selected the book to pilot this much more extensive redesign, mocked up two possible devices for creating a moving caterpillar and butterfly, and rewrote the text to be shorter with an altered ending.

As a means of increasing the speed of development, upper management urged use of a workshop approach to development of The Caterpillar. The goal of the workshop was to gather design and construction ideas from a small group of graphic designers, artists, TVIs, and other in-house staff by providing them with materials to construct rough mockups of the book, utilizing, as much as possible, materials already used and tested in other APH products.

In preparation for the workshop, the project leader laid out UEB and print text and drew up actual size templates group members could use to sketch or mockup tactile/visual illustrations for the book. Production staff worked to provide six sample binders of a wide range of materials used in other APH products to display at the workshop. The project leader also reviewed existing APH products to add to the list of available materials for tactile book creation. In addition, the project leader purchased generic materials to be used in the workshop, carefully selecting items that might be useful given the elements of the story being illustrated—grass, leaves, sidewalk texture, caterpillar, butterfly—and would be available for purchase in limited quantities from multiple sources. Before the workshop the project leader corresponded with participants regarding the purpose of the workshop. She provided them with excerpts from Tactile Book Builder: Guide to Designing Tactile Books to acquaint them with design guidelines for collage illustrations, layout for the story text, and links to view collage style tactile books produced by Les Doigts Qui Rêvent (LDQR).

The day-long workshop was held at the end of March and included InGrid designer (Emily Crawford), a local artist working with students at Kentucky School for the Blind Michelle Amos), APH graphic designer (Anthony Jones), Director of Technical & Manufacturing Research (Frank Hayden) and the CVI Project Leader (Susan Sullivan). The sample binders of APH materials and a variety of collage style books produced by LDQR. Approved color combinations providing optimal contrast were posted. Utilizing the tables of materials provided by the project leader, templates, scissors, and glue, group members created mockups the book. They were encouraged to collaborate or work individually, as they chose. The Emergent Literacy Project Leader and Director of Technical & Manufacturing Research were available to answer questions and offer assistance.

Work tables set up for the tactile book workshop on APH’s 4th floor

One of several tables of materials at the workshop provided for creating mockups of The Caterpillar

The day following the workshop, the Emergent Literacy Project Leader met with the Early Childhood Project Leader (Dawn Wilkinson) to review all versions created by the workshop members and to solicit her input. As a tactile learner, her feedback was highly important. The in-house staff who had attended the workshop then met with Wilkinson and discussed the mockups made. The Emergent Literacy Project Leader then worked to synthesize all input into a single storyboard to guide InGrid in creating print art for a prototype of The Caterpillar. She provided a sample of print art from an LDQR book as a guide and print art for the entire book was received within a few days.

The project leader prototyped all of the book’s tactile illustrations, and in combination with the print art, turned these over to Production staff for further input on 4/8. This was received and incorporated. The project leader continued experimentation with construction of tactile elements, particularly for the caterpillar, and timed hand labor involved. Hayden provided a detailed and extensive cost estimate. In-house staff met, reviewed the mockups of all pages and cost estimate, and decided to pursue development.

The first page of the redesigned book, The Caterpillar, shows tufts of grass (tactile) and a leaf (tactile) hiding the caterpillar.

A tactile caterpillar slides along a clear elastic string across the child’s feet, shown using shapes cut from craft foam positioned as if seen from an overhead perspective.

Three subsequent Product Development Committee (PDC) meetings were held, including Production staff, Technical Research staff, and model maker Katherine Corcoran. Topics addressed included safety testing, paper stock to be used, available tools and in-house processes, binding methods, purchase and ordering of materials needed for prototype fabrication, and creation of needed thermoform patterns ("brick wall," "wooden fence," "sidewalk"). Production voiced the need for a new paper stock, less subject to marking than the paper stock already used for many books. A new stock, compatible with IGEN® was found, ordered, test printed and embossed, and approved. Print art was finalized according to instructions given to InGrid by the project leader. All thermoform patterns were completed. Dies were made for the applique pieces in the tactile illustrations.

In the last PDC meeting it was decided, after asking input from Production, that the caterpillar component be made out of house. The project leader and Hayden have met with an organization that is able to perform this job.

Work planned for FY 2017

Ten prototypes will be completed and placed for field evaluation with teachers and parents able to use the book with children ages 3 to 5 years or children who function within the target age range but are not more than 8 years of age. Students will be tactual learners or combination tactual/visual learners without severe additional disabilities. Results will be analyzed and revisions made. Final specifications will be written and given to Production for a first run in 2017.

A second title will be chosen from the On the Way to Literacy series to receive major modifications to the tactile illustrations and text. The workshop approach will be used, involving in-house staff, outside expertise, inclusive of individuals with visual impairment so that designs for tactile and visual illustrations are suggested and shared among the multiple audiences who use these types of books.

Bright Shapes Knob Puzzles

(Completed)

Purpose

To assist preschool children with Visual Impairments and motor delays in developing fine motor skills, eye/hand coordination, as well as shape, color, and pattern recognition

Project Staff

Background

This product submission came to the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) from Kristie Reitz of Pennsylvania and was presented to the Product Evaluation Team in September 2014. The submission form stated that based on comments expressed by multiple therapists, there was a need for shapes similar to those already sold in the materials kits for the light box, but with handles and thicker, rearrangeable frames. This would allow children with fine motor development delays to grasp the shapes easily and provide for easier insertions into the frames. A Product Development Committee meeting was facilitated by the Early Childhood Project Leader on September 22, 2014, to discuss this product as a result of a need for more information. Attendees included project leaders in the areas of Multiple Disabilities, CVI, Low Vision, and others. The group discussed similar product submissions for such puzzles in the past and came to the conclusion that there is a definitive need for this product. Various attributes of the puzzles were discussed including the thickness of the shapes, knob design, and so forth. Technical Research agreed that we would be able to use many existing pieces, (e.g., the acrylic shapes from the light box kits, handles from existing peg boards, and foam that is already in stock for the frames).

Mock-ups of pieces in the Bright Shapes Knob Puzzles were made by the Model Shop so the idea could be discussed at an early childhood input session during the 2014 APH Annual Meeting. Attendees were shown two possibilities for handles, one cylindrical and one square-like. The participants unanimously chose the cylindrical handle and affirmed that this design would be easiest for small hands. The product was then presented to the Product Advisory and Review Committee on November 20, 2014, and moved into active development. The target audience for the Bright Shapes Knob Puzzles includes therapists, early interventionists, parents, and teachers of the visually impaired.

The first prototypes of the interlocking foam frames were completed in February 2015. After it was realized that the circle acrylic shape could fit into the square frame, and vice versa, the project leader consulted with Technical Research and asked that the smaller acrylic square be incorporated into the kit. This required new tooling, die cutting of the frame, a new part number, and new quotes from the vendor.

The project leader completed a simple "getting started" text for the product. The Model Shop worked to complete 10 kits for field testing. A request for field evaluators was posted in the August 2015 APH News. The APH Field Tester Database was also searched.

Work during FY 2016

Front cover of Bright Shapes Knob Puzzles guidebook

Field testing of the Bright Shapes Knob Puzzles began in mid-September 2015 and continued through October 30. Eleven educators were selected from 10 states: New York, California (2), Hawaii, Texas, Michigan, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Oregon, with all evaluators having an APH Light Box. All of the evaluators were teachers of the visually impaired, eight of whom were early interventionists, and one of whom was a certified occupational therapist.

Background of Students (37 Total)

The survey consisted of approximately 20 questions requiring several open-ended responses and comments. The amount of explanation and feedback received was outstanding, but developing a concise chart for summation was very difficult. Some of the feedback we received about the puzzles follows:

One common suggestion addressed by approximately 60% of field evaluators was a need to keep the foam frames and pieces from sliding. Four of the field evaluators also had concerns about the durability of the foam pieces. The color of the red knob was pointed out as not matching the red piece and/or appearing as black.

Ten of the 11 testers said that the Bright Shapes Knob puzzles were "a much needed addition" to other light box materials. The one person who did not wrote the following: ". . . the foam pieces need to be thick or sized better. In which case I feel they would better compliment activities."

All (100%) of respondents said their students preferred using the puzzles in conjunction with the light box rather than alone.

When asked to rate the demand for the product on a 5-point scale, with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest, 73% of respondents responded with a "5"; 36% responded with a "4."

Revisions to the Bright Shapes Knob Puzzles began in January 2016 to address these issues. A rubber backing was added to the foam pieces that served to not only provide a nonslip backing, but also to enhance the thickness and durability of the foam. An existing red peg, from which the knobs are made, was halved and sent to the vendor to keep for comparison with the other half, which will remain at APH to ensure that the color stays correct.

Photos were taken for the Bright Shapes Knob Puzzle Quick Start, and braille translation was completed. Quota approval was received for the Bright Shapes Knob Puzzles in May 2016. All tooling was completed, and a final specifications meeting was held on June 15, 2016.

Work planned for FY 2017

The projected for sale date is October 2016, so no further work is planned for this project.

Early Childhood Needs

(Ongoing)

Purpose

To research and develop educational materials that meet the needs of early interventionists, teachers, and parents, which address the diverse needs of children birth to six years with visual impairments

Project Staff

Background

Product development in the area of early childhood has continually been a focus of the Research Department. Various project leaders have sought input from the field to develop products that meet the needs of early childhood across the curriculum. Dawn Wilkinson assumed the Early Childhood Project Leader position in March 2014.

Work during FY 2016

The project leader continued to manage the early childhood projects currently under development and review new product submissions, conduct needs and feedback surveys, and so forth. The project leader continued to represent APH at multiple events and network with Ex Officio Trustees, teachers, early interventionists, and parents.

Work planned for FY 2017

Investigation and development of new products for early childhood will continue, along with modernization of existing products. The project leader will collaborate with experts in the field, conduct literature reviews, and present to/attend conferences in order to determine appropriate educational products and materials to address best practices in the area of early childhood and visual impairment.

Emergent Numeracy Kit For Preschool

(Continued)

Purpose

To determine major needs areas in emergent numeracy for young children with visual impairments, and to develop a kit to be used by early interventionists and preschool teachers

Project Staff

Background

During the past few years, there has been a continual focus in many journal publications concerning teaching emergent numeracy concepts to very young children. There is evidence that combining math and literacy through the use of picture books in a meaningful situation can increase a young child’s understanding of numbers in the real world setting. Since a great deal of research has focused on storybooks that are picture based and use math manipulatives that are color dependent, it is in the best interest of young children with visual impairments that these materials be adapted accordingly. The development of an early childhood numeracy product was subsequently ranked as a very high priority by the Early Childhood Focus Group held at APH in 2012.

On May 30, 2013, APH received a product submission idea form from Christine Moe, a teacher of the visually impaired, suggesting a product that would include a storybook and manipulative to teach specific early numeracy skills to toddlers/preschoolers with visual impairments. This product idea was taken to the Product Advisory and Review Committed on January 9, 2014, by Kate Herndon and moved into active development.

The project leader gathered relevant journal articles addressing best practices in early numeracy. Research included a comparison of the development of numeracy skills by children with and without vision. Top selling commercially available math manipulatives were evaluated for their usefulness and adaptability for children with visual impairments. Popular storybooks addressing math concepts were considered for relevance in this kit. Suggestions were sought from the field concerning teaching beginning numeracy skills to preschoolers. Numerous possibilities of components to be included in the kit were discussed.

In 2015, project staff determined that the areas needing to be addressed encompassed such a wide range of skills that multiple kits would be required. At that time, the project leaders decided to develop from three to five kits with books, based on the five domains of the Common Core State Standards for math that are addressed in kindergarten. These include counting and cardinality, operations and algebraic thinking, number operations, measurement and data, and geometry. Since there are not Common Core standards nationally for preschool, the project leaders compared these domains addressed in kindergarten to several sets of Early Childhood and Pre-K standards from numerous states, determining this to be the most logical approach. Lists of the most popular books taught in general education classrooms were evaluated and the first book was chosen: Five Little Speckled Frogs. The first meeting was held with Technical Research in late January 2015 to discuss the multiple components of the kit for Five Little Speckled Frogs. This first kit will include a print/braille book with some tactile graphics, a storyboard with manipulatives and number tiles, frog and dragonfly manipulatives, and a short teacher guide. Materials were sought to make the manipulatives for the prototypes of Five Little Speckled Frogs, but work on this project was slowed by other priorities.

Work during FY 2016

Meetings were held to review the prototypes of the 25 frogs and log needed for the Five Little Speckled Frogs book and storyboard. The jumping frogs were remade because they appeared too elongated. The manufacturing process for the log was determined, and 10 prototypes were started to be developed for field evaluators.

The project leaders submitted permission requests to publishers for adaptations of two other books for the next kits in the Emergent Numeracy series. One book request was declined, but the second book submitted is expected to be approved by the publisher.

Work planned for FY 2017

project staff will work to complete the following tasks:

Fingers That Dream
Formerly Tactile Books/International Collection

(Continued)

Logo of Les Doigts Qui Rêvent, French tactile book publisher

Purpose

To collaborate in order to provide high-quality tactile illustrated books with print/braille text to support the emergent literacy skills of young students with visual impairments and to join the efforts of Les Doigts Qui Rêvent (LDQR) and other organizations in sharing information leading to improved quality and production of tactile books

Project Staff

Photo of the cover of the French version of Little Paths, by Catherine Colin, published by LDQR

Background

Philippe Claudet, director of LDQR, has been in communication with the project leader since 2005. The LDQR workshop, located in Dijon, France, has produced more than 40,000 tactile illustrated books in multiple languages since its establishment in 1994. Claudet, a French TVI, presented at APH (2011), Getting in Touch with Literacy (2011), with the Emergent Literacy Project Leader at the international conference of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (2014), and the Western Regional Early Intervention Conference (2015). APH staff and conference participants have commented on the high quality of the books’ construction, quality of the braille, and use of varied materials with rich textures that invite and encourage tactile exploration.

Highly textured books meet a need identified by the Early Books Focus Group (2004) and Meeting of the Minds (2011) for books with diverse textures—"something besides raised line drawings and thermoforms." The method of tactile illustration used in LDQR’s books (most are collage style), the size, and binding of the books differs from most APH tactile storybooks, meeting a request from the Early Books Focus Group (2007) for a greater variety of types of early books for children who are tactual learners.

After gathering input from in-house staff and others, Little Breath of Wind was chosen as the first book that APH would seek to purchase from LDQR, translate, and distribute. A product submission form for Little Breath of Wind was completed; it was approved by the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC) as a "pass through" product. In-house, decisions were made about preferred labeling and packaging methods, the need for safety testing, and issues related to shipping and passage through Customs. Claudet contacted Intertek, an international testing agency recommended by APH, to conduct all necessary safety tests. APH’s Purchasing staff negotiated purchase and terms of delivery with LDQR. The book’s text was translated into English and a braille file given to LDQR by the project leader. Permission to distribute the book as a Quota item was sought and received. All standard U.S. safety tests were passed. In March 2013, the first shipment of 250 copies arrived at APH’s docks, labeled, shrink-wrapped, and ready to ship to customers. The second shipment of 250 arrived in May. By the end of September 2013, all 500 copies had been sold.

Based on the successful purchase and rapid sales of the first book, as well as positive feedback from teachers and APH Ex Officio Trustees, it was recommended that a second book be purchased from LDQR for distribution on Quota. The Emergent Literacy Project Leader reviewed copies of many LDQR books to identify those best meeting needs identified by previous focus groups and consultants. She consulted with Claudet about the expense of producing each before selecting 14 books to submit to in-house staff and staff of the Building on Patterns PreK project to obtain their recommendations. Chameleon, a board book written by Antje Sellig, was chosen, featuring collage-style illustrations of a chameleon shape illustrating opposites: soft/hard, rough/smooth, long/short, light/heavy, on/under, one/many, big/little. It was recommended the book be provided in contracted braille.

Approval to begin negotiations to purchase 500 copies of Chameleon began. The project leader again provided LDQR with an English translation and Unified English Braille (UEB) text. Intertek conducted all necessary safety tests at significantly reduced cost since LDQR had identified a way to group materials. The project leader maintained contact with LDQR and communicated with APH’s Purchasing Department concerning progress. Production of Chameleon began in January 2015. In April, the first shipment of 250 books was delivered to APH. These sold quickly. The second shipment of 250 was requested, arrived in early August, and also sold quickly.

During this time, a number of additional promising books for tactile adaptation have been shared and reviewed by APH and LDQR staff. Among these, the project leader reviewed and suggested tactile illustrations for an adaptation of Press Here, a popular book for sighted preschoolers and recent New York Times bestseller written by Hervé Tullet. The print book was shared with the Braille Literacy Project Leader, who agreed the book held potential for tactile adaptation. Along with suggestions made by the Emergent Literacy Project Leader, two additional professionals suggested tactile adaptations for the book. LDQR obtained permission from the author and original publisher Bayard (French) to adapt the book. LDQR provided a prototype based on joint discussions, and the project leader approved the prototype and completed English translation of the French adapted text.

During this time, the project leader has continued to communicate with LDQR about topics related to research underway overseas regarding tactual learning and tactile illustration. She was invited to analyze a tactile book submitted by South Korea along with colleagues from Italy, France, and Germany and participated in the peer review of articles for the 4th issue of Terra Haptica, a journal on tactual learning published by LDQR.

On a related, though separate topic, APH’s sponsorship of U.S. involvement in the 2011 and 2013 Typhlo & Tactus (T&T) tactile book competition was repeated in 2015. T&T was established to increase the quality and number of tactile illustrated books available to blind children in its eight member countries. The project leader worked with Public Relations staff to publicize the contest and correspond with entrants. Judging of U.S. entries sent to APH took place in September 2015.

Work during FY 2016

Purchases of four titles from LDQR were successfully negotiated this year: the repurchase of a previous book (Little Breath of Wind) and three new titles (Little Paths, Bear Hunt, Six Little Dots). The project leader worked to guide selection of the books, provide English translations and contracted UEB texts, select substitute materials where needed, comment and shape design of the books, and act as additional support for APH staff in obtaining quotes, resolving problems, following progress of safety tests, and subsequent costing and advertising of the books.

Although APH was prepared to purchase the popular commercially available children’s book, Press Here, the rights to sell the tactile adaptation in the U.S. were withheld by Chronicle Books. Chronicle holds the U.S. distribution rights for the print book. French law is more favorable in permitting tactile adaptation; so even though LDQR’s French version is now available, APH cannot purchase and distribute the book in English. In its place, the project leader proposed a recent title produced by LDQR, Little Paths, by Catherine Colin. A very simple text tells the story of the "paths of life," which are sometimes soft, rough, winding, full of holes, climb mountains through snow, or travel across grassy meadows—ideal for promoting tracking skills and encouraging texture discrimination. PARC approved a request for quotes in several quantities. The U.S. requirement that a full complement of safety tests be repeated on older materials delayed quoting and production by several months. However, retests were successful and 600 copies were ordered and have been delivered in two shipments, the first 300 copies arriving in August.

Photo of two pages in the French version of Little Paths, by Catherine Colin, published by LDQR. Against a black background, a light blue path of paper branches, leading in different directions. The English text reads: There are paths of chance and choices. The opposite page shows a red heavily textured fabric shaped in a parial. The English translation reads: There are paths that lead nowhere.

In addition to purchase of Little Paths, an informal written poll of Ex Officio Trustees at the 2015 Annual Meeting indicated many would like APH to repurchase copies of Little Breath of Wind and Chameleon. Little Breath of Wind has been purchased again, will be produced in contracted UEB, and will be available later in 2017.

The author of Chameleon, however, demanded a significantly higher payment from LDQR for the second run of this book (10% of APH’s previous selling price), in place of LDQR’s standard, flat fee agreed to in their initial contract. LDQR declined her terms and will not produce the book again.

In place of Chameleon, two other titles have been selected and approved for purchase. Bear Hunt (La Chasse á l’Ours) is LDQR’s award-winning adaptation of the classic children’s chant. It is a collage style book with moving interactive pieces and diverse textures. In 2016, the International Bologna Children’s Book Fair, the largest of its kind, established a new award category: books about a character with a disability or books accessible to children with a disability. LDQR’s (Bear Hunt) was one of five books awarded in this category and the only awarded book in an accessible format. Although LDQR’s text closely follows Michael Rosen’s version of the original, much older children’s chant (permitted by French copyright law) the text of the APH version was written to avoid similarities and the possibility copyright permission might be withheld. Delivery of Bear Hunt is planned for fall of 2017.

Photo of a page from Bear Hunt that shows a sliding piece, threaded on string, that crosses the page; it represents the character traveling through tall grass in pursuit of the bear. Finely cut strips stand up from the page to form the tall grass.

Photo of the sliding piece, threaded on a string that crosses the representing the character traveling through the trunks of trees, shown by wooden dowels. A colorful, high contrast background shows additional trees in the forest.

Photo of the page in Bear Hunt showing a reader examining the bear, who is shown with fur. The reader lifts a furry flap—the bear’s mouth, to show a row of sharp teeth inside.

The fourth title purchased this year, Six Little Dots, by Philippe Claudet, was recently produced by LDQR in French. The project leader has translated it to rhyme in English. It features the six dots of a braille cell as characters, each having a different location within the braille cell and a different texture. It has been purchased and will also be delivered in 2017. At the end of the story, a rotating wheel with a window can be turned to show each "little Dot" and asks the reader—"Which Little Dot am I?"

In addition to these titles, the project leader continues to communicate with LDQR about commercially available titles each discovers and discuss possible tactile adaptations. The project leader has provided an English translation of a holiday Christmas story. Adaptation of The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson, and of Dans la Cour de l’ Ècole (In the Schoolyard) have been explored. An initial prototype of another commercially available book, Four Corners of Nothing, by Jerome Ruillier, has been made by LDQR based on collaboration between the project leader and LDQR staff.

In addition, the T&T tactile book competition serves as a rich source of ideas for highly appropriate books. In November 2015, the U.S. entry in the international level of the T&T competition was sent to Italy. A few months later, the project leader was able to view photos and many examples of all 55 entries. Five or six of these are under consideration for further development as LDQR and APH realize the value of sharing books, design ideas, and experience.

FirstTouch Books

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop read-aloud, tactile illustrated books with interactive features that support the development of emergent literacy skills for students birth to 3 years

Project Staff

Photo of the cover of the prototype for the board book, Holy Moly!, showing a center die-cut hole that identifies the book for tactual learners; colorful circles form the cover art for visual learners.

Background

Children take their first steps toward learning to read and write early in life. Reading aloud to a child, from infancy onward, has been cited as a key contributor to later success in learning to read. Early, positive experiences with books motivate children to become readers. Oral language skills, listening skills, and vocabulary are built as the adult reader and young child share a book and talk about its words and illustrations and relate these to the child’s own experiences. Early experiences with books provide opportunities to encounter written words and to learn book-handling skills. Young children who will read braille, however, face a limited selection of books in braille, particularly print/braille books that enable a typically sighted adult to read aloud to the child. Even fewer books contain tactile illustrations, capable of adding interest and meaning to the words of a story. APH and other braille publishers have worked to expand the availability of print/braille books. APH’s On the Way to Literacy books for children, ages 3 to 5 years, and the Moving Ahead Tactile Graphic Storybooks for ages 4 to 6 offer print/braille texts and tactile illustrations designed to introduce children to a range of types of tactile displays. Given the importance of books for young children who will read braille, APH continues to make strong efforts to poll the field to determine current needs and to seek help in prioritizing these needs. In an online survey, 140 of 156 respondents ranked very simple, early books for birth to 3 years as a high need. This need was also noted by focus groups.

The objectives for books for this target audience were defined in detail. The project leader examined current offerings of braille producers to determine what was already available in print/braille for children from birth to age 3. She searched commercially-available print books to identify titles that might be adapted, seeking books with high quality language that would lend themselves to the addition of simple tactile, interactive, or other multisensory components. Hundreds of books found through a wide variety of sources were considered. In addition, designs for a variety of kinds of tactile interactive components were considered and reviewed by in-house staff regarding their feasibility for mass production.

This information was submitted to two consultants with combined experience in teaching and in research regarding emergent literacy for children with visual impairments. The resulting recommendation was that APH develop both types of books for students ages birth to 3 years: adaptations of high-quality, commercially-available books with tactile components added by APH, and APH-created books with simple texts written to support meaningful tactile, interactive components.

The combined efforts of the project leader and consultants to locate a print book that would be excellent, once adapted, for children birth to 3 years were not initially successful. The project leader continues to monitor commercially-available print books for the birth-to-3 age group that could be adapted.

For books in the FirstTouch series, it was proposed that books be developed one at a time. The series will eventually include adaptations of commercially-available books, as suitable ones are discovered, as well as original books. The proposed project received the approval of the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee and was removed from the "PARCing Lot" in late spring of 2009. In June, the first Product Development Committee brainstorming meeting was held. A number of good ideas regarding book construction were received. Individuals, including both parents and teachers, were encouraged to submit ideas and original drafts. As a result, four promising drafts and sketches or descriptions of accompanying tactile, interactive components were obtained.

These were submitted to the project consultant for a detailed review, including a rating of each draft and ranking of their suitability for the target audience. Two drafts were rated "excellent" as candidates for further development. The draft ranked first, Holy Moly, was roughly laid out in electronic form by the project leader, including dimensions, materials, and tactile as well as visual illustrations. This file was sent to several current and past consultants for a preliminary, informal review and was examined by in-house staff regarding production methods that might be used.

The book includes a rhyming text and features textures, flaps to open, and die-cut holes on each page to be explored, counted, and compared. The braille text is embossed on clear labels applied over the print page. Brightly colored very simple background patterns form the print art. The large print text contrasts with the background colors and is in a san serif font.

Photo of pages featuring colorful liftable flaps for the child to manipulate. Under one flap, there is a hole to discover; the other flaps hide scented stickers. The text reads: Holy moly! Here's a secret. There's a hole but you can't see it. Shh—Over on the other side, find the hole that likes to hide.

Various production methods for board books were examined and priced. Methods and materials for all of the book’s tactile interactive components were determined and priced; relevant safety standards were investigated to ensure compliance. The text and all tactile interactive components for the book were finalized. The braille tooling for the book has been completed. The project leader provided the graphic designer with the files and information needed to work on the book’s art.

The book was given out for bids, and a vendor was selected. The vendor agreed to provide the prototypes for the field evaluation. The graphic designer was given what was needed to produce print art files.

The braille files for the book were completed; the book is compliant with Unified English Braille (UEB). The graphic designer completed work on print art files. The textures, scented stickers, and cord for the book were selected. Field evaluation sites were sought and contacted. A questionnaire for the books was designed. Problems in obtaining all requested prototypes from the vendor and the winter holiday delayed the start of field evaluation by several months.

Field evaluation began in January, and completed forms were due by March 31; additional time was offered as needed, and all forms were received by end of April. Participating teachers were mailed the book, a general questionnaire and child information forms soliciting each student’s reactions to the book (level of interest, mode of exploration, level of prompts used as the book was read) and other student background information. In addition, a parent/caregiver form was provided to collect the parents’ observations regarding their child’s use of the book. Teachers were encouraged to leave the book in the home, when possible, for parents and caregivers to read to the child. Video footage was requested, if possible, of the first and second readings of the book.

Teacher evaluators were asked to read the book a minimum of 2 to 3 times with each student meeting the following criteria:

The book was used by 13 TVIs and 16 parents with 27 students, aged 10 months to 5 years (chronological age). Video footage was requested; videos of 11 students were submitted. For three students, videos of the first and second reading were returned.

Data collected from the Child Information Sheet shows that 15 female students and 12 male students took part. Their ages were distributed as follows:

Teachers rated students’ interest from low (0=no interest) to high (3=very interested). Five students were rated "1" (19%). Seventeen students were rated "2" (63%); 5 students were rated "3" (19%).

In terms of interest as a function of gender, male students averaged a rating of 2.2 and females an average of 1.9. A possible mitigating factor in this difference is the fact that the 7 of the 12 youngest students in the evaluation were female, and all 5 of the youngest students were females.

Yet interest did not appear to be age-related in this small sample whose distribution was weighted in favor of children from 18 to 42 months. Of the students rated "3" or "very interested"—ages varied: 10 months, 24 months, and 36 months. (There was one student rated as very interested for whom a birthdate was not given). Similarly, for students rated a "1" ("not very interested")—ages also ranged widely: 20 months, 24 months, 36 months, and 60 months.

Teachers were asked to indicate how each child explored the book. Overall, 4 of the 27 students explored "only tactually," 10 explored "primarily tactually," 9 explored "equally tactually and visually," and 4 explored "primarily visually." Analyzing students’ interest in the book as a function of mode of exploration, of students rated "very interested," 2 were primarily tactual learners, 2 explored equally tactually and visually, and 1 student was primarily visual in his exploration. Of students rated "not very interested," 1 student was only tactual, 2 students were primarily tactual, 1 student was equally tactual and visual in his exploration, and 1 was primarily visual. These results and observation of student videos inclined the project leader to believe the book may have been slightly less engaging for strong tactual learners. In addition, some of the teachers expressed the opinion that more textures were needed.

It was noted that only 9 of the 27 students received more than one reading of the book, less than the requested minimum of 2 readings. And it appears that many students receiving 2 or more readings were rated as having higher interest in the book. For several students, teachers commented that the child became more interested by the book after the first or second readings. This was observed in the videos of one student, for whom the teacher supplied videos of an initial and a later reading. In previous evaluations of other tactile books, teacher evaluators have also made this observation: Interest appears to increase over several readings. However, it is also possible that some students received more readings because they requested/accepted additional readings, and that teachers did not repeat readings if a student was initially uninterested.

Parents answered similar questions about their child’s apparent interest in the book and mode of exploration. Their answers largely agreed with answers given by teachers on the teacher version of the Child Information Sheet. Separate analyses of parent answers are not provided here with the exception of two students, for whom only the parent version of the Child Information Sheet was returned.

Additional teacher input was collected via the Teacher Questionnaire, which asked the teacher to comment based not only on the current student(s) with whom he/she had used the book but on other students in the target audience with whom she/he had had experience.

Asked if the text was "interesting and appropriate" for children meeting the criteria set out for the field evaluation, 10 of 13 (77%) teachers responded "yes." Comments included the following:

Two evaluators indicated the text was "too long…babies want to move to the next page" and that "young toddlers" might not be ready for the book. A third evaluator indicated the text was not appropriate because children were directed to "see" but that otherwise, text was appropriate.

Ten of the teachers (77%) responded that the tactile/visual illustrations were "interesting and appropriate" for this population. Comments included the following:

Several evaluators indicated that depending on the child's visual diagnosis, colors could be "more stimulating." In addition, a longer cord was requested for the page that features lacing; however safety standards restrict the length to what was provided.

Construction of the book was approved of by all evaluators, who indicated the book's pages were easily turned and the book was durable. Two were concerned that flaps might be eventually torn.

Videos showed wide variation in how adults shared the book: length of time taken to read and explore the book, whether interactions surrounding the book were playful or "educational" in nature, and the extent to which the adult reader followed the child's lead or imposed a pace set by the adult. Videos showed the children covered a wide spectrum from being highly engaged and capably handling the book, to limited engagement and awareness of the activity. In some cases, environment may have contributed: background noises were noticeably distracting in two videos, and the child was engaged in drinking while being read to, but appeared to need this to settle in the adult’s lap.

Based on the field evaluation, the following revisions were planned and are being implemented: increasing contrast in indicated areas, adding texture to the spiral on page 1, and devising reinforcement for flaps. A brief "Read Aloud Tips" will be added emphasizing the reading should be fun and fitted to the child's attention span and level of interest. The target audience for the book will be defined as being for toddlers and preschoolers through age 3 years (developmental age).

Prototype for the book's opening pages shows large print text, interlined braille text, and what will be a softly textured arrow/path to track to reach the large die-cut hole in the center of the right-hand page. The text reads: Holy moly! What is this? Here's a hole you cannot miss!

In 2015, work also began to select the second book to develop as part of the FirstTouch series. Several commercially available books and public domain rhymes were discussed for possible adaptation, along with the book ranked second by project consultants who ranked Holy Moly first for development.

Work during FY 2016

Revisions to Holy Moly were completed, including the addition of a soft, textured spiral path as recommended by field evaluators. A die for the piece was made. Near final specifications were written and given to the printer to obtain a final quote. It was agreed the printer will receive braille labels and materials from APH (textured material, scented stickers) and will print, assemble, and add braille labels to the book after printing.

Work planned for FY 2017

Final specifications will be completed and turned over to Production. Braille labels and textured materials needed will be given to the printer. The book will be printed, assembled, tactile components glued or attached, and braille labels applied by the printer. In-house staff will monitor work at the printer as the book is produced, supplying a correctly assembled version to act as a guide. Holy Moly will be produced, costed, and made available for purchase.

Selection of the second book in this series will occur and development will begin using the workshop model piloted to redesign The Caterpillar. (For a description of this approach, see the report provided for Art Digitizing/Modernizing of On the Way to Literacy Storybooks.)

Laptime and Lullabies

(Continued)

Purpose

Based on current literature and research in emergent literacy, Laptime and Lullabies (formerly Focus on Fingers Kit) is designed to assist family members, caregivers, and early educators in their quest to prepare infants and young children who are blind or visually impaired and may have additional special needs to enjoy tactile learning and literacy.

Project Staff

Background

A review of current literature and research on braille literacy reveals a growing body of information to guide our profession in meeting the braille literacy needs of young children and those with multiple disabilities. Present emergent braille literacy materials include lists of early critical skills areas (McComiskey, 1996) and "how-to" chapters and books for teachers of children who are visually impaired (Olsen, 1981; Wright & Stratton, 2007) with a primary focus on early braille reading and writing instruction for children ages 3-5. Strikingly absent are family-friendly materials that promote an overall parental understanding of the earliest skills necessary for tactile learning and literacy, while offering practical, engaging activities that parents may implement at home and with their infants and young children to support these skills. Laptime and Lullabies is an innovative, initial attempt to meet this need.

Clarke states, "It is well known that literacy begins at birth. In contrast to prior products, Laptime and Lullabies (Focus on Fingers: Preparing Little Hands to Enjoy Tactile Learning and Literacy) addresses the earliest stages of tactile learning and literacy in a family-centered and developmentally-appropriate way, empowering families to play an active role in the beginning steps of their children’s tactile learning and literacy. Laptime and Lullabies additionally reflects a shift from traditional thinking about emergent braille literacy as ‘learning ABCs’ to a broader, research-based viewpoint that acknowledges the importance of a variety of early experiences that subsequently may contribute to competent, motivated braille readers and writers." Laptime and Lullabies has the potential to make a significant difference for young blind or visually impaired children learning braille literacy.

The key is enjoyment! Young learners should have fun as they learn. Functional activities and literacy experiences that are developmentally appropriate and highly engaging best describe this product.

Clarke submitted this product idea to APH for consideration in FY 2010. The Product Evaluation Team recommended this product to the Product Advisory and Review Committee, which approved this product idea for development by APH. The author signed a contract allowing APH to be the sole distributor of Laptime and Lullabies, and an initial timeline to complete the product was developed. In September 2011, the project staff met to discuss the product. They established more definite timelines and a work plan for the completion of the product.

During FY 2012, the author renamed her product Laptime and Lullabies. The new title better reflects the interactive nature of preparing infants, toddlers, and preschoolers for tactile learning and literacy. The author and project leader worked to have the product meet early childhood standards, braille literacy standards, and APH standards. The author submitted six initial storybook prototypes to APH staff and sought feedback on tactile and literacy components. In August 2012, the author presented the product to the Early Childhood Focus Group at APH. Because of the many tactile components of the storybooks in this kit, a significant amount of time will be needed by APH to ready it for field testing as well as production.

In FY 2013, the author worked to complete the handbook content and preliminary prototypes of the storybooks. The author visited APH in mid-August. During the visit, project staff worked to identify product components that are feasible for production by APH. The author has developed Literacy Fun Activity Cards for inclusion in the kit; these may take the place of some of the storybooks. Each storybook is labor intensive and will add greatly to the cost of the final product.

Boyer retired from APH in March 2014, and Wilkinson commenced as project leader for this project. The author worked to complete the handbook content and mock-ups of storybooks and activity cards in the product; she submitted completed files in August 2014. Project staff began edits to submitted materials and provided extensive feedback to the author. The project leader and author worked with Technical Research to determine how the tactile components can be produced best in the field testing stage, with consideration for what materials are possible in final production. It is likely that the storybooks will be bound in three-ring binders similar to storybooks in the On The Way to Literacy Series; however, the binder size will be smaller and more appropriate for very young children to handle. Technical Research began work to design prototypes for two of the kit storybooks, Butterflies and Little Fuzzy.

A prototype of the Little Fuzzy book was completed in early January 2015 and sent to the consultant for review. The project leader and Technical Research met to discuss feedback and make revisions. New materials were sent to the consultant to evaluate for use in the revised prototype. New mock-ups of the gate and door (which are objects in the storybook), and replacement possibilities for a sticky material all had to be obtained and designed by the Model Shop. The Model Shop also began work on the first prototype of Butterflies after decisions were made regarding materials for the butterflies. Specifications for the butterflies were given to graphic design to assist in the creation of this book. The binder option had to be changed, as the On The Way To Literacy binders are approximately $25 per binder as compared to the new binder used in Tactile Book Builder, which is approximately $5 but still gives a small 3-ring binder option as agreed upon.

The handbook was divided into small booklets that will be inserted into a large binder. Graphic Design completed over half of these booklets during 2015. A new timeline was established for completion of this project in order to field test in the Spring of 2016.

Work during FY 2016

Project staff completed a total of 18 booklets, which will compose the handbook set. The decision was made to include a booklet instead of bath time and bedtime cards to minimize labor and cost. The 18th booklet consists of reference citations. Five prototypes of the storybooks, Little Fuzzy and Butterflies were completed, along with five sets of the 18 saddle-stitched booklets. Field testers were selected using a request for field testers in the APH News and the early childhood electronic mailing lists, and via a search in the APH Field Tester Database. Field testing took place from April-June of 2016, with each of the five kits being shared with a second site during the second month of testing, for a total of 10 evaluators in five states. Prototypes were sent to Florida, New Mexico, Arkansas, Illinois, and Colorado.

Although the response/return rate was 70%, results were reported for a total of 39 children receiving early intervention services who used the kit. Responses were provided through SurveyMonkey® to an extensive questionnaire, with all questions requiring a response. Each storybook was analyzed separately, along with each booklet from the handbook, and the kit as a whole. A summation of field testing follows.

Demographics of Field Testers

None of the respondents had worked in the field of visual impairment for less than 5 years, and 57% of the respondents had worked 10 years or more. Two respondents were also parents of children with visual impairments.

Background of Students (39 Total)

Laptime and Lullabies was used with a total of 39 toddlers: 24 male (62%) male, 15 female (38%), between the ages of 8 to 36 months.

Of the 39 children, 26% of them were totally blind; 26% had CVI, and 59% had additional disabilities. Fifty-seven percent of the students were white, 28.5% were Hispanic, and another 28.5% were black.

Where’s Little Fuzzy Storybook

What was your overall impression of the text of Where’s Little Fuzzy?

The Where’s Little Fuzzy? Book was appealing:

Butterflies! Storybook

The butterflies were:

The kids found the text:

The Butterflies! book was appealing:

The kids found the text:

Did you find the net on the last page with the extra butterfly to be:

The butterfly finger puppet was:

Handbook Set:

Which of the following best describes your approach to using this collection of individually bound booklets?

Taking each of the sections into account separately, please rate each section on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 equals strongly dislike and 5 equals strongly like:

The Laptime and Lullabies Kit as a Whole:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being not recommended and 5 being highly recommended, how would you rate these materials for use by parents at home, assuming an agency has a loan program or that parents can purchase the kit?

Which best describes the reaction of parents who saw part or all of the kit?

Which scenario best describes how you feel the kit would most likely be used?

Consider the population you feel this kit will serve. Please check all that apply.

Comment:

Please rate the need for this product on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 equals very low and 5 equals very high.

Do you think this kit should be made available from APH using quota funds?

Overall thoughts and comments about this kit:

Work planned for FY 2017

Project staff will work to complete the following tasks for Laptime and Lullabies:

Product will be available for sale in FY 17.

Moving Ahead: Tactile Graphic Storybooks

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide print/braille storybooks for upper preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students featuring tactile graphics designed to encourage tactual exploration, refine tactual discrimination, and to introduce tactile symbols, simple keys, and maps in the context of a story

Project Staff

Background

Symbolic visual displays, such as maps and diagrams, play an increasingly important role in textbooks and computer displays for students with typical vision. They present a special challenge for students with significant vision loss, who are often expected to use a tactile equivalent in the course of their studies and in test-taking. Observers have suggested that difficulty interpreting tactile displays may be due, in part, to lack of early exposure. Storybooks developed in this project are designed to give young students opportunities to explore and interpret tactile illustrations that feature raised symbols, lines, and areal patterns. Of equal importance, the storybooks offer exposure to braille and foster key emergent literacy skills. The print/braille text of the books is intended to be read aloud by an adult reader. Embedded text (in large print and the user’s choice of either contracted or uncontracted braille) offers opportunities for the student to explore and read single words and short phrases, just as they might read labels included in a tactile diagram.

Initially, project leader efforts focused on identifying objectives and selecting or creating story texts and graphic media to support these. Lois Harrell served as project consultant, authoring a book and reviewing drafts of other books. Based on input from expert reviewers, four stories were chosen from a large pool of drafts. A variety of tactile media were considered. Paper embossed graphics were selected for the first book. A combination of embossed braille and Tactile Vision graphics was selected for three books.

Multiple prototypes of each of the four books were hand-produced. Accompanying storyboards (featuring symbols from the story mounted to attachable pieces) were created to enable students to create their own tactile displays. A Reader’s Guide including information about introducing the child to the book’s tactile graphics and briefly discussing emergent literacy skills and development of tactual learning skills was written to accompany each book.

Seven teacher-evaluators at seven sites participated in an expert review and conducted the field evaluation of the books/storyboards with 23 students ranging in age from 4.5 to 11 years of age, spanning an 8 to 10 week period. Without dissension, teachers indicated texts and tactile graphics for all four books were interesting and appropriate for kindergarten and first grade students; a majority also extended the books’ value upward to second grade students. Teachers reported 94-100% of the students, in their opinion, benefited from using the books during the evaluation period and would benefit from using the books for a longer period of time. Reasons given included the following: "increased motivation to read and exposure to braille and tactile exploration," "allowed student to experience tactile graphics with a purpose," "tactile graphics made the books more fun and motivated him to use his hands to explore and draw in information," and "helped tracking skills." The tactile graphics were also credited with enhancing understanding of the stories for 90% of the students. Accompanying storyboards were strongly endorsed by the teachers, who stated that their use improved comprehension, offered students an important opportunity to create their own graphics, and were highly motivating. A majority of teachers commented favorably on the Tactile Vision graphics. All evaluators rated the visual graphics in the books as a "very important" component of the books, promoting shared reading with typically sighted peers and adults and supplementing tactual information for the many braille readers with usable vision. The three project consultants also reviewed prototype books, provided favorable reviews, and suggested changes to specific tactile illustrations.

The four Moving Ahead storybooks and accompanying components received approval for sale on Quota. It was decided that each of the four books be produced separately to assist flow through the pre-production/tooling and production phases. Goin’ On a Bear Hunt was produced first and is available.

In order to produce the second storybook (Splish the Fish), sample tests were run to ensure compatibility of the paper stock, the outside vendor’s inks, and the Tactile Vision process; several problems with paper were encountered and resolved. It was necessary to design and add a special switch and tray to the Tactile Vision machine to accommodate the book’s page size. An initial pilot run of 100 books revealed some inconsistency in registration. A debriefing addressed possible sources. Subsequent runs of the book have been problem-free.

In order to produce the second storybook (Splish the Fish), sample tests were run to ensure compatibility of the paper stock, the outside vendor’s inks, and the Tactile Vision process; several problems with paper were encountered and resolved. It was necessary to design and add a special switch and tray to the Tactile Vision machine to accommodate the book’s page size. An initial pilot run of 100 books revealed some inconsistency in registration. A debriefing addressed possible sources. Subsequent runs of the book and runs of similarly produced books (The Boy and the Wolf, Turtle and Rabbit) have been problem-free.

The last of the books, Turtle and Rabbit became available for purchase in FY 2012. In FY 2013, the project leader, independently and through communication with the tactile books workshop Les Doigts Qui Rêvent (LDQR), began to look for commercially-available children’s books suited to development as the next Moving Ahead book. The project leader also reviewed a highly textured, interactive version of Goin’ On a Bear Hunt developed at LDQR and made suggestions regarding LDQR’s addition of textures and interactive elements to this book and Splish the Fish.

The project leader worked to select a commercially available children’s book to adapt as the next Moving Ahead storybook. Four commercially available children’s books published in the U.S. were identified as promising for the type of tactile illustration used in this series. Four other books fit more appropriately in the On the Way to Literacy series of books for children from 3 to 5 years. In addition to U.S. titles, such as The Gruffalo, the project leader reviewed and suggested tactile illustrations for several commercially available titles from overseas. Two of these are particularly suited to development as Moving Ahead books. Dans la Cour de l’Ecole (From the Heart of the Schoo) features symbols illustrating children’s school activities as boys and girls line up to play games, sit in rows in the classroom, eat in the cafeteria, and so forth. Four Corners of Nothing, by Jerome Ruillier, uses shapes to illustrate the story of a child with special needs (depicted using a square) who is not able to attend school with his peers (depicted as circles) until the door of the school is altered to accommodate both circles and squares.

The project leader proposed a tactile adaptation of The Gruffalo to in-house staff and LDQR staff. The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson, is a very well-known, bestselling children’s book. First published in 1999, it continues to be widely read and carried in bookstores. The story is of a mouse, on a path through the forest, who must avoid being eaten by a Gruffalo. In rhyme, the Gruffalo is described with frightening features: "terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws." As the story continues, other features are added until the real Gruffalo is met. Working through several ideas, a possible adaptation with tactile parts that can be assembled has been proposed and multisensory elements, such as audio backdrop proposed by LDQR.

Work during FY 2016

LDQR staff continued to work on possible tactile designs for The Gruffalo but were not satisfied with the results. The project leader worked with in-house copyright librarians to approach the publisher regarding the right to provide a tactile adaptation of the book to be sold within the U.S. Uncertainty of obtaining copyright permission and work on higher priority projects prevented the project leader from pursuing further development.

Work planned for FY 2017

Another possible titles for this series, a French commercially available book titled Dans la Cour de l’ Ècole (In the Schoolyard) lends itself very well to symbolic representations featured in this series. In the print version, pink circles (representing girls) and blue circles (boys) line up for lunch, play games in the schoolyard, pair up for a dance, and perform other activities. If copyright permission and a suitable design for The Gruffalo cannot be found, this book may be developed in its place. Another commercially available American children’s book, now out of print, is also well suited to this series: Louella Mae, She’s Run Away! has an engaging rhyming text and involves the reader to search for the title character in the cornfield, the barn, and the hay, down by the stream.

Tactile Book Builder

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop a kit of book-making materials and an accompanying manual to facilitate and guide the creation of individualized tactile books for children; materials support inclusion of text in an appropriate medium as well as a wide variety of types of tactile illustrations including objects from the child’s own environment, shapes, textures, collaged illustrations, and raised-line illustrations.

Tactile books made by TBB field testers

Project Staff

Background

The request that APH create a kit of materials enabling users to easily create a variety of individualized, custom-made tactile books has been expressed by focus groups and survey respondents. Because a young child’s concepts and language are limited, individualized books that address familiar topics and include things the child has experienced firsthand are more likely to be meaningful than visually complex, commercially available books designed for a typically sighted child. In addition, when the child helps dictate and produce the written text, the adult is able to use this opportunity to build important early literacy skills. When the child also participates in illustrating the book, it broadens his/her awareness of how tactile displays can be used to communicate meaning. Creating custom-made books, whether done by the adult or in collaboration with the child (participative design), can increase the number of appropriate books available to the child and motivate interest in books and in reading.

The idea for a tactile book-making kit with guidebook received approval from the Product Evaluation Team, and proceeded to the Product Advisory and Review Committee. The project was approved and released for work to begin. A brainstorming session marked the first Product Development Committee meeting and yielded useful suggestions for materials that might be part of the kit. The project leader examined a wide range of materials that could be used for book-making by searching online and in stores. The list of kit components and how they would be grouped was finalized and sketches made to show expert reviewers. Dimensions and quantities for kit materials were selected, and costs were estimated.

The project leader completed a rough draft of a kit guidebook containing guidelines for tactile design and instructions for using the kit materials to construct books with a variety of tactile illustrations.

The basis for the Tactile Book Builder kit is a relatively low cost, reusable, polyblend binder (9" x 8") provided in two different spine widths: 2.5" to accommodate thicker textures and objects and a 1" binder for less bulky books. The binders feature plastic safety rings. The binders also include a "window" in the front cover for insertion of custom tactile cover art.

The photo shows the binder's front cover pocket, which allows the user to insert any of the kit's pages to serve as a tactile cover page.The photo shows the binder with a tactile cover page featuring a net bag of seashells and crayon attached to a needlepoint canvas background.

The remainder of the kit consists of blank pages, 3-hole punched, for insertion into the binders. A number of different page types are included for fitting into the binders: colorful board stock pages, polyblend pages, needlepoint canvas pages, polyblend "pocket pages," Ziploc® pages, magnetic pages, loop material pages, doubled braille paper pages, and clear page protectors used to protect print pages and create twin vision books. Clear, adhesive-backed braille label material in three sizes is included in the basic kit, as well as adhesive-backed hook and loop material attachments, and adhesive-backed magnetized strips. Also included is a version of the APH SoundPage with recording devices sized for the small binders in the kit.

Photo of two types of pages that feature pockets to house objects. One, formed of durable polyblend, has an open, gusseted pocket for larger items. The other is a resealable Ziploc® bag attached to a page for smaller items or inclusion of scented items.

Photo of an assortment of colorful and rugged board stock and polyblend pages, pre-punched to insert into the binder.

Photo shows black fabric loop pages designed to accept hook attachments. Objects can be backed with the kit's adhesive hook fasteners to attach objects quickly to the page, such as the paper flower, small rubber toy, and finger puppet shown in the photo.

Photo shows magnetic pages, pre-punched to insert into the binders. They are cut from special high-energy magnetic stock to accept magnetic attachments provided with the kit.

Photo shows the APH SoundPage, a thermoformed page that features slots holding three small recording devices. The TBB version is sized to clip into the TBB binders.

The list of suggested kit items and a draft of the manual were submitted to two consultants for evaluation. Overall, they were pleased with the kit items and contents of the manual. However, they recommended that the manual (Tactile Book Builder Kit Manual) and the Guide to Designing Tactile Illustrations for Children’s Books, a 35-page booklet available since 2008 as a free download from the APH website, be integrated into one document. Originally, the project leader had planned to include the second document as a separate piece.

Technical drawings were made of the kit’s custom binders, pocket pages, and Ziploc® pages. A vendor for these was identified. Several alternatives were explored with the vendor as a means to strengthen the binder cover and retain its open window. The dimensions of the Ziploc® page were also reworked after consultation with the vendor. Drawings were revised and given to vendors for price quotes. Sample prototypes were delivered by the vendors in the last quarter of 2013. A variety of alternatives regarding both the material and fabrication method to be used for the metal/magnetic pages for the kit were explored and sampled with Technical Research staff, the model maker, and outside vendors.

A final design for the binder covers was completed. Finalizing the binder dimensions allowed staff to have needed dies made for cutting the internal pages for the binders. Special high-strength, double-sided magnetic sheeting was located by the project leader, providing a way to produce magnetic pages in a low cost manner. Packaging for the kit was chosen. The project leader and Technical Research staff worked together to locate and order material for all other kit items. A cutting die was made to produce all prototype pages, and 10 prototype kits were fabricated and assembled for field evaluation. Braille templates for the binder pages and label material were designed to assist in planning and aligning braille text.

Extensive work was done on the manual to blend the two documents and update source material. A Quick Start Chart was prepared to show users in a glance how each page type could be used to make a variety of types of tactile illustrations.Appendices list other products offered by APH that are useful in creating tactile books as well as an extensive illustrated list of suggestions for using available materials that are on hand in a classroom or home, or can be purchased at craft supply stores.

Tactile Book Builder Quick Start Chart

TBB PagesReal Object IllustrationsCollaged IllustrationsRaised-Line Illustrations
Pocket PagesInsert objects in pockets
Ziploc® PagesEnclose objects
Needlepoint Canvas PagesAttach objects with zip ties, "twisties"Lace yarn, string, pipe cleaners through the canvas to form lines & raised shapes
Polyblend PagesAttach objects: zip ties, hook/loop, magnetic attachments, glueGlue or attach textured shapes using hook/loop or magnetic attachmentsGlue string, yarn, or Wikki Stix®; apply puff paint to form lines & raised shapes
Board Stock PagesAttach objects with zip ties, hook/loop, magnetic attachments, or glueGlue or attach textured shapes using hook/loop or magnetic attachmentsGlue string, yarn, or Wikki Stix®; apply puff paint to form lines & raised shapes
Fabric PagesAttach objects with hook/loop attachmentsUse hook attachments to back textured shapes to apply to pageUse hook attachments to back raised and outline shapes to apply to page
Magnetic PagesAttach objects with magnetic attachmentsUse magnetic strips or sheeting to back textured shapes to apply to pageUse magnetic attachments to back raised and outline shapes to apply to page
Card Stock PagesAttach objects with hook/loop, magnetic attachments, or glueGlue or attach textured shapes using hook/loop or magnetic attachmentsEmboss; glue string, yarn, or Wikki Stix®; apply puff paint to form lines & raised shapes

The resulting 105-page manual was reviewed by Christine Moe, doctoral student at the University of Northern Colorado (UNC). At her recommendation, a brief section on emergent literacy was added; more updates to the manual’s references were provided by Moe; and the project leader drafted a detailed chart listing fine motor, tactual discrimination, cognitive, and language skills needed for effectively using different types of tactile illustration. The developmental chart suggests the illustration style and book genre appropriate for a child at each level. Data assembled from multiple sources by UNC provided the basis for the sequence of tactual discrimination, fine motor, cognitive, and language skills listed in the chart. The unformatted draft of the manual was then readied for field evaluation.

Field evaluation forms containing both closed and open-ended questions were written for the manual and kit items. Eight evaluation sites agreed to participate. In February through March of 2014, nine evaluators at six sites completed the evaluation. Two additional evaluators at one of the sites answered questions regarding kit items although they did not evaluate the manual. An evaluator at a seventh site delegated responsibility for the evaluation; although only parts of the questionnaire were answered, in its place a brief narrative impression of the kit and manual was provided. These results were recorded separately. The eighth site did not return an evaluation.

Map of United States shows the states in which evaluators participated in the field evaluation of the Tactile Book Builder kit. In Kentucky, Missouri, and Colorado private preschool programs took part. In Michigan and Virginia, the kit was tested by TVIs working in public school programs; in Maryland and Iowa, field evaluators were employed through the state residential school.

In all, nine TVIs, two TVI/COMS, a parent, and a teaching assistant took part. The TVIs ranged in years of experience from 2 to 24 years. The participating parent had also worked extensively in the field with 29 years of experience. The teaching assistant had been in the field for less than six months.

All nine evaluators completing the full evaluation indicated that each of the three sections of the manual would meet the needs of 80-100% of the TVI audience. Other data include the following:

Although parent use of the manual was not a primary objective of the project, 67% of the evaluators answered that all or almost all parents could use the manual; however, steps needed to improve the manual for parent use could, a majority indicated, limit its usefulness for the primary audience of TVIs.

Evaluators’ comments about the manual were highly positive:

The Quick Start Chart, appendices, and developmental chart were considered useful by 89 to 100% of the field evaluators. Comments:

At the seventh site, some parts of the evaluation were completed. The TVI and teaching assistant indicated that most TVIs would or should already know the information contained in the manual. They recommended the manual be divided into two separate documents—a shorter "how to" booklet and a second longer manual for those lacking training and experience. In many respects, this is similar to the two documents submitted to expert reviewers before integration of the two documents was recommended. To address this concern, the Quick Start Chart is being expanded slightly and the manual’s introduction suggests experienced tactile book designers skip the first section of the manual.

The majority of evaluators were pleased with the kit items:

Seventy percent stated the kit should be produced "as currently designed"; 30% indicated it should be produced with "a few but significant revisions" yet noted suggested changes were mostly a matter of adjusting colors and quantity of some page types.

The suggested additions to the kit were longer plastic banding ties, page reinforcers for the paper braille pages, and rings to clip pages together for storage.

About the kit, in general, evaluators remarked:

In October 2014, the TBB kit and manual were approved for sale on Quota. Indicated revisions and additions to the Tactile Book Builder kit and manual were made. Final quantities and colors for all kit items were selected based on field evaluation results and consultation with other APH staff. A Product Structure Meeting was convened to discuss and approve these choices. Work continued on final specifications.

The manual received a final edit by the project assistant. Further illustrations were added to the manual. Cover art suggestions were given to the graphic designer. Final copy of the manual was given to the designer in February, and the project leader consulted with the designer as work proceeded.

The Emergent Literacy Project Leader showed the kit and manual to the new CVI Project Leader as a possible basis for a kit of book-making materials designed around the needs of students with CVI. The CVI Project Leader proceeded with plans to utilize the TBB materials and to develop a separate manual focused on how the kit materials can be used to custom-make books for a child with CVI. That project, as an offshoot of this project, was named CVI Book Builder.

Work during FY 2016

The manual, Tactile Book Builder: Guide to Designing Tactile Books (117 pages), was formatted by the graphic designer. Descriptions were written for the 80 photos showing examples of types of tactile illustrations, a wide variety of tactile books from different sources, and materials used to construct them. Formatting was completed for the chart (Appendix C), designed to help teachers identify the type of tactile illustration and type of story suited to each student’s fine motor, cognitive, and tactile discrimination skills. A notice was added to the manual to explain the relationship between the Tactile Book Builder Kit and the CVI Book Builder Kit. The final file, clean file, and alt tags for the manual were turned over for creation of accessible files. Final specifications were nearly completed.

Work planned for FY 2017

Accessible files will be completed. Final specifications will be written, turned over to Production, and the kit will enter the production process phase.

VIPS@Home Parent Empowerment Program
Formerly VIPS@Home Parent University Series

(Completed)

Purpose

To offer courses to parents that allow them to gain valuable information aimed at helping them raise their children who are blind or visually impaired

Project Staff

Background

Research shows that family involvement in education is critical to children’s success. It is even more important for young children who are blind or visually impaired. Since it is estimated that 80-90% of what a young child learns occurs through vision, knowledgeable and involved parents can help mitigate the developmental delays and/or differences that can accompany visual impairment. During the early intervention years, when services are very personal and family-friendly, it is imperative that families learn as much as they can to carry them through the many years ahead in educating their child.

Visual impairment is a low incidence disability. Therefore, a young family who has a visually impaired child may have never known anyone who is blind or visually impaired. Young families need information and support to accept their child’s disability and obtain resources. The VIPS@Home product addresses these needs by offering a curriculum or courses for parents of blind or visually impaired children that can be taught by service providers or trained parent teachers.

The VIPS@Home: Parent Empowerment Program was developed as a partnership between VIPS (Visually Impaired Preschool Services) and APH to provide families of young visually impaired children with needed information in the comfort of their own homes. Parents who do not live in an area where such services are available, or who find it difficult to attend parent meetings, can benefit from short courses such as these to obtain valuable support for their families. VIPS@Home: Parent Empowerment Program serves as a tool for them to connect with other parents for networking and sharing of available resources. The courses have been written by professionals and/or parents of visually impaired children, and can be used individually or in group settings.

VIPS obtained a grant for $15,000 to develop VIPS@Home. The initial approach was to submit a grant proposal to the U.S. Department of Education, but it was not approved. Four courses were developed by VIPS: (1) Tour Through the Jungle, an overview of special education; (2) Emergent Literacy; (3) Power at Your Fingertips, an introduction to braille; and (4) Magical Moments, learning through daily routines. Because the Early Childhood Project Leader from APH was involved in the formation of this project, he recommended that APH take on this project and have it be a product APH could sell on Quota.

APH made the decision to produce this product based on a standardized process of product selection. The project leader presented the idea to the Director of Research, and then it was taken to the Product Evaluation Team. The team approved this request, and it was sent to the Product Advisory and Review Committee, who also approved the development of this product idea. APH purchased the rights to the product from VIPS. This took place in late FY 2009.

Each of the aforementioned courses in the VIPS@Home product needed revisions prior to their production and sale by APH. The project leader initiated work with consultants from VIPS, and the Emergent Literacy Project Leader from APH, to revise each of the four courses.

During FY 2010, the project leader worked with the APH research assistants on initial edits to the courses. In addition, the project leader worked with graphic designers to design each of the four courses, including cover art. Cover pages were designed for each course, and approved by the project leader. A brief description of each course follows.

VIPS@Home was presented in November 2009 at the Literacy Conference. In addition, a presentation was made at the International AER Conference in Little Rock, AR, in July 2010. Tremendous interest was shown in this product at both conferences.

In FY 2011, the project leader worked with the consultants, research assistants, graphic designers, and technical support to prepare the courses for field testing. Two of three modules in Magical Moments were written by consultant Terri Connolly.

During FY 2012, the course book and presentation tool for Power at Your Fingertips was prepared for field testing. The course book for Emergent Literacy was edited by the project assistant, and photos for the book were identified. InGrid Design completed the graphical layout of the course book. Due to scheduling constraints, the third module of Magical Moments was not completed. The project assistant edited the first two modules in Magical Moments.

In FY 2013, prototypes of Power at Your Fingertips and Emergent Literacy were made, field testers identified, and field testing occurred. A brief summary of field testing results follow.

Data were gathered using an appropriate method. APH sent out prototypes for field testing in April 2013. Field testing ended on July 16, 2013. Field testers completed an online product evaluation form developed in the Google Drive™ online storage service. Field testers also completed an online parent information form for parents with whom they used the prototypes.

The two courses were field tested by 16 professionals with 27 parents of children with visual impairments. Data were gathered from appropriately qualified professionals who work with the target population (i.e., parents and their infants/toddlers with visual impairments) including a developmental vision specialist, developmental interventionist, teacher of students with visual impairments, orientation and mobility instructors, and a braille instructor. The field testers are experienced professionals. Twenty-seven percent of field testers have worked with children with visual impairments/blindness for more than 21 years, 7% for 16-20 years, 13% for 11-15 years, 20% for 6-10 years, and 33% for 0-5 years. Data were gathered from a geographically diverse U.S. population. Field testers represented the following states: Colorado (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (1), Maryland (2), Missouri (2), New Mexico (3), Ohio (1), and Virginia (2).

Field testers (n=16) rated on a scale of 1–5 the extent they felt each VIPS course met the stated course objectives (1 = not at all; 5 = to a great extent). Mean ratings are reported here:

Emergent Literacy Course
Objectives:

Power at Your Fingertips Course
Objectives:

One hundred percent of field testers reported that the VIPS@Home series promotes parent involvement in the education of their children; 81% of testers recommended that APH produce these two courses and make them available for sale on Federal Quota. Field testers were also asked to rank order a list of topics for future development in the product series. The top three topics were Learning Through Everyday Routines, Orientation and Mobility, and Technology. Notably, Magical Moments, which is in development, focuses on children learning through daily routines.

Data were reported for 17 of 27 parents. Those parents (n=17) represented the following racial/ethnic +Background+s: Hispanic of any race (18%), White (71%), American Indian or Alaskan native (6%), and Thai (6%). Eighty-eight percent of parents felt that the Emergent Literacy Course is beneficial to help them educate and support their child's literacy needs—now and in the future. Eighty-eight percent of parents felt that the Power at Your Fingertips Course gives them a basic understanding of braille, and 71% said that after completing the course, they could continue to learn braille independently. Parents also provided constructive criticism and qualitative feedback. One parent wrote, "The [Power at Your Fingertips] course book really gives a lot of information without being wordy and confusing. I think it is great for a basic understanding and introduction to Braille. I'll definitely be using it and some of the other sources they mention to learn now and as he grows and begins to use Braille."

Demographic data were reported for 15 children whose parents were involved in field testing. These children ranged in age from 8 months old to 4 years old. Eye conditions of children were reported and included severe hydrocephalus, septo-optic dysplasia, optic nerve hypoplasia, bilateral retinoblastoma, Lebers, cortical visual impairment, esotropia, nystagmus, coloboma, and aniridia.

In FY 2013, work continued on the development of other courses in the VIPS series. The project assistant began to edit Tour Through the Jungle. It was determined that a stock photography source will likely be used for photos needed for this course book. Kay Ferrell completed a review of the course content and provided valuable input about special education services. Staff determined to forgo the third module of Magical Moments since the first two modules of Magical Moments provide sufficient content about learning through everyday routines.

The Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) approved this product for sale on Federal Quota during the APH Annual Meeting in October 2013. Also during Annual Meeting, the project leader and project assistant conducted a product input session to gather feedback about field test results and a potential name change to the product. Subsequent to Annual Meeting, the project leader sought extensive feedback from leaders in the field, and it was determined that the product name would become VIPS@Home: Parent Empowerment Program.

In March 2014, Burt Boyer retired from APH, and Dawn Wilkinson commenced as Early Childhood Project Leader. Revisions were implemented to Power at Your Fingertips and Emergent Literacy based on the data collected during field testing.

Because of the passage of UEB since the time Power at Your Fingertips was written, modifications were made to the course material by the project leader to follow UEB code. Project staff completed necessary steps to ensure that the two modules, Emergent Literacy and Power at Your Fingertips, are fully accessible to the population for whom they are intended. Technical Research completed final tooling and product specifications. The final specification meeting was held on June 12, 2015. Both of these products were for sale in October 2015.

Extensive edits continued to be made on Special Education: A Tour through The Jungle, including a name change to Special Education: Your Journey to a Successful IEP. This name change was proposed as a result of EPAC’s recommendation to make titles specific to the product purpose and was made official during the new product meeting in July 2015. In that same meeting, the VIPS@Home Magical Moments booklet was discontinued due to its similarity to newly released and upcoming APH products, specifically the parent booklet of PAIVI entitled Learning Together: A Parent Guide to Socially Based Routines for Very Young Children With Visual Impairments.

Work during FY 2016

The project leader completed revisions and sought further expert review of the text of Special Education: Your Journey to a Successful IEP. Reviewers included a second read through by Kay Ferrell as well as a read through by former teacher of the visually impaired and project leader, Susan Spicknall. Project staff completed steps to ensure that Special Education: Your Journey to a Successful IEP was fully accessible to the population for whom it is intended. The product was released for sale on March 1, 2016.

Front cover of Special Education: Your Journey to a Successful IEP guidebook

Work planned for FY 2017

No further work is planned on the VIPS@Home: Parent Empowerment Program.

EXPANDED CORE CURRICULUM 

ECC Icon Poster

(New)

Purpose

To provide a large print/braille poster that will encourage general awareness of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). The ECC encompasses nine skill areas important for the specialized instruction of students who are blind or visually impaired

Project Staff

Layout of ECC Icon Poster

Background

The product idea for a poster that would highlight the nine instructional areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum was suggested by Ava Silverstein, a teacher of the visually impaired. Silverstein is a user of the Quick & Easy ECC: The Hatlen Center Guide (1-08204-00), a product introduced by APH in 2014. Specifically, her product submission form suggested the development of a "reproduction of the ECC Icons from the current Quick and Easy Expanded Core Curriculum produced as a wall-sized poster 24" x 16" to either be a standalone product or an update to be included in Quick and Easy Expanded Core Curriculum so it can be posted in every VI classroom to quickly explain to gen ed teachers and families the importance of the Expanded Core Curriculum and the National Agenda for students with visual impairments. Nothing is currently available that does this."

In November 2015, the product submission, originally titled "Visually Impaired Expanded Core Curriculum Icon Poster," was forwarded to the project leader for review and evaluation. After overseeing the development and introduction of both the Quick & Easy ECC guide and the Touch, Label, and Learn Poster: Human Skeleton, the project leader quickly assessed the proposed poster as beneficial for general ECC awareness and feasible for production using newly-established processes. The visual ECC icons were uniquely designed by an in-house graphic designer and were available to use without copyright issues; in addition, the icons could translate into tactually distinct symbols.

Work during FY 2016

The product idea for ECC Icon Poster (as officially titled) was formally approved by the Product Evaluation Team on January 11, 2016, and supported by the Product Advisory and Review Committee on February 8, 2016. The product idea immediately shifted to the active product timeline and was assigned the grant number 620.

On March 25, 2016, the project leader conducted the first Product Development Committee (PDC) meeting with APH staff representative of all in-house departments (e.g., Production, Purchasing, Research, Graphic Design). This initial meeting focused on overall design and structure of the product and eventual production materials and processes. Given the simplicity of the design, the straightforwardness of the product’s purpose, and the use of previously evaluated visual icons, a formal field test of the expected poster presentation was deemed unnecessary. The project leader decided to complement the poster with a flyer that would provide a detailed description of each ECC area. The project leader asked permission from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to adapt their online resource www.tsbvi.edu/math/203-resources/3973-ecc-flyer. Permission was granted and minimal edits to the flyer were incorporated to prepare it for inclusion with the ECC Icon Poster.

Significant tooling efforts were addressed between March and July 2016, including the following tasks:

On July 19, 2016, the PDC regrouped to review the first fully-constructed poster adhered to a 2 mm thick white rigid foam substrate. At this point in the product timeline, only very minor updates and tooling were needed to prepare the poster for production. Unfinished tasks included ordering a cutting die, assigning a catalog and part numbers, identifying an ideal shipping box, preparing the print and braille product labels to be affixed to back of poster, and requesting Quota approval from the Educational Products Advisory Committee at the upcoming Annual Meeting.

Work planned for FY 2017

FY 2017 will witness the finalization of the production specifications and the first pilot run of the ECC Icon Poster. The project leader and other project staff will help monitor the quality of the printed and formed poster, and assist with post-production activities such as readying content for the brochure.

Multiple Disabilities Projects and Needs

(Ongoing)

Purpose

To assess needs, plan research, and manage product development to serve individuals who are visually impaired and have additional disabilities

Project Staff

Background

A Multiple Disabilities Focus Group met at APH in March 2001. The group identified 48 product ideas and held detailed discussions on the revision of APH’s Sensory Stimulation Kit (SSK), the development of a tactile (communication) symbol system, and the value of adaptable calendar boxes. The project leader developed the 48 product ideas into a needs survey that APH distributed nationally; it received international participation. The project leader presented the survey results at the 2002 Annual Meeting. Ten years later, in 2011, APH hosted two Multiple Disabilities Focus Groups: Children Birth to Grade 12 Multiple Disabilities Focus Group (March) and Adult Multiple Disabilities Focus Group (June). Each group identified product needs for the specific age group and helped design a product needs survey to facilitate prioritization. Group members recruited colleagues to pilot the two surveys. APH made the final surveys available on the Internet that September. The project leader compiled the data and wrote the Report of the APH Birth to Grade 12 Multiple Disabilities Focus Group and Survey and the Report of the APH Adult Multiple Disabilities Focus Group and Survey. APH announced the reports in the APH News and posted them on the APH Web site.

Work during FY 2016

In addition to working on product development, the project leader responded to 12 customer service calls and e-mails to help customers with APH multiple disabilities products. The project leader provided training to APH staff on new products (e.g., The Joy Player, Calendar Box Stabilizer). The Multiple Disabilities Project Leader with the CVI Project Leader presented at the Getting In Touch With Literacy Conference. She presented The Joy Player at ATIA. She presented APH multiple disabilities products to students visiting APH from Vanderbilt University and University of Kentucky and to Jefferson County Public School teachers. She presented The Joy Player to the Outreach teachers at the Kentucky School for the Blind. Annually, the project leader participates in a program to help prepare community-based instruction students at the Kentucky School for the Blind with job interview skills. The project leader conducted a workshop at the Wisconsin Pre School Family Conference on using The Joy Player within the APH Intervention Continuum. She spent a day introducing The Joy Player to team members of a day program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Work planned for FY 2017

The Multiple Disabilities Project Leader will continue to work on products recommended by the surveys and submissions from the field, and on existing APH products that may need updates to meet current APH and educational standards.

Visual and Multiple Impairments Website

(Ongoing)

Purpose

To provide parents, teachers, and support professionals with product support, information, and resources to help them serve individuals who have multiple disabilities in addition to visual impairment, blindness, or deafblindness

Project Staff

Background

APH Customer Service receives calls and e-mail messages from parents and teachers who ask questions about APH multiple disabilities products and services. Attendees of APH National Instructional Partnership workshops requested a location where they could look for information about multiple disabilities and APH products. Over the years, products that are stored at resource centers and shipped to various schools year after year may experience loss of documentation that would assist teachers in using the product. APH decided that a website to support these products that includes videos, questions and answers, sample assessments, downloadable forms, and more would greatly benefit teachers and parents.

Work during FY 2016

Staff collected research, documentation, and photos for the future site. The project leader received "maintenance" training on WordPress®.

Work planned for FY 2017

The project leader will continue to collect and write documentation.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY

For additional products related to Assistive Technology, see the Technology Product Research section.

APH SMART Brailler by Perkins

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a brailler that provides visual and voice feedback of what is being brailled in order to give immediate feedback to a student who is learning braille and to facilitate communication between a braille-using student and a sighted teacher or parent who does not know braille

Project Staff

Background

In 2011, APH and Perkins Products agreed to produce a brailler that provides visual and voice feedback of what is being brailled. Perkins Products chose the name SMART Brailler for this product. Product Development Technologies (PDT) was contracted by Perkins Products to develop the firmware for the brailler. Voices used in the brailler are provided by Acapela Group, and contracted braille translation is provided by Duxbury Systems.

The base unit of the APH SMART Brailler by Perkins is the Perkins-APH Brailler Version 2. The SMART Brailler has a removable, rechargeable battery; a power switch; a power adapter port; and a module attached to the front of the brailler that includes a 4-inch color video screen, a speaker, and the other items shown in the following diagram.

Diagram shows four Quick Buttons: (1) Screen Off, Screen On; (2) SimBraille Mode or Large Print Mode; (3) Uncontracted Mode or Contracted Mode; and (4) Speak Letters, Words, Letters and Words, Lines, Everything or Speech Off. Other features identified are Menu Button, Headphone Jack, Volume Buttons, USB Outlet, Select Button, and Navigation Buttons (Left, Right, Up, Down).

The video screen displays menus and visual feedback when someone is brailling. During braille entry, the screen can display SimBraille and large print, just large print, or be turned off.

Both modes display a full line of 28 print characters at the bottom of the screen in 12-point type. When the brailler is set for contracted braille, words containing contractions are underlined in this line.

The four Quick Buttons perform the following functions:

  1. Turn the screen on or off
  2. Toggle the screen display between SimBraille mode and Large Print mode
  3. Toggle the braille translation between contracted braille and uncontracted braille
  4. Change the speech feedback during braille entry to one of the following options: Speak Letters, Speak Words, Speak Letters and Words, Speak Lines, or Speak Everything

There are other settings that can be changed within the menus on the brailler. There are three text-to-speech voices available on the brailler and six color combination options for the display. The brightness of the display can be adjusted, and there are several options for the screen timer that turns the screen off if the brailler is not in use.

In addition to showing what is being brailled in print on the screen, the brailler stores the print in a text file. The text file can be saved in the brailler’s internal memory or to a USB drive. The text file can be transferred to a personal computer via the USB drive and saved, printed, edited, or e-mailed as needed (e.g., to a teacher or parent). A file can also be printed directly from the brailler to a printer with a USB port via a USB cable compatible with the brailler (USB A type) and the printer.

Up to 30 user accounts can be created on the brailler through the User’s Menu. The default user name and account is "Guest." Each user account can have its own settings as described above. A file saved in the brailler’s internal memory can only be retrieved when the brailler is set to the same user as it was when the file was saved.

An audio tour, available in the Welcome menu on the brailler, provides an introduction to the brailler and most of the features and functions described above.

Relevance

The SMART Brailler provides immediate feedback to a child or adult who is learning braille via text to speech and a screen that displays SimBraille and large print of what is brailled in uncontracted or contracted braille. This audio and visual feedback also provides information about what a student is brailling for someone who does not know braille, including parents and general education teachers.

Research

During 2011, Research Department staff met to test the functions of prototypes of the brailler and recommend improvements to Perkins and PDT personnel. Members of the Research Department also took different prototype versions to the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB) three times during the year to test with young students who are visually impaired. Perkins and PDT also began development of a software application (app) to provide additional exercises for students being instructed using the Building on Patterns (BOP) Kindergarten curriculum.

In January 2012, the BOP writers were asked to participate in testing and give input on the SMART Brailler. Three of the writers who had young students learning braille were shipped braillers that contained changes and improvements from the earlier prototypes. The writers gave feedback on the braillers’ functions to Perkins. In June 2012, during the Building on Patterns and Braille Literacy Meeting, Perkins brought several SMART Braillers to APH. The BOP writers, consultants, and Research personnel worked with the braillers; a list of issues and comments was created for Perkins and PDT to address.

Two separate field tests were conducted with the SMART Brailler. The first field test was a Perkins and APH joint field test of the braillers begun the third week of August 2012, and continued through the end of October 2012. APH sent braillers to five teachers of students who are blind or visually impaired (TVIs), and Perkins sent braillers to three TVIs who are writers for BOP Second Edition. The TVIs are located in California (2), Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, and Oregon. All the field evaluators except one used the braillers with at least one student learning braille at the kindergarten, first, or second grade level. The evaluators were asked to complete a workbook of exercises themselves, work with a student to complete another set of exercises, work with a student and the BOP Kindergarten App, and provide comments about their experiences with the brailler. They were also asked to ship the electronic files and embossed pages from their work back with the brailler at the end of the field test. One update to the brailler’s core firmware was provided to the field testers during their evaluation period.

Comments from the field evaluators were reviewed and compared to the electronic files and embossed pages where relevant. Issues with the braillers’ performance based on these comparisons and the feedback from the field evaluators were compiled to be addressed in future updates to the brailler. Perkins and PDT made updates to the firmware based on the field test and discussions with APH personnel.

APH conducted a second field test late December 2012 through early February 2013 with braillers loaded with another updated version of the firmware. The TVIs for this field test were referred to APH by Ex Officio Trustees who are members or former members of the Educational Products Advisory Committee and are located in Kansas, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Vermont. These evaluators also worked with at least one student learning braille at the kindergarten, first, or second grade level. An updated brailler was also sent back to one of the BOP writers in California who participated in the first field test. This test process was similar to that of the first field test (described in the Research section of this project report), but also included instructions for the teacher to use the brailler with a student in day-to-day activities with a student. In-house testing was also done at APH. The field testers documented specific examples of instances where the speech or visual feedback did not match what was brailled.

Summarized Ratings from Field Testers on Feedback Features

Embossed Braille
Good6/6
Satisfactory
Needs Improvement
Speech Feedback
Good2/6
Satisfactory1/6
Needs Improvement3/6
Visual Feedback
Good4/6
Satisfactory2/6
Needs Improvement

The field evaluators also provided these observations about the benefits of the SMART Brailler features:

My student loves it. He's low vision, but has enough useable vision that he is able to see the letters on the screen.

I think with all the demand to display students' work and levels the smart brailler is a useful tool.

My student is LOVING the SMART Brailler. It is helping him figure out the correct fingering positions on the Brailler, as well as giving him the immediate feedback when he presses the wrong keys. (This TVI’s student has Septo-Optic Dysplasia.)

My student was thrilled to hear his new letters, contractions and sentences. It was really reinforcing for him and motivating. When we turned the speech off and used the Brailler for math he missed it. He quickly learned how to turn the switch on/off and to change between speech on/off. He was so pleased to hear his name when he wrote it in sentences for me. He learned from his mistakes as well and this provided a terrific teachable moment. The classroom teacher does not know Braille and she enjoyed seeing what the student was writing so she could give him direct feedback. The peers in his room thought he was cool that he had a "talking pencil" to write with.

One of the in-house evaluators had this comment:

I was able to help evaluate this unit back in the Summer [of] 2012 on earlier prototypes. I will say first and foremost that there have been vast improvements with the accuracy of keys pressed verses text printed out/spoken on the screen. This is not to say that the translation is without flaws… It’s not. There are still cases when the text does not match the Braille.

Comments from the field and APH in-house evaluators were reviewed and compared to the electronic files and embossed pages where relevant. Issues with the braillers’ performances based on these comparisons and the feedback from the evaluators were compiled to be addressed in future updates to the brailler. Hardware problems were also noted, and units with these problems were sent back to Perkins for evaluation.

A field test of the SMART Brailler organized by Perkins was completed in October 2012. APH conducted a second field test in late December 2012 through early February 2013. More information on the field tests are provided in the Research section of this project report. Throughout this process, Perkins, PDT and APH shared information and discussed issues via e-mail and phone. Staff from Perkins came to APH on March 20, 2012, for a more thorough discussion. Perkins and PDT provided several more firmware updates after the March meeting that were tested in-house at APH; the last of these resolved most of the main issues with the brailler’s core firmware functions.

APH tested updates to the BOP Kindergarten App in-house and discussed its performance with the BOP Second Edition writers and consultants. Thorough testing was done to document instances where the text to speech in the app was not clear enough for a student to understand, and this was shared with Perkins and PDT. Improvements were made to the app.

Work began on a quality control process to assess the braillers when they are delivered to APH. The brailler’s recorded audio tour was re-recorded at APH to correct errors, update information, and improve the quality of the recording. Work continued on a user’s manual begun in FY 2012.

In FY 2014, APH project staff and management prioritized the remaining issues in the core firmware and BOP Kindergarten App. Two issues caused by limitations in the electronic components were determined to be acceptable for the brailler’s release. The remaining issues were resolved through multiple updates from PDT and thorough testing by the project leader with assistance from other APH personnel who know braille. Additional issues were found in some of the updates, and those were resolved as well. The versions of the core firmware and BOP Kindergarten App that were tested and found to be acceptable were received January 24, 2014.

The project leader worked with Frank Hayden, Larry Skutchan, and APH production personnel to develop and finalize the quality control procedures for the brailler. This included setting up a procedure to assure the pressure required to press down the keys on the brailler was within an acceptable range. This range was based on data from Perkins Products and APH on the pressure required to press down the keys on the Perkins-APH Brailler Version 2, which was designed to require less pressure than the standard Perkins Brailler®.

The first shipment of 10 braillers was received on February 11, 2014. Representatives from Perkins and PDT traveled to APH to observe the quality control check and to be on hand in case of any issues that might arise. During this check, test team discovered that the braille mode setting was not correct on any of the braillers due to one of the steps in Perkins’s quality control procedure. This problem was manually corrected on the 10 braillers and Perkins’s personnel said they would change their procedure to prevent this problem in the future. Two of the 10 braillers were rejected for other problems: both braillers failed to perform the erase function in the electronic file when the erase button was pressed, and key 3 stuck on one of these braillers. A few other minor problems were recorded and corrected.

After a second shipment of 50 braillers was received, it was determined that the electronic erase function did not work consistently unless the end of the erase button closest to the front of the brailler was pressed. Perkins determined that the solution to this problem was to "effectively increase the operating window between the magnet and the sensor" that activates the erase in the electronic file. Perkins’s timeline to fully implement this solution lists December 1, 2014 as the Full Production date. In the meantime, Perkins agreed that in the braillers shipped to APH the erase function would work consistently when the erase button is pressed in the middle. The project leader performed 100% testing for this issue on the second, third, and fourth shipments. While performing these tests, the project leader found other problems that were created due to Perkins’s quality control procedure. Perkins agreed to change their procedure to correct these. The APH quality control procedure was amended to check for these problems. Braillers that did not pass the APH quality control procedure or the 100% erase function test were shipped back to Perkins for repair or replacement.

The text of the user’s manual was finalized and converted into HTML and EPUB® formats. Files in both formats were posted on the APH Downloadable Product Manuals Web page. A listserv dedicated to questions about product was also established.

The APH SMART Brailler by Perkins was released on June 30, 2014. An AC adapter and lithium-ion battery were released as replacements parts on July 24, 2014.

During FY 2015, the project leader and Ex Officio Trustee Stephanie Bissonette (Vermont), presented training sessions on the APH SMART Brailler by Perkins in October at the 2014 APH Annual Meeting.

An online survey on the APH SMART Brailler was conducted from October 2014 through January 2015. Forty-seven survey responses were collected as of January 20, 2015, via mail and the Web. Most respondents (85.7%) purchased their unit in August, September, or October 2014. The survey was completed by 25.9% of customers who had purchased an APH SMART Brailler by Perkins.

The braillers were mainly used in elementary schools, by an average of 1.89 students each. The average student age was approximately 9 years with the most commonly reported ages being 6 and 8 years. Most of the students are blind, but approximately 30% have low vision. Seventeen respondents listed students using the brailler as having physical or cognitive disabilities.

Of 46 responses, 45.7% indicated their students used the BOP Kindergarten app. The feedback on the BOP Kindergarten app was generally favorable. There were several requests for more activities, including some for more advanced activities, and one comment that it was too slow.

On a scale of 1 (Low) to 5 (High), the average rating of the educational value of the brailler was 4.24. Of respondents, 57.8% gave the device a 5 rating, and 80% gave a rating of 3 or above. Positive comments on the educational value praised the motivational aspect of the brailler’s immediate feedback and an increase in students’ independence. Several respondents reported that their student was learning braille faster using the SMART brailler and that it helped with communication with classroom teachers and sighted peers. Negative comments noted that there were "glitches" that frustrate some students, that "it confuses the voice" when the same letter was typed, and that the voice feedback could be a "crutch" students rely on "instead of their knowledge of braille."

The average rating of design of the brailler on a scale of 1 (Low) to 5 (High) was 3.38. Of respondents, 15.6% gave a 5 rating, and 84.5% gave a rating of 3 or above. Positive comments on the design of the brailler included that the mechanical part of the brailler was a familiar design, and that the screen and buttons were good. Thirty respondents provided comments that included issues with the design. A majority of the negative comments contained concerns about mechanical issues with the brailler, including loading paper and the sturdiness of the brailler’s body. Two comments reported problems with the battery.

Auditory feedback, visual display/output, and immediate feedback were cited as the most helpful features of the brailler. Comments praised the motivational aspect of the brailler’s immediate feedback and noted an increase in some students’ independence. The visual display was also noted as helpful for the regular classroom teacher.

Of 44 responses, 70.5% indicated they had downloaded the instruction manual. There were 24 respondents who said they found the manual to be helpful. Four respondents wanted more information.

Additional comments regarding the brailler thanked APH for making this product available, provided suggestion for improvement, and described problems with the device. Several people commented on problems with charging the battery. Two comments asked for the ability to use Nemeth code.

In conclusion, respondents indicated the electronic features of the SMART Brailler were significantly helpful for students learning braille, but continuing hardware and battery issues were a problem.

In December 2014, after multiple customer reports of problems with charging the battery, Perkins determined that their vendor had made an unapproved change to the battery safety circuit, which resulted in a configuration that was not compatible with the circuitry of the SMART Brailler. Personnel from several APH departments worked to get information about the problem out to customers and then with Perkins to provide replacement batteries to all customers with affected braillers. Due to the need to find another vendor to build hundreds of batteries, all affected batteries were not replaced until April 2015.

At a meeting in April, Perkins reported a hardware change to increase the hardness of the left and right drum end plates. This change "increased the material hardness on the drum endplates to eliminate the propensity of the drum pin to bend when excessive force is applied to the line spacer." The "Effectivity Date" of this change was December 23, 2014.

In May, the project leader received a firmware update for the brailler that fixed a few problems and provided a Unified English Braille (UEB) "Language" option. The project leader tested the new firmware with assistance from Research Assistant Jeremiah Rose and the APH Braille Improvement department. Several translation issues were found and reported to Perkins and PDT. As of August 6, 2015, the project leader had not received another version of the firmware to evaluate.

Work during FY 2016

The project leader received another firmware update, 1.1.0.46, in early October 2015. Due to other projects, review of this update was not completed until the end of December. Some issues from the previous release were fixed, but some were not and one regression was discovered.

In April 2016, the project leader received a question about one of the issues found in 1.1.0.46. This was in regard to how the brailler displayed characters in braille that do not have print equivalents, including the transcriber’s notes symbols and typeform indicators. After consulting with APH personnel and BOP consultants, it was decided that the brailler should not show anything on the screen for these symbols.

In mid-May, the Vice President of Educational Services and Product Development, Dorinda Rife, contacted Perkins Solutions (formerly Perkins Products) to strategize the next steps regarding the hardware issues with the brailler. A conference call was set up for June 2. An update to the firmware, 1.1.0.49, was received on June 1. For the meeting, Perkins provided information on their Quality Improvement (QI) initiative to reduce the hardware issues with the brailler. It identified the major defects as the back housing, main housing, paper feed, and carriage jam. The first three of these have been addressed by improvements to the housing and drum assembly. The last of these improvements was implemented October 1, 2015, with brailler serial number SB002793. New braillers were built with these improvements as they became available, and Perkins is replacing the QI parts when braillers are returned for repair. Additional improvements to reduce carriage jam issues and improve the reading rest, paper guide, and main housing support are in process. Perkins stated that the warranty return rate for SMART Braillers sold to APH after implementation of design improvements in FY 2016 (starting July 1, 2015) is 5.4%, the warranty return rate for braillers without the design improvements is 7.9%, and non-warranty return rates are 9.2%. In a summary of the work Perkins is doing, they stated that they are committed to the quality initiative to further reduce the warranty return rate to less than 3% and want to be more informed by the users to feed continuous improvement.

Follow-ups to the June 1 meeting included internal discussions, another teleconference with Perkins on June 17, and several e-mail exchanges to develop the language for a letter about the quality improvements for APH Ex Officio Trustees (EOTs) and other customers. This letter was distributed on the APH website and at the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired conference in Jacksonville, FL, in July. It was agreed that approved firmware updates for the brailler would be provided free of charge on the Perkins website, and the BOP App would also be available there. Offering an extended warranty for the brailler was discussed, and Perkins agreed to work on a cost for that. There are a few braillers that have been returned multiple times. Perkins agreed to consider possibly replacing these braillers, but requested more information about how they are being used; APH Customer Service will lead any discussions involving APH customers and Perkins. Perkins requested information about one of these customers; Marsha Overstreet, Manager of Customer Relations, contacted the customer and provided the information. When asked about past issues with the erase function, Perkins said that they have made changes to address that issue.

With input from the project leader, Perkins also began work to improve their documentation of brailler repairs to include information about the QI work on each brailler returned.

The project leader worked with Research Assistant Sara Lee to test the latest release of the firmware, 1.1.0.49, and Perkins’s download link for firmware updates.

Work planned for FY 2017

APH will work with Perkins to make approved firmware with UEB available to customers, to make other improvements, and to get input and feedback from customers. Any additional updates to the firmware will be tested. Repair rates for the brailler will continue to be monitored.

CAREER EDUCATION AND TRANSITION

For FY 2016, there are no active Career Education and Transition products to report.

COMPENSATORY AND ACCESS SKILLS

MATCH-IT-UP Frames (Large Set and Small Set)
Formerly Match-It Up Board

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide an interactive board that facilitates a variety of matching activities for young students who are visually impaired and blind in grades K-3

Project Staff

Cover art of the instruction booklet for MATCH-IT-UP Frames

Background

In January 2009, the consultant submitted a product submission form, along with a handmade prototype, describing an interactive matching board that she had successfully used with her kindergarten student. Her design is a small, slightly raised, and wooden board that fits on a desk or table. Two rows of squares (each with a VELCOIN® brand tab) are divided by a string of red yarn. A single hole is drilled above each of the lower squares and below each of the upper squares. Threaded through each lower hole is a cord with a peg attached to it; the cords are of various colors. The child matches cards in the bottom row to those in the top row by inserting the pegs in the corresponding holes. The consultant made a variety of matching cards to assist in the instruction of tactile shapes, braille letters, braille numbers, and braille words.

In January 2010, the project leader provided a review of the product submission form, rating it high in originality and appropriate target populations. The project leader’s review documented considerations for making the matching board less problematic and expensive to produce.

The product idea was initially reviewed and evaluated by the Product Evaluation Team and officially approved as a viable product by the Product Advisory and Review Committee on January 14, 2010. Shortly after, the project leader hosted a Product Development Committee (PDC) "Brainstorming" Meeting with a wider audience of APH staff from various departments. The PDC supported the project leader’s plan to design a one-piece "board" with open windows that attaches to a VELTEX® brand surface (e.g., ALL-IN-ONE Board); long drapery cords would be replaced by shorter nylon cords that stay in place on a VELTEX® brand band that spans the center of the board. The committee was especially concerned with the safety of the original design given the long cords and potentially detachable small pegs of choking size. The project leader also suggested supplying a "starter kit" of mounting cards (using those included in Tactile Connections) that teachers could use to design and construct matching cards.

Throughout March and April, the project leader and model maker experimented with various layouts of the board. Their search for an ideal nylon cord to securely stick to VELTEX® brand material was unsuccessful. The nylon cords were replaced by various lengths of matching strips cut from polyblend of various colors and backed with hook material; the band in the middle of the board was updated to a soft loop material. The board itself was changed to a bright yellow instead of white. The project leader built a variety of matching cards to use in combination with the board.

In May 2010, a complete prototype of the board was sent to the consultant for direct use with her student. Initial feedback supported the design of the board itself and the provision of the mounting cards, but the matching strips proved challenging for her young student when locating and selecting the correct length of strip to connect a card in the lower row with a card in the upper row.

The project staff continued to modify the prototype to best achieve the objectives of the consultant’s original design. The construction of the first sample board was considerably simplified by eliminating the matching strips. The final prototype version incorporated 10 open "windows" in a two row by five column arrangement, with the two rows separated by a raised tactile bar. The board was sized to fit conveniently onto the VELTEX® brand side of APH’s ALL-IN-ONE Board.

The project leader authored product instructions that provided a variety of ideas for creating matching cards. Examples focused on counting skills, O&M concepts, shape identification, line tracking, texture discrimination, story retelling, sequencing, patterning, braille letters, and calendar activities. Each suggestion was supported by a photograph. Although actual construction of matching cards would be the responsibility of the teacher/parent, a "starter kit" of mounting cards, VELCOIN® brand tabs and strips, and masking overlays (to minimize the number of windows) was included as part of the field test prototype.

By the end of January 2011, multiple copies of the prototype were built and available for field testing. The project leader then collated materials, prepared the final layout of the product instructions, identified field test evaluation sites, and readied an evaluation packet. On February 14, prototypes were mailed to field test sites. Each evaluator was encouraged to use the prototype with as many students as possible until the end of May.

Throughout June and July 2011, the project leader compiled field test data into a final report. The prototype was used by 20 teachers of the visually impaired with a total of 104 students. As shown in Figure 1, evaluators represented the states of Arizona, California (2), Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma (2), Texas (2), Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Figure 1. Geographical Distribution of Field Test Sites

The student sample of 104 students ranged in age from 2 to 21 years of age with 26% between the ages of 2 and 4, 30% between the ages of 5 and 7, 18% between the ages of 8 and 10, 17% between the ages of 11 and 13, 7% between the ages of 14 and 17, and 2% between the ages of 18 and 21 (refer to Figure 2).

Figure 2. Age Range of Students

There were noticeably more males than females—62% and 38%, respectively (refer to Figure 3).

Figure 3. Gender of Students

The student population reflected cultural diversity: 69% White, 15% African American, 8% Hispanic, 5% Asian, 3% "two or more races," and 1% American Indian or Alaskan Native (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. Ethnicity of Students

One-third of the students were preschoolers, 10% were kindergarteners, 24% were in Grades 1-3, and 17% were in Grades 4-6; smaller percentages were in Grades 7-8 (8%), high school (4%), or classified as "ungraded" (4%) (see Figure 5).

Figure 5. Grade Level of Students

The largest percentage of students (27%) were reported as nonreaders; this percentage included subsets of students whose primary reading medium was reported as "nonreader/pictures," "nonreader/large print," and "nonreader/auditory." Nearly equal percentages (17% and 15%) were reported as braille readers and large print readers, respectively; 6% read regular print, and 1% were dual braille/large print readers. Eleven percent of the students were classified as "prereaders," while a similar percentage (9%) were reported as auditory readers or combinations of auditory/braille, auditory/visual, and auditory/tactile readers. A smaller percentage (8%) of the students were reported as "visual," "tactile," or "picture" readers. The primary reading media of the remaining percentage of students (6%) were undetermined or unreported.

Figure 6. Students' Primary Reading Medium

A full 71% of the students were reported as having additional disabilities (e.g., cerebral palsy, cognitive/physical/language delays, ADHD, and autism). Nearly 40% had cortical visual impairment (CVI).

Evaluators’ ratings of the overall design of the Match-It-Up Board were very encouraging. Based upon a rating scale from 5 (Excellent) to 1 (Poor), average scores were for each design feature are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Overall Design of Match-It-Up Board
Design FeatureNumber of EvaluatorsAverage Rating
Overall sizen = 204.55
Colorn = 204.35
Number of windows/cutoutsn = 204.40
Size of windows/cutoutsn = 204.45
Distance between windows/cutouts side-by-side n = 204.45
Distance between windows/cutouts top-to-bottom n = 204.35
Tactile/print divider line n = 174.47
Ease of mounting/positioning on a VELTEX® brand surface n = 194.79
Masking overlays n = 204.45

One hundred percent of evaluators liked how the board fits comfortably and conveniently on APH’s ALL-IN-ONE Board. One evaluator clarified: "Perfect fit. Easy to adjust angle of board for student’s needs."

Field results indicated that a variety of methods of matching were utilized when using the Match-It-Up Board with students (refer to Table 2). Eighty-percent of the teachers reported that they frequently (40%) or sometimes (40%) positioned all of the cards on the board in random order and then asked the student to rearrange them in corresponding pairs below and above the raised bar. Ninety percent of the teachers reported that they frequently (50%) or sometimes (40%) positioned only the cards in the top row then asked the student to insert each matching card below its counterpart. Ninety percent reported that they frequently (55%) or sometimes (35%) asked the student to merely point to the matching cards. Only 40% either frequently (20%) or sometimes (20%) played concentration games using the masking inserts. One teacher clarified that the matching method used depended upon the activity and the student’s ability.

Table 2: Frequency of Matching Methods Used
N = 20
Matching MethodFrequentlySometimesNever
Instructor positioned all cards on the board in random order; student rearranged them in corresponding pairs below and above the raised bar.Instructor positioned all cards on the board in random order; student rearranged them in corresponding pairs below and above the raised bar.40%40%20%
Instructor positioned only the cards in the top row; student inserted each matching card below its counterpart.50%40%10%
Student was asked to point to matching cards.55%35%10%
Concentration games were played using masking inserts.20%20%60%

Using a scale of 5 (Very Well) to 0 (Not at All), teachers rated how well the Match-It-Up Board facilitated a variety of activities. As shown in Table 3, ratings supported the versatility of the board.

Table 3: Versatility of Match-It-Up Board
ActivityNumber of EvaluatorsAverage Rating
Matchingn = 204.90
Sequencingn = 194.89
Calendar Activitiesn = 114.12
Story Retellingn = 84.36
Matching Gamesn = 144.64

Eighty percent of the evaluators indicated that the Match-It-Up Board offered specific advantages over previously-used matching activities and tools. Among the most oft-repeated compliments was its success at providing a clearly-defined working space and placement for cards. Other comments included the following:

Ninety-five percent of the evaluators supported the provision of mounting cards in a variety of colors to help in the construction of teacher-created matching activities. Most thought 10 cards per color would be an ideal amount. One hundred percent of the evaluators recommended the inclusion of VELCOIN® brand tabs and a long strip of VELCRO® brand hook strips. The provided Sticky Dots™ package was used by fewer teachers (65%) to apply objects/textures/pictures to the mounting cards. Teachers reported a variety of other adhesive material that they acquired and used to build matching cards: glue sticks, twist ties, rubber cement, yarn/string, caulking, double-sided tape.

Evaluators reported appropriateness of the kit for various target populations (see Table 4). Among the most appropriate populations were students with multiple disabilities, preschoolers, kindergarteners, tactile and low vision students in Grades 1-3, and students with CVI.

Table 4: Appropriate Target Populations
Target Population Percentage of evaluators who found the Match-It-Up Board suitable for target population
Preschoolers with visual impairments/blindness 90%
Kindergarteners with visual impairments/blindness 95%
Tactile readers in grades 1-390%
Low vision students in grades 1-385%
Tactile readers in grades 4-845%
Low vision students in grades 4-845%
Tactile readers in high school 20%
Low vision readers in high school 20%
Students with multiple disabilities 100%
Students with cortical visual impairment 90%

All of the students were reported as enjoying the use of the Match-It-Up Board. Noteworthy student comments included "Can I take this home?" "Can you leave this here in my class?" "This is fun," "I like the bright yellow," and "I can tell you the story using the board."

Ninety-five percent of the field evaluators recommended that APH produce the Match-It-Up Board because of its strengths: color, durability, ease of use, portability, spacing of matching windows, size, and versatility with regard to possible matching activities (as illustrated in photos and descriptions provided by evaluators).

Photo of Match-It-Up prototype used by a student with cortical visual impairmentPhoto of Match-It-Up prototype used as a counting activity for Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar storybookPhoto of Match-It-Up prototype used as a nuts and bolts sorting activity

Throughout the remainder of the fiscal year, the project leader reviewed the field test results and outlined needed improvements to the prototype prior to production. Input from fellow Research staff and from the outside consultant was invited regarding necessary revisions. Plans included expanding the colors and types of available sorting frames and providing additional activity suggestions within the accompanying guidebook. Ideal shapes, colors, and quantities of matching cards were also determined. The name of the product, based upon the suggestion of one field evaluator, was changed to MATCH-IT-UP Frames.

The project leader conducted a Product Input Session on the MATCH-IT-UP Frames at APH’s Annual Meeting in October 2011. The audience consisted of teachers of the visually impaired, a math teacher, program administrators, a school principal, and a librarian. Their feedback echoed requests from field evaluators, notably the need for various colors of frames and different sizes of frames (to fit both the ALL-IN-ONE Board as well as the new (SM)ALL-IN-ONE Board). Additionally, they encouraged the project leader to consider eventual provision of pre-assembled packages of matching cards such as letter cards and story sequence cards to supplement APH storybooks (e.g., Goin’ on a Bear Hunt).

The project leader furnished Technical Research and Model Shop staff with layout drawings of the nine unique matching frames—six large and three small. Care was taken to a) reduce the distance between the windows/cutouts and the dividing bar, b) enlarge the window/cutout openings on the 5 x 2 frames, c) provide smaller frame options—3 x 2 configurations, and d) make each frame size available in three colors—yellow, black, and white. The yellow and white frames will be backed with hook VELCRO® brand tabs/strips for application to a black VELTEX® brand platform, and the black frames will be magnetic-backed to affix to a metal surface.

During the second quarter of the fiscal year, the model/pattern maker built needed vacuum-form patterns. In March 2012, one sample of each frame type was vacuum-formed and cut to size. The finished parts were reviewed to determine the appropriate application and positioning of VELCOIN® brand tabs and magnetic tabs. Other product components and production processes were planned, including the final color selection for the mounting cards, the salvage of die-cut windows for masking overlays, and the provision of two separate kits—Large Set and Small Set. In May, a Product Structure Meeting was conducted to review the anticipated product design with Production staff. Needed catalog numbers were assigned.

Active work on this project throughout FY 2013 was intermittent and mostly confined to the tooling construction and specifications for the nine separate MATCH-IT-UP Frames. The project leader, the model/pattern maker, and Technical Research staff met repeatedly to fine tune the expected position and amount of magnetic strips and VELCRO® brand tabs/strips for each matching frame. All of the magnetic applications to the white frames will be the responsibility of Educational Aids staff during production; the VELCRO® brand tabs and strips will be applied to the yellow and white frames by the customer. The descriptions of the matching frames are as follows:

MATCH-IT-UP Frames (Large Set):

MATCH-IT-UP Frames (Small Set):

With regard to the authoring and completion of the accompanying guidebook, the project leader’s work on this component was curtailed by higher priority projects throughout FY 2014, including those inherited from other project leaders (e.g., Quick & Easy ECC) or newly-acquired projects (e.g., Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen and SPORTS COURTS: Touch and Play) with time-critical field test goals.

The project leader’s attention to higher-priority and/or time-intensive products (e.g., SPORTS COURTS: Touch and Play) continued to derail significant progress on the Match-It-Up Frames during the first three quarters of FY 2015. However, in July, the project leader returned her focus to the preparation of content and photographs for the accompanying guidebook. Representative photos were taken to illustrate the variety of activities (e.g., matching, counting, sequencing, patterning, etc.) that can be used with this product. The project leader invited ideas from other Research staff to broaden the assortment of activities for ideal target audiences, particularly for students with CVI. Rachel White assisted with editing the content of the instruction booklet prior to formal layout and design. The "Documentation" goal date was set for the end of September 2015.

A collection of photos shows activities facilitated by different sizes and colors of MATCH-IT-UP Frames in combination with APH's ALL-IN-ONE Boards. Activities include a calendar activity (yesterday/music, today/gym, tomorrow/art), a color matching activity using real objects (cups and balls), a counting activity using shapes from APH's Picture Maker, a science activity (identification of animal tracks using overlays from Sense of Science: ANIMALS), a shape recognition activity (circle, heart, square, triangle, star), and a continuing pattern activity (with alternating smiley and frowny faces).

Work during FY 2016

Various pre-production tasks continued throughout the first and second quarters of FY 2016; accomplishments included the following:

In late May 2016, a Specifications Meeting was conducted and attended by staff from all departments of APH (e.g., Production, Cost, Purchasing, Research, etc.). Staff reviewed the "recipes" for building the large and small frame kits. Production staff established a feasible goal for pilot/production runs. In mid-July, the first production steps were underway. Availability of the product will likely occur in the last quarter of FY 2016 or in early FY 2017.

Work planned for FY 2017

The project leader and the manufacturing specialist will continue to monitor the quality of the pilot run. The project leader will prepare content for the brochure and demonstrate the product at future conferences and workshops. The product will likely be showcased on the APH CVI Web Site given its suitability for students with this visual impairment as indicated by 90% of the field evaluators. The project leader will also conduct a post-availability survey to garner direct feedback about the product design and use.

Braille

Braille Buzz

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide young braille readers and writers with an engaging device for learning early braille literacy, and phonics skills, with auditory and tactile support

Project Staff

Background

Braille Buzz was adopted as a new product in August 2010. It was developed by engineering students, through the collaboration of Diane Brauner, a certified orientation and mobility specialist; Dr. Gary Bishop, a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina (UNC); and Dr. Richard Goldberg, a professor in the biomedical engineering department at UNC. Dr. Bishop teaches a course called Enabling Technology, in which students are required to create accessible games for individuals with disabilities. Brauner supplies the class with a list of game ideas that would be accessible to students who are blind and visually impaired. Each Spring Dr. Bishop hosts Maze Day, and students with visual impairments, their parents, and their teachers come to UNC-Chapel Hill to try out the games created by Dr. Bishop’s and Dr. Goldberg’s students. Braille Buzz is one of many prototypes developed through this collaborative effort.

The device submitted by Diane Brauner in December 2009 consisted of a plastic overlay that transformed a standard computer keyboard into a six-key entry device that emulated a Perkins Braillewriter. Each of the six keys that corresponded to a dot in the braille cell vibrated; the intensity of the vibration could be adjusted. The adapted keyboard was connected to any given computer through a USB port, thereby making it plug ‘n play. The accompanying software consisted of a series of activities to teach the student to form and to recognize specific braille symbols and to associate letters with their phonetic sounds.

The original prototype of the Braille Buzz required special software drivers to operate a modified computer keyboard. There were a number of problems with the software that delayed the project. In addition, changes in APH staff inhibited progress. However, providing a device to support early literacy concept and skill development was a high priority of the Research Department. In August 2013, the Braille Buzz project was assigned to the technology consultant and Braille Literacy Project Leader.

In FY 2014, a number of brainstorming/planning meetings were held to determine the scope and functionality of the machine. The decision was made to target the learning needs of young children with a low-cost, standalone device.

A description of the emerging unit is as follows. Braille Buzz will be a toy-computer for young children. The case size will be that of a standard notetaker with textured stripes planned to resemble a cartoon bumblebee—thus retaining the name. Braille Buzz will have a Perkins-style keyboard, and two rows of alphabet buttons. When a braille letter is pressed, the letter will be spoken. Likewise, when the correct combination of keys are pressed, the letter name will be heard. Additional functions will make the device fun and enticing to use. Tamper-proof features will protect both the child and machine.

Specific pre-braille writing skills addressed by Braille Buzz include isolated and coordinated finger movements, tactual discrimination of different braille shapes, and coordinated use of both hands. Braille Buzz will not require the degree of strength and dexterity needed for successful operation of a mechanical brailler.

Braille Buzz will introduce and reinforce phonemic awareness by isolating a beginning sound and then pairing a sound with its corresponding letter. Simple games using words, with sound effects as clues, are being developed.

In 2015, a working prototype was developed and made available for in-house testing. Necessary modifications to hardware and firmware were made. Models of the case (resembling a cartoon bumblebee) were fashioned on a 3-D printer. Work continued on the electronic boards.

Work during FY 2016

Braille Buzz was presented at the 2015 APH Annual Meeting as an input session. Suggestions were made with regard to functionality and appearance, and persons interested in field testing filled out a contact sheet.

A field test of the Braille Buzz prototype was conducted from December 2015 to March 2016. Diane Brauner also conducted an expert review as part of the field testing process. Prototype devices and surveys were sent out to 11 participants in eight states, some of whom shared the device, so responses were obtained from a total of 14 teachers. Participants from Kentucky, Iowa, Alabama, West Virginia, Arkansas, Washington, Michigan, and Massachusetts were included.

Setting

Out of 14 responses, 11 (78.6%) identified the setting as preschool. The other 3 (21.4%) of responses identified it as home, kindergarten, or public school (class level unspecified).

Age

Specific ages were provided for 15 children ranging from age 3 to 6. The average age of children was 4.3.

As field tests were returned, results were compiled by the research assistant. The Braille Buzz Project was then assigned to Dawn Wilkinson, Early Childhood Project Leader.

A meeting was held on May 16, 2016, to discuss field test results and plan for changes accordingly. Revisions are being made to address the following issues without having to make actual changes to the internal board:

Several comments noted that the child liked the rough/smooth texture of the device, while others requested color to make the device more appealing to students with vision. Given varying options of stripes with smooth/rough texture and black/yellow surface and key combinations, the majority of field testers want a black top with textured stripes and yellow keys and buttons, suggesting the bottom surface should be yellow.

Volume control

Five of the 14 evaluators want adjustable volume. This will be implemented using a simple key command.

On/Off Switch

Six field testers want an on/off switch. Two other testers commented that if it does stay on, the time-out must be increased. To accommodate this request, the time-out length will be increase to 3 minutes, and the spacebar will no longer be used to turn the unit on.

Functionality

Ten of the 14 participants discussed, at some point during the survey, the need for additional functions. Numerous comments from field testers suggested the inclusion of dot numbers and that the spacebar announce its function.

Braille Buzz will now have 3 activity modes:
Keyboard Mode: In this mode, Braille Buzz announces single dot numbers and the spacebar, along with announcing the braille letter buttons.

Letters mode: In this mode, Braille Buzz only speaks a keyboard combination that is an actual letter. When the braille letter buttons are pressed, dot numbers are given after the letter is spoken.

Phonics mode: Each letter written or pressed using the braille buttons speaks an associated phonics sound paired with a fun word and sound (e.g., D makes the sound "d" as in dog, and a barking sound plays).

An account was created from which to purchase realistic sounds and the APH recording studio was given a script from which they made voice recordings. Technical Research began working on a request for proposal to be sent out to potential vendors and the programmers continued to work on the product. Braille Buzz was granted Quota Approval, and a new projected for sale date of early FY 2018 was set.

Work planned for FY 2017

Project staff will work to complete the following tasks:

Braille Contraction Cards [Modernization]

(New)

Purpose

To modernize an existing product to reflect the change in the braille code from English Braille American Edition to Unified English Braille (UEB)

Project Staff

Background

This set of flashcards is to be used for practicing and learning the contractions and braille symbols in the UEB code. Included in both large print and braille are alphabet and numbers, punctuation, composition (typeform, capital, etc.) signs, one-cell whole-word and part-word signs, two-cell contractions, short-form words, and other print symbols.

The first 26 cards contain the braille alphabet on one side and large print on the other side. Remaining cards contain contracted braille on one side and both uncontracted braille and large print on the other side. The cards measure 3 1/2 x 2 inches. Blank cards, indexing cards with tabs, and a storage box are included. All cards have an orientation corner cut and an orientation braille line.

Work during FY 2016

The Braille Contraction Cards were identified for modernization in order to update the product to incorporate UEB. Work has begun on the revision.

Work planned for FY 2017

Input from the Building On Patterns consultant group will be finalized. This group will be involved to determine which additional cards should be included (e.g. +, -, @, ), (, etc). Braille files and print files will need to be produced. Production should start shortly after the beginning of FY 2017, and the product will then be available for sale.

Building on Patterns Unified English Braille Supplements

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide teachers and students with Unified English Braille (UEB) Building on Patterns (BOP) Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade materials for the 2015-2016 school year due to the January 4, 2016, implementation date for UEB established by the Braille Authority of North America (BANA)

Project Staff

Background

On November 9, 2014, BANA established January 4, 2016, as the date by which the United States will implement UEB. Because the BOP curriculum will take several years to completely revise for new educational standards and to teach UEB, interim materials are needed for teachers to instruct students who are learning UEB starting in 2015-2016 school year.

Relevance

Several states, including California, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and Washington, have published UEB transition plans that include instructing students in UEB in 2015.

The BOP UEB Supplements project was approved by the Product Advisory and Review Committee in November 2014.

In FY 2015, the project leader; Cay Holbrook, consultant; Ralph Bartley, Executive Director of Research; and Kate Herndon, Director of Educational Product Research determined that the BOP UEB Supplements should consist of all BOP student materials retranscribed in UEB if any changes for UEB were needed and free downloadable supplements with information on the UEB changes for teachers. In order to be able to have materials available for customers for the 2015-2016 school year, the teacher’s manuals and forms that only the teacher uses should not be updated. However, all the posttest materials for BOP First and Second Grade should be updated to UEB to help ensure these assessment could be administered smoothly. The BOP Kindergarten posttest materials do not need any changes for UEB. A timeline of August 2015 for the BOP Kindergarten and First Grade UEB materials to be available and December 2015 for the BOP Second Grade materials was set.

Using some information she had previously compiled, the project leader further examined the existing BOP materials to determine what student materials needed to be retranscribed. The project leader worked with Technical and Manufacturing Research to define the components and structure of the new kits. It was agreed that it would be less confusing for customers and would help Production to have a "Student Kit" containing just the materials needed for each student and provide the materials for teachers separately rather than continuing with the "Print Kit" and "Braille Kit" structure used for the existing BOP materials.

The consultants worked with the project leader via conference call and e-mail on the teacher supplements for BOP Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade. In addition to informing the teacher of the UEB changes in the student materials, some changes for the instructional text in the teacher’s manuals had to be included in the supplements. The project leader worked with the Transcription department to have the student materials retranscribed as needed. This included changes to the tactile graphic plates. Information about changes to the student materials provided by the transcribers was used in the teacher supplements. The Kindergarten and First Grade supplements and transcriptions were completed.

The project leader contacted National Braille Press to determine if A Braille Spelling Dictionary for Beginning Writers would be available in UEB for the Second Grade Unit 4 UEB Student Kit. The UEB version became available in May 2015.

In March, an e-mail was sent to Ex Officio Trustees and Instructional Materials Resource Centers with a request that they place orders for Kindergarten and First Grade UEB materials for fall fulfillment in order to meet demand and ensure availability. These orders were used to determine estimated sales for the new materials. Production of the English Braille American Edition versions of the materials being updated to UEB was stopped.

In early August, the BOP First Grade Units 1 and 2 teacher supplements were posted to the APH Downloadable Product Manuals webpage and the UEB kits were released. Releases of the Kindergarten materials and the materials for the rest of First Grade followed.

In addition to work previously reported in FY 2015, in late June, after discussions between the project leader and the vendor for the EBAE version of one of the chapter books for BOP Second Grade Unit 7, it was determined that the UEB version of the book would need to be transcribed and produced at APH. The book was turned over to the Transcription department in July, and the manufacturing specialist made the updates to the specifications that were needed due to this change.

First Grade through Unit 5 were released by the end of September. Despite the notice to and preorders from EOTs, these new UEB Student Kits went into backorder soon after they were released.

In early September, a notice was placed in the APH News and an e-mail was sent to EOTs and Instructional Materials Resource Centers with a request for orders for Second Grade UEB materials in order to meet demand and ensure availability. These orders were used to determine estimated sales for the new materials.

Also in September, the BOP First Grade Units 1 and 2 UEB Teacher Supplements were transcribed into braille and posted on the Downloadable Product Manuals webpage.

Work during FY 2016

In early October, the BOP First Grade Units 6 and 7 teacher supplements were posted to the APH Downloadable Product Manuals webpage and the UEB kits were released. In mid-October, the First Grade Posttest Teacher’s Manual updated for UEB became available; the UEB Posttest Consumables became available in November.

The project leader continued to work with the consultants, Julie Anderson-Ituarte, Louise Whitworth, and Holbrook, to finalize the UEB student material updates and teacher supplements for BOP Second Grade. Deanna Scoggins assisted with determining the changes needed for the Second Grade Posttest materials. Files were turned over to the Transcription department as soon as they were completed, but the student materials were given priority. Overall, the transcriptions and updates to the tactile graphics went smoothly, but there were a couple issues that had to be resolved with misplaced or missing plates. Second Grade Units 1–6 were formally turned over to Production in October and November. Unit 7 was turned over in December. The Posttest materials were turned over in early February.

The Second Grade Unit 1 UEB kit was released and the teacher supplement was posted in early December. Units 2–4, 6, and 7 of Second Grade were released and the supplements posted between December 23, 2015, and February 2, 2016. Unit 5 was not released until late February due to the additional time needed to produce the updated Game Cards that are part of the kit for this unit. The Second Grade Posttest materials became available at the beginning of April.

Transcription of the teacher supplements into braille continued during the fall and winter, and any corrections found during that process were incorporated into the print supplements. The final teacher supplement in braille was completed and submitted to be posted on the website June 28. It was posted July 29.

At the turnover meeting for the Second Grade Posttest in early February, it was decided to complete the production of the Posttest materials before working on the backorders of the First Grade unit materials. As of mid-April, the UEB Student Kits for Kindergarten and First Grade Units 1–7 were all in significant backorder. This was discussed at the Braille Production Meeting on April 18. A major concern is that students get the materials they need at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. At the meeting, it was reported that two Braillos were running BOP materials exclusively. However, the worksheets needed to be run on the Interpoint 55 Embosser because of the debossed page numbers that were added to the worksheets when First Grade was developed. In order to facilitate production, it was decided to remove those numbers so the files could be run on Braillos.

Another meeting was held June 10 to discuss the Forecast for BOP materials. At that meeting, it was explained that the sales of the old Print Kit and Braille Kit need to be taken into account when forecasting for sales of the new Student Kit. Also discussed was for Production to make an effort to change over to producing a smaller quantity of the BOP units on a monthly basis once they get caught up for what is needed at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. The smaller monthly quantities would be more manageable for Production, and inventory would build up when demand was lower to meet the demand when it increased. A new forecast for BOP was worked up to show what we would need to provide for projected sales through September and another amount to provide for projected sales during the following 6 months. Production worked to fill the backorders, including working overtime. However, as of the beginning of August, some kits were still in backorder.

Several presentations were made on the updated student materials and UEB Teacher Supplements, including presentations at the Annual Meeting of Ex Officio Trustees of the American Printing House for the Blind, at the 2015 Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference, and for groups of teachers and teachers-in-training.

Work planned for FY 2017

Production will continue to work to fill any still existing backorders and produce stock to prevent future backorders. The project leader will provide support and answer questions as needed.

Building on Patterns, Second Edition: Kindergarten Level

(Continued)

Purpose

To revise and update Building on Patterns (BOP): Kindergarten Level by creating a BOP Second Edition Kindergarten Level curriculum

Project Staff

Background

The Building on Patterns Kindergarten (BOP-K) Level is in need of revision because it will soon be 6 years old. At the April 2012 meeting, the Educational Products Advisory Committee recommended that there be a schedule for regular revisions of BOP.

Relevance

Since BOP-K was written, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have been developed and adopted by 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity. These standards include higher expectations in English Language Arts for young students. This edition of BOP will help students who are blind or visually impaired and will be braille readers to meet these new standards while learning braille.

Research

To inform the development of the BOP, Second Edition, APH gathered data on the first edition of Building on Patterns Kindergarten (BOP-K) through an online survey. Teachers of the visually impaired who have used BOP-K were asked to answer questions about how they used BOP-K, how the CCSS would affect their use of the curriculum, what changes and additions they would like to see in BOP-K, and what should be taught in a prekindergarten literacy program.

Data were gathered from qualified individuals. The majority of respondents are teachers of students who have visual impairments (97%). The remaining respondents include a reading specialist and a coordinator for visually impaired programs. Twenty-two respondents (29%) have taught students with visual impairments for more than 20 years, 22 (29%) for 11-20 years, 19 (25%) for 6-10 years, and 12 (16%) for less than 5 years. Of the 75 respondents, most used BOP-K with more than one child: 18 students were at the preschool level, 62 kindergarten, 35 first grade, and 24 at other levels. The other levels included students with additional disabilities and older students who needed to learn braille.

Data were collected from a geographically diverse population. Respondents are located in the United States Virgin Islands (1) and in 22 different states: Arkansas (1), California (2), Colorado (4), Connecticut (1), Illinois (11), Indiana (4), Kansas (6), Kentucky (4), Louisiana (5), Michigan (1), Missouri (5), Montana (2), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (1), New York (1), North Carolina (4), North Dakota (1), Ohio (3), Oklahoma (2), South Carolina (3), Texas (6), and Virginia (5).

The majority of the respondents to the survey used BOP-K as a supplement (38) rather than a complete literacy program (16), but some used it both ways (16). Some stated specifically that they used other materials to supplement BOP-K (2), and a few used it to just teach braille (3).

Seventy-seven percent of respondents indicated that their school district was implementing or planning to implement the CCSS. Most comments about how the CCSS would affect the teachers’ use of BOP-K indicated that they would still use the program and adapt the program to meet the standards required by their district.

Respondents’ comments stated that additional practice activities (21.4%), capitalization (10.7%), and punctuation (10.7%) should be added to the braille instruction in the program. Comments about what is not taught in BOP-K but should be taught before the end of a kindergarten program included sight words (27.5%), punctuation (17.5%), capitals (10%), and more vocabulary (7.5%).

When asked what is taught in BOP-K that should be taught in a prekindergarten emergent literacy program, 41% of the respondents who gave opinions said that phonemic awareness and phonics, the alphabet, or an introduction to the alphabet contractions should be taught at an earlier level. And 12.8% said that at least the first 12 lessons of BOP-K should be taught earlier. Other specific skills that received multiple mentions are these:

Additional comments from respondents included several requests for more practice materials, more tactile diagrams, and stories and poems with language and concepts more appropriate for students at the kindergarten level.

The survey results were compiled. APH staff, BOP writers, and BOP consultants reviewed the information. The group agreed that a majority of the recommendations would be applied in the writing of the prekindergarten and kindergarten levels.

Additional research is described in the remaining sections of this project report.

In June 2012, a conference on Building on Patterns and Braille Literacy was held at APH. Special invitations were sent to Frances Mary D'Andrea, Kelly Lusk, Anna Swenson, Marjorie Ward, and Diane Wormsley. Conferees also included APH staff and the team of BOP writers and consultants. Experts from the general education field made presentations on the Common Core State Standards and A Mainstream Publisher’s View of the Future of Literacy Education. A list of needed braille literacy projects was compiled and discussed, and the group chose the revision of the BOP Kindergarten Level as the number one priority. The BOP Second Grade writers all agreed to work on the revision, and Anna Swenson and Marjorie Ward agreed to join the group as consultants. Because research indicates that children begin the process of emergent literacy very early in life, it was decided that this product should provide instructional support for teachers of students with visual impairments, parents, and preschool teachers to guide braille-reading children ages birth through kindergarten through developmental activities that will strengthen their preparation for a program designed for the first grade level. The group immediately began to discuss and plan the content and format of the revision. Some of the conferees also began checking which Common Core State Standards are addressed and which are not addressed in the current BOP-K Level. A Trello account (an online management tool used for project collaboration) was set up for the group to share information.

Following this conference, periodic conference calls were held to further discuss the content and format of the new project. The group also began to gather current general education materials to reference.

The BOP Second Edition project was approved by the Product Advisory and Review Committee in August 2012.

The writing group met October 10-11, 2012, at APH. Regular conference calls were started after the October meeting to work on more details of the project. APH conducted a survey of teachers who have used the current BOP-K curriculum with questions developed by the group. The responses were reviewed and compiled to use as a reference for the writers.

Kay Ferrell agreed to join the BOP group in 2013 and began participating in the conference calls. During those conference calls, the group decided to have two separate curricula for the prekindergarten and kindergarten levels of BOP, Second Edition. General education "readiness" lists, assessments, and curricula for prekindergarten and kindergarten were explored. Suzette Wright shared multiple resources on emergent and early literacy with the group, including information from the 2013 International Preschool Symposium. Cay Holbrook shared information from the 2013 International Reading Association conference. A catalog of developmental skills that are typical precursors for formal braille literacy instruction was created. This catalog of skills was based on numerous existing emergent literacy lists that outline skills desired for children who are candidates to become braille readers. Prekindergarten and kindergarten scope and sequence charts were developed, and the Maryland Common Core State Curriculum Frameworks for Braille were matched up with the kindergarten scope and sequence to help the writers address the CCSS in their work.

The BOP group met at APH the last week in June 2013 for intensive work on the project. Presentations on the National Early Literacy Panel findings and APH early childhood products were given to the group, as well as a workshop on Unified English Braille (UEB). Because the Braille Authority of North America adopted UEB in November 2012, BOP Second Edition will be written to teach UEB

In FY 2014, the BOP group worked on BOP Prekindergarten.

In FY 2015, the BOP Writing Group Meeting was held June 25-29, 2015. They discussed what will be needed to start writing for the kindergarten level once the writing groups have all their prekindergarten lessons turned in for editing: updated standards for children to start first grade, look at general education kindergarten curricula, revisit the kindergarten themes discussed in 2012, and organize the work that has already been done for the kindergarten revision. The group agreed that at least the Writing portion of the lessons should be done as a thread to keep them consistent. The Kindergarten level will not use trade books. The group planned to talk more about Kindergarten on conference calls and have a meeting following the Getting in Touch with Literacy conference in November 2015.

Work began to compile the existing Kindergarten revision files.

Work during FY 2016

A folder containing the previous work on revising the existing Kindergarten curriculum was shared with the group. In a meeting following the Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference in November, the head writers and several BOP consultants met in person to discuss the development of the revised curriculum. The revision will take into account the national increased expectations for kindergarteners as was seen in the 2011-12 survey of the first edition of BOP-K and the CCSS. It was agreed that some version of the popular Color Me book, which is part of the current BOP-K kit, would be included in the revision. The group also decided to include some authentic literature (trade) books in this curriculum; this is a change to the previous plan. The number of units and approximate number of lessons was agreed upon; there were discussions about the pace of letter introduction, how to choose the high-frequency words to introduce, and initial lesson-writing assignments; and work assignments were made.

Based on research of several current general education curricula and in group members’ local school districts, the group decided to introduce all the letters of the alphabet by mid-year of the curriculum. Two of the head writers, Jo Ellen Croft and Robin Wingell, developed a systematic plan for letter, high-frequency words, and phonics introduction based on multiple resources and considerations, including the following:

This plan continued to evolve over the course of several group conference calls. There were several discussions about the introduction of long and short vowels; information was shared on this topic from Maryland’s College and Career Ready Standards for Unified English Braille (called the Maryland Common Core State Curriculum Frameworks for Braille prior to UEB adoption), general education scope and sequences, and several kindergarten teachers contacted by the writers. The introduction of capital letters was discussed and added.

Based on the general education curricula review, it was also decided to add two weeks of letter introduction/review at the beginning of the program. These lessons will also include introduction/review of the braillewriter, name writing, and other materials and activities that will be used throughout the rest of the lessons.

Other aspects of the scope and sequence for the program were constructed, including concept development, writing, phonemic awareness, and listening comprehension. For reference on concepts to focus on in the program, Ferrell provided the field test results for concepts tested by the Boehm-3 for children in Kindergarten through Second Grade who are blind or visually impaired. Luanne Blaylock reviewed the Boehm results, Common Core State Standards documents, APH Tactile Treasures, general education kindergarten concept lists, and the existing BOP-K curriculum to come up with a proposed list of concepts to include in the program. The group approved spatial, quantitative, number, shape, color, and other concepts. They also agreed that UEB math symbols should be introduced when appropriate, but that 3-D shapes are part of a math curriculum and did not need to be explicitly taught in a literacy program.

A Virginia writing group was added to the BOP team in March. This team consists of two well-qualified teachers of students with visual impairments from the Fairfax County area whom Swenson recruited: Mary Filicetti and Rebecca Peek. Dibble left the team after the completion of the assessment materials for BOP Prekindergarten (Pre-K), and this team was recruited partly to be the lead writers for the new kindergarten assessment pieces. As they become more knowledgeable about the program, they will also work on lesson writing. The group provided immediate contributions to the scope and sequence discussions, including a list of important phonological and phonemic awareness concepts and suggested order of introduction.

Unit themes were agreed upon and assigned to the groups. A list of suggested books to go with the themes was compiled, including books initially suggested for kindergarten during the June 2013 meeting. Jeremiah Rose worked on getting the books from the local library and interlibrary loan in time for the group meeting at APH in June.

Swenson compiled a document with information about writing stages and instructional elements for kindergarten, including the commonly used sequence of spelling stages from Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction (6th ed.) by Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton, and Johnston.

The BOP Writing Group Meeting was held June 27 through July 1. All together and in small groups, the team worked on and completed a detailed scope and sequence document for the kindergarten curriculum, paired with Maryland’s College and Career Ready Standards for Unified English Braille. Work also began on a template for the lessons. A significant addition to the instruction will be calendar activities; the writers noted that calendars are an important element of kindergarten and can be used for other number activities. Based on the BOP Pre-K and Second Grade assessment components, and their experience with general education assessments, Filicetti and Peek created an outline of an assessment plan that includes a pre-assessment, quarterly reviews, an end-of-year assessment, and ongoing progress monitoring. The group reviewed and discussed the books to pair with the units. It was agreed that there would be one book paired with each unit and that five of these would be books currently available and five would be commissioned by APH. This decision to have some books commissioned was made to reduce the possibility of one of the books going out of print.

Two researchers made presentations at the June meeting to inform the group about recent research regarding braille literacy. Dr. Robert Englebretson, Associate Professor at Rice University, presented on the topic, "Shifting Perspective on Braille: What We Can Learn from Cognitive Science." The presentation was based on the paper, "Orthographic units in the absence of visual processing: Evidence from sublexical structure in braille" by Dr. Simon Fischer-Baum and Dr. Englebretson. (2016) Main points of the presentation included the following:

The group spoke via online video networking with Dr. Mackenzie Savaiano, Assistant Professor of Practice at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, about the paper "Alignment of Braille and Print English for Learning and Instruction" by Savaiano and Dr. Devin M. Kearns, Assistant Professor at University of Connecticut, presented at the International Council on English Braille 6th General Assembly in May 2016. The paper described how the researchers studied a large sample of print to determine how frequently braille characters occur in English texts. The results suggested that braille contractions are a generally strong representation of printed English. However, it questioned the need to explicitly teach some of the contractions for low-occurrence words. There was discussion about teaching students that every word has a vowel and rules for short-form words.

After the June meeting, the group continued to work on the lesson template, finalized the authentic literature book choices, and began writing the lessons for the first unit. Resource Services worked to obtain permissions for the books choices for the project. Kate Herndon, Director of Educational Product Research, provided the project leader with contacts for potential writers for the five books to be commissioned. The project leader investigated and exchanged information with potential writers. Two writers were asked to work on the books.

Reference

Work planned for FY 2017

The majority of the instructional lessons will be written. The commissioned books will be written, illustrations and/or photos for them will be obtained, and the books will be laid out. Layout of the lessons will begin. The assessment materials and reference materials will be developed. Student and teacher transcriptions of the authentic literature and commissioned books, tactile graphics, and other materials for field test kits will be completed or obtained. The project staff will develop tooling and product specifications for field test materials.

Building on Patterns, Second Edition: Prekindergarten Level

(Continued)

Purpose

To revise and update Building on Patterns (BOP): Kindergarten Level by creating a BOP Second Edition Prekindergarten Level curriculum

Project Staff

Background

The Building on Patterns Kindergarten (BOP-K) Level is in need of revision because it will soon be 6 years old. At the April 2012 meeting, the Educational Products Advisory Committee recommended that there be a schedule for regular revisions of BOP.

In FY 2013, as a result of the November-December 2012 BOP-K survey results, work on a possible joint prekindergarten and kindergarten curriculum, and research into general education curricula, the BOP writing group decided to have two separate curricula for the prekindergarten and kindergarten levels of BOP, Second Edition. See Building on Patterns, Second Edition: Kindergarten Level report for more background, relevance, research, and work during FY 2013 in addition to that listed in this report.

In FY 2013, the BOP group met at APH the last week in June for intensive work on the project. Presentations on the National Early Literacy Panel findings and APH early childhood products were given to the group, as well as a workshop on Unified English Braille (UEB). Because the Braille Authority of North America adopted UEB in November 2012, BOP Second Edition will be written to teach UEB. The Director of Education and a Developmental Interventionist from Visually Impaired Preschool Services joined the group during the first 2 days of the meeting and provided helpful input. More details were added to the prekindergarten scope and sequence chart. It was decided that most lessons for prekindergarten would be paired with an authentic literature book that would be included in the kit.

The group worked on a list of books to include in the prekindergarten kit. A writing guide is in development.

In FY 2014, work continued on a writing guide and on a lesson template. The group determined an order for introducing the letters in the alphabet based on the usefulness of the braille contractions that go with them and the configurations of the letters in braille. The Speaking and Listening portion of the template was written to incorporate elements of a research-based interactive read-aloud technique of reading books to young children (McGee & Schickedanz, 2010). This technique incorporates elements of shared reading that the National Early Literacy Panel (2008, p. 162) found "improves oral language skills and print knowledge" for young children.

The group finalized the list of authentic literature books to include in the prekindergarten level, and Resource Services began work to obtain permission for the books to be included in the project. The books were matched up with the lessons based on subject matter of the book, the letters introduced in the lessons, and other concepts in the lessons. Seven high frequency words were chosen to include in the second half of the prekindergarten lessons for richer reading; however, students will not be responsible for independent reading and writing of them at this level.

Members of the group researched and compiled information on the content of general education curricula and preschool/early childhood standards for reference for the program development. Several reference books related to teaching literacy to young students were also evaluated, and copies of the most relevant books were provided to the writing groups, including the following:

The writers began writing the prekindergarten lessons. Lessons 2, 3, and 4 were chosen as the starting point, rather than Lessons 1, 2, and 3, because APH received permissions to use the authentic literature books matched with those lessons when the writers were ready to start. The lessons will include activities and materials to build tactual skills needed for reading and writing braille, including tactile storybooks to provide meaningful tracking activities that do not require reading. A variety of age-appropriate writing activities will also be included that are built on writing support descriptions researched and developed by Anna Swenson. The target for the length of the lessons, 45 minutes to 1 hour, is based on the professional consensus on service delivery time for early formal literacy skills for students in braille literacy programs found in the Delphi study by Koenig and Holbrook (2000).

The project leader and Holbrook conducted a product input session at APH’s Annual Meeting in October 2014. Some of the BOP group gave a presentation on the plans and work being done on the project, titled "Emergent and Early Literacy Instruction: The Construction of Revised Pre-K and Kindergarten Building on Patterns," at the 20th Anniversary Getting in Touch with Literacy (GITWL) Conference in Providence, RI, in December. Attendees at these presentations confirmed the need for a prekindergarten braille literacy program. The group also planned to consult with Dr. Mary Ehrenworth, who gave the keynote address at the GITWL Conference on the Common Core, when appropriate during the writing process. Lizbeth Barclay, former Coordinator of the Assessment Program at the California School for the Blind, joined the BOP group in June to provide internal expert review and assist with the development of assessment materials. Lea McGee from the Teaching and Learning Administration department at The Ohio State University was added as an early literacy consultant for the group.

A pilot field test was planned to get input on a few of the early lessons from teachers of the visually impaired who work with preschool-aged children at several locations around the country. This test was initiated.

References

During FY 2015, research and writing continued on the BOP Prekindergarten lessons, reference materials, and assessment materials.

The project leader and Holbrook conducted the pilot field test between October 2014 and January 2015 at three prekindergarten sites: two centers in Kentucky and New Mexico and one itinerate setting in Florida. Seven teachers (four center-based and two itinerant) and seven children participated. The demographic information on the children is as follows:

The purposes of the pilot field test was to ask for feedback from pre-K teachers on Lessons 2, 3, and 4; get video examples of pre-K children working through parts of lessons; check length of lessons and activities within lessons; and to gather information about service delivery impact on completion of lessons.

Teachers were provided with the following materials:

The teachers recorded their thoughts as they orally reviewed Lessons 2–4 prior to teaching them. The teachers also took videos while teaching portions of the lessons, provided responses to questionnaires about each lesson after teaching them, filled out Pre and Post Skills Checklists for their students, and participated in interviews with Holbrook about the lessons.

The key findings of the pilot field test are listed here:

Holbrook presented the BOP writing group with the findings of the pilot field test at a special meeting held at APH in January 2015 attended by the lead writers and most of the BOP consultants. At this meeting, the group reviewed and discussed the results of the pilot field test and worked on making changes to shorten and/or reduce the number of activities within the lessons, consolidate activities and reassign them to other lessons to provide greater consistency and reduce lesson length, decrease the length of the curriculum by shortening the length of review and assessment lessons, and attend to needed practice in areas of concern to teachers. The pre-K level structure of 28 instructional lessons and 4 review lessons, set up in 2014, was retained.

At the January 2015 meeting, attendees also reviewed and discussed an outline for the pre-K Reference Volume developed by Liz Barclay, with assistance from Kay Ferrell and Deanna Scoggins, from the existing BOP First Grade and Second Grade Reference Volumes. In addition, the group reviewed the lessons and scope and sequence for BOP Pre-K against a list of Head Start and preschool state standards, and field test results of concepts tested by the Boehm-3 with children who are blind or visually impaired provided by Ferrell. Based on this review, some concepts were added to the scope and sequence and some were removed.

An extensive review of the common activities, or threads, in the first nine lessons was worked on by APH staff before and by the whole group during the January 2015 meeting. Members of the group reworded, rewrote, or moved some activities, especially the writing activities, based on this review in addition to the changes made due to the pilot field test.

During the period between the January 2015 meeting and the June 2015 meeting, the group continued writing and editing instructional lessons and working on templates for the lessons to be written. The project leader and Anthony Jones worked on finalizing the designs of the tactile graphics from the writers’ drawings and ideas for the completed lessons. Related to this, Technical and Manufacturing Research personnel assisted with creating templates and specifications for the graphics, with testing 0.010-inch vinyl as the thermoform material for that graphics, and obtained 50 3D printed copies of a manipulative for one of the lessons for field testing.

Resource Services personnel continue the pursuit of permissions to use the chosen trade books. Two of the books will not be available from the publisher, and APH obtained the rights to print them. Two other books were replaced with new titles because they went out of print. Permissions for all titles except one were obtained by July of 2015. Personnel in the Resource Services department began writing image descriptions to be included in the braille teachers’ transcriptions of the trade books.

Lizbeth Barclay decided to leave the group; Frances Dibble, also a former Coordinator of the Assessment Program at the California School for the Blind, joined the BOP group to provide assist with the development of assessment materials. Susan Sullivan agreed to review some of the lessons based on her experience as a teacher of preschool students who are visually impaired.

The project leader and Robin Wingell presented a session, in part on the development of BOP Pre-K, at the CTEBVI conference in California.

The project leader turned over the first lesson for layout to InGrid Design in March. Some changes to the graphical layout of the lessons were made to distinguish BOP Pre-K from the lessons in the previous BOP teacher’s editions.

The BOP Writing Group Meeting was held June 25-29, 2015. A review of the common activities, or threads, in the second set of six lessons was worked on by APH staff before and by the whole group during the meeting. Minor changes were made to the wording in some activities, but the Writing activities were almost all changed to improve consistency in length and make sure the writing could fit on the paper specified. Work also moved forward on the third set of seven lessons. Dibble, Holbrook, and Swenson began detailed work on the assessment materials; it was decided that the review lessons would incorporate a Language Experience Story. Ferrell, Scoggins, and Susan Spicknall discussed and presented a restructuring of the reference materials. The group agreed that these would now include a reference and resource manual and guidebooks for the teacher of the visually impaired, classroom teacher, and parents. In addition, a template for the last group of six lessons was created and plans for transitioning to work on the BOP Second Edition: Kindergarten level were made.

After the June meeting, writing, editing, and layout work on the prekindergarten lessons continued. Drafts of all the instructional lessons were completed. Writing and editing for the assessment materials and reference materials also continued. The image descriptions for the trade books were completed, and transcriptions for the braille-reading teacher began.

Work during 2016

The BOP group continued to have regular Friday conference calls about the lessons, assessment materials, and reference materials. The writing groups submitted completed drafts of all the instructional lessons by the end of 2015. All drafts were reviewed and edited by Swenson and the project leader. Sullivan reviewed up through Lesson 24; a few of her suggestions were implemented, and all were saved to consider along with the feedback from the field test and expert review.

The project leader met with Technical Manufacturing & Manufacturing Research personnel to review the draft of the field test specifications. These specifications were edited as needed before components were turned over to Production. A meeting with Production was held in February to go over the components that would need to be produced, and a completion date of the end of July was agreed upon.

Sara Lee transferred from the Braille Transcription department to join Research and the BOP group as a Research Assistant in early January 2016. As an NLS Certified Braille Transcriber, she was able to provide a great deal of assistance preparing the multiple files for the braille student and teacher materials. She and Jeremiah Rose assisted with editing the lessons for grammar, format, and other preparation needed before the lessons were sent for layout. Illustrations for each lesson in the teacher’s manual and a cover design were finalized. Lee and the project leader reviewed and edited the lessons after layout. When the PDF files were finalized through Lesson 24, the project leader determined that the print teacher’s manual would have to be six volumes for the field test due to the length of Lessons 18–24 and the limitation of approximately 300 pages per spiral-bound volume. Due to time constraints, the last group of lessons, 26–32, did not go through layout and were provided to evaluators in a printed 8.5 by 11-inch format. All volumes were turned over to Production in July.

Braille transcriptions of the trade books for the students were completed, proofread, and turned over to Production in March and April. Transcriptions of the trade books for the braille-reading teacher (including image descriptions) for the first nine lessons were completed, proofread, and turned over to Production in April.

The project leader worked with Jones and Matthew Poppe to complete the design of all the tactile graphics for the tactile storybooks, workbooks, and worksheets. Lee produced the braille-ready files with the text pages for the tactile storybooks and workbooks. The project leader worked with the Braille Transcription department to have Roland® masters of the graphics created to use to produce the thermoformed tactile graphics pages. These were turned over to Production with their corresponding braille files (if one was needed) in April, May, June, and July; the last turnover date was July 5.

Many hours of work and review went into completing the assessment and reference materials, including discussions on the BOP group conference calls. Dibble and Swenson were the primary authors of the assessment Monitoring Charts, Reading Roundup lessons, and Reading Roundup Consumables. Lee assisted with the final edits of these documents, and the project leader finalized their format. They were turned over to Production in June.

The reference materials consist of a Reference Volume (at one point titled the Reference and Resource Manual) and three booklets (also called guidebooks): one for the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVI), one for the Preschool Teacher, and one for the Parents. The Anchor Center for Blind Children (Denver, CO) Visually Impaired Preschool Services (Louisville, KY), Swenson, Dibble, Sullivan, and others contributed photographs for the introductory booklets. Spicknall was the primary author for the Preschool Teacher Booklet and the Parent Booklet. Ferrell was the primary author of the Reference Volume. Other significant contributions were provided by Holbrook and Spicknall. In addition, the Resource Services department obtained permission to include several excerpts and complete research articles in this document that were requested by Ferrell. The reference materials were finalized and turned over to Production in July.

Dibble, Ferrell, Scoggins, and Spicknall departed the writing team after the completion of the field test materials, but will be available to assist with edits to the documents for which they were primary writers after feedback from the field test is received.

A request for field evaluators was included in the March APH News (www.aph.org/news/march-2016/), via e-mail to the Ex Officio Trustees, a notice at the Kentucky Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired conference, and a notice at the International Preschool Seminar. Out of 48 field evaluator applicants, 36 teachers with a total of 46 students were selected to participate in the field test. Eight of the teachers selected have more than one student: six have two students, one has three students, and one has four students. Field test sites were screened by the project leader and Holbrook based on the criteria specified in the call for field evaluators:

For this field test, we seek 50 tactual learners

Students who were not going to be 4 years old by the start of the field test and were not expected to be in kindergarten the year following the field test were excluded because the curriculum was written for students who are further along developmentally. Teachers who reported that they would see the student less than three days or less than two hours per week were excluded.

This is a summary of the characteristics of the 46 selected students reported by their teachers:

Child’s Age (at the time of application [March-June, 2016] or as of September, 2016; age at start of field test will be obtained for all students)

Tactual learner

Additional disabilities diagnosed

English spoken at home

Service delivery setting

The field test sites chosen were geographically diverse in the United States, as shown in the map below. One field test site was also chosen in British Columbia, Canada.

Map shows Field Test Sites located in the following states: California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.

The following is a list of the materials distributed to the field test sites:

Student Kit with

Word files for the Parent Letters, Monitoring Charts, and Reading Roundup Consumables and recordings of songs used in the lesson that are less likely to be familiar to teachers were also made available at this website: www.aph.org/buildingonpatterns/prek. Teachers were asked to customize the Parent Letters to themselves, their student, and their student’s family.

Questionnaires for the field test were developed to be administered via an online survey to obtain the following information:

Teachers were instructed to provide copies of the data collection forms documenting students’ progress to APH. Teachers were also asked to provide optional photo/video documentation of the student's participation in the lessons. A model release form was provided for teachers who were willing to do this in order to get the family’s permission.

Additional questionnaires will be developed to obtain teachers’ overall reaction to the program and support materials, including the Reference Volume and assessment plan at mid-point (in December, regardless of how far along the teacher and student are in the program) and end of using the program.

A list of potential Expert Reviewers was compiled with input from Ralph Bartley, Executive Director of Research; Kate Herndon, Director of Educational Product Research; Diane Wormsley, APH Executive in Residence (at the time); Holbrook; and Ferrell. The project leader sent requests to six candidates to do a complete review of the program and one to a candidate who specializes in tactile graphics. Five of the six complete reviewers and the tactile graphics reviewer agreed to do the expert review.

Materials were shipped and questionnaires were sent to Field Evaluators and Expert Reviewers in August.

Some of the BOP group gave a presentation on the changes based on the pilot filed test and the work being done on the project, titled "Prekindergarten Building on Patterns: Lessons Learned," at the 2015 GITWL Conference in Albuquerque, NM, in November. Attendees at this presentation were enthusiastic about the new level of the curriculum.

Work planned for FY 2017

The field test and expert review will be completed. Edits will be made to the materials based on the resulting feedback. A replacement book for Lesson 30 (confirmed in June 2016, as out-of-print by the publisher) will be obtained, and book-related edits will be made as needed to that lesson. A mold to make the injection-molded version of the fish manipulative for Lesson 3 will be created. Biographical information for the BOP Pre-K group will be written and provided, along with photos of the group members, in the Reference Volume or on a website. Production specifications for the curriculum will be written and production will begin.

Individualized Meaning-Centered Approach to Braille Literacy Education (I-M-ABLE)

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide an alternative model for braille literacy instruction to students with visual and additional disabilities

Project Staff

Background

The Individualized Meaning-Centered Approach to Braille Literacy Education (I-M-ABLE) project was initiated in early 2014, to address the needs of students learning to read and write braille with additional disabilities. Diane P. Wormsley, Ph.D., developer and author of the I-M-ABLE program, agreed to collaborate with APH to design a kit of instructional aids and materials to accompany the practice guide. The project focuses on providing an ever-growing population of students an appropriate pathway to successful literacy. These students are often not well served by traditional instructional strategies or materials. An individualized approach, which focuses on a student's particular interests to provide relevance and motivation for learning, offers a positive alternative to existing programs.

During 2015, numerous meetings were held to establish a working partnership between the American Foundation for the Blind® (AFB) and APH, to select and design components of the kit, to plan training videos/materials, and to develop a schedule and procedures for the field evaluation. An extensive survey was written with specific criteria for recruitment of field testers. Teachers and students were identified using predetermined profiles for the purpose of obtaining solid data. A teleconference was held with the teachers to explain the schedule and procedure for field evaluation.

An I-M-ABLE training workshop was organized and presented to an audience of six TVIs. Video clips were made of the training corresponding to various components of the I-M-ABLE approach. The rationale behind the approach, background on the differences between braille and print, and the importance of teaching proficient tactile skills were included in the workshop. These clips were edited, and a private link to them was created for access in field testing.

The field test kit consisted of the following:

(*The Reward Stickers were not identified by the field testers as critical to the kit, thus they were removed from the items to be included in the final version of the kit.)

Field testing began in October 2015 and extended throughout the remainder of that year and into 2016. Teleconference meetings were held with field testers on a 2-week basis initially, and then monthly as field testers began implementing the approach with their students. An electronica mailing list was created for field testers to use to communicate with each other and with the project leader and consultant.

Work during 2016

During January through March 2016, field testing of the I-M-ABLE kit continued. Monthly communication with the field evaluators was held by means of the electronic mailing list in January and February, but by a teleconference call in March since this was the last month of the field testing. The field testers completed a survey to evaluate their experience implementing the kit and answered questions about the importance of the various components of the kit.

In 2016, AFB Press published I-M-ABLE: Individualized Meaning-Centered Approach to Braille Literacy Education. This book will be purchased from AFB Press to form part of the APH I-M-ABLE Kit. To meet accessibility requirements, customers will be able to purchase either a kit with the I-M-ABLE print book or a kit with the I-M-ABLE electronic book. Other kit components to be included in both of these kits are as follows: instruction booklet written by Wormsley, Califone® CardMaster™ Card Reader with set of blank magnetic cards, Chunk Stacker game with braille labels for the game tiles, and four vacuum-formed trays. The instruction booklet includes a private website link to the training videos as well as an appendix with the handouts to accompany the videos.

It is anticipated that the APH I-M-ABLE Kit will be available for purchase on Quota before the end of 2016.

Work planned for FY 2017

Data on sales of the product will be collected by APH in preparation for a report to be written for review by the Expert Panel if the product is selected for review.

Quick Pick Braille Contractions [Modernization]

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide practice materials for elementary students who are learning braille

Project Staff

Background

A survey was conducted in 2001, in order to determine a need for study materials, in uncontracted and contracted braille. Research verified that drill and practice in identification of contractions increases reading speed and comprehension. The Quick Pick Braille Contractions set was developed in the early 2000s. The kit contains two packets of cards and includes all contractions in literary braille. Each card displays a symbol/group of symbols in contracted form in the upper left-hand corner. Four possible uncontracted equivalents are listed across the card below. A hole under each spelled-out version of the contraction allows the student to choose his/her answer. The reader selects an answer by inserting a stylus into the hole beneath his/her choice. If he/she is correct, the card can be slid from the packet; if incorrect, the card cannot be removed. This format for practice materials had already been used successfully with five previous Quick Picks: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Counting. Production of this product began in September 2005.

In 2015, Quick Pick Braille Contractions was identified for modernization in order to update the product to incorporate Unified English Braille (UEB). The updated kit will also include a flat stylus to prevent crushing of the braille on the cards.

Work during FY 2016

New catalog numbers were assigned for this new UEB version of Quick Pick. The words on the cards were rearranged for better spacing and alignment. The label for the outer cover for each set of cards was brailled. The project was assigned to Dawn Wilkinson, Early Childhood Project Leader in April 2016. Due to problems with the embosser and changes in other production processes, however, accurate embossing and/or printing of the cards has proven difficult. Production is still working on a solution.

Work planned for FY 2017

Final tooling and specifications will be completed. The UEB Quick Pick Braille Contractions kit will become available for sale.

Handwriting

For FY 2016, there are no projects in this category to report.

Study Skills / Organizational Skills

For FY 2016, there are no projects in this category to report.

Tactile Graphics

Braillable Pin-Fed Clear Adhesive Labels

(Completed)

Purpose

To expand the existing assortment of APH’s Braillable Labels and Sheets by offering a package of small, pin-fed clear adhesive labels

Project Staff

Front cover art of insert for Braillable Labels and Sheets

Background

The package of adhesive-backed perforated, clear pin-fed labels (measuring 7 x 2.4 in.) will expand the assortment of existing APH Braillable Labels and Sheets. The selection of Braillable Labels and Sheets currently includes the following options:

These clear, blank self-adhesive labels and sheets can be brailled and used to label items around the home, school, and office, such as household appliances, canned goods, greeting cards, adapted storybooks, CDs, folders, and more. The new package of small pin-fed labels would not replace or alter any of the existing Braillable Labels and Sheets packages; it would merely utilize an existing APH part number (15-016-005) that is currently used in-house to generate braille spine labels for guidebooks, textbooks, product binders, etc. It would also provide a new package that can be purchased by APH customers via Quota funds.

In July 2014, the project leader was forwarded an e-mailed product request from an adult braille reader asking APH to offer labels in rolls that could be "perforated so that one at a time could be brailled in a braillewriter or slate." Upon reviewing the request, the project leader sent the braille reader samples of APH’s current perforated braille spine labels to test out. The braille reader’s response after using the provided labels was the following: "I'd like to see these sets of labels sold in packages where the labels can be torn apart instead of peeled off. I would certainly purchase any perforated label packs APH decided to sell." With this affirmation of the labels’ usefulness, the project leader prepared and submitted a formal product submission form that explained the purpose of the new product like so: The perforated style of the smaller labels serves primarily as a convenient means for brailling self-customized labels with a braillewriter, slate/stylus, or braille embosser. The label size accommodates a maximum of 28 braille cells x 4 braille lines (via a slate and stylus). The labels can be trimmed smaller, if necessary. Target populations include braille readers of all ages, as well as teachers, braille transcribers, and parents who serve this population.

The product idea for smaller pin-fed adhesive labels was formally approved by the Product Evaluation Team on March 24, 2015, and supported by the Product Advisory and Review Committee on April 3, 2015. The product idea immediately shifted to the active product timeline and was assigned the grant number 584. Because the new package will be available as a separate label option, it was assigned the new catalog number 1-08895-00. It was also estimated that a package of one hundred 7 x 2.4 in. labels would cost $30-$40.00.

Product development was brisk, especially since a part number already existed for the braille spine labels currently used in-house; field testing was deemed unnecessary as well. The project leader merely had to update the content of the Suggested Uses insert (used generically for all Braillable Labels and Sheets packages) to reflect the availability of the additional label package. The graphic designer quickly updated the final layout and design of the insert, including the correction to the SimBraille presentation of the word "Braillable" to be UEB-compliant—that is, minus the use of the "ble" contraction. In July 2015, the braille translation of the new insert was underway; translation was completed in September.

Prepared specifications for the product’s design reflected APH’s intention to offer a total of 102 labels within the new Braillable Pin-Fed Clear Adhesive Labels (1-08895-00) package. The "extra 2" number of labels was guided by the current packaging style of the braille spine labels, thus making collation on the production floor easier. The labels will be accordion-folded into a re-sealable bag and placed inside a padded mailer along with separate print and braille versions of the Suggested Uses insert.

Work during FY 2016

On November 25, 2015, the manufacturing specialist presented the product specifications document to Purchasing and Production staff. A feasible timeline for production and availability goals were determined. The "Airplane" was announced on April 7, 2016, with a selling price of $23.00 (available with Quota funds). The project leader assisted with post-production tasks (e.g., prepared product brochure content).

Work planned for FY 2017

No additional development work is anticipated. The new package of Braillable Labels and Sheets (1-08895-00) is available for sale and posted on the APH Shopping site: shop.aph.org/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_Braillable%20Labels%20and%20Sheets_1054977P_10001_11051

Finger Walks

(Continued)

Purpose

To compile a book of thermoformed labyrinth designs, along with a description of how to use them, for recreational and therapeutic use and for tactile and spatial concept development

Project Staff

Background

The project idea was submitted by Maia Scott, an arts instructor who is blind, with the title Walking in the Dark. Ms. Scott has extensive experience using both walking labyrinths and finger labyrinths with learners of all ages, and she proposed to work with APH to produce a collection of classic labyrinth designs in a portable, tactile format.

Ms. Scott’s product submission cited several benefits of working with labyrinths, including enhancing spatial awareness; enhancing concentration, calm, and focus; the fun of making rubbings and exploring patterns; quiet play for children; and fine motor development. Research and personal experience of the project leader confirmed that finger labyrinth diagrams are used in schools and other settings as a way to calm and focus students who are overstimulated or acting out.

The project is regarded at APH as enhancing the area of tactile skill development, but also having potential benefits for O&M, social interaction, and sensory efficiency.

Work during FY 2016

The submission was reviewed and discussed by project leaders and other staff, then later approved by the Product Advisory and Review Committee. Ms. Scott was notified that her proposal was accepted. Preliminary work on layouts and choosing appropriate materials was begun.

Work planned for FY 2017

The project leader will work with the Model Shop and Technical and Manufacturing Research to design and produce tactile samples for field testing. Ms. Scott will be contacted for her input and may contribute content to the written guidebook or pamphlet.

Depending on time and staff needed, field testing in schools may be conducted in the spring of 2017.

Room with a View: Map-Reading Concepts and Skills
Formerly Room with a View: A Tactile Model of Indoor Settings

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide an interactive "room" with an assortment of realistic models that can be used to represent the interior layout of a single room (e.g., bedroom, kitchen, school classroom) or larger venue (e.g., shopping mall, grocery, library, etc.). Through the use of this tactile room, cognitive mapping skills and spatial understanding can be encouraged and practiced. The product will encourage the transition from three-dimensional models to abstract, two-dimensional layouts as typically encountered in Picture Maker and static raised-line maps.

Front cover art for Room with a View prototype

Project Staff

Background

As conceptualized by the project leader, the product will be an "indoor" equivalent to APH’s Tactile Town. Tactile Town primarily focuses on outdoor settings (e.g., street layouts, multi-block arrangements); in contrast, Room with a View: Map-Reading Skills and Concepts will address indoor surroundings and layouts. The concept of perspective will also be emphasized via tactile observation of the room from various angles (e.g., front view, top view, side view). Lesson plans will encourage the student to independently "re-draw" the room using a variety of tactile materials (e.g., DRAFTSMAN, flat VELCRO® brand compatible or magnetic shapes).

The product addresses the following needs and requests from the field:

Successfully navigating an indoor setting can be assisted by the modeling of a room’s layout via the use of models. Creating a tactile map allows a student with visual impairment/blindness to "establish a better understanding of the ‘big picture’ of the classroom layout and/or school environment." iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/v01-clearview/cresource/q2/p06/

"Touch plays a role in our understanding of spatial awareness in the same way that we rely on our sense of sight. Feeling a three-dimensional model to comprehend a layout of a room triggers the same part of the brain that would have been activated if the room was seen."—Dr. Thomas Wolbers, Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems www.ed.ac.uk/news/all-news/spatial-260511

The former field evaluation of Tactile Town, with 114 students with visual impairments and blindness, will greatly impact and guide the design and presentation of Room with a View. Field test results indicated that a three-dimensional realistic model was beneficial to the target populations because of the following features:

Anticipated target populations for Room with a View will likely mirror those for Tactile Town, specifically preschoolers and students in Grades K-3 with visual impairments/blindness, as well as low vision and tactile readers in Grades 4-8. However, the product could potentially be used by older students and adults who want to make a mockup of a layout of a room in a more realistic manner. The format of the product will appeal to sighted peers and family members as well.

In May 2013, the project leader prepared a formal Product Submission Form describing the unique purpose and need for Room with a View. In August 2013, the concept was considered and approved for development by both the Product Evaluation Team and Product Advisory and Review Committee.

Significant work on Room with a View was curtailed during FY 2014 and FY 2015 by the project leader’s involvement in higher priority projects that were in later stages of development, field testing, and/or production. However, the project leader gave periodic thought to anticipated components and tools for Room with a View including the following:

The project leader initially focused on finding a feasible production method for designing the walls of the room. Specifically, the project leader needed walls that could be adjusted to various sizes and configurations, but were also durable and colorful with tactually discernible windows and door(s). She built a representative model using 3 mm thick foam with interlocking, jigsaw-puzzle-like sides. When locked together, the walls stand upright and can be positioned on a VELTEX® surface via hook material. It is anticipated that the outer sides of the foam wall will be silkscreened with a visual pattern (e.g., brick wall) to provide realism and visual interest/contrast. In theory, sets of walls in different lengths and designs (e.g., with or without doors/windows, etc.) can be provided to accommodate a variety of room scenarios.

The project leader also investigated commercially-available miniature furniture and possible in-house 3-D printing or liquid resin options for generating APH original parts. Plans also included the incorporation of APH existing manipulatives (e.g., people models from Tactile Town).

Work during FY 2016

Noticeable strides were made on the development of the Room with a View prototype throughout FY 2016. Innovative approaches to the design and construction of three-dimensional manipulatives and related tactile materials were executed, especially the following:

Image of 2D room layout of a classroomImage of 2D room layout of a kitchen

Snapshot image of Room with the View template that shows a clear working/drawing canvas surrounded by room features and wall types

The artwork for the product logo, guidebook covers, felt board inserts, and outer carrying box were prepared by Laura Greenwell. By the end of July 2016, the entire structural design of the product itself was determined. The project leader and research assistant focused the last quarter of the fiscal year on writing and editing the guidebook content, which would be used in field testing.

Work during FY 2017

The project leader anticipates field testing the product during the first quarter of FY 2017. Appropriate field test sites will be identified and evaluation materials readied. Compilation of the field test data will occur. Revisions to the final product will be based on feedback from teachers and students. Production tooling efforts will then follow. The product will likely become available in FY 2018.

Sketch-A-Doodle

(New)

Purpose

To offer an affordable, no-frills drawing surface for producing immediate tactile displays created using the same drawing film offered with the DRAFTSMAN Tactile Drawing Board

Project Staff

Photo of the field test prototype of the Sketch-A-Doodle

Background

The idea for the Sketch-A-Doodle occurred to the project leader during the development of Color-by-Textures Marking Mats (see separate report). After noticing that the black, underside foam surface of the Color-by-Textures’ nonskid tray provided an ideal drawing pad when combined with the drawing film included with the DRAFTSMAN Tactile Drawing Board (Catalog No. 1-08857-00), the project leader submitted a formal product submission and recommended the development of a significantly less costly drawing board for creating tactile displays. The current cost of the DRAFTSMAN Tactile Drawing Board exceeds $190.00. Although not intended as a substitute for the DRAFTSMAN Tactile Drawing Board, the Sketch-A-Doodle (originally titled "Ready-to-Draw Tray") will provide an affordable alternative for students to independently draw their own graphics, or for those working with students with visual impairments and blindness.

The product submission form was shared with an expert reviewer who stressed that the "DRAFTSMAN is a wonderful tool for creating quick tactile graphics. However, at a cost of $180, it is hard to justify buying one for each tactile learner. I suspect classrooms share this tool as opposed to having one for each student. There is a definite need for a quick and easy tactile graphic tool…I believe TVIs and families would embrace a more economical solution."

On January 11, 2016, the product idea for the Sketch-A-Doodle was considered and approved by the Product Evaluation Team who assessed its product development difficulty as "low" and production difficulty as "low." The estimated yearly volume for the first 3 years is 1,000 units. On February 8, 2016, the Product Advisory and Review Committee reviewed and approved the development of the product. The product transitioned immediately to the active timeline and was assigned the grant number 621.

Work during FY 2016

Prototype design and construction of the Sketch-A-Doodle was swift. Within months after transitioning to the active timeline, the project staff accomplished the following tasks:

A field test announcement was posted in the April 2016 issue of the APH News www.aph.org/news/april-2016/. Approximately 25 teachers expressed interest in participating in the evaluation of the Sketch-A-Doodle. From this sample, 13 field evaluation sites were selected based upon geographic location, number of available students, and type of instructional setting; preference was given to those who had not recently field tested an APH product. Some selected sites allowed multiple teachers to share and evaluate the prototype.

Potential evaluators gave reasons for wishing to field test the Sketch-A-Doodle with their students with visual impairments and blindness; reasons hinted at the product’s usefulness even before formal field testing. Their explanations included the following:

Prototypes of the Sketch-A-Doodle and related materials (e.g., styluses, drawing film, and Instruction Booklet) were mailed on April 20, 2016. Evaluators were asked to return their completed evaluation forms and student outcome forms by the June 15, 2016.

Field test evaluation forms were completed by 14 teachers of the visually impaired and blind. One selected evaluator did not complete and return her evaluation form. The field evaluators represented the states of Arkansas, California, Colorado (2), Maine, Michigan, Minnesota (2), North Dakota, New Jersey (2), Pennsylvania, and Washington (2). The largest percentage (71%) of sites represented itinerant settings. Table 1 and Figure 1 show the distribution of field test sites according to type of educational setting and geographical location.

Table 1: Type of Education Setting
Type of Educational Setting (N = 14)State Location of Field Test SitesPercentage
ResidentialAR, CO (2)21%
ItinerantCA, ME, MI, MN (2), ND, NJ (2), PA, WA71%
Home schoolWA7%

Figure 1. Geographical Distribution and Educational Setting of Field Test Sites

Participating field evaluators varied in their teaching experience. The largest percentage (36%) reported 6-10 years teaching experience, 29% reported 11-15 years teaching experience, and 7% reported 16-20 years teaching experience. The percentage of teachers with less than 5 years of teaching experience mirrored the percentage of teachers with more than 21 years of teaching experience—14% within each category.

Most evaluators indicated a prior need to create tactile graphic displays for their students either "frequently" (43%) or "occasionally" (43%); 14% "rarely" or "never" created graphics for reasons such as the following: "Most of my students have braillists working with them on a daily basis. They are the ones making tactile graphics on a consistent basis."

The majority of evaluators (71%) had previously used APH’s existing DRAFTSMAN Tactile Drawing Board. Repeated complaints revolved around students’ struggles to properly place the drawing film on the board, noting that it was especially "difficult for students with low muscle tone" or younger students. The evaluators were also very familiar with other means of creating tactile displays. Popular materials used were foam stickers, glue, graphic tape, tracing wheels, APH’s Quick-Draw Paper and Picture Maker, as well as specific commercial products—Wikki Stix®, Pictures in a Flash, and Sensational BlackBoard. Many of these tools and materials were also used independently by students.

As shown in Figure 2, the field evaluators used the Sketch-A-Doodle with a total of 37 students who represented slightly more males (54%) than females (46%).

Figure 2. Students’ Gender

As apparent in Figure 3, the sample population represented cultural diversity: 51% White, 8% Asian, 11% Hispanic, 11% American Indian, 5% Black, 8% Two or more races, and 5% Other. Over a quarter (27%) of the students had other disabilities such as cognitive impairment, deafblindness, adjustment disorder, and autism.

Figure 3. Students’ Ethnicity

Students ranged in age from 5-80 years old. Equal percentages were either 7-9 years old (13%), 16-18 years old (13%), or 39-80 years old (13%). Likewise, identical percentages were either 10-12 years old (22%) or 13-15 years old (22%). The remaining 16% of students were 5-6 years old. (Refer to Figure 4.)

Figure 4. Students’ Age Range

The distribution of students by grade level spanned from kindergarten to college graduate. Nearly equal percentages of the student sample were in Grades K-3 or Grades 4-8—30% and 35%, respectively. Nearly one-fifth (19%) were high school students. The grade level for one student was unreported. (Refer to Figure 5.)

Figure 5. Students’ Grade Level

As evident in Figure 6, over half (51%) of the students were braille readers. Each remaining classification of primary reading medium was represented by 8% or less of the student sample that included large print readers, auditory readers, beginning braille readers, and dual readers. The preferred reading method for one student was unreported.

Figure 6. Students’ Primary Reading Medium

The field evaluation form allowed teachers to rate each feature of the Sketch-A-Doodle. Table 2 provides the average rating for each product feature.

Table 2: Overall Design of Sketch-A-Doodle
Product FeatureNumber of EvaluatorsAverage Rating54321
Overall look/appearance of productN = 144.7879%21%
Overall sizeN = 144.5771%21%7%
Color of frame (green)N = 144.4357%29%14%
Color of rubber mat (black)N = 145.00100%
Ease of loading drawing film under clipsN = 143.7143%21%7%21%7%
Durability of mat/boardN = 144.8686%14%
Portability/weightN = 144.9393%7%
Stability provided by rubber feet during drawing tasksN = 145.00100%
Quality of tactile lines producedN = 143.7730%23%38%8%0%
Versatility for various tactile drawing tasksN = 134.4357%36%7%

Specific evaluators’ comments related to the features of the Sketch-A-Doodle supported its overall strong ratings; comments included the following:

However, contradictions were encountered in evaluators’ individual assessments of the prototype. For example, some evaluators liked the clips and some didn’t, some liked the quality of tactile lines generated and some didn’t, and some liked the color of the frame and some didn’t. The variance in responses highlighted features for possible improvement for the finished product; features receiving a rating below 4.00 will be addressed.

One hundred percent of field evaluators thought the accompanying Instruction Booklet sufficiently described the purpose and use of the Sketch-A-Doodle. It offered extended uses for creating tactile images (e.g., grids) using the drawing board in combination with off-the-shelf items, such as needlepoint canvas.

Photo of a tactile grid created with a combined use of the Sketch-A-Doodle and needlepoint canvas

Two types of drawing styluses accompanied the Sketch-A-Doodle—the two-ended stylus included with the DRAFTSMAN, and a noticeably shorter, single-tip stylus. Table 3 shows how frequently each stylus or ballpoint pen was used.

Table 3: Use of Stylus and Drawing Tools in Combination with Sketch-A-Doodle
Stylus/Drawing ToolNumber of EvaluatorsFrequentlyOccasionallyNever
Two-ended black stylusN = 1479%21%
Short single-tip stylusN = 1443%43%14%
Ballpoint penN = 1421%21%57%

Photo of a raised circle being drawn with the short one-tip stylus

Each stylus type was preferred for different reasons and varied from user to user:

Some evaluators/students used other drawing tools such as tracing wheels and a wooden braille eraser.

The Sketch-A-Doodle was favorably received by the students themselves. Evaluators indicated that 100% of the students enjoyed using the drawing board. Supportive comments included the following:

Positive statements about the Sketch-A-Doodle’s ease of use were contradicted by expressed frustrations from some teachers and students regarding the clip style. Although the task of loading the film onto the board was easy and intuitive for some students, it posed challenges for others. Some evaluators and students described the clips as "too strong" or "didn’t always hold the film in place." Younger students and those with fine motor difficulties needed assistance with the clips.

A small percentage (36%) of the field evaluators indicated that the Sketch-A-Doodle was used in the company of sighted peers and family members. Specific comments highlighted sighted peers’ reactions to the board and related tactile drawings:

Sixty-five percent of the evaluators indicated that Sketch-A-Doodle offered specific advantages over other drawing boards or tools for creating tactile graphics: "it’s lighter," "more streamlined," "it was ready to go," "quick, easy, understandable, fun, etc.," "space and easier to use for a variety of shapes," and "it’s more convenient for quick tactual displays." One evaluator also noted a particular advantage over the DRAFTSMAN Tactile Drawing Board: "DRAFTSMAN has harder rubber surface, therefore harder for students/anyone with weak muscles or strength issues of any kind. Sketch-A-Doodle was easier." Over half (54%) of the evaluators indicated being more impressed and pleased by the Sketch-A-Doodle compared to their original expectations prior to field testing; 23% indicated that its usefulness matched their original expectations; and another 23% indicated being less impressed by its usefulness. An explanation for the latter assessment was disappointment that it didn’t work in combination with regular paper as well as plastic film.

Using a rating scale of 7 = Strongly Agree to 1 = Strongly Disagree, the evaluators gave a combined score of 6.50 when asked to indicate how well Sketch-A-Doodle met its original goal and objective of providing a tool for quickly creating tactile displays for and by students with visual impairments. (Refer to Table 4.)

Table 4: Overall Assessment of Sketch-A-Doodle
Sketch-A-Doodle provided a tool for quickly creating tactile displays for and by students with visual impairments.
N = 14 evaluators
7
Strongly Agree
6 5 4 3 2 1
Strongly Disagree
71% 14% 7% 7%
Average Rating
6.50

Evaluators noted a variety of skills and concepts supported by the use of the Sketch-A-Doodle including the following:

Photos of tactile drawings (e.g., geometric shapes, grids, fractions, covered wagon) created by students with the Sketch-A-Doodle during field test of the prototype

As Table 5 reveals, the most appropriate target populations for the Sketch-A-Doodle as assessed by the 14 field evaluators were preschoolers with blindness, tactile readers in Grades K-8, high school students with low vision and blindness, and adults with blindness.

Table 5: Appropriate Target Populations
Target PopulationPercentage of evaluators (N =14) indicating appropriateness of product for target population
Preschoolers who are blind86%
Preschoolers with low vision57%
Low vision students in Grades K-364%
Tactile readers in Grades K-379%
Low vision students in Grades 4-857%
Tactile readers in Grades 4-886%
High school students with low vision and blindness93%
Students with additional physical disabilities50%
Students with deafblindness64%
Sighted peers57%
Adults with blindness86%
Low vision adults7%
Sighted adults7%
Other (indicate):* "Instructors, teachers, employers, etc. Anyone who wants to convey something in a tactile form rather than describing it." * "Limitless"

Although not unanimous, the majority (79%) of field evaluators recommended APH produce and make available the Sketch-A-Doodle, 14% were uncertain, and only one teacher indicated "No" because she still preferred the DRAFTSMAN. Over half (67%) of the evaluators indicated a preference for the Sketch-A-Doodle over the DRAFTSMAN; 22% preferred the DRAFTSMAN; and 11% didn’t notice an appreciable difference between the two drawing boards. If the cost of the Sketch-A-Doodle were $80-$100 lower than than the cost of the DRAFTSMAN, 50% of the evaluators would purchase only the Sketch-A-Doodle, 29% would purchase both drawing boards, and 7% would purchase only the DRAFTSMAN; 14% of the evaluators were unfamiliar with the DRAFTSMAN and were therefore unable to make a choice between the two drawing boards.

All of the evalutors thought the final kit should include a Sketch-A-Doodle board, a 25-sheet package of drawing film, the two-ended black stylus, and a print Instruction Booklet; fewer evaluators recommended inclusion of the short single-tip stylus and the a braille Instruction Booklet—79% and 93%, respectively. Several evaluators recommended a different product name (e.g., Sketchman, Tactile Sketch, Tactile Doodle Board, and Make-A-Tactile Board).

Work planned for FY 2017

Planned improvements to the Sketch-A-Doodle will be decided based on ratings and comments from field evaluators. A more descriptive name for the final product will be selected. Quota approval will be requested for the product from the Educational Products Advisory Committee in October 2016 during Annual Meeting. The project staff will undertake tooling tasks to prepare the product for mass production and then monitor initial pilot and production runs. The project leader will assist in typical post-production activities.

Tactile Graphic Line Slate

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide an APH-original slate, in combination with an appropriate stylus, that accommodates the tooling of various types of tactile lines onto a variety of media (e.g., paper, vinyl, drawing film). The tool can be used by teachers, transcribers, and students for preparing graphical displays.

Project Staff

Background

The idea of the Tactile Graphic Line Slate was conceptualized by the project leader in 2009. A technical drawing of the product was prepared by the model/pattern maker that illustrated possible line types. Due to higher priority projects, the project leader chose to table the idea for years before formal submission and presentation to in-house committees. Occasionally, the project leader shared the idea with other staff who, in turn, encouraged the development of the tool and described it as innovative and an interesting deviation from typical braille-producing slates.

Photo shows the prototype of the Tactile Graphic Line Slate.

As conceptualized, the slate would allow tooling of a variety of line types (e.g., narrow solid, wide solid, dashed, dotted, etc.) during the preparation of tactile displays. Ideally, the lines could be drawn onto a variety of media such as standard braille paper, vinyl (e.g., PermaBraille), DRAFTSMAN film, and possibly aluminum foil. Currently available tools to generate quick "line" graphics are limited, complicated, and often produce the same type of line. The slate’s user-friendly design will mimic hinge-style braille slates that have been in use for decades and are familiar to the intended audience.

Following the completion of some major products—for example, Tactile Town and Giant Textured Beads with Pattern Matching Cards—the project leader resurrected the technical drawing of the Tactile Graphic Line Slate and submitted a Product Submission Form in April 2012. In July 2012, the concept was considered and approved for development by both the Product Evaluation Team and Product Advisory and Review Committee. The presentation of the idea was supported by the project leader’s demonstration of actual samples that simulated expected line types and applications onto a variety of media. Possible stylus designs were also shared. The product transitioned to the active timeline by the end of the FY 2012.

Throughout FY 2013, development efforts related to the Tactile Graphic Line Slate were strictly devoted to prototype development. Despite the uniqueness and complexity of the slate’s design, as well as the accompanying stylus, multiple prototypes were quickly generated by the model/pattern maker via a liquid resin casting process. The final prototype design is the outcome of careful fine-tuning of the molded depth of each line type to generate the ideal line height when tooled onto various types of paper and vinyl. Although a clear, transparent version of the slate was originally planned, it became evident during prototype development that a blue, opaque version provided good visual contrast between the slate and white vinyl and paper.

Throughout FY 2014, field test efforts and activities characterized most of the progress on the Tactile Graphic Line Slate. The final prototype can be described concisely as a blue (opaque), hinged slate that measures approximately 12-by-2.5 in. wide to accommodate standard sheet sizes of 8.5-by-11 in. and 11.5-by-11 in. A variety of materials (paper, vinyl, foil, or drawing film) can be sandwiched between the slate’s bottom and top halves; two pins are located on the end opposite the hinge to secure the material while drawing.

With its unique two-ended stylus, the Tactile Graphic Line Slate generates six discernible line types that are commonly used in the production of tactile graphic materials. With the slate oriented upright with the hinge on the left side, the lines available from top to bottom are:

Large Dotted Line

Small Dotted Line

Wide Solid Line

Dashed Line

Thin Solid Line

Vertical Bar Line

Two-ended black stylus

The unbreakable black stylus has two distinguishable tip ends—rounded and pointed. The rounded end of the stylus is used to tool two of the line types (large dotted and wide solid) and the pointed end of the stylus is used to form the remaining four line types. The manner in which the stylus is held will be influenced by the user’s preference and the force required to tool the selected line; more pressure is needed to tool vinyl material as opposed to braille paper, thin film, or heavy-gauge aluminum foil. Some lines (wide and thin solid lines) are drawn with a fluid, gliding motion; other lines (large dotted and small dotted) demand a downward, puncturing style. The dashed line and vertical bar line require a steady stroke to maintain consistent line height and length. Although the Tactile Graphic Line Slate is best for generating straight tactile lines, it can also be used to make curved lines, as well as hybrid lines by mixing together some of the six line types in various styles (e.g., dot-dash-dot).

A custom-made clear plastic sleeve was created to store and protect the slate and stylus together. A package of PermaBraille—a vinyl type that is particularly conducive to tooling via the slate/stylus—was included with the slate and stylus; sheets of drawing film and standard braille paper were furnished as well. The accompanying instruction booklet was authored and graphically designed by the project leader; photos illustrating proper handling of the stylus and possible graphic outcomes were incorporated. The content on the instruction booklet juxtaposed the advantages and disadvantages of each possible drawing medium.

Photos demonstrating proper handling of stylus for tooling dotted lines; photo demonstrating proper handling of stylus for tooling solid lines.

The project leader selected field test sites from a list of those who responded to a field test announcement published in the September online issue of APH News (www.aph.org/advisory/2013adv09.html). Prototypes were mailed to field test sites on October 28, 2013. Evaluators were allowed until the end of January 2014 to use the slate and stylus to prepare tactile graphics of their choosing. Evaluators were expected to complete and return an evaluation form, after which they were allowed to keep the prototype in appreciation for their involvement in the field test endeavor.

In March 2014, the field test stage concluded after the project leader’s preparation of a final field test report, a summary of which follows:

The Tactile Graphic Line Slate was used by a total of 21 evaluators representing the states of Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio (2), Missouri (5), Nebraska, New York (2), Oregon, Texas, South Dakota, and Washington (6). Evaluators included teachers of the visually impaired, braillists/braille transcribers, braille coordinators, orientation and mobility instructors, special education teachers, and sensory impairment specialists. The evaluators’ experience designing tactile graphics varied from 1-5 years to 21 or more years. As shown in Figure 1, the types of educational settings represented by the evaluators varied with over half (53%) as "itinerant" or "itinerant/school-based."

Figure 1. Type of Educational Setting

The field evaluators were well versed in a variety of tactile methods. Collage, serrated spur wheels, and Wikki Stix® were among the most "frequently" or "occasionally" used tools/materials for creating tactile graphic displays. (Refer to Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Frequency of Use of Tactile Methods

The types of graphics the field evaluators routinely prepared varied as well, with simple raised lines/shapes the most tooled either "frequently" or "occasionally" by 100% of the evaluators; mathematical displays, science diagrams, and geographical maps were also in demand. (Refer to Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Types of Graphics Produced

The use of tactile graphics routinely produced by the group of field evaluators encompassed a variety of situations:

The Tactile Graphic Line Slate received consistently high ratings across all evaluated features and components. Table 1 indicates average ratings.

Table 1: Overall Ratings of Tactile Graphic Line Slate
Tactile Graphic Line Slate FeatureAverage Rating (N=21)
Overall Presentation4.62
Size/Length4.62
Number/Variety of Lines 4.42
Tactual Differences Between Line Types 4.67
Color 4.19
Similarity to Braille Slate Design 4.62
Ease of Use 4.43
Accompanying 2-ended Stylus 4.86
Usefulness w/Variety of Media 4.52
Possible Uses and Applications 4.62
Accompanying Instruction Booklet 4.81

Over 70% of the evaluators gave the highest rating ("5") to the following features/components: tactual differences between line types, similarity to braille slate design, two-ended stylus, and the accompanying instruction booklet. (Refer to Figure 4.)

Figure 4. Ratings of Tactile Graphic Line Slate Features

Although (67%) of the evaluators rated the blue color of the line slate a "5," nearly 30% rated it a "3" or "1." Those who were dissatisfied with the color suggested making the slate clear/transparent for easier alignment and plotting of tactile elements within a graphic. The results of a follow-up survey with all evaluators echoed a desire for a combined blue and transparent slate; the blue color would continue to provide needed contrast against white paper/vinyl, and transparency would assist in easier positioning of tactile elements.

The evaluators’ use of the Tactile Graphic Line Slate with a variety of materials reinforced the tool’s versatility. Vinyl (APH’s PermaBraille) reportedly generated the best lines across the board. The large and small dotted lines, as well as the dashed and vertical lines, formed well in braille paper. The wide and solid lines took some practice/finesse to minimize tearing of the paper while tooling. Although heavy-gauge foil was only used by three of the evaluators, 100% indicated that all line types formed well on this medium. The DRAFTSMAN drawing film served as a fourth successful tooling option.

Figures 5, 6, 7, and 8 show the reported outcomes of the tooled lines across the four tested media types.

Figure 5. Braille Paper Outcomes

Figure 6. Heavy-Gauge Foil Outcomes

Figure 7. Drawing Film Outcomes

Figure 8. Vinyl Outcomes

All six line types accommodated by the Tactile Graphic Line Slate were used to some extent by the majority of field evaluators. (Refer to Figure 9.) The thin solid line, wide solid line, and dashed line were the most popular. The vertical bar line was reported as unused by 19% of the evaluators.

Figure 9. Frequency of Line Type Use

Some evaluators created combination lines with the slate such as a thin solid line with vertical bars for graphs, dash/dot, or repeated sequence of large dot/small dot/small dot.

Evaluators indicated specific advantages of the Tactile Graphic Line Slate over other tactile drawing tools previously used:

Other reported strengths included the following:

Commonly-reported weaknesses were challenges related to creating curved lines, the need for a clear slate for easier positioning of tactile elements, and the tendency to tear braille paper when tooling the wide and thin solid lines. Only one evaluator indicated that the slate needed more line types. With regard to tearing paper, evaluators indicated that this is "a minor weakness and it’s easy to learn to avoid" and "knowing the paper pressure for each line type and stylus point will come with practice and depends on medium." Evaluators offered new tips/techniques: "Whenever I used the slate with braille paper, I inserted a piece of wax paper between the braille paper and the top hinge. This reduced breakage of the braille paper."

The 21 field evaluators unanimously recommended that the Tactile Graphic Line Slate be made available from APH. Supportive statements included the following:

Recommended target populations based upon field test evaluator feedback are listed in Table 2.

Table 2: Appropriate Target Populations
Target PopulationPercentage of evaluators who found the Tactile Graphic Line Slate useable by the target population
Braille transcribers/tactile graphic designers 90%
Teachers of the visually impaired 100%
Parents of children with visual impairments 95%
Adults with blindness/visual impairments 81%
Students who are blind/visually impaired 86%
Other (indicate): O&M Instructors

Particularly reassuring was the potential of the Tactile Graphic Line Slate for direct use by students with visual impairments and blindness. Five of the field evaluators observed students independently using the slate to draw lines. The wide solid line and large dotted line were frequently chosen and utilized by the students. As one evaluator noted, "My students easily and quickly figured out how to use it."

Field evaluators returned numerous tactile graphics tooled or embellished with the use of the Tactile Graphic Line Slate. The samples they generated illustrated the diverse use of line types, preferred tactile graphic material, and variety of graphics possible. Applications of the slate included the design of number lines, hour/minute hands on clock faces, O&M maps, flowcharts, counting worksheets, mazes, angles, geometric figures, line graphs, fractions, pie charts, and bar graphs. An evaluator indicated the slate’s myriad uses like so: "We used (the slate) quite often for our first grade braille student. He has a lot of large charts, lists, and page separations. This makes it very easy for him to determine different areas of his work. We have also used it for charting maps with our older students." An unexpected use noted by another evaluator was its helpfulness in making "raised-line drawings on the vinyl sheets for communication and vocabulary with kids with multiple disabilities to match objects exactly."

Use of the Tactile Graphic Line Slate during field testing led to the some evaluators envisioning a potential texture and/or point symbol slate for future consideration. Another recommendation by 71% of the field evaluators was a "starter kit" of various materials (braille, paper, vinyl, foil, film) to allow users a chance to test all media with the line slate and see which they prefer. Actual examples from field evaluators are shown below and showcase the variety of media used.

Tactile graphic (map) produced on PermaBraille using the Tactile Graphic Line Slate

Tactile graphic (graphs) produced on aluminum diagramming foil using the Tactile Graphic Line Slate

Tactile graphic (various polygons) produced on braille paper using the Tactile Graphic Line Slate

On April 9, 2014, the project leader convened the Product Development Committee to review the field test results. Product revisions and expected production paths were discussed. The project leader located and provided a sample of a transparent, break-resistant blue-tinted plastic that could be matched by the outside vendor during the injection-molding process. A local vendor was contacted to assure the feasibility of producing the desired part at a reasonable cost. The product was presented to the Educational Products and Advisory Committee in May; Quota approval was given. By the end of June 2014, Tom Poppe rendered the technical drawing of the final slate (as well as stylus) design for use by Technical Research staff for preparation of the product specifications, needed CAD drawing(s), and final production.

In FY 2015, the project leader finalized content updates to the product instructions; the updates included reference to the new transparent design of the slate and additional suggestions and usage tips based on feedback from field test evaluators. One hundred percent of the evaluators indicated that the product instructions already provided a helpful overview of the purpose and use of the slate, therefore content updates were minimal and quick. The final content was provided to the in-house graphic designer for final layout design in early January 2015. By mid-February, the guidebook layout was approved and ready for braille translation. Braille translation, too, was swift with the final page count available by the end of March.

The project leader worked in tandem with Model Shop, Technical Research, Purchasing staff, and the selected vendors to achieve a satisfactory production design of the Tactile Graphic Line Slate, accompanying two-ended stylus, and custom-made storage pouch. A vendor sample of the line slate itself was submitted to APH in late February. Although the first sample closely approximated the intended design, refinements were necessary based on the following assessments:

In June 2015, a new sample of the line slate was furnished to APH. Most of the aforementioned issues were addressed and corrected. However, slight refinements were still necessary to the depth of some of the incised lines/grooves on the bottom leaf of the slate. The vendor’s enhancement to the color of the slate was approved.

The last quarter of FY 2015 was devoted to final tweaking to the vendor’s tooling for the line slate, as well as the design and approval of the accompanying storage pouch.
Product specifications were presented to Production and Purchasing staff by the end of the fiscal year and pilot/production goal dates were determined.

Work during FY 2016

In the first half of the fiscal year, APH awaited actual production samples of the slate, two-ended stylus, and related pouch from outside vendors. The storage pouch was received first and quickly approved in October. However, several rounds of slate samples were received and assessed for proper alignment, closure, and use before approval could be given in February 2016. The Product Specifications were formally presented to Purchasing, Planning, and Production staff on March 31, 2016. A small pilot run of 25 units was scheduled for June, followed by a large full-fledged production run in June.

The original production schedule was impacted by the first shipment of slates, which were showing signs of scissoring between the upper and lower plates. The slates were returned to the vendor and corrected via a two-pin hinge style. Likewise, the first shipment of the two-end stylus did not meet the original design specifications; the vendor corrected and quickly returned entire shipment. As of July 2016, production tasks inched closer to completion. Product availability was expected by the end of the fiscal year.

Work planned FY 2017

The project leader will engage in typical post-production activities such as preparing brochure content and demonstrating the final product at tactile graphic workshops. The project leader will also conduct a post-availability survey to garner direct feedback about the product design and use.

Tactile Graphics Research

(Ongoing)

Purpose

To study and develop techniques for making useful tactile graphics, to work toward standards in tactile graphic presentations, and to evaluate product submissions and ideas from the field related to tactile graphics

Project Staff

Background

APH has a variety of means for producing tactile graphics, including embossed paper, puff ink, capsule paper, thermography, vacuum-form, and Roland® UV printer thermoform masters. One goal of this research project is to learn which media are appropriate for which uses. Another goal is to identify and expand the available methods/tools useful for the production of tactile displays, whether by APH or by the individual teacher, transcriber, or student.

In addition, tactile graphic products are frequently submitted by teachers or other professionals who would like to collaborate with APH to produce their materials. Project staff provide written reviews of these submissions. Yet another aspect of this research is to monitor developments in practice, technology, and philosophy as they evolve.

Work during FY 2016

Throughout the year, project staff conducted a variety of tactile graphic workshops and training sessions (both in-house and at national conferences), initiated contacts and gathered input from the field, and proposed new product ideas. Examples of these activities are listed below:

Work planned for FY 2017

Project staff will continue to monitor advances in technology and practice as they relate to tactile design and teaching, conduct workshops and conference presentations, and work in-house to promote consistently good tactile design.

Tactile Skills Online Matrix

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide an online document or "matrix" that cross-references important tactile skills with available APH products

Project Staff

Image of sample page of Tactile Skills Matrix

Background

APH frequently receives comments that teachers do not really know about our products or how they can be used in conjunction with others. Just as importantly, APH does not have well-established ways to reach parents to inform them about the need for tactile skills development and what that means for their child or how they can begin to nurture tactile skills development early on. The continuum of tactile skills—such as body and spatial awareness, shape recognition, scanning/tracking ability, perspective understanding, and so on—are known to contribute to successful tactile interpretation. The basic progression needed for tactile learning—from experiences with real objects to models to raised-line images—is well documented and modeled in a variety of APH products (e.g., Setting the Stage for Tactile Understanding). However, students who are tactile learners are likely to be getting piecemeal instruction and are therefore poorly equipped to handle the increasing variety of graphically presented material in textbooks and high-stakes tests.

In October 2010, a sample of a possible Tactile Skills Online Matrix was developed and then presented by the project leader at a Product Input Session during APH’s Annual Meeting. The chart detailed a general progression of identified tactile skills/concepts to support the tactile continuum from exploration of real objects to models to raised-line graphics. The tactile skills/concepts were pictorially cross-referenced with APH products. The project leader explained that the matrix would navigate the user (e.g., parents, teachers, paraprofessionals, etc.) to full product descriptions, a discussion of a specific product’s rationale and methods, or video demonstrations. Theoretically, it would continue to be a live, online document that could be updated with video or written submissions from teachers and parents. The need for this online pictorial and interactive roadmap of tactile skills and related products was echoed by the audience of Ex Officio Trustees and other special guests attending this Annual Meeting session.

In late October 2010, the project leader prepared a Product Submission Form explaining the idea of a prominent link on APH’s Web site that will guide the target audience (teachers, parents, administrators, and paraprofessionals) to a user-friendly, interactive, and accessible chart of tactile skills that promotes a foundation for tactile graphic reading ability and literacy. The product idea was supported by both the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee in January 2011.

The project leader met with staff from the Communications Department who are directly involved in designing and managing APH’s Web site. Early advice was given to the project leader regarding possible visual layouts, as well as considerations for additional features.

The first tactile skill addressed for inclusion in the matrix was "Line Tracking." In April, the project leader reviewed the APH Product Catalog for products that intentionally taught this skill and identified products that may have exercises/worksheets to foster this same ability. Input from other project leaders, especially those who have worked at APH for many years and are very versed in APH products, was requested. The following list of products (or parts of products) was compiled:

The same routine will be followed to construct exhaustive lists of products that address the various tactile skills included within the matrix. Thought was given to alternate approaches to filtering the information onto APH’s Web site in smaller, intermittent amounts—for example, per skill/concept area. Some minimal adjustments to the existing handout chart were made with references to new products and distributed at in-house workshops focusing on tactile graphic instruction and materials.

In 2015, the project leader approached the construction of the Tactile Skills Online Matrix by submitting skill-specific installments for publication in multiple issues of APH’s APH News throughout the year. The first five installments were published in the February, April, March, and August issues:

Work during FY 2016

Due to extensive work on other products in prototype development and pre-production stages, the project leader did not have the time to devote to multiple installments of the Tactile Skills Online Matrix. However, one additional installment was published in the October issue of APH News. This installment mirrored the format of the previous installments and focused on products that supported the development of spatial skills: www.aph.org/news/october-2015/

The project leader continued to reference the developing matrix at tactile graphic related workshops and shared hardcopy versions as well. Other project leaders indicated that they used this matrix as a guide during the planning and development of other ongoing tactile literacy products.

Snapshot of portion of the Tactile Skills Matrix handout shared at tactile graphic workshops.

Work planned for FY 2017

The project leader will continue to prepare additional installments of the Tactile Skills Online Matrix throughout FY 2017. Eventually, a comprehensive version will be posted on the APH Web site for future reference. Updates will be made based upon introductions of new APH products that address various tactile skills.

Tangible Graphs Kit

(Discontinued)

Purpose

To introduce a modernized version of the Tangible Graphs Kit, a product originally designed at APH in the early 1980s and offered until 2009 when a fire at a vendor’s facility disrupted its availability due to damaged urethane molds

Project Staff

Photo of original Tangible Graphs Kit

Background

The original purpose of the Tangible Graphs Kit was to assist tactile readers in the reading of pictographs, bar graphs, circle graphs, and line graphs. APH’s 1980 Annual Report documents the former Educational Research Committee’s (composed of Ex Officio Trustees) support of the product’s development and production. Refer to archive.org/stream/annualreportofam19unse_15/annualreportofam19unse_15_djvu.txt.

The original kit included the following items:

The program was intended for students 8 years and older. It last sold in 2008 under the catalog number 1-08860-00 for $226.00 (with Quota funds).

The educational principles promoted by the Tangible Graphs Kit are thoroughly outlined by John Barth, the product developer, in "The Development of Fundamental Skills in Tactile Graph Interpretation: A Program for Braille Readers," published by APH in 1983. In this study, Barth defines the importance of the product like so:

An instructional program was developed to facilitate blind students’ understanding of graphs, an important and widely used informational tool. The program employs a carefully sequenced instructional approach, introducing fundamental graph reading skills such as tactual discrimination and line tracking to more advanced skills such as interpretation of bar graphs and multiple line graphs…After completing the program, the student should be able to interpret all four main types of graphs: pictograph, bar graph, line graph, and circle graph. It is also expected that the program will have some positive carryover effects on the reading of other types of graphic displays, such as maps and diagrams.

The effectiveness of the Tangible Graphs Kit was originally assessed by 35 evaluators using the program with 60 braille readers in grades 5-10. These evaluators represented the states of Connecticut, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Utah, and Washington; the Ross MacDonald School in Canada also participated. As reported by Barth (1983), the program solicited "an enthusiastic response to the materials on the part of both teachers and students" and "the results of this evaluation indicated that substantial gains in graphic literacy could be realized with the program in a relatively short amount of time." The assertion that Barth makes related to the program’s importance is still true today: "Any person, regardless of visual status, is placed at a disadvantage if not provided access to the wealth of information

Since its omission from APH’s product catalog, repeated requests for the Tangible Graphs Kit have been received via e-mails, direct requests at conferences, and product-idea lists generated by focus groups. The following are examples of such requests that infer the continued usefulness of the kit for the current generation of beginning tactile readers:

"Has APH discontinued the Tangible Graphs curriculum? My Salus [University] students are examining tactile graphic curricula/resources and the group looking at Tangible Graphs couldn't find it as a complete kit on the website or in the catalog." —Missy Garber, Ph.D., Adjunct Assistant Professor, College of Education and Rehabilitation, Salus University (July 7, 2010, e-mail)

"I wanted to check the status of the old Tangible Graphs program. I heard it was being revised/updated, but it is not listed in catalogs as far back as 2009. Are there plans to produce it again? I am conducting another 2-day state-wide tactile graphics training for TVIs and school paras this summer and want to be able to include the current tactile graphics production and instruction resources in the training."—Lucia Hasty, Rocky Mountain Braille Associates, Colorado (May 24, 2010, e-mail)

"Hi Shelly, The book is called Tangible Graphs. It is a three volume book and evaluation booklet. The program is designed to teach children how to read a variety of charts, graphs, and maps that are already produced. I love it and have found it to be very helpful when introducing tactile graphics to my students." —E-mailed question sent to Shelly Homsy from Linda Ciero (both TVIs at the New York Institute for Special Education in the Bronx) and forwarded to APH. (May 9, 2012, e-mail)

"I was wondering why APH seems to have discontinued the Tangible Graphs Kit? That was a very helpful tool indeed—but I guess it was waning in popularity."—Eric Guillory, Director of Youth Services, Ruston, Louisiana (August 24, 2012, e-mail)

The product also appeared on a wish list generated by the "Meeting of the Minds" Focus Group in February 2011.

A 2008 product submission form from Pam Gutman, Teacher of the Visually Impaired at the Kentucky School for the Blind, echoed the need for a product to teach students how to "decipher tactiles." She explains that braille readers are at a disadvantage in high stakes testing due to their lack of experience with tactile displays. She explains, "Our students need more intentional practice reading and deciphering these standardized tactile data displays. Even though we produce our own displays, students have difficulty making the connection from what they have made to the tactile versions produced on standardized tests."

Despite its unavailability, the Tangible Graphs Kit is frequently recommended and listed on websites such as the following:

Expected updates to the original Tangible Graphs Kit were explored and then documented in a formal product submission form prepared by the project leader on August 31, 2012. Within this document, it was proposed that the update of Tangible Graphs would present graphics that are consistent with Braille Authority of North America’s (BANA’s) recently published Guidelines and Standards for Tactile Graphics (www.brailleauthority.org/tg/web-manual/index.html). Also, the kit will be modernized to appear less intimidating and more inviting to use. However, it would continue to replicate the original kit’s design in the following ways:
a) Provide a systematic approach to learning to read graphs from basic concepts (e.g., discrimination of symbol shapes, line tracking, etc.) to more complex skills (e.g., recognizing and interpreting various types of graphs)
b) Provide tactile graphics in a variety of media (e.g., paper embossed, thermoform, etc.)
c) Provide a test booklet to assess a student’s current understanding of graph reading skills and concepts and/or assess a student’s mastery of graph skills and concepts following instruction

It is likely that, in lieu of an included cork board, rubber bands, and push pins, the kit will provide a list of APH materials that allow the student to construct graphs independently (e.g., the updated Graphic Aid for Mathematics). Refer to separate report on "Graphic Aid for Mathematics—Revision."

Photo of tactile reader using the cork board and graphing tools included with the original Tangible Graphs Kit

Although the primary target population for the original kit was braille readers in grades 5-10, it is foreseeable that the updated version will be suitable for younger students as well since introduction of graphs occurs much earlier in current textbooks and tests. Some of the skills and concepts addressed in the first volume of the original kit (e.g., line types/direction, texture discrimination, number lines, etc.) would be especially appropriate for students in lower grades. Field reviewers will ultimately determine the ideal target groups.

As with all modernized APH products, only documented approval by the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC) was required to move the revision forward according to the standardized product approval process. The committee’s approval was given on December 12, 2012. The product immediately transitioned to the active product timeline.

Direct work on this product throughout FY 2014 was minimal due to higher priority placed on other projects in later development stages (field test or preproduction). However, some specific activities were accomplished:

Work during FY 2016

In June 2016, PARC approved the abandonment of this project due to the following reasons:

Work planned for FY 2017

This project endeavor is officially abandoned. No additional work is planned.

TG TV

(Continued)

Purpose

To create a series of instructional videos that give real-time, specific examples of the thinking that goes into the adaptation of print images into tactile graphics

Project Staff

Background

The previously existing videos related to tactile graphics, from APH and elsewhere, speak either in general terms about philosophy or in specific terms about working with production tools. What was evidently lacking was a discussion of how to adapt a print graphic after deciding what is to be shown—that is, how to convert it into a readable design for a tactile graphic. A video format with actual examples seemed to be an effective way to illustrate good reasoning and good practices.

The project leader experimented with screen-capture programs, which record the onscreen editing of images along with voice-over narration. This is a low-cost, direct technique to use as the foundation of the videos. The same software is used to add music, sound effects, and on-screen text and highlights for a more appealing presentation. The popular screen-capture program Camtasia® was downloaded for trial use and then purchased.

Two videos were produced; one served as an introduction to the series, and the other conveyed content about editing and design decisions. The latter video was screened for APH staff and again for two representatives of the BANA Tactile Graphics Committee to obtain feedback and recommendations.

After lengthy troubleshooting by the Communications Department to resolve the requirements for accessible closed captioning, the first three videos were released for free viewing or download on the APH YouTube™ channel and the APH Web site at this location: www.aph.org/tgtv

Work during FY 2016

Two new episodes, numbers 4 and 5, were completed, closed captioned, and posted online.

Work planned for FY 2017

If time and other project priorities permit, one or more new installments of the series will be produced and posted online.

INDEPENDENT LIVING SKILLS

For FY 2016, there are no projects in this category to report.

ORIENTATION AND MOBILITY

Concepts and Skills for Crossings with No Traffic Control

(Continued)

Purpose

To create audio, video, and written materials to help persons with visual impairments learn that it is not necessarily safe to begin a crossing at an uncontrolled intersection when no vehicle is heard

Project Staff

Background

Dona Sauerburger, certified orientation and mobility specialist (COMS), has conducted numerous regional and national workshops for other COMS on the topic of teaching students to recognize situations of uncertainty for crossing independently at intersections with no traffic light or stop sign controls. Sauerburger's approach stipulates that if a greater amount of time is required to cross a street than the time during which a student can hear or see the approach of an oncoming vehicle, it is uncertain that the student can cross the street independently and safely. Although Sauerburger's approach has gained acceptance in the O&M field, persons who are no longer O&M students (i.e., adults with visual impairments who completed O&M instruction in the past) have not been taught this life-saving strategy. Sauerburger's Product Idea Submission Form proposes the creation of auditory/visual videos and instructional materials to teach these individuals how to determine such situations of uncertainty and how to develop alternate, safe strategies for managing them.

Preliminary Research

Terlau monitored the reception of Sauerburger's approach in the O&M community on e-mail lists and at numerous regional O&M conferences. Terlau found that Sauerburger's approach to analyzing the level of certainty that an uncontrolled intersection can be crossed safely has gained wide acceptance. Terlau examined Sauerburger's materials on vehicles striking pedestrians with visual impairments and found her conclusion to be sound: Many of these pedestrians were injured or killed because they believed what had been taught since the inception of O&M instruction—"It is safe to cross an uncontrolled intersection when it is quiet, when you can hear no traffic."

Initial Product Development

During FY 2011, the product was accepted for development by APH. Initial discussions about the scope of work between the project leader and Sauerburger were conducted.

During FY 2012, additional discussions were conducted between Sauerburger and the project leader regarding next steps. Sauerburger agreed to submit several videos of intersections she would like to use in the product so that APH staff could determine whether she would need the assistance of a professional videographer or whether her videos were of sufficient quality to be used in the product. Discussion with Larry Skutchan indicated that software could be developed to present video clips and that a software stopwatch necessary for some aspects of the product's functionality could be produced or located.

During FY 2013, additional planning telephone meetings were conducted between Sauerburger and Terlau. Sauerburger submitted draft scripts for the video. It was decided that a professional videographer would record intersections in Louisville, KY, for use in the project under Sauerburger's direction.

Terlau and other attendees at an initial Product Structure Meeting expressed strong concern that students might misunderstand instructions about determining situations of uncertainty and might use information in the video to support dangerous, risk-taking behavior. Terlau and Sauerburger determined that the product should be developed as a teaching tool to be used by orientation and mobility instructors with their students and not as a self-study product for students themselves. Student activities planned originally will be included, but will be packaged as exercises that instructors can use with their students. Additional information on concepts and theory will be provided in the book and video to support instruction in these skills.

During FY 2015, Sauerburger redrafted existing exercises and sections of video text to conform to the new product focus. The draft script for the videos and book has been completed.

Terlau and Sauerburger continued to refine draft text, software requirements, and scripts to be recorded for use in the software. Sauerburger worked with Terlau for one week in Louisville firming up program functions and obtaining traffic videos for use in the product. Terlau and the videographer from InGrid Design conducted four additional traffic video sessions.

Three meetings were held with Larry Skutchan and programmers to discuss feasibility of software requirements. All software requirements were deemed feasible.

Sauerburger completed 10 videos in Maryland for use in the software. Sauerburger created audio and visual clips and created auditory and visual traffic scenarios for use in the software. Terlau prepared a list of product specifications to be submitted for bid.

Work during FY 2016

Using specifications written by Terlau and approved by Larry Skutchan, the RFP was released. Proposal responses to the RFP were received from three companies. Terlau answered questions posed by these respondents and submitted documents requesting clarification or more detail to them. All companies responded to the request for additional information.

Based on an evaluation of initial and updated proposals, Intellectyx Inc. was accepted as the software development company for this product. A contract was provided by Intellectyx. It is anticipated that contract negotiations will be completed and a contract signed before the end of FY 2016.

Terlau refined onscreen and narrated materials for the software and developed clear "if-then" rules for pairing appropriate feedback files with all possible student responses. Material to be recorded was submitted to the studio. It is anticipated that recordings and separation of recorded material into specified small feedback files will be completed before the end of FY 2016.

Work planned for FY 2017

It is anticipated that programming by Intellectyx and field testing of this product will be completed during FY 2017.

Echolocation and FlashSonar

(Formerly Echolocation)

(Continued)

Purpose

To create a guidebook to teach persons with visual impairments the use of echolocation to obtain information about surrounding space and environmental features

Project Staff

Background

In the Product Idea Submission Form, Jo Hook proposed to collaborate with Daniel Kish, certified orientation and mobility specialist (COMS) and national orientation and mobility certification (NOMC) on a manual with exercises to teach the use of echolocation techniques. Kish, renowned for both using and teaching echolocation methods, provides content; Hook, noted rehabilitation practitioner and university instructor in the United Kingdom, provides a vision rehabilitation perspective, structure, and writing expertise. Hook and Kish are jointly authoring the book. The manual proposes that echolocation skills can be learned and used by persons with visual impairments to help pinpoint environmental features and move effectively through space. The manual provides exercises to be done with a teacher or instructor or alone to help students build echolocation skills.

Preliminary Research

Terlau reviewed literature on echolocation in humans and its history as an obstacle-avoidance and landmark-location tool for persons who were blind. Terlau also reviewed articles about Daniel Kish's work, including materials showing that spatial areas of the brain became involved when a skilled echo locator listened to a recording of another individual using echolocation techniques. Terlau also attended two presentations in which Kish demonstrated and taught echolocation techniques.

Initial Product Development

During FY 2011, the product was accepted for development by APH. Terlau and Hook began initial discussions regarding scope of work. During FY 2012, APH and the authors continued planning this project.

During FY 2013 and 2014, Hook produced a draft of the first five chapters of the Echolocation book. Terlau edited the first chapter. Kish began reviewing the five draft chapters. During FY 2014, research articles were purchased and provided to Hook per Hook’s request. Hook submitted the draft of Chapter 6. Kish continued editing work on the first six chapters.

During FY 2015, additional research articles were purchased for Hook. Hook and Kish completed the final chapter and proofread the book. The final prototype was received in July 2015. Terlau obtained 10 interested field testers. Terlau and Zierer read and edited the book for grammar and style. Field test materials were prepared.

Work during FY 2016

Field testing was conducted between October 2015 and February 2016. Thirteen orientation and mobility specialists read Echolocation and tested exercises with 35 students.

The instructor group did not reflect an appropriate gender distribution based on that in the U.S. population. Eleven of the 13 instructors, 85% (11) were female and 15% (2) were male. Because the majority of orientation and mobility instructors in the U.S. are female, results favoring female instructors are fairly representative of the profession. Twenty-three of the 35 students, 66% (13) were male, and 34% (12) were female. This does not reflect the gender distribution in the U.S. However, echolocation research cited in Echolocation and FlashSonar does not indicate gender differences in the ability to learn echolocation skills. This gender disparity is not expected to influence results.

The instructor and student field test groups did not reflect an appropriate geographical distribution. One instructor (8%) was from the Northeast, two instructors (15%) were from the Midwest, five instructors (40%) were from the South, and five instructors (40%) were from the West. Similarly, three students (9%) were from the North, four students (11%) were from the Midwest, 14 students (40%) were from the South, and 14 students (40%) were from the West. Although the North and Midwest regions are under-represented for both instructors and students, this is not expected to impact field test results because the ability to hear sound echoes is not expected to vary in subjects by geographic region.

The instructor group did not reflect the racial/ethnic diversity characteristic of the United States, with 12 (92%) of all instructors being White and one instructor (8%) of all instructors, being African-American. However, the student group did reflect appropriate racial/ethnic diversity. Sixteen students (48%) were White, seven (20%) were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, five (14%) were African-American, three (9%) were Asian, three (9%) were from two or more races, and one (3%) had no race/ethnicity noted.

Final changes to Echolocation and FlashSonar were completed in June 2016. Changes resulting from field testing were largely text edits. Approximately half of the testers wanted repetitive material to be omitted, while the other half found it useful. These results were inconclusive. Therefore, repetitive material was not removed. Instructors used beginning and intermediate Echolocation exercises with their students, and reported moderate to very positive results. As a result of these findings, training exercises were not altered except for style edits.

Layout of the print book was completed by in-house graphic designers on July 20, 2016. A clean electronic file and a printout of the final layout of the book were submitted to Braille Translation on August 2, with a formatted braille file of the book to be provided as a free download on the APH Web site.

The project leader, research assistant, and manufacturing specialist have met to discuss specifications. The book will be printed backed up with no bleed on 80 pound paper and spiral bound. It is anticipated that the specification meeting will be held before the end of FY 2016.

Work planned for FY 2017

It is anticipated that the print Echolocation and FlashSonar book will be made available for sale and that formatted braille files of the book will be available as a free download from the APH Web site in FY 2017.

Nearby Explorer
(Continued)

Purpose

To improve orientation and mobility to blind users by providing contextual location based queues about configuration and proximity on common devices

Project Staff

Background

The Nearby Explorer app began as a tool for the Braille Plus 18 Android™ braille smart phone/tablet and was offered to Android™ smartphone and tablet users through the Google Play™ Store.

Providing unique feedback via speech synthesis and braille with device positioning for targeted locations, this GPS tool gives blind users an interface that provides the information necessary to successfully navigate through both familiar and new areas with confidence.

The original goals of the project were:

The first two goals were successfully completed early in the project. The third goal has been the most challenging.

In 2014, a blind pedestrian submitted a product suggestion through the APH Web interface to bring a similar tool to the iOS® platform.

In 2015, APH released a free, world-wide version of the app that does not use proprietary map data. Although it has not been translated into additional languages and requires a network connection for use, it has over 1,000 downloads.

Work during FY 2016

Lead Developer, Rob Meredith, began coding for the iOS® version. The goal was to provide an app equal to the Android™ version.

In April 2016, a call out for field testers was posted in the APH News. APH received 63 responses. Of the 63 initial respondents, 46 confirmed and completed the field test requirements. In June, Nearby Explorer for iOS® went to the 46 field test participants. Work continues as they find bugs and suggest interface and functionality improvements thorough a subscription e-mail list.

Field Testers

The 46 field testers came from various career fields including blindness-related jobs (62.22%) and nonblindness-related jobs (37.78%). Of the 46 field testers, eight were in-house expert testers and 38 were from the field. There were testers represented 22 states and three Canadian provinces.

For those that had, the evaluators were asked to report the years of experience in the field of education and/or field of blindness/accessible technology.

Years of Experience
0-5 yrs 6-10 yrs 11-15 yrs 16-20 yrs 21+ yrs
Evaluators 10 6 5 8 14

The evaluators were asked to report their ethnicity.

Ethnicity
Hispanic American Indian Black or African American Asian White Two or more races Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
Evaluators 3 0 2 2 37 1 0

The evaluators were asked to report the device used for testing. All 46 reported using an iPhone® 4 or higher. Evaluators were also asked if the device used for testing was the same device they use on a daily basis. Forty (40) evaluators said yes, one evaluator said no (Android™ device), and five evaluators skipped the question.

Evaluators were asked to explain how and for what purpose(s) they used the Nearby Explorer app for instruction with students/clients. For space purposes, a representation of the comments is included in this report.

Comments:

Evaluators were asked to report how often they used the app.

Usage of App
Evaluators
Multiple times a day 16 (35.56%)
Once a day 15 (33.33%)
More than once a week, but not every day 11 (24.44%)
Once a week 1 (2.22%)
Less than once a week, but more than once a month 1 (2.22%)
Once a month 1 (2.22%)
Never 0 (0.00%)
Other 0 (0.00%)
Total 45

Evaluators were asked to specify the ease in staying oriented in day-to-day activities using the app.

Ease of Orientation
Evaluators
Not easy at all 1 (2.22%)
Somewhat easy 5 (11.11%)
Impartial 1 (2.22%)
Pretty easy 21 (46.67%)
Extremely easy 17 (37.78%)
Total 45

Evaluators were asked to list any other orientation apps they currently use (both Android™ and iOS®). For space purposes, a representation of the comments is included in this report.

Comments:

Evaluators were asked to report all orientation devices (i.e., cane, guide dog) they currently use. Of the 46 evaluators, 37 reported using a cane, 12 reported using a guide dog, and one reported using Treker Breeze.

Evaluators were asked to list the features they used on a regular basis and features they never used. (i.e., Transit, Favorites, etc.). For space purposes, a representation of the comments is included in this report.

Comments:
Used Regularly:

Never Used:

Evaluators were asked to list any features they would like to add to the app. For space purposes, a representation of the comments is included in this report.

Comments:

Evaluators were asked to report their level of use of the Transit feature.

Use of Transit Feature
Evaluators
Never use this feature 18 (40.91%)
Rarely use this feature 4 (9.09%)
Occasionally (once a week) use this feature 10 (22.73%)
Often (most days) use this feature 9 (20.45%)
Always (every day) use this feature 3 (6.82%)
Total 45

Evaluators were asked to rate the various features.

Rate Features
Unacceptable Needs Improvement Mediocre Better than average Excellent N/A Total
Geo-beam 0 2 6 11 14 5 38
Compass 0 1 1 13 24 1 40
Map View 1 2 4 14 7 11 39
Radius adjustment 2 2 5 7 18 4 38
Use with braille 1 1 3 0 2 30 37
Settings 0 1 3 15 18 0 37

Comments for Geo-beam:

Comments for Map View:

Comments for Radius Adjustment:

Comments for Use with Braille:

Comments for Settings:

Evaluators were asked to rate Indoor Navigation and Alternate Maps for usefulness with current implementation.

Rate Indoor Navigation and Alternate Maps
Not Useful Somewhat Useful Impartial Pretty Useful Very Useful N/A Total
Indoor Navigation 4 2 3 3 6 18 36
Alternate Maps 1 2 2 5 22 4 36

Evaluators were asked to indicate with Home Screen items they always kept checked.

Home Screen Items Always On
Evaluators
Country 20
City 32
Zip Code 10
Heading 33
Street Number 17
Street Name 35
Approaching 33
Guidance 29
Nearby 24
Nearby Position 14
Watch 10
Speed 10
Altitude 4
Accuracy 16
Vertical Accuracy 5

Evaluators were asked to list items they would like added to the Home Screen. For space purposes, a representation of the comments is included in this report.

Comments:

Evaluators were asked if the Nearby Explorer app was easy to navigate. Of 43 responses, 38 evaluators said the app was easy to navigate and one said it was not.

Comments:

Evaluators were asked to share thoughts and observations about the user interface of the app. For space purposes, a representation of the comments is included in this report.

Comments:

Evaluators were asked to provide comments and/or observations about the documentation. For space purposes, a representation of the comments is included in this report.

Comments:

Evaluators were asked to report if they had used the Android™ version of Nearby Explorer. Of the 44 evaluators that responded, 18 (40.91%) said yes and 26 (59.09%) said no. Additionally, evaluators were asked if they would purchase the iOS® version at the current Android™ price of $99.00. And if not, what price would they be willing to pay for the iOS® version. Of the 44 evaluators that responded, 28 (63.64%) said they would pay the Android™ price and 16 (36.36%) said they would not.

Comments:

Evaluators were asked what they like most and least about the app. For space purposes, a representation of the comments is included in this report.

Comments:
Liked Most: