American Printing House
For The Blind



Research
&
Development Activities

Fiscal Year 2012

Mission Statement

Our mission is to promote the independence of blind and visually impaired persons by providing specialized materials, products, and services needed for education and life.

Letter from Director of Research

October 10, 2012

Dear APH Friends,

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) presents the Annual Research Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012.

The report highlights some of the approximately 400 projects that the APH Research Department worked on this past fiscal year. In the appendices, you will note a list of 101 new catalog items that became available for purchase in FY 2012.

This past year has been dubbed the year of the APH "Big Seven" Products. The products are as follows:

These seven products represent the most complex research and development in APH history. This success results from the combined effort and support of APH staff and so many members from the field of blindness.

Sincerely,

Ralph Bartley, Ph.D.

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 2012

Chair -- Marty R. McKenzie (SC)

Yvonne Ali (MO)

Collette C. Bauman (MI)

Stephanie Bissonette (VT)

Gerald Kitzhoffer (PA)

Linda M. Lyle (NM)

Paula L. Mauro (OH)

Alternate -- Todd S. Reeves (PA)

Educational Services Advisory Committee -- FY 2012

Chair -- Jonn Paris-Salb (CA)

Patrick D. Clancy (IA)

Julie Kagy (NC)

Charlotte Lowry (AL)

James Olson (CO)

Alternate -- Sally Giittinger (NE)

Department of Research Staff

Educational Research

Bartley, Ralph, Ph.D. . . . . . . . . . . . . .Director

Borsuk, Mike, B.S. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .Programmer III

Boyer, Charles "Burt," M.A . . . . . . . . . . Project Leader (Early Childhood)

Creasy, Keith, M.S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Programmer III

Gilmore, Terri, A.S . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Graphic Designer

Hedges, John, B.S. . . .. . . . . . . . . . . .Programmer

Henderson, Barbara, M.A. . . . . . . . . . . . Project Leader (Test & Assessment)

Herndon, Kate, M.S.L.I.S . . . . . . . . . . . Project Manager

Hoffmann, Rosanne, Ph.D . . . . . . . . . . . .Project Leader (STEM)

Kitchel, Elaine, M.Ed . . . . . . . . . . . . .Project Leader (Low Vision)

McDonald, Michael, B.S ... . . . . . . . . . . Programmer III

Meredith, Rob .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Programmer III

Ockerman, Jeremy, B.S. . . . . . . . . . . . . Program Business Coordinator

Otto, Fred, B.A .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Project Leader (Tactile Graphics) part-time

Perry, Ken, B.S .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Programmer III

Pester, Eleanor, M.S.. . . . . . . . . . . . . Project Leader (Braille)

Pierce, Tristan, M.I.A .. . . . . . . . . . . .Project Leader (Multiple Disabilities/Health & P.E.)

Poppe, Karen, B.A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Project Leader (Tactile Graphics)

Roderick, Carol, B.A . . .. . . . . . . . . . .Research Assistant

Roman, Christine, Ph.D. . . . . . . . . . . . .Project Leader (CVI) part-time

Senft-Graves, Cathy, M.Eng . . . . . . . . . . Research Assistant

Skutchan, Larry, B.A . . . . . . . . . . . . . Project Leader (Technology)

Slowinski, Anthony,B.S. . . . . . . . . . . . .Graphic Designer

Smith, Rodger, A.A.S . . . . . . . . . . . . . Programmer

Terlau, Terrie (Mary T.), Ph.D . . . . . . . . Project Leader (Adult Life)

Travis, Ann, B.A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Research Assistant

Wright, Suzette, B.A . . . . . . . . . . . . . Project Leader (Emergent Literacy) part-time

Technical Research and Model Shop

Corcoran, Katherine, B.S., B.F.A . . . . . . . . . . . . Model/Pattern Maker

Dakin, Andrew, B.S. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Model/Pattern Maker

Dixon, Rod, M.F.A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Manufacturing Specialist

Etter, Nancy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Administrative Assistant

Hayden, Frank, A.A.S., C.E.T. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Manager

Moulton, Andrew, B.S., M.E. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Manufacturing Specialist

Poppe, Tom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Model/Pattern Maker (part-time)

Robinson, James, M.S, E.E. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Manufacturing Specialist

Rogers, Bryan, A.A.S. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . Manufacturing Specialist

Agencies Participating in Research



Affiliated Blind of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA

Alabama School for the Deaf and Blind, Talladega, AL

Anchor Center for Blind Children, Denver, CO

B. W. Robinson MSSD #23, Rolla, MO

Baltimore County Public Schools, Southeast Student Support Services, Baltimore, MD

Boston English High School, Boston, MA

Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Calgary Board of Education, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

California School for the Blind, Fremont, CA

Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired, Chicago, IL

City University of New York, New York, NY

Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Cincinnati, OH

Clovis Unified School, Clovis, CA

Crowley ISD, Crowley TX

Cupertino Union School District, Cupertino, CA

Delta Education, Nashua, NH

Engleburg Elementary School, Milwaukee, WI

Ferguson Elementary/Clear Creek ISD, Webster, TX

Florida School for the Deaf & the Blind, St. Augustine, FL

Georgia Academy for the Blind, Macon, GA

Glenwood Resource Center, Omaha, NE

Grant High School, Valley Glen, CA

Hadley School for the Blind, Winnetka, IL

Hazelwood Center, Louisville, KY

Independence Science, LLC, Purdue Research Park, West Lafayette, IN

Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Indianapolis, IN

Jackson R2 School District, Jackson, MO

Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, KY

Kansas State School for the Blind, Kansas City, KS

Kentucky Lions Eye Center, Louisville, KY

Kentucky School for the Blind, Louisville, KY

Lamar CISD, Rosenberg, TX

Lavelle School for the Blind, Bronx, NY

Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

Lighthouse International, New York, NY

Los Angeles County Office of Education, Manhattan Beach, CA

Mallory Elementary, Buffalo, MO

Mechanicsburg Area School District, Mechanicsburg, PA

Missouri School for the Blind, St. Louis, MO

Montana School for the Deaf and Blind, Great Falls, MT

Monterey County Office of Education, Salinas, CA

National Center on Severe and Sensory Disabilities, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO

Neosho Middle School, Neosho, MO

New Albany Floyd County Schools, New Albany, IN

New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Alamogordo, NM

North Little Rock School District, North Little Rock, AR

North Orange County SELPA, Fullerton, CA

Northern Colorado University, Greely, CO

Northshore Education Consortium, Beverly, MA

Northwest Regional ESD, Hillsboro, OR

Ohio State School for the Blind, Columbus, OH

Ottawa Area ISD, Holland, MI

Pasco School District, Pasco, WA

Pathways Elementary School, Hillsborough, NC

Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Porter County Education Services, Valparaiso, IN

Precision Circuit, LLC, Columbus, IN

Princeton Elementary, Orlando, FL

Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

PT Etc., Chambersburg, PA

Pulaski County Special School District, Roland, AR

Royal Office of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, S. Georgia Island

San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA

San Juan Unified School District, Carmichael, CA

Santa Barbara County Education Office, Santa Maria, CA

Sibley East High School, Arlington, MN

South Central Service Cooperative, North Mankato, MN

Special Education District of McHenry County, Belvidere, IL

Special School District of St. Louis County, St. Louis, MO

St Louis Public Schools, St. Louis, MO

Stamford Public Schools, Stamford, CT

State of Connecticut Bureau of Rehabilitative Services Board of Education and Services for the Blind, Windsor, CT

Suffolk Public Schools, Suffolk, VA

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, TX

Texas Tech University, TSBVI, Austin, TX,

The College at Brockport, SUNY, Brockport, NY

United ISD, Laredo, TX

United States Coastal Studies, Seattle, WA

University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry

University of Louisville, Louisville, KY

Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind, Staunton, VA

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

Ward Elementary, Newton, MA

William Feinbloom Vision Rehabilitation Center, Philadelphia, PA


Consultants


Aillaud, Cindy Lou, B.A. Elementary Education, Teacher/Author/Photographer, Delta Junction, AK [Everybody Plays!]

Amerson, Marie, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Consultant, Macon, GA [Spangle Tangle]

Azer, Samir, M.S., Science Teacher, Kentucky School for the Blind [Talking Protractor]

Bacon, Mathew, Vice President of Product Development, Delta Education, Nashua, NH [ASMK]

Bailey, Ian, O.D., Optometrist, University of California, Berkeley, CA, [Decision Making Guide]

Baker, Sandi, M.S.Ed., Retired from APH, Louisville, KY [Core Curriculum Projects]

Banman, Joanne C., Educational Associate, Prairie Spirit School Division 206, Osler, Saskatchewan, Canada [MATCH-IT-UP FRAMES]

Bender, Dianne, M.A., Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Green Hills Area Education Agency and the Iowa Braille School, Council Bluffs, IA [Functional Assessment]

Blaylock, Luanne, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Educational Vision Specialist, Pulaski County Special School District, Little Rock, AR [Building on Patterns]

Buhler, Kristen, M.S.Ed, M.M. Choral Conducting, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Northwest Regional ESD, Hillsboro, OR [Building on Patterns]

Calvello, Gail, M.A., Vision Impairment Specialist, Blind Babies Foundation, Oakland, CA [Parents and Infants with Visual Impairments]

Chen, Deborah, Ph.D., Professor, California State University--Northridge, Northridge, CA [Parents and Infants with Visual Impairments]

Clapham, Phillip, Ph.D., Research Scientist (Cetacean), S. Georgia Island [Address: Earth]

Clarke, Kay, Ph.D., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Early Intervention, Preschool Special Needs, Private Visual Impairment Consultant, Worthington, OH [Getting in Step with Little Feet], [Laptime and Lullabies (Focus on Fingers)]

Connolly, Terri, M.A., Early Childhood, retired from Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, Kentucky [VIPS@Home Parent University Series]

Crawford, James Scott, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Certified Low Vision Therapist, Affiliated Blind of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA [O&M for Wheelchair Users]

Croft, Jo Ellen, M.Ed., Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Educational Vision Specialist, Pulaski County Special School District, Little Rock, AR [Building on Patterns]

Crow, Nita, M.A., COMS, California School for the Blind, Freemont, CA [Getting to Know You]

Dawson, Rosemary, M.S., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, KY [Common Core Math Kits]

De Lucchi, Linda, FOSS Co-Director, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, CA [ASMK]

Dilworth, Kate, M.S., Special Education, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Columbia Regional Program, Portland OR [Building on Patterns]

Dornbusch, Helen, O.D., Optometrist, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, [Decision Making Guide]

Erin, Jane, Ph.D., Professor, College of Education, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ [Barraga Visual Efficiency Program] [Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement-Braille Adaptation: Erin Research Study], [Decision Making Guide]

Ernst, Carie, B.S., Cartographer, University of Maryland [Address: Earth]

Ethridge, Edith, M.A.Ed., CLVT, Low Vision Specialist, Kentucky School for the Blind, retired, Louisville, KY [V-file]

Feldman, Pauletta, B.A., Elementary Education, retired from Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, Kentucky [VIPS@Home Parent University Series]

Ferrell, Kay Alicyn, Ph.D., Professor, National Center on Severe and Sensory Disabilities, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO [Barraga Visual Efficiency Program] [Boehm-3 Preschool Braille/Tactile and Large Print Adaptations], [Meta-analysis, Low Vision]

Forbes, Robert, M.S., Director, Center for GIS, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY [Address: Earth]

Grantz, Tony, B.A., APH Product and Services Consultant, Louisville, KY

Greeley, J.C., M.A., Program Coordinator, Anchor Center for Blind Children, Denver, CO [SAM: Symbols and Meaning]

Grisham-Brown, Jennifer, Ed.D., Associate Professor, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY [Reach for the Stars]

Hagood, Linda, M.A., CCC-SLP, Seabeck, WA [SAM: Symbols and Meaning]

Haibach, Pamela, Ph.D., Associate Professor, The College at Brockport, Brockport, NY [Gross Motor Development Curriculum], [Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box]

Haynes, Diane, M.Ed., State Coordinator, Kentucky Deaf-Blind Project, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY [Reach for the Stars]

Herlich, Stephanie, M.A., COMS, San Francisco East Bay TVI Consultant [Getting to Know You]

Hohman, Linda Almasy, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, Pittsburgh, PA [CVI Leisure Activities Kit -- Match Sticks]

Holbrook, Cay, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Educational and Counseling Psychology and Special Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada [Building on Patterns], [Early Braille Trade Books]

Holyoak, Joseph, B.S.M.E., Engineer and Consultant, Greensboro, NC [Wow Light]

Ingber, Janet, M.A., Music Therapist and Author, New York, NY [Parenting with a Visual Impairment]

Isaacson, Mickey D., M.S., Director of Research and Development, Independence Science, LLC, Purdue Research Park, West Lafayette, IN [SALS]

Jerpe, Janet, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, Pittsburgh, PA [CVI Leisure Activities Kit -- Match Sticks]

Kamei-Hannan, Cheryl, Assistant Professor, California State University, Los Angeles, Charter College of Education, Los Angeles, CA [Wilson Reading System]

Klipstein, Donald, M.S.Eng., Retired Engineer and Consultant, Upper Darby, PA

Lawson, Holly M., Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Coordinator, Virginia Consortium for Teacher Preparation in Vision Impairment, Helen A. Keller Institute for Human Disabilities, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA [Money Handling and Budgeting, Revised]

Lee, Donna Brostek, Ph.D., TVI, COMS, Clinical Assistant Professor, Visual Impairment Program Coordinator, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY [Calendar Time]

Lieberman, Lauren, Ph.D., Professor, The College at Brockport, Brockport, NY [Everybody Plays!], [Gross Motor Development Curriculum], [Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box]

Lueck, Amanda, Ph.D., Professor of Special Education, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA [Barraga Visual Efficiency Program], [Decision Making Guide]

Mason, Loana, Ed.D., COMS, College Assistant Professor, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM [Nemeth Code Assessment Kit]

Matheson, Laurianne, M.Ed., Freelance Vision Specialist, Louisville, KY [NewT]

McCarthy, Mary L., M.Ed., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA [Wilson Reading System]

McCulloh, Karen, RN, B.S., Consultant, Morton Grove, IL [Nonverbal Behavioral Curriculum]

Miyake, Yoshi, B.S., Freelance Graphic Artist [NewT]

Montgomery, Marshall, Independent Contractor, Napa, CA [ASMK]

Moore, Alexis Pierce, M.S.Ed., Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Special School District of St. Louis County, St. Louis, MO [Common Core Math Kits]

Morgese, Zoe, M.A., CCC-SLP, Denver, CO [SAM: Symbols and Meaning]

Mowerson, Lisa Anne, M.S., B.A., Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, Wallingford, CT [Labeling, Marking, and Organization]

Nannen Alexander, LeAnn, M.Ed., Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Educational Vision Specialist, North Little Rock School District, North Little Rock, AR [Building on Patterns]

Nuzzo, Lorette, M.A., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, KY [Common Core Math Kits]

Orel-Bixler, Deborah, Ph.D., O.D., Professor of Clinical Optometry, University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry, [Barraga Visual Efficiency Program]

Page, Brett, Ed.S., NCSP, School Psychologist, Columbus Public Schools, Columbus, OH [Social Thinking Curriculum]

Panikkar, Rajiv, CLVT, COMS, Outreach Coordinator, Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, Tucson, AZ [Decision Making Guide]

Pogrund, Rona, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Virginia Murray Sowell Center for Research and Education in Visual Impairment, Texas Tech University, TSBVI, Austin, TX [Barraga Visual Efficiency Program]

Read, Izetta, B.A., Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Santa Barbara County Education Office, Santa Maria, CA [Building on Patterns]

Rines, Justine Carlone, M.S., CCC-SLP, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA [Wilson Reading System]

Rizzo, Karen, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, Pittsburgh, PA [CVI Leisure Activities Kit -- Match Sticks]

Roman-Lantzy, Christine, Ph.D., APH CVI Project Leader Consultant, Allison Park, PA [Barraga Visual Efficiency Program]

Rosen, Sandra, Ph.D., Coordinator, Programs in Orientation & Mobility, Guide Dog Mobility, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA [Step by Step]

Rosenblum, L. Penny, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and School Psychology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ [Barraga Visual Efficiency Program]

Rowley, Rosalind, M.Ed., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Perkins School for the Blind,

Watertown, MA [Wilson Reading System]

Sanford, LaRhea, Ph.D., Visiting Lecturer, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN [NewT]

Sauerburger, Dona, M.A., COMS, Consultant, Gambrills, MD [Concepts and Skills for Crossing With No Traffic Control]

Schaper, Miriam (Mimi) H., M.A., Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Cherry Creek School District, Greenwood Village, CO [Common Core Math Kits]

Scoggins, Deanna, M.A.T., M.S.S.W., Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (Retired), Louisville, KY [Building on Patterns]

Sell, Michael A., B.A., Freelance Editor, New Orleans, LA, formerly with APH Accessible Tests Department [Test Ready®: Test Prep Series]

Sewell, Debra L., Director of Curriculum Services, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, TX [KeyMath® 3]

Skowron, Aniceta, Ph.D., Materials Scientist, founder Geometro, Ontario, Canada [Geometro]

Smith, Derrick W., Ed.D., University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL [MathBuilders, Common Core Math Kits]

Smith, Matthew, B.S., Cartographer, Louisville, KY [Address: Earth]

Smith, Millie J., M.Ed., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Consultant, Farmersville, TX [Barraga Visual Efficiency Program], [Sensory Learning Kit], [SAM: Symbols and Meaning]

Smyth, Catherine, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Doctoral Student, Anchor Center for Blind Children, Denver, CO and University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO [Boehm-3: Test of Basic Concepts]

Sokol-McKay, Debra A., MS, OTR, CDE, SCLV, CLVT, CVRT, Consultant - Private Practitioner Low Vision and Adaptive Diabetes Self Management, Bethlehem, PA [Food Portion Control Serving Utensils and Food Portion and Carbohydrate Counting Booklet]

Squire, Deborah, M.S., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Mathematics Teacher, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Indianapolis, IN [Common Core Math Kits]

Stocker, Jennifer, M.H.S., OTR/L, Kentucky School for the Blind, Louisville, KY [SAM: Symbols and Meaning], [V-File]

Supalo, Cary, Ph.D., President, Independence Science, LLC, Purdue Research Park, West Lafayette, IN [SALS]

Supalo, Ron, Project Manager, Independence Science, LLC, Purdue Research Park, West Lafayette, IN [SALS]

Swain, Mark, Owner, Precision Circuit, LLC, Columbus, IN [SALS]

Swenson, Anna, M.Ed., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Fairfax Co. Public Schools, retired, Dunn Loring, VA [Early Braille Trade Books]

Tikkun, Sean R., TVI, COMS and Doctoral Student, University of Northern Illinois, DeKalb, IL

Topor, Irene, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor/Specialization in Vision Program, Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ [Barraga Visual Efficiency Program]

Trief, Ellen, Ed.D., Professor, Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, NY [STACS]

Truan, Mila, Ed.D. Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Reading Specialist (Retired), Nashville, TN [Building on Patterns]

Vaught-Compton, Monica, M.S.S.W., APH Project Consultant, Louisville, KY

Wicker, Jeanette, M.S., APH Core Curriculum Consultant, Louisville, KY

Williams-Neal, Robert, M.Ed., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Kentucky School for the Blind, Louisville, KY [Talking Protractor]

Wilson, Kim, M.Ed., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, KY [Common Core Math Kits]

Wright, Lisa, M.Ed., Statewide Blind and Visually Impaired and Low Incidence Disability Specialist, Maryland State Department of Education and the Maryland School for the Blind [Common Core Math Kits]

Wingell, Robin, B.S.Ed., Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Santa Barbara County Education Office, Santa Maria, CA [Building on Patterns]

Wolfe, Karen, Ph.D., Career Counseling and Consultation, Austin, TX [Transition Tote, Revised]

Wright, Tessa, Ph.D., Coordinator VI Program, University of Nebraska--Lincoln, Lincoln, NE [Teaching Street Crossings]



Field Evaluators / Expert Reviewers


4-Box Tactile Punnett Square

Arnold, Nancy, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Missouri School for the Blind, St. Louis, MO

Brewster, Pam, Certified Braille Transcriber, North Orange County SELPA, Fullerton, CA

Craig, Sandra, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Kansas State School for the Blind, Kansas City, KS

Ennis, Karen, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Porter County Education Services, Valparaiso, IN

Fraser, Kate, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Heck, Becky, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Indianapolis, IN

Huntoon, Linda, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Florida School for the Blind, St. Augustine, FL

Liao, Melisa, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Los Angeles County Office of Education, Manhattan Beach, CA

Maggiore, Terry, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Silverstein, Ava, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Grant High School, Valley Glen, CA

Wolf, Robin, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, North Orange County SELPA, Fullerton, CA


16-Box Tactile Punnett Square

Brewster, Pam, Certified Braille Transcriber, North Orange County SELPA, Fullerton, CA

Fraser, Kate, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Huntoon, Linda, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Florida School for the Blind, St. Augustine, FL

Wolf, Robin, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, North Orange County SELPA, Fullerton, CA


Boehm-3 Preschool Tactile and Large Print Adaptations

Donaldson, Coleen, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Carroll County Public Schools, MD

Garrety, Joanne, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Philadelphia, PA

Karnes, Karen, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Harford County Public Schools, MD

Smyth, Cathy, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Doctoral Candidate, Anchor Center for Blind Children, Denver, CO, and University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO

Zorbach, Dena, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Harford County Public Schools, MD


Building on Patterns Second Grade Level

Harmon, Marilyn, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Engleburg Elementary School, Milwaukee, WI

Krusinski, Darcy, Vision Specialist, Washington State School for the Blind, Vancouver, WA

Mangis, Susan, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, San Juan Unified School District, Carmichael, CA

Martyn, Angela, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments & Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, California School for the Bline, Fremont , CA

Sargee, Carol, Teacher of the Students with Visual Impairments, Moses Lake School District, Moses Lake, WA

Sitar, Debbie, District Vision Learning Support Teacher, Burnaby, BC, Canada

Truan, Mila, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments & Reading Specialist, (Retired), Tennessee School for the Blind, Nashville, TN


Decision Making Guide

Panikkar, Rajiv, Certified Low Vision Therapist, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Outreach Coordinator, Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind, Tucson, AZ


DNA-RNA Kit

Arnold, Nancy, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Missouri School for the Blind, St. Louis, MO

Butler, Christine, Secondary Science Teacher, Sibley East High School, Arlington, MN

Cook-Walker, Carlton, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Mechanicsburg Area School District, Mechanicsburg, PA

Craig, Sandra, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Kansas State School for the Blind, Kansas City, KS

Fraser, Kate, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Heck, Becky, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Indianapolis, IN

Hospital, Laura, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, TX

Knight, Nancy, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Boston English High School, Boston, MA

Koehler, Karen, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Ohio State School for the Blind, Columbus, OH

Leslie, Janice, Vision Strategist/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Calgary Board of Education, Calgary, Alberta (Canada)

Liao, Melisa, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Los Angeles County Office of Education, Manhattan Beach, CA

Roth, Alan, Science Teacher, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Indianapolis, IN

Wolf, Robin, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, North Orange County SELPA, Fullerton, CA


DNA Twist

Arnold, Nancy, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Missouri School for the Blind, St. Louis, MO

Butler, Christine, Secondary Science Teacher, Sibley East High School, Arlington, MN

Cook-Walker, Carlton, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Mechanicsburg Area School District, Mechanicsburg, PA

Craig, Sandra, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Kansas State School for the Blind, Kansas City, KS

Fraser, Kate, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Heck, Becky, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Indianapolis, IN

Hospital, Laura, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, TX

Koehler, Karen, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Ohio State School for the Blind, Columbus, OH

Leslie, Janice, Vision Strategist/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Calgary Board of Education, Calgary, Alberta (Canada)

Liao, Melisa, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Los Angeles County Office of Education, Manhattan Beach, CA

Roth, Alan, Science Teacher, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Indianapolis, IN


Everybody Plays!

Ankerbrand, Meredith, Physical Therapist, PT Etc., Chambersburg, PA

Anonymous, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Stamford Public Schools, Stamford, CT

Beuter, Margaret, Physical Education Teacher, Iowa City, IA

Burger, Coleen, Parent, Wilowick, OH

Cook Walker, Carlton Anne, Teacher of Students with Blindness/Visual Impairment, Mechanicsburg Area School District, Mechanicsburg, PA

Coughlin, Laura, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Ferguson Elementary/Clear Creek ISD, Webster, TX

Garrett, Michelle, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Crowley ISD, Crowley, TX

Geyman, Melissa, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Special Education District of McHenry County, Belvidere, IL

Stark, Tece, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Lamar CISD, Rosenberg, TX


Large Print Braille Genetic Code

Arnold, Nancy, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Missouri School for the Blind, St. Louis, MO

Brewster, Pam, Certified Braille Transcriber, North Orange County SELPA, Fullerton, CA

Ennis, Karen, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Porter County Education Services, Valparaiso, IN

Fraser, Kate, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Heck, Becky, Science Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Indianapolis, IN

Maggiore, Terry, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Silverstein, Ava, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Grant High School, Valley Glen, CA

Wolf, Robin, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, North Orange County SELPA, Fullerton, CA


Paint Pot Palette

Adle, Laila, High School Classroom Teacher, Cupertino Union School District, Cupertino, CA

Bartley, Jane, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, New Albany Floyd County Schools, New Albany, IN

Evers, Melissa, Parent, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

Fiorentino, Lisa, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Clovis Unified School, Clovis, CA

Grossman, Susan, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Marion Co. Public Schools, Florida School for the Deaf & Blind, Ocala, FL

Hirsh, Jennifer, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Monterey County Office of Education, Salinas, CA

Mall, Cathy, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Art Teacher, Mallory Elementary, Buffalo, MO

McEnderfer, Julie, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Pasco School District, Pasco, WA

Pierce, Nona, Art Teacher, Ohio State School for the Blind, Columbus, OH

Reisman, Tammy, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Ward Elementary, Newton, MA

Strouss, Diane, Classroom Aide, Neosho Middle School, Neosho, MO

West, Karla, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Suffolk Public Schools, Suffolk, VA


ReadWrite Stand

Abramson, Mary, Instructor of Office Skills, Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired, Chicago, IL

Albert, Debbie, Vision Rehabilitation Specialist, Clovernook Center of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Cincinnati, OH

Fortier, Kamie, Teacher Consultant of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Ottawa Area ISD, Holland, MI

Klein, Karen, Vision Itinerant, Special School District of St. Louis County, St. Louis, MO

Lueders, Kerry, Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Certified Orientation and Mobility Instructor/Certified Low Vision Therapist, William Feinbloom Vision Rehabilitation Center, Philadelphia, PA

Maffit, Jamie, Certified Orientation and Mobility Instructor/Low Vision Intern, William Feinbloom Vision Rehabilitation Center, Philadelphia, PA

Portugue, Kristi, Teacher of the Blind/Visually Impaired, South Central Service Cooperative, North Mankato, MN

Starner, Linda, Vision Services Team Leader, Baltimore County Public Schools, Southeast Student Support Services, Baltimore, MD

Sussman, Naomi, Vision Intern, William Feinbloom Vision Rehabilitation Center, Philadelphia, PA


Spangle Tangle

Anonymous, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, McPherson, KS

Garrison, Jane, Outreach Consultant, Montana School for the Deaf and Blind, Great Falls, MT

Lebiecz, Lynn, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Northshore Education Consortium, Beverly, MA

Pruner, Lisa, Preschool Education Consultant, State of Connecticut BRS Board of Education and Services for the Blind, Windsor, CT

Schescke, Sonia, Teacher, B. W. Robinson MSSD #23, Rolla, MO

Sjogren, Mary, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Pathways Elementary School, Hillsborough, NC

Tietz, Meridith, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, South Central Service Coop, MN

Tyrrell, Lisa, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Utley, Shay, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Mansfield, TX


STACS

Baker, Lynn, Music Therapist, Hazelwood Center, Louisville, KY

Cantu, Karla, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, United ISD, Laredo, TX

Gray, Cammie, Parent, Florissant, MO

Gutierrez, Tina, Education Consultant, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, State CT Bureau of Rehabilitative Services: BESB Program, Windsor, CT

Hadsell, Jennifer, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Princeton Elementary, Orlando, FL

Herder, Jane, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, St Louis Public Schools, St. Louis, MO

Mack, Shelley, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Private Contractor, Berea, OH

Miller, Annette, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Jackson R2 School District, Jackson, MO

Neil, Tyrene, Special Education Director, Georgia Academy for the Blind, Macon, GA

Skarin, Tami, Treatment Services Director, Glenwood Resource Center, Omaha, NE

Thiel, Sarah, Creative Arts Therapist II, Hazelwood Center, Louisville, KY


VisioBook

Etheridge, Edith, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Retired, Louisville, KY

Gendeman, Jennifer, Occupational Therapist, Certified Low Vision Therapist, Kentucky Lions Eye Center, Louisville, KY

Johnson, Cathy, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Retired, Louisville, KY

Mejia, Guadalupe, Doctor of Optometry, Director of Low Vision Services, Kentucky Lions Eye Center, Louisville, KY

Accessible Tests Department

Deborah H. Willis

Director

Accessible Tests Department Staff

Garrett, Dena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Accessible Media Editor (part-time)

Knight, Priscilla, M.A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Accessible Test Editor

Scott, Kristopher, M.A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Accessible Test Editor

Willis, Deborah (Debbie), M.A . . . . . . . . . . .Director, Accessible Tests Department

Zierer, Carolyn, M.A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Accessible Test Editor

Accessible Tests Department

(Formerly Test Central)

Purpose

In response to recommendations by APH's Advisory Committees and members of the Second Test Central Council, the charge of the Accessible Tests Department was expanded in August 2003. The updated goal is to provide tests, practice tests, test administration manuals, and other test-related materials in high quality accessible media in a timely manner, to promote the inclusion of visual impairment professionals as well as individuals with visual impairments during test development, and to enhance the test performance of blind and visually impaired individuals through research, education, and communication.

Background

During a brainstorming session about important projects to pursue, an initiative to develop a central location dedicated to developing standardized guidelines, processes, and procedures related to test adaptation and production of tests in alternative media was proposed. This initiative was presented to the U.S. Department of Education. In February 2001, APH received confirmation from the U.S. Department of Education that Test Central was awarded startup funding for FY 2001. At a meeting with APH's Advisory Committees, members of the two committees commended APH for conceptualizing Test Central, recognized the leadership role APH could play with regard to tests and assessments, and strongly encouraged continued efforts in this area.

An in-house Core Team was formed, and Test Central's five tracks were identified:

  1. Education and relationship building

  2. Test adaptation

  3. Adaptation and development of test-related tools and materials

  4. Identification and development of new tests

  5. Research into test-related issues

A Test Central Council was formed; council members met in 2002 and again in 2003 at APH. Three major test developers and publishers, Harcourt, CTB McGraw-Hill, and Data Recognition Corporation were represented at this meeting. Several discussions focused on common problems involved in testing students with disabilities.

Recommendations of the Council included

On August 22, 2002, the initiative called "Test Central," which started in the Research Department, became APH's new Accessible Tests Department. The department's charge was expanded in FY 2003 due to recommendations received by council members during a meeting in February 2003 and APH's Advisory Committees that met in spring 2003.

In order to begin addressing the expanded charge of the Accessible Tests Department to provide practice tests and test prep materials in accessible media, a short online survey was posted on the APH Web site. The survey, "Let's Get Ready for Testing," asked trustees and vision teachers which practice materials and test prep materials they used and what materials were needed. Results showed overwhelmingly that test prep materials for use by students who are blind or visually impaired was a very high priority need and that each state used different materials to help prepare their students to take state assessments. Based on the results of this survey, generic test preparation materials were selected for adaptation into accessible media. (See "Test Ready" in the Tests and Assessments section of this report.)

Two new position papers on Use of Extended Time and Use of Testing Accommodations were drafted. Test Access: Making Tests Accessible for Visually Impaired Students, Second Edition, the second publication in the Test Access series, was finalized and presented at the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Conference, June 20-23, 2004, in Boston, MA. It was also used as a teaching tool with participants of the Accessible Tests Department's first two training workshops on "Making Tests Accessible for Students with Visual Impairments."

Contract work for various states continued at a steady pace, with Kristopher Scott and Monica Coffey editing and facilitating production of over 60 individual test titles in braille and recorded formats. Consultation work by Accessible Tests staff included advising Measured Progress, a test publisher, and the Michigan State Department of Education, on development of accessible versions of their alternate assessments.

The department collaborated on research efforts by several university groups: Jane Erin of the University of Arizona on Effects of Test Medium, the ABC Braille Study by Anne Corn at Vanderbilt, et al., Gaylen Kapperman at Northern Illinois University on Results of Math Items for Visually Impaired Students, and the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota, which sought and were awarded additional funding for their study to examine the Use of Multiple Modalities for the Achievement of Literacy Standards by Students with Disabilities.

An in-service on guidelines for tactile graphics design was presented on June 8, 2004. Accessible tests staff, graphic artists, transcribers, and proofreaders from the braille department participated in this event. Karen Poppe and Fred Otto, Tactile Graphics Project Leaders, led a group analysis of sample test items toward improving our presentation of tactile graphics.

In April 2004, the Accessible Tests Department was fortunate to gain Dena Garrett's valuable braille expertise on a part-time basis. Garrett, an Accessible Media Editor in the Accessible Textbooks Department, is a 30-year veteran braille transcriber who has worked on state, local, and commercial tests for 10 years. She also served on the Braille Authority of North America's (BANA) Braille Formats Technical Committee.

A third Accessible Tests Workshop was presented in the last quarter of FY 2004. This "Workshop for State Assessment Personnel: Making Tests Accessible to Students with Visual Impairments" was held at APH on September 15-16, 2004. It was attended by representatives from 11 state Departments of Education, a braille transcribing group, one university professor, one research organization, and two test publishers. Workshop evaluations indicated a very high level of satisfaction.

Key endeavors in FY 2005 included promoting education of issues regarding making test items truly accessible, contributing to universal design elements, networking and building important relationships, reviewing and editing tests, promoting research, participating in collaborative efforts, serving on relevant committees, and continuing professional development of Accessible Tests staff in order to be more informed and knowledgeable when working on state and alternate assessments.

While three Accessible Tests Workshops were envisioned for FY 2005, resources which enabled a fourth workshop were available and utilized. The first was a special 1-day event sponsored by Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, NJ, on November 9, 2004. ETS staff learned general information about challenges in assessing persons who are blind or visually impaired. Carol Allman and Barbara Henderson facilitated this session. The second workshop was coordinated with CTEVH in San Francisco, CA, March 3, 2005. The 1-day workshop targeted Department of Education staff, teachers, test developers, and publishers. A third was held at Harcourt for their assessment staff in San Antonio, TX. Finally, a fourth workshop was presented as a pre-conference session in conjunction with the CCSSO Large Scale Assessment Conference in San Antonio, TX, on June 18, 2005. This event was of particular interest to test publishers and Department of Education personnel and assessment staff planning to attend the CCSSO Conference.

Members of Accessible Tests participated on Item Bias Review Committees at the requests of WestEd and CTB McGraw-Hill in order to assist and collaborate with them to create unbiased, accessible test items on state assessments under development. The main factors considered were bias and sensitivity. Potential test items were rejected based on three primary elements: "opportunity and access," "portrayal of groups represented," and "protecting privacy and avoiding offensive content." Through the process of bias and sensitivity reviews, test validity is enhanced, fairness of test items for all students is increased, and educational initiatives are supported. It is essential that professionals in visual impairment participate on such committees during the development phase of high-stakes tests.

The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) 3-year grant to develop "best practices" for audio description of higher level science and mathematics material. Beginning in FY 2005, Accessible Tests staff and APH Studio staff served as "advisors" alongside staff from American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) in this collaborative research effort. The National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) also secured additional funding for their study called An Examination of the Use of Multiple Modalities for the Achievement of Literacy Standards by Students with Disabilities. Accessible Tests staff collaborated on phase two of this study.

A wide variety of state assessments and commercially-available tests were edited and produced in accessible media on a contract basis during FY 2005. These included approximately 265 unique state assessments provided in some combination of braille, tactile graphics, enlarged print, and audio formats. Accompanying test administration notes were provided in accessible media when specified in the contract. Items such as braille paper, rulers, bold line writing paper, and protractors were included with tests as per specific contractual agreements. State assessments were for grades 3 through high school and covered some or all of the following areas: math, language arts, reading, science, and social studies. One state contacted Accessible Tests for assistance to put their released items into braille and audio formats. These items were used as practice tests prior to the spring and fall 2005 testing seasons. All of the requested copies were delivered on time.

The second book in the Test Access series by Accessible Tests was printed and unveiled at the Accessible Tests Workshop at APH in September 2004 and at Annual Meeting 2004. Test Access: Making Tests Accessible for Visually Impaired Students, Second Edition, was made available on the APH Web site and used for training purposes during workshops and conferences.

The spring 2005 edition of EnVision was dedicated to assessment of students with visual impairments. Accessible Tests staff, Carol Allman, and Barbara Henderson, contributed featured articles to this edition of Lighthouse International's EnVision, an online publication for parents and educators of children with impaired vision. In addition, Jane Erin of the University of Arizona contributed an article on research in collaboration with APH on the effects of media on test performance. The spring 2005 edition of EnVision is available at http://www.lighthouse.org.

At the request of Chairperson Jean Martin, Barbara and Debbie joined the state vision consultants' related meeting held during the 2004 Annual Meeting. Information on what states are doing to include visually impaired students in state assessments and specific considerations for making tests accessible were presented and discussed. Mary Ann Siller, Director of the National Education Program with AFB, disseminated copies of the 2004 Jo Taylor Leadership Institute (JTLI) Education Summary. Participants were interested in the summary article on Work Group Report: High-Stakes Assessments and Alternate Assessments. Next steps included a phone conference with AFB, APH, and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) staff to determine key test-related issues that need to be addressed.

To build assessment initiatives for schools, AFB, APH, and TSBVI collaborated to create three articles with checklists. These were developed in response to the top assessment priorities identified during the 2004 JTLI. They are Model Accommodations and Procedures: A Guide for Parents; Guidelines to Support the Contract Development Process between Test Publishers and States; and Checklist for Administration of Tests to Students with Visual Impairments. The checklists provide concrete steps that can be readily used in programs to build accountability through assessments. These documents were used as the basis for presentations to attendees at the 2005 JTLI. Final articles with checklists can be viewed and downloaded from the AFB Web site: http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=58&TopicID=264

Barbara Henderson worked with Consultant Lynne Jaffe, a learning disabilities specialist, to create a presentation on Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement in Braille. Jaffe provided this presentation at the Arizona Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired Conference held in Prescott in October 2004. Carol Allman presented Accommodations to Help Maximize Test Performance of Students with Visual Impairments at the National Family Conference. The audience included parents, students, educators, and psychologists. While Carol was in Louisville for this conference, members of Accessible Tests took the opportunity to discuss some department plans for FY 2006.

More test publishers started to provide test items in color. Test publishers, test administrators, and educators asked questions and sought expertise regarding access to these items by low vision and/or colorblind individuals. Accessible Tests staff attended a training session offered by Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader, on editing test items presented in color for individuals with color blindness.

Test and Assessment Project Leader Barbara Henderson attended the first annual Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Summer Institute sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Education. The main guest speaker was David Rose of CAST, Inc. and Harvard University. David, who is co-author of Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age, spoke on the topic of The Future of UDL in Education. Six model UDL schools reported on how they used grant-funded activities to integrate UDL into their school's curricula and testing. Barbara also furnished updated information on APH tests and test-related materials for the winter 2005 revision of Lighthouse International's Assessment Compendium: Instruments for Assessing the Skills and Interests of Individuals with Visual Impairments.

In FY 2006, the goal of Accessible Tests as it relates to the APH mission continued to be addressed. To further the education of test developers, publishers, and assessment personnel, as well as our own education and professional development, members of Accessible Tests continued to provide presentations and workshops, participate in various collaborative efforts and meetings, serve as focus group, task force, and committee members, and attend relevant classes, workshops, and events. Additional handouts, documents, and surveys were authored and disseminated. More information, resources, and related links were added to the Accessible Tests Web page, and discussion regarding development of some "Test" webcasts and APH's first Test and Assessment catalog got underway.

Carol Allman provided an "On the Road" workshop at the New York AER and an in-service to the New York Department of Education and state assessment staff on testing students who are blind or visually impaired. Surveys and networking with the field and with our customers continued as a means to determine customer satisfaction and specific needs for products, services, and information. Test-related contract work to review and edit state assessment and alternate assessment items, and prepare test notes for administering the alternate media editions, was accomplished throughout FY 2006.

Early in FY 2006, staff from Accessible Textbooks Initiative & Collaboration (ATIC) and the Accessible Tests Department moved into a renovated area of APH. Discussions on effectively working together to provide instructional and test materials in high quality, accessible media in a timely manner ensued. Some ATIC staff was shared on a part-time basis with Accessible Tests and provided project support. Guidelines and ways to provide more consistent presentation of instruction and test materials were explored. Garrett, Accessible Media Editor for ATIC, provided copies of test guidelines developed through Accessible Tests to each member of BANA's committee that is reworking Braille Formats: Principles of Print to Braille Transcription 1997. Since transcribers across the country adhere to BANA guidelines, Garrett and Accessible Tests staff worked with BANA committee members to adopt test guidelines so that future test materials will be formatted and transcribed in a more consistent manner.

In order to provide education, information, training, and resources on making test items accessible in various media for test-takers who are blind or visually impaired, Accessible Tests staff, along with Research staff and a guest speaker from the National Alternate Assessment Center (NAAC) at the University of Kentucky, provided four major workshops during FY 2006: two at APH and two on-the-road in connection with other scheduled conferences. During these workshops, over 100 professionals and students from across the country received training, information, and resources; some of these individuals returned to their school systems or companies and provided training to colleagues. Numerous state Departments of Education personnel from across the country participated in the FY 2006 workshops. Test publishers attending these workshops included representatives from ACT, Inc., Data Recognition Corporation, ETS, Pearson Assessments, Measured Progress, and ThinkLink Learning. Some major agencies represented included Association of Test Publishers, ATECH Services, and Design Science, Inc.

More information and features were added to the Accessible Tests Department Web page in the third quarter of FY 2006. Items added include How to Contact Test Publishers and Hot Links. Hot Links include a link to APH's Louis Database as well as the Accessible Media Producers (AMP) Database, and the National Agenda Web site. To add educational value, awareness of accommodations, and interest, a photo montage of children taking tests using various accommodations and in various accessible media has been added to the main page. Finally, easier navigation and updated links are features of the new and improved page. Development of a Test and Assessment catalog was initiated; it was made available in the third quarter of FY 2007. Results of assessment survey 2007: New Directions were posted in the second quarter.

Accessible Tests continued a collaborative effort begun in 2005 with NCAM, AFB, and RFB&D staff to research most promising practices in narration of math and science content for Digital Talking Books and materials. Staff helped to identify Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) professionals and students to participate in a survey.

In FY 2006, approximately 345 unique tests and assessments, answer documents, and test-related reference sheets were reviewed, edited, and produced in accessible media. This represents a 30% increase over a 1-year period in the number of unique test materials produced on a contract basis. These tests were requested by various test publishers and state Departments of Education: Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Though varying in content, these tests generally assessed mathematics, science, social science, reading, and writing. Accessible Tests staff also edited and produced the Ballard & Tighe IDEA English Language Proficiency tests, which are used by several states for all grades in both contracted and uncontracted braille. Of the tests prepared, seven forms were alternate assessments reviewed and edited for West Virginia, and 12 forms were alternate assessments for Michigan. Test administration notes were written and provided, as requested, for about 80% of these tests. Additional city and state assessments and alternate assessments continued to be reviewed and edited by the Accessible Tests editors, and/or produced at APH in accessible media, as requested and as resources were available to provide high quality tests in accessible media and timely delivery of test materials.

For two or three decades, there has been discussion and debate as to the benefit of intelligence or cognitive tests administered to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. In the spring of 2007, members of the Advisory Committee recommended that Accessible Tests staff consider the following question: Are the results of an intelligence or cognitive test meaningful to individuals with visual impairments, and useful to their instructors, families, and decision makers? An Intelligence Testing Committee made up of APH staff and field experts had been formed in January 2007, so APH was prepared to examine and respond to this concern. Intelligence Testing Committee members include the following:

Stephen A. Goodman, M.A., M.S., California School for the Blind

Carol Anne Evans, Ph.D., Davis School District, Utah

Marnee Loftin, M.A., Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Will Evans, M.A., Products and Services Advisor, APH

Barbara Henderson, M.A., Test and Assessment Project Leader, APH

Michael Sell, B.A., Test Editor, Accessible Tests Department, APH

Debbie Willis, M.A., Director of Accessible Tests Department, APH

During the initial meeting of the IQ Test Group, committee members determined that the priority was to develop and disseminate "key points" in a position paper regarding intelligence testing of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. After careful consideration and discussion, the following position statement was drafted, "If appropriate guidelines are followed, cognitive or intelligence testing of individuals who are blind or VI will provide useful and valuable information to test-takers, their families, instructors, and other decision makers." Nine key points and guidelines were initially formulated. These were presented as a panel session at the 2008 International AER in Chicago. Feedback received from the audience who attended the panel presentation on intelligence testing of individuals with visual impairments was positive. Additional presentations at the 2008 International AER Conference included "The Journey of a Test: How it Becomes Accessible to Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired" by Test Editor Kerry Isham, "Striped Lands and Dotted Seas: Editing Tactile Graphics" by Test Editor Michael Sell.

Accessible Tests staff met with Dena Garrett in order to develop a list of test rules or guidelines, along with examples, of items not covered by current BANA code. Department staff also met with Diane Spence at APH to discuss the list of test guidelines and the need for BANA transcription rules/guidelines. BANA formed a Test Committee to develop rules/guidelines for transcribing high stakes tests; members include APH Accessible Media Editor and certified braille transcriptionist Garrett and Dr. Carol Allman. Their first meeting was held via teleconference in August 2008; a timeline of approximately two years to undertake and complete this work was discussed. Teleconferences continued throughout FY 2009, and a face-to-face meeting was planned for summer 2009.

At the request of the test publisher, Barbara Henderson reviewed KeyMath®-3 pre-publication test items for low vision and color deficient vision issues. Barbara and Low Vision Project Leader Elaine Kitchel provided reviews on the pre-publication test items. These reviews were used by the test publisher's project staff to finalize test items in the new KeyMath 3. Accessible Tests staff also pursued permission from the test publisher to make a braille/tactile version of KeyMath 3 available. This and other catalog items under development by the department's Test and Assessment Project Leader are in various phases. See the "Tests and Assessments" section of this document for status reports on individual test-related projects that were either completed in FY 2012, underway, on hold awaiting test publisher's permission to make accessible versions available, or under consideration as future projects.

In late winter 2008, Debbie Willis participated as a member of NCEO's National Accessible Reading Assessment Projects (NARAP) Principles and Guidelines Committee. The purpose of the meeting, held in Washington, D.C., was to bring together a diverse panel of experts and stakeholders to provide project staff with feedback on the draft of the Principles and Guidelines, to provide advice on establishing levels of support for the Guidelines, and to help design a dissemination plan once the Principles and Guidelines are finalized. A group of APH staff was instrumental to prep Debbie for this meeting, and for compiling significant edits, suggestions, and questions for the NARAP project staff to consider.

Presentations in FY 2008 included a poster session by Test Editor Kerry Isham on "Test Accommodations for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired" presented at Annual Meeting. Test and Assessment Project Leader Barbara Henderson teamed with Linnie Lee of the KY Department of Education and Chloe Torres of Measured Progress to present a regular conference session at the Association of Test Publishers (ATP) Conference on Innovations in Testing. Their presentation on "Making Online Tests Accessible for Students with Visual Impairments" included video clips of students who are blind and some with low vision taking the KY online pilot test during spring 2008. Challenges and positive outcomes of the online testing experience were presented from three different viewpoints.

Professional development opportunities for members of Accessible Tests continued throughout FY 2008. Some staff was involved in a conference call on alternate assessments with staff from the NAAC at the University of KY. NAAC staff spoke on alignment methods and models, dealing with how academic performance and grade level are significant points of alignment and what sort of criteria are used for measurement. New Test Editors Michael Sell and Kerry Isham were provided several opportunities during the school year to observe students in a variety of classes at the KY School for the Blind as well as observe students who are blind or visually impaired in classrooms in Jefferson County KY Public Schools. Sell successfully completed his lessons on literary braille, submitted his transcribed manuscript, and received his certification in literary braille transcription from the National Library Service.

Some additional activities this fiscal year included a review of Tests of Adult Basic Education for English Language Learners (TABE CLAS-E) for CTB/McGraw-Hill publishers. The object was to discover any biases toward English Language Learners who have visual impairments. Henderson and Willis worked with NCEO staff to review and provide feedback on "Case Studies of English Language Learners (ELLs) with Visual Impairments." Test Editor Kris Scott participated as a member of KY's Bias Review Committee. Test Editor Kerry Isham reviewed hundreds of potential test items in the areas of mathematics, science, and reading for bias and access by students with visual impairments. Numerous phone conferences and some in-person meetings were held by APH staff, test publishers, state and local assessment staff, and accessible media producers. Henderson and Isham edited and reviewed the previous year's West Virginia alternate assessment items and provided feedback to WV alternate assessment staff.

Accessible Tests sponsored its first webcast in FY 2008. Fred Otto and Karen Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leaders, provided a webcast on "Tactile Graphics: Touching on the Basics." Eighty individuals/groups logged onto the webcast that was viewed by over 200 participants. Tactile graphics packets containing samples of released test items and a graphic produced in four different formats had been prepared and shipped to webcast registrants prior to the live, interactive presentation. Additional packets were made available to about 20 people who viewed the archived tactile graphics presentation via our APH Web site.

Forty-six members of the CCSSO division on Assessment of Special Education Students (ASES) visited APH for an exciting and informative half-day workshop during their 2-day CCSSO ASES Meeting in Louisville. It was this group's first time meeting in Louisville and first time visiting APH. Members of the CCSSO ASES Group toured the facilities and were offered presentations that included an overview of assessment issues, some braille basics, an explanation of the roles of the test editor, transcriber and proofreader, enhanced print as well as tactile graphics issues and guidelines. The workshop concluded with demonstrations of editing regular print test items for presentation in braille, tactile graphics, enhanced print, and audio formats. Some of the thoughtful questions and concerns expressed by ASES members included the readability of tactile graphics, what can be used when sighted students are using their graphing calculators, and use of color and grayscale for students with color blindness or low vision. Members left with numerous handouts and resources available to them, with some questions answered as well as some new ones.

In preparation for the August 2008 workshop, Dr. Carol Allman, and members of Accessible Tests and Research staff reviewed, edited, and updated the second edition of Test Access: Making Tests Accessible for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, and produced the 3rd edition of this document. The new edition was freely disseminated to interested parties and made available on the Accessible Tests Department's Web page.

The original selection of released sample test items from the states of Illinois and Ohio that had been used for previous workshops was reviewed and edited, and prepared introductory information that had not been included in previous editions of the sample test items, was prepared. The Ohio and Illinois sample test items were reproduced with permission as 2008 APH Sample Test Items in braille with tactile graphics, large print, and on audio CD. In addition, a second set of released sample test items used with permission from the states of Florida, Maine, and Texas were selected and produced in the same media as the above mentioned original sample test items. The second set was produced as a Supplement: APH Sample Test Items ©2008. The supplement covers sample test items for math, science, and writing for grades 4-11.

These sample test items, along with the new 3rd edition of Test Access: Making Tests Accessible, were used for training purposes during the August 2008 workshop on Making Test Items Accessible for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired; 30 individuals representing test publishers, state Departments of Education, and various assessment personnel from across the country participated and received training during this workshop. Both sets of sample test items will be used for similar purposes at future workshops and presentations. This was the first workshop at APH to be audio-video recorded by APH staff, Maria Delgado and Michael Sell.

FY 2008 was a productive year with regard to test-related contract work. Over 600 state and local assessments as well as some alternate assessments, commercially-available assessments such as the WIAT II and TerraNova, and related materials such as parent/teacher guides, manuals, reference sheets, and charts were produced and shipped. Tests were reviewed and edited for presentation in braille, tactile graphics, large print, enlarged print, and/or audio formats; some of the tests were produced in both contracted and uncontracted braille. Test Administration Notes were prepared for about 75% of these tests, according to customer specifications. The majority of this work was undertaken by the test editors and various production staff throughout APH. For a more detailed history and report of activities of Test Central and the Accessible Tests Department from FY 2001 through FY 2008, please see the specific Annual Report of Research and Development Activities for each fiscal year.

Activities and accomplishments in FY 2009 included the following: The large print edition of the Brigance Diagnostic Comprehensive Inventory of Basic Skills, Revised was completed and made available. The test publisher/copyright holder, upon receiving a copy, wrote: "[Copy] received today. And it looks GREAT. Congratulations on a superb job." At our request, Dr. Carol Allman drafted a set of guidelines for developing or adapting test items for students who are blind or visually impaired, and who are also severely cognitively impaired; part of these guidelines will address a growing segment of this population who are nonreaders. The 4th edition of Test Access was drafted and the new section on alternate assessments developed by Allman was incorporated into the recent edition of this document; copies were produced and the document was made available on the APH Web site.

Test and Assessment Project Leader, Barbara Henderson, continued to work with Dr. Virginia Posey, Sr. Research Scientist, CASAS, toward publication of an article about their research collaboration that involved a test in the "Life and Work" series that was transcribed into braille and field tested with 65 adults and teenagers who met the criteria.

Henderson and Test Editor Kerry Isham consulted with Jared Wright and West Virginia on their alternate assessments; Wright visited APH for 2 days to work with Accessible Tests. Henderson consulted on South Carolina's Alternate Assessments; she also consulted on Michigan's and Utah's computer-based testing development projects. In addition, she served as a member of a KY Bias Review Committee. This is the first time a member of Accessible Tests served on a Bias Review Committee for the development of alternate assessment items.

Students in the visual impairment program at Middle Tennessee University visited APH in June 2009; Accessible Tests presented an overview of test-related products and services available from APH. Students were given information about the Accessible Tests Department Web page, other online resources, and product information.

In response to Advisory Committee members' and IQ Group members' recommendations to help educate and become more involved with the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), Barbara Henderson and consultant Dr. Lynne Jaffe presented a session entitled, "Issues in Translating Tests into Braille: Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement -- Braille Adaptation," at the 2009 NASP Conference held in Boston. While there, Barbara and Lynne attended a meeting and banquet of the Board of Directors of the Woodcock-Munoz Foundation. At the dinner, Barbara had the honor to meet Dr. Richard Woodcock and Kevin McGrew, two of the WJ III authors, as well as Dr. Fred Schrank, Director of the Woodcock-Munoz Foundation (WMF). A letter of appreciation for the extensive and historic work accomplished by Dr. Woodcock, Dr. Schrank, and a number of WMF staff to develop/adapt various components of the WJ III ACH: Braille Adaptation was sent to the WMF Board of Trustees c/o Dr. Fred Schrank.

Consultant Dr. Lynne Jaffe and Debbie Willis provided presentations at the 2009 Council for Exceptional Children Conference in Seattle, WA. Lynne presented a conference session on issues in brailling standardized tests; and Debbie presented a conference session on guidelines for assessing the intellectual/cognitive abilities of individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

For professional development, Debbie was able to participate in a workshop on "Training School Psychologists and Clinical Psychologists to Work with Children with Visual Impairments" provided by Perkins Training Center and the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Debbie also had the opportunity to participate in the 2009 CCSSO Conference held in Los Angeles. Major topics presented included common state standards to be developed and voluntarily adopted, a potential move toward increased computer-based testing, alternate assessments, English language learners, and a variety of research results that impact instruction, assessment, and accessibility.

Barbara met with Frank Ferguson, retired President of Curriculum Associates, at the NASP convention. Their discussion involved updates on the Brigance products planned for fall 2009. In addition, Curriculum Associates is the publisher of the Test Ready® Test Prep Series. (See the project report on Brigance ® Diagnostic Inventory of Early Development II: Large Print Edition and Tactile Edition.) While in Boston, Barbara hosted a luncheon meeting with Massachusetts Ex Officio Trustees. Topics of discussion were the Federal Quota Program, Assessment Needs, the NIMAC and APH file repository, and how to utilize the NIMAS files for students with visual impairments. Barbara was invited to visit the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, MA, which she did.

Barbara's participation as a panelist for the 3-year study on "Best Practices in Narration of Digital Talking Books" helped lead to publication of guidelines in FY 2009. Effective Practices for Description of Science Content within Digital Talking Books can be found at http://ncam.wgbh.org/publications/stemdx/index.html. APH, NFB, RFB&D, and NCAM partnered to do the background research funded by a NSF grant. In FY 2010, APH was the site of a training workshop on use of these guidelines.

In FY 2008, the BANA developed a Test Committee that met via teleconference. Dena Garrett continues to serve as APH's representative on this committee. The committee charge from Judy Dixon is to review existing guidelines and develop new guidelines that can be used by BANA. Existing guidelines reviewed and considered include APH's Guidelines for Making Tests Accessible. BANA members began to draft their document titled, Guidelines for Production of Standardized Tests in Braille.

Accessible Tests staff reviewed parts of BANA's drafted guidelines for designing and producing tactile graphics and provided feedback as requested. These documents will be an invaluable tool in setting up guidelines and standards and providing samples for tactile graphics designers across the country. The guidelines, standards, and samples will also assist with training new tactile graphics designers and can be used as a training tool to help other groups, such as test developers/publishers, understand design and readability concerns with regard to tactile graphics.

A workshop conducted at APH in August 2008 was recorded and edited by Maria Delgado and Michael Sell. The presentations, PowerPoints, resources, and guidelines were made available in FY 2009 as an archive webcast on the APH Web site.

Consultant Carol Allman provided a 2-day workshop on "Test Access for Students with Visual Impairments," planned and coordinated by Debbie Willis for 24 Questar staff in Brewster, NY. Debbie and Kerry Isham prepared 25 sets of training materials, which included the new 4th edition of Making Tests Accessible for Students with Visual Impairments; sets of sample test items in regular print, large print, braille with tactile graphics, and audio formats; the Power Point presentation; lists of resources; and more. Questar staff expressed appreciation and a strong degree of satisfaction with the instruction and materials they received.

As a member of our IQ Test Group, Dr. Carol Evans presented a paper (in FY 2009) at the 2008 Utah AER on the guidelines developed by the group. In FY 2009, the 2008 International AER audience input as well as the 2008 Utah AER audience input was used to revise the next draft of the position paper, which included 10 guidelines at that time. As of July 2009, members of the IQ Test Group met a total of 22 times via teleconference at which point a final draft in need of expert field review was prepared. In FY 2010, the final paper was reviewed by about a half-dozen experts in the field. Their reviews were used to finalize the full-length position paper. Both the full-length paper as well as a short version are disseminated through various organizations and interested individuals. A version was submitted for publication, as well as being made available on the APH and other relevant websites.

During the 2008 Annual Meeting, Test Editor Kerry Isham provided a poster session on "150 Fun Facts." Test Editor Michael Sell participated in the National Braille Association Conference held in Lexington, KY, in late October to early November 2008 to reinforce his braille skills and knowledge, and to learn more about format issues and the Nemeth Code.

Debbie Willis assisted with an electronic blackboard course offered to the National Center for Leadership in Visual Impairment fellows on alternate assessments. She also worked with ETS staff to develop a guidebook on making test items accessible for students who are blind or visually impaired; this guidebook is for internal use by ETS staff. Debbie continues to participate as a member of CTB McGraw-Hill's team to develop their guidelines for making test items accessible to students with visual impairments. Team members ranked the impact of various factors on the accessibility of test items for students with visual impairments. The APH document Making Tests Accessible for Students with Visual Impairments: A Guide for Test Publishers, Test Developers, and State Assessment Personnel was ranked as the number one impact.

In FY 2009, Test Editors reviewed and edited 800+ state assessments, alternate assessments, commercially-available tests, local or district assessments, reference sheets, study guides, and manuals. Production, Contract Administration, and Accessible Tests staff worked together to develop a test-tracking database to ensure all tests and related components are completed in a timely manner. Activities in FY 2009 included requesting permissions and holding teleconference discussions on making components of KeyMath 3, KTEA-II, and Boehm-3 available in accessible media. A survey about types of answer documents needed for marking answer choices on classroom tests and standardized tests was developed, finalized, and posted on the APH Web site. Announcement of the survey for prospective participants was circulated on various electronic mailing lists as well as in the APH News. Data were received from 230 respondents. These data are in the process of being reviewed, compiled, and categorized in order to make decisions regarding types of accessible answer documents that need to be designed and produced. A report on the survey results was posted on the APH Web site during the first quarter of FY 2009. Design, development, and field testing of various tactile and large print answer documents were considered and discussed. It was anticipated that samples would be designed and developed, and field tested in FY 2010. For an up-to-date report on this project, see the Tests and Assessments section of this document for the status of "Accessible Answer Documents."

There were major staff changes in the Accessible Tests Department in FY 2010. Barbara Henderson transferred to the Research Department where she continues to serve as the Test and Assessment Project Leader. This change was implemented so that the primary focus of Accessible Tests would be on contract work rather than development of test-related products to be included in the APH products catalog.

Additional changes included filling open positions in the department. A new Test Editor, Carolyn Zierer, joined Accessible Tests staff in late November 2009. Carolyn has an M.A. in Elementary Education from Bellarmine College and also attended Spalding University's School Administration program. Her background and experience includes 27 years of experience and expertise in regular education as a teacher of students in grades 1-6 as well as having been a principal and assistant principal in the Archdiocese of Louisville, KY. Carolyn is advancing her professional development by learning braille and is working toward her NLS Literary Braille Certification. Mark Alexander joined Accessible Tests in June 2010 as the new Test Editor Trainee. Mark has a B.A. in Foreign Languages and International Economics. Prior to joining Accessible Tests, Mark was a transcriber in APH's braille transcription area since 2007; he received his NLS Literary Braille Certification in March of 2008. Mark is advancing his professional development by studying braille formats and is working towards certification in braille formats.

The Woodcock-Johnson (WJ) III Tests of Achievement: Braille Adaptation was made available early in FY 2010. Barbara Henderson worked closely with consultant Lynne Jaffe, Ph.D., and members of the Woodcock-Munoz Foundation to adapt the original WJ III Tests of Achievement for the assessment of individuals who read braille.

The first "Workshop on Administering and Scoring the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement for Braille Readers" was held in Phoenix, AZ, on December 4-5, 2009. This event was offered via APH's National Instructional Partnership (NIP) program in collaboration with Desert Valleys Regional Cooperative Education Center. The 22 attendees were from several states and included teachers of visually impaired students, school psychologists, rehabilitation counselors, and college professors. Janie Blome, Director of Advisory Services Department, and Henderson attended and facilitated the workshop; Dr. Lynne Jaffe was the instructor. Several additional NIP events on this product were conducted in FY 2010 via Blome with instruction provided by Dr. Jaffe.

Activities in FY 2010 included requesting permission and holding teleconferences to make components of KeyMath 3, KTEA II, and Boehm-3 available in accessible media. In April 2010, Bryan Gould from NCAM provided an interactive workshop for 20 APH staff and Cindy Greer who attended as our guest from the Kentucky Department of Assessments and Accountability. The 20 APH staff in attendance represented the Accessible Textbooks, Advisory Services, Research and Accessible Tests Departments, Recording Studio, and NIMAC staff. Bryan provided instruction on "Effective Practices for Description of Science Content within Digital Talking Books" and gave various examples of diagrams and illustrations to review and describe the graphics-based displays. Bryan met with Research Department programmers for a demonstration and discussion of some of our new technology products that make printed text accessible to students who are blind and visually impaired. For access to NCAM's 90-minute webinar on these new guidelines, visit: ncam.wgbh.org/experience_learn/educational_media/stemdx. During the day, Bryan expressed interest in creating accessible DVDs; he was given a copy of APH's DVD on "Reclaiming Independence: Staying in the Driver's Seat When You No Longer Drive" that is totally accessible to individuals who are blind and visually impaired. NCAM was recently awarded a 5-year, $5 million grant to transform production of accessible images.

In July 2010, 28 people from within and outside of APH participated in a 2-day workshop on making test items accessible to students who are blind and visually impaired. Consultant Carol Allman provided background information on day 1. On day 2, a variety of APH experts presented test-related issues and concerns in the areas of large print, tactile graphics, and computer-based/online testing. Various APH products were displayed, new electronic devices were demonstrated, and rich resources were provided to participants.

Debbie Willis served as a member of the National Accessible Reading Assessment Projects (NARAP) Principles Committee; this committee was composed of experts with broad knowledge about psychometrics, state testing, reading research, and disabilities. The principles and guidelines that resulted were published in October 2009 in a document titled "Accessibility Principles for Reading Assessments." The document is available from www.narap.info. These reading assessment projects were supported in part by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, and the National Center for Special Education Research.

Some guidelines to indicate to braille readers the amount of space available for responses to open-ended questions were drafted. Dena Garrett shared these with Diane Spence who chairs the BANA Test Committee. These guidelines or an edited version of them will be included in the next (5th ed.) of Making Tests Accessible: Guidelines for Test Publishers and State Assessment Personnel and will be considered for inclusion in BANA's Test Guidelines under development.

Kerry Isham and Debbie Willis designed and developed a new brochure on "APH Production Processes: Tests in Braille and Tactile Graphics." The brochure outlines the steps involved to produce a test in braille with tactile graphics, an approximate timeline for completion of such work, and lists some of the factors that affect the braille production timeline and lists ways to help the accessible media production schedule run smoothly.

In June 2010, Carolyn Zierer and Debbie Willis attended the 2010 CCSSO Conference on student assessment n Detroit, MI. The focus of the conference was on promising directions in the area of assessment in addition to examining policy, best practices, and introducing some of the research taking place in the area of assessment. Many of the presentations and much of the discussion focused on the Common Core Standards; the move toward computer-based and online testing in order to provide immediate results to teachers, administrators, parents, and students; full inclusion of students with disabilities as well as English language learners; alternate assessments; and the use of standardized formative assessments along with summative assessments in order to determine overall student progress.

Debbie Willis met with APH's Vice President of Public Affairs and Director of Public Affairs, Gary Mudd and Nancy Lacewell, respectively, to discuss some issues and concerns regarding access to test items for students who are blind and visually impaired. Nancy and Gary expressed great interest in this area, and Nancy scheduled a follow-up meeting to continue these discussions with Bob Brasher, Ralph Bartley, and Barbara Henderson. Nancy captured the essence of this meeting and assigned various follow-up tasks to members of this Test Access group. From Debbie's perspective, goals of the group included the following:

The Test Access Group developed a very brief survey with accompanying cover letter, and e-mailed these to Ex Officio Trustees. The cover letter requests that Ex Officio Trustees complete the survey and/or share the survey/cover letter with others in their states who are involved in assessment of students who are blind and visually impaired. The key question on the survey asks, "If you could tell decision makers five of the most important issues related to tests/assessments for students who are blind and visually impaired, what would they be?"

In August 2010, APH was invited and accepted invitation to participate in the first Pearson Accessibility and Innovation Conference to be held in September 2010 at Pearson's Corporate Headquarters in New Jersey. The focus of this conference was on access to instruction and assessment materials by students with disabilities. Debbie Willis and Michael McCarty (APH Communications Group Social Media Coordinator) presented and discussed accessibility issues, networked with conference participants, and provided a wide variety of handouts and product information and demonstrations at the APH exhibit.

A group of expert reviewers was identified and contacted regarding their interest and availability to review the near final draft of a position paper on intelligence testing of individuals who are blind and visually impaired. In FY 2011, this position paper was made available on the Accessible Tests Department webpage on the APH Web site, as a handout at presentations, and provided to interested parties upon request.

In FY 2010, Accessible Tests staff reviewed and edited approximately 935 unique tests for grades 2-12 and adults. These tests were then transcribed and proofread as needed and produced in accessible media, primarily braille with tactile graphics, and shipped to customers. Some of the major test publishers also contracted with APH/Accessible Tests to conduct pre-reviews of select future tests as well as thousands of discrete test items.

Articles and announcements in the APH News included important "recruitment" notices in order to assist with some valuable research studies and workshop endeavors. Such notices were provided about research into the perspectives of 10 to 14-year-old students with visual impairments on play and social participation as components of occupational therapy; a classroom collaboration survey for blind and visually impaired students who attended college courses in the past 5 years; and an upcoming training opportunity in March 2011 by Dr. Joan Chase for licensed or certified psychologists on specialized materials for assessing students who are blind.

In FY 2011, members of Accessible Tests participated in the Annual Meeting of Ex Officio Trustees. Test Editor Carolyn Zierer served on our Annual Meeting Hospitality Committee. Mark Alexander provided a poster session on steps and approximate amount of time involved in each step to produce tests in braille with tactile graphics.

In preparation for reviewing and editing future test items and test directions to be administered by states via computer-based and online testing, Debbie Willis made arrangements with Janie Blome and Maria Delgado in Field Services to have Maria provide training on assistive technology such as refreshable braille displays and text-to-speech output. The first training session was conducted in August 2011. Future training sessions on these assistive technologies along with training on screen magnification software and programs for presenting math and science equations to be read and displayed in a readable format were arranged and scheduled throughout FY 2011 and into FY 2012 as needed.

At the request of Pearson, Test Editors Carolyn Zierer and Kris Scott served as members of Bias Review Committees in order to ensure future test items are unbiased toward any group, particularly students who are blind and visually impaired.

Dena Garrett and Debbie Willis served as official members of BANA's Test Committee. They met on a regular basis to determine priorities and information to be included in the standardized test guidelines, to develop questions, provide assignments to committee members, and to discuss segments of guidelines that have been drafted. Dena was assigned the section on Social Studies, and Debbie was assigned preparation of the section on Science. Debbie drafted a letter to all state assessment offices requesting that some of their released test items be made available to serve as examples in the document on standardized test guidelines; the draft of letter was submitted to BANA for review and comment.

Debbie Willis and Michael McCarty participated in Pearson's first invitational conference on accessibility and innovation: Instruction and Assessment of Students with Disabilities. The conference was held at Pearson's Corporate Headquarters in Upper Saddle River, NJ, on September 27-28, 2010. Debbie and Michael gave a brief overview of APH products and product-related services relevant to instruction and assessment of students who are blind and visually impaired. Michael presented and demonstrated the new Book Port Plus.

Debbie Willis and Mark Alexander worked with Doug Trent in Contract Administration to update APH's Corporate Capability Statement; the Corporate Capability Statement is routinely shared with test publishers and other potential clients, particularly in response to request for proposals.

At the request of the Oregon Ex Officio Trustee as well as the request of the Manager of Test Design and Administration with the Oregon Department of Education, Debbie was able to represent APH and participate in Oregon's planning meeting to include students who are blind and visually impaired in the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) statewide online assessments for grades 3-12. The general population of public school students has three opportunities during the school year to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Students who are braille/tactile readers have only been able to take the OAKS in hard copy braille with tactile graphics one time during the school year. The Oregon Department of Education, their test publisher, and a variety of assessment, transcription, and technology staff are working together to remedy this. Oregon's initial goal is to eliminate "pre-ordered/prepared" hard copy for ALL students so that computer adaptive testing can be administered "on the fly" to students eligible to take the OAKS statewide assessments. Goal #2 is to have 100% participation of their eligible test takers who are braille/tactile readers participate independently in their statewide online assessments by incorporating use of assistive technology such as refreshable braille displays, text-to-speech output, and text magnification as well as use of other acceptable accommodations.

Karla Sullivan, Producer of the Lou Gossett, Jr., Profiles Services, planned to produce a program on "Improving the Lives of People Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired." Profiles Series staff requested to include a segment on APH. Debbie Willis shared this request with Bob Brasher.

In late 2006, ATP, the American Association of Publishers (AAP) Test Committee, and members of the CCSSO formed a Working Group to develop an initial document on best practices regarding major aspects of producing statewide large-scale assessment programs. Debbie Willis participated as a member of this Working Group. The book was completed and published in summer 2010. During FY 2011, ATP and CCSSO have undertaken Version 2 of this book that will include information regarding computer-based and online assessments and needed accommodations. ATP requested that APH participate again as a member of this Working Group; Debbie is serving as the APH representative. The Working Group met several times in person and via WebEx to revise and update this book. Nearly all the chapters to be included in Version 2 have been drafted and reviewed at least once by members of the Working Group. The final draft will be submitted for expert review and revised as needed. The revised edition of this book is expected to be available from CCSSO/ATP by the end of calendar year 2012.

The position paper on "Intelligence Testing of Individuals Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired" was drafted by Steve Goodman, Carol Evans, and Marnee Loftin; this endeavor was coordinated and facilitated by Debbie Willis. After proofreading and final edits by Debbie and Kris Scott were completed, the position paper was sent for expert field review. Recommendations and suggested edits were incorporated; the position paper was finalized and made available on the Accessible Tests Department webpage as well as the TSBVI Web site. Several messages expressing appreciation for this document were received.

As part of APH's Braille Improvement Plan, Jan Carroll arranged for an instructor to provide a 2-day training session on Braille Formats. The Accessible Tests Department's Test Editors and Test Editor Trainee were able to participate in this training.

In June 2011, Carolyn Zierer received her NLS certification in literary braille. In August 2011, Kris Scott submitted his manuscript to NLS for possible certification in literary braille. Debbie Willis served as Chair-Elect of AER's Division on Psychosocial Development; she worked with the division's leaders to disseminate information on the Intelligence Testing position paper via a new webpage being developed for this division of AER, as well as making a link available from the NASP Web site. Debbie participated in the 2011 CCSSO Conference on National Student Assessment, as well as an off-site team-building workshop.

Accessible Tests staff met with Dr. Kay Ferrell, while she was the APH Executive in Residence, to discuss test-related issues and concerns, the work of the department, and to provide ideas on adapting Boehm-3 test items for presentation to young children who are tactile learners.

Test Editor Kerry Isham accepted a position as a Field Services Representative; her transfer to Field Services was effective on October 25, 2010. This open position was filled with Test Editor Trainee Mark Alexander.

An in-house Test Team that included Bob Brasher, Gary Mudd, Nancy Lacewell, and Debbie Willis developed a cover letter and survey. The survey comprised one open-ended question asking respondents to detail five of the most important issues related to tests and assessments that they would like to have addressed with decision makers. The letter requested that Ex Officio Trustees share the survey with state assessment staff and their test publisher teams. Sixty-nine (69) respondents from 24 states completed and returned the survey form. Carolyn Zierer compiled the responses, prepared a summary of results, shared results with Test Team members, and posted results on the Accessible Tests webpage. The four major areas of concern by respondents were test administration, graphics/tactile graphics, large print, and accessible media that included general accessibility concerns.

The new Tactile Graphics Guidelines from BANA were adopted for use at APH. Members of Accessible Tests reviewed, studied, and made notes on guidelines of concern to share with appropriate BANA staff.

During September and October of 2010, 78 unique tests were reviewed and edited by Test Editors Kris Scott and Carolyn Zierer. These tests were produced and shipped to customers. In November and December of 2010, 113 unique tests were reviewed and edited by Test Editors. One thousand three hundred eighty-two (1,382) copies of these tests were then produced and shipped. November/December is the start of our busy test season. In January and February of 2011, 286 unique state assessments, alternate assessments, and reference sheets were produced; copies of each ranged from 1-300. A total of 5,229 copies of the tests and reference sheets were produced. This represents an average of seven unique tests completed through our test processes and 131 copies produced and shipped per scheduled work day, which is a rather brisk rate. In March and April of 2011, 235 unique tests were reviewed and edited by Test Editors. A total of 27,200 copies were produced.

Test Editors Scott, Zierer, and members of APH Production staff, reviewed, edited, proofed, finalized, produced, and shipped 981 unique tests; this represents a 4.7% increase in the number of different tests produced in FY 2011 compared to FY 2010 (935 total). Copies were produced in braille, large print, or recorded formats as needed. Tests included state and district assessments, alternate assessments, and test-related materials such as reference sheets, data sheets, and examiner manuals. Customers included American College Testing (ACT) Central Services, American Institutes for Research (AIR), Cheeney Media Concepts, Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment Systems, Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), Measured Progress, NCS Pearson, Questar Assessments, Inc., University of Kansas at Lawrence, and Washington D.C. Public School System. In addition to tests produced, thousands of test items were reviewed for bias and accessibility.

Debbie Willis and Mark Alexander reviewed the audio and braille versions of GED Basics 2002, and determined that the audio versions should be accompanied by the braille/tactile graphics in order for the text-based descriptions to be useful and the instruction to be most effective. A brief report of findings and recommendation was provided to appropriate APH staff.

A detailed list of APH's current step-by-step process from the time a test is received in Contract Administration until it is produced/proofed and shipped to customers was prepared by Debbie Willis and Mark Alexander. The list was provided to various in-house staff for review and edit. After the list of current steps was finalized, it was provided to Bob Brasher. Debbie and Mark also developed a brochure to outline these steps and the approximate amount of time needed for each step to be completed. This brochure is provided as a handout at conferences, workshops, and in response to requests for information.

As a continuous improvement step, Debbie Willis drafted a Transcription/Proofreading Verification Form to accompany each test produced at APH on a contract basis. The form was shared with Pre-Production and Production staff. Braille Pre-Production Manager decided to implement use of the form in both the transcription and proofreading areas. An additional measure suggested by APH transcribers that entails Test Editors providing APH transcribers with copies of final Test Administration (TA) Notes along with the previous version of the same TA Notes for a final quality control check was also initiated to ensure that final corrections are made before tests are shipped to customers.

Work during FY 2012

Quarter 1: October-December 2011

Presentations

Marnee Loftin, School Psychologist at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Debbie Willis presented on intelligence testing of students who are blind and visually impaired during two of the 2011 APH Annual Meeting sessions entitled, "IQ Testing: Trifecta Winners are Collaboration, Caution, and Icing on the Cake."

Staff

On October 13, 2011, Priscilla Knight began work with Accessible Tests as our new Test Editor. Her training as a Test Editor started with attending Annual Meeting and participation in related meetings. Priscilla came to the department with a B.A. in History with a concentration in Social Studies and an M.A. in Teaching from the University of Louisville, with experience tutoring undergraduate students in chemistry and history, an NLS certification in literary braille, and three+ years experience as an APH transcriber of books, tests, and test-related materials.

Internal and External Collaborative Efforts

At the request of Pearson, Test Editors Carolyn Zierer and Kris Scott participated on a Bias Review Committee at Pearson's home office in San Antonio, TX, on November 7-8, 2011. Committee members reviewed passages and extended writing prompts for content appropriateness and fairness. This was for the development of the new version of the GED Assessment, which is scheduled to be available in January 2014. This is the first of several reviews of items and passages. These passages will assess a subset of skills and understandings delineated in the Common Core State Standards.

Debbie Willis continued to meet via e-mail and teleconference with International AER's Psychosocial Services Division leaders, BANA's Test Committee members, and with the CCSSO-ATP Work Group on the second edition of a book. Debbie continued to serve as part of an internal team working on delivery of digitized text in accessible formats to students who are blind and visually impaired.

Debbie arranged for select APH staff to meet periodically for 2 days with Dr. Kim Zebehazy from the University of British Columbia in Canada. Various APH staff provided Kim with information and examples of tactile graphics in order to conduct some "think aloud" research with students who are blind and visually impaired in parts of Canada and the U.S. Debbie volunteered to be the APH facilitator of this joint effort. She prepared a brief article regarding Phase I of this study for the January 2012 APH News in which teachers and students with visual impairments were requested to complete a survey.

APH's Digitized Text Committee Visits Prison Program

On December 20, 2011, Debbie Willis and a group of APH staff visited the Miami Accessible Media Program (MAMP) at the men's prison in Kokomo, IN; about 50 inmates were employed by this program at that time. Since being incarcerated, nearly all the men in this program have completed college programs; the majority have received college degrees and one or more certifications in braille.

Their program work includes scanning text; braille translation and proofreading; large print formatting and production of large print books; tactile graphics design; editing, production, and proofing; preparation of alt-tags and very brief text-based descriptions to replace icons and graphics-based information; and preparation of electronic files for output via the built-in large print and speech output capabilities of iPads. While much of their work is for the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, MAMP has begun to expand its services and customer base; their work is product-driven.

MathML/MathType

Debbie Willis identified two leading organizations that offer customized onsite MathML/MathType training. Each of these organizations submitted proposals for 1 1/2- to 2-day training workshops to be conducted for APH employees. Due to a cost of $8K-$10K for such training, it was decided that employees would initially read, study, and explore the use of MathML/MathType in order to develop a foundation of information for future learning opportunities.

Debbie then arranged for a 1.5-hour training session to be provided by Jan Carroll to APH staff interested in such training. As a result of MathML/MathType information provided to Debbie by Test Editor Priscilla Knight, Jane Thompson who directs the efforts of Accessible Textbooks Department requested that copies of MathML/MathType be installed.

Tests Produced

In October 2011, 37 unique tests were reviewed, edited with permission of the test publishers, produced, and shipped; customers included American College Testing, Data Recognition Corporation, NCS Pearson, and Questar Assessments. In November and December 2011, Test Editors Kris Scott, Carolyn Zierer, and Priscilla Knight reviewed and edited 120 unique tests. Customers included Cheeney Media Concepts2, Data Recognition Corporation, NCS Pearson, and Questar Assessments, Inc. In the first quarter of FY 2012, 157 unique tests and assessments were reviewed and edited by Accessible Test Editors and transcribed and proofed. Copies were produced and shipped according to customer specifications.

Professional Development

All members of Accessible Tests participated in segments of the Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference held in Louisville, KY.

Quarter 2: January-March 2012

Braille Improvement Plan

By this quarter in FY 2012, all three full-time Test Editors in Accessible Tests were certified by the National Library Services in Literary Braille. Test Editor Priscilla Knight began work toward certification in Braille Formats. However, Priscilla was advised to discontinue her study of Braille Formats until the updated course and test were made available.

Collaborative Efforts

Debbie Willis and Priscilla Knight worked with Dr. Kim Zebehazy on specifications for sets of select test items taken from APH's Test Ready series to be produced at APH in braille with tactile graphics, regular print and large print for the purpose of some "think aloud" research to be conducted by University of British Columbia staff. Subjects for this research will be from the U.S. and Canada. The subjects will verbally relay their steps, strategies, and mental processes used to solve various test items. A full report of the research results is expected to be available by the end of FY 2013.

Special Project

Debbie Willis was contacted regarding a project with Catalyst Learning to make 12 DVDs and accompanying print materials accessible for use by individuals who are blind and visually impaired. At the time of this request, APH did not typically take on this type of work. However, experience with this type of work fit in with one of APH's FY 2012 endowment-funded projects; so with approval of Catalyst Learning staff, it was decided to take on this project as it would be instructional for APH staff, and would provide the degree of accessibility required by Catalyst Learning.

The set of materials was reviewed by Julia Myers, Linda Turner, Matt Rummule, Priscilla Knight, and Debbie Willis; a teleconference was held with Catalyst Learning to discuss findings and the extent of the project. Catalyst Learning agreed to send APH staff actual electronic files to review and analyze; Maria Delgado reviewed these files for accessibility. Linda Turner determined that approximately 100 hours of work would be needed to make materials from the set accessible according to Catalyst Learning staff specifications; specifications involved preparing alt-tags and/or text-based descriptions to replace graphical information. Doug Trent in Contract Administration and Linda Turner prepared a quote and timeline for Catalyst Learning and provided it to them for their review and consideration. The work was taken on by APH staff in Advisory Services and Accessible Tests. It was completed, checked, and delivered in a timely and satisfactory manner to Catalyst Learning. Additional work of this nature with Catalyst Learning is anticipated in the future.

SuccessFactors: Online Evaluation of Work Performance

SuccessFactors was utilized by all non-bargaining unit employees to initially evaluate individual work performance in 2011. This was followed up by supervisors' evaluation of each employee's 2011 work performance; Debbie Willis performed an annual evaluation of the work performance of Test Editors Carolyn Zierer and Kris Scott, and an initial 3-month work performance of new Test Editor Priscilla Knight.

Tactile Graphics Workshop

Accessible Tests staff participated in a 2-day tactile workshop graphics that had been arranged by Jan Carroll. Staff from several departments was represented at the workshop.

Test Production

In January and February of 2012, Test Editors Kris Scott, Carolyn Zierer, and Priscilla Knight reviewed and edited 266 unique tests. Copies were produced and shipped according to customer specifications. Customers included American College Testing Central Services, Cheeney Media Concepts2, Data Recognition Corporation, Measured Progress, NCS Pearson, and Questar Assessments, Inc., and the University of Kansas at Lawrence.

Quarter 3: April-June 2012

The following are activities that various members of Accessible Tests participated in during the third quarter of FY 2012:

Accessibility Training

During the months of May and June 2012, Test Editors attended a Train-the-Trainer Workshop sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind, Jernigan Institute, in Baltimore, MD. The workshop provided an overview of various technologies that make media accessible to individuals who are blind and visually impaired. Some excellent hands-on training was provided to introduce the accessibility features of the iPad. A 2-day training at APH provided more insight into the accessibility features of the iPad. In addition, Test Editors viewed webinars on magnification and also iPad uses with students who are blind and visually impaired available on the Perkins School for the Blind Web site. The iPad seems to hold great promise as a tool for students with visual impairments.

Braille Authority of North America (BANA): Test Committee Meeting

Debbie Willis from Accessible Tests and Dena Garrett from Accessible Textbooks are serving as members of BANA's new Standardized Test Committee. This committee met the week of May 21-25, 2012, on the campus of the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA. The purpose of the meeting was to begin writing the BANA Guidelines for Standardized Tests. A schedule for the next year for drafting the units and meeting via conference calls was developed. Items discussed included Braille Formats Principles of Print-to-Braille Transcription, 2011, impact and changes that will affect tests. Other discussion topics included what transcribers need from test publishers and Department of Education assessment staff to ensure a valid test is produced in accessible media; and what publishers expect from the agency/transcriber producing the test(s). Dena's primary role on this committee will be to prepare the braille samples and to develop the braille-ready files for the complete document.

Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Conference on National Student Assessment

Debbie Willis had the opportunity to attend and network at the CCSSO Conference on National Student Assessment held in Minneapolis, MN. Many sessions included relevant information, concerns, and research results regarding assessment of students who are blind and visually impaired. A dominant theme of the conference was accessibility. At this time, the primary approaches under discussion for making assessments accessible are via audio and refreshable braille display with or without hard copy braille/tactile graphics, or via audio accompanied by print/large print on a monitor with or without hard copy text/enhanced graphics; with additional accommodations as needed. In many cases, text-based descriptions of graphical information are being prepared so that passages and test items can be accessed in regular print, large print, braille, and audio formats. The two new consortia, SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) are working toward computer-based and online assessments for all students. Once again, computer adaptive assessments are in the limelight.

Quarter 4: July-September 2012

In July and August 2012, the Test Editors reviewed, edited, and sought edit approvals on 197 unique tests produced in accessible media for ACT Central Services, Cheeney Media Concepts2, Data Recognition Corporation, NCS Pearson, and Questar Assessment, Inc.

In July 2012, Kris Scott and Carolyn Zierer traveled to Lexington, KY, to serve on a Bias Review Committee. The 2-day meeting was sponsored by Pearson Measurement and the Kentucky Department of Education. The test items reviewed were reading and math items scheduled for inclusion the 2013 Kentucky Core Contents Test.

Marnee Loftin, Carol Evans, and Debbie Willis presented on intelligence testing of individuals who are blind and visually impaired during the 2012 International AER in Bellevue, WA.

Test Editors participated in webinars on "Digital Accessible Math Images," a webinar about Oregon's computer-based adaptive testing presented by SMARTER SBAC, and "Making Digital Images Accessible."

In late August 2012, Gary Mudd and Nancy Lacewell brought in Dr. John Poggio to discuss computer-based and online assessments in the upcoming future. Dr. Poggio

expressed great interest to work with APH on test-related research, issues, and products.

Debbie and other APH staff were invited to join Carnegie Mellon instructors and graduate students in Pittsburgh for the LearnLab Corporate Partners' Meeting on September 11-12, 2012. The purpose of this meeting was to learn more about the National Science Foundation's Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center and the benefits of becoming a LearnLab Corporate Partner. Debbie served as an APH representative at the LearnLab Corporate Partners' Meeting where she had the opportunity to meet current graduate students and post docs in the learning sciences, as well as learn more about research underway and how LearnLab can help accelerate technology transfer from the university into an organization.

Indiana's Common Core Standards and the PARCC assessments represent exciting opportunities to increase the rigor in classrooms across the state. On September 29, 2012, teachers from around the state attended a 1-day conference to collaborate, network, and engage with colleagues to work together toward a successful implementation of these new initiatives. At this landmark event, educators received valuable resources to support their implementation of Indiana's Common Core Standards. Additionally, attendees collaborated with fellow educators and experts to guide their transition efforts.

Priscilla Knight revised and updated our detailed processes, procedures, and steps involved from the time APH receives a test through its entire review, edit, and approval of edits; transcription and design of tactile graphics; proofreading, revising, producing copies; and shipping and receipt of copies as specified by customer. The revised processes and procedures were reviewed and revised by representatives from all test-related areas before final copy was developed and disseminated.

Accessible Tests staff continue to gratefully acknowledge the direction and support of Executive Committee members and Ex Officio Trustees, and all the wonderful partners within APH and with individuals, agencies, school, vendors, and organizations outside of APH who worked together to help make instructional materials and assessments available in accessible media for individuals with visual impairments, who promoted the inclusion of visual impairment professionals as well as individuals with visual impairments during the test development process, and who were engaged in improving the test performance of blind and visually impaired individuals through research, education, and communication. Together we have accomplished much, and there continue to be more issues to address and work to accomplish in the area of effectively assessing the knowledge, skills, and intelligence of students who are blind and visually impaired.

Work planned for FY 2013

Carolyn Zierer will participate on APH's Hospitality Committee during Annual Meeting in October 2012. Priscilla Knight and Carolyn will present a poster session to begin to gather ideas and names of appropriate individuals who are likely to be available and interested in assisting APH with revising and updating the Test Access document on Computer-Based Testing. Debbie Willis will meet with members of the Educational Products Advisory Committee (EPAC) and Educational Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) to update members of these two committees on the work, activities, and accomplishments of the Accessible Tests Department, respond to their questions and concerns, and seek direction regarding current and future efforts.

Accessible Tests staff will continue to work closely with test publishers and state assessment personnel; work with APH's Contract Administration, Production, Research, Accessible Textbooks, Field Services, Resource Services, and Communications staff; and engage in discussions and seek direction from Executive Committee members and Ex Officio Trustees, particularly members of EPAC and ESAC.

Additional local, district, and state assessments and alternate assessments will continue to be reviewed and edited by Accessible Tests Editors, and/or produced at APH in accessible media, as requested and as resources are available to provide high-quality tests in a timely manner. Test Administration Notes will be provided for accessible media as specified by each contract or agreement.

Members of Accessible Tests will continue to participate on Bias Review Committees and as members of other panels and committees such as AER and BANA as requested and as time allows. A 5th edition of Making Tests Accessible for Students with Visual Impairments will be drafted and will include a new section of guidelines on English Language Learners who are blind and visually impaired. A 2nd edition of Computer-Based and Online Testing of Students Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired will be drafted, reviewed, and revised; the updated version will be made available on the APH Web site, and during various conferences and workshops.

Accessible Tests staff will continue to offer leadership through services, collaborative efforts and partnerships, and product-related research and development. One or more APH and/or "on the road" training workshops in connection with other conferences will be offered, presentations provided and/or webcasts on test topics and issues will be developed and made available on the APH Web site; networking and partnering with test-related organizations such as CSSSO and ATP, test publishers, item developers, and assessment personnel across the country will be pursued until the 2nd edition of the book Operational Best Practices for Large-Scale Assessments is finalized and made available.

The resources and guidelines for making test items accessible in various media and the special issues with regard to testing students with visual impairments will be reviewed, revised, updated, and freely shared. Test-related information and links to resources will continue to be provided and updated on the Accessible Tests webpage. Any concerns regarding the new Tactile Graphics Guidelines and preparation of Standardized Tests Guidelines will be discussed with BANA's leadership and committee members.

Research Department

Ralph E. Bartley, Ph.D.

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

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Carol Roderick, Research Assistant

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 2012

APH Adult Life products and their applications to specific populations were presented by the Adult Life Project Leader at the following venues: Annual Meeting of the American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, Kentucky, October, 2011; Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired Regional Conference, Cleveland, Ohio, October, 2011; Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference, Chicago, Illinois, November, 2011; Southwestern Orientation and Mobility Conference, Austin, Texas, November, 2011; Presentation to Students from Western Michigan University Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies, Louisville, Kentucky, February, 2012; Presentation to Students from Vanderbilt University Visual Impairments Program, Louisville, Kentucky, April, 2012.

Work planned for FY 2013

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.

Parenting With a Visual Impairment: Advice for Rearing Babies and Young Children

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide visually impaired parents with support and information about parenting techniques that have been effective for other visually impaired parents

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Janet Ingber, Author/Consultant

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Background

Janet Ingber, a blind mother, submitted a draft outline and three chapters of a parenting book based on interviews with 17 effective parents who were visually impaired. Research conducted at APH confirmed that very little information was available for blind parents regarding issues related to visual impairment and parenting. The need for an informational parenting book was further assessed through a survey of professionals in the field of visual impairment and blindness. Survey results indicated that training was not available for professionals in the area of parenting and visual impairment; there were a significant number of blind parents who could have benefited from information related to blindness and parenting; and a self-help informational book could maximally benefit many such parents or parents-to-be. Of particular concern among survey respondents was the need for support and information to counteract the negative stereotypes about blindness, such as the belief that persons with visual impairments could not be effective parents.

To meet the need for accurate information and support for parents with visual impairments, the development of an expanded version of Ingber's work was undertaken.

A database was developed to record, store, and manipulate information obtained from questionnaires and phone interviews. Parent volunteers were recruited through APH Ex Officio Trustees, the APH monthly newsletter, e-mail list announcements, contacts with staff and/or relevant committees of the American Council of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind, and word-of-mouth. Parent participants either had raised or were rearing at least one child when the parent was legally blind. Parents were also selected because of their interest in and commitment to parenting and because of their desire to share what they had learned with other parents.

Ingber contacted and conducted phone interviews with 62 blind parents. She recorded results of these interviews into the database and submitted this material to the project leader. The project leader completed content analysis and results summaries for the data. Ingber and the project leader wrote, edited, and rewrote all chapters of the book based on information obtained from the parent sample. Photos were obtained from Ingber for inclusion in the book.

During FY 2009, all chapters were reviewed/edited for consistency of style. Additional photos were sought from all participating parents, and photos were received from seven parents. Permissions for use of photos were sent to and received back from all parents who sent photos.

During FY 2010, the resources chapter was completed and reviewed, and the book was made ready for field review. Six expert field reviewers were located.

During FY 2011, field review was completed, revisions were made to the book based on field review results, cover art was selected, and layout for final printing was initiated.

Work during FY 2012

Cover art was improved, a layout design was developed and approved for the book, additional photos were selected for inclusion, and a template chapter was laid out and corrected until the desired look was achieved. Graphical layout of the entire text was completed.

Work planned for FY 2013

Braille translation, DTB production, and recording of the book for audio files will be completed. It is anticipated that the product will become available for sale in FY 2013.

Core Curriculum



BUSINESS AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION

For FY 2012, there are no active Business and Vocational Education products to report.



FINE AND PERFORMING ARTS

Braille Beads

(Continued)



Alt tag: 1) A braille bracelet is stretched to show the elastic cord. 2) A bracelet of alternating braille beads and pony beads strung on memory wire.

Purpose

To provide students with blindness who participate in art classes, recreational art activities, and home jewelry making with a product with which they can make personalized wrist and ankle bracelets, necklaces, and earrings as personal items, and gifts

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Project Leader

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

Product Description

Braille Beads are small, plastic rectangles that have braille on one side and recessed print letters on the other side. Each bead has two holes through which wire or cord may be threaded.

Relevance

APH made the decision to produce this product based on a standardized process of product selection. The project leader conducted a review and determined that no company or individual manufactures braille beads that are mass produced and inexpensive enough for schools, after-school programs, scout troops, and families to afford. In the United States, there are a couple of artists who create braille beads. One artist crafts braille beads out of metal and creates handmade jewelry for sale; APH sells her jewelry. This jewelry is pre-made and is cost prohibitive for children. The second artist creates blown glass braille beads. Each bead is one-of-a-kind and can cost up to $20.00. Again, this is not financially accessible to children. We need inexpensive plastic beads available in multi-colors that children can enjoy. The project leader submitted the New Product Idea Submission Form on June 6, 2007. The Assistant Research Director presented the product idea to the Product Evaluation Team. On June 13, 2007, the Product Advisory and Review Committee recommended that APH proceed with the development of the product.

This product will be fully accessible to the population who will use it. The instructions will be large print and braille with tactile imaging graphics that will serve print and tactile readers. The beads will have raised braille on one side and recessed print on the other side. This design enables non-braille reading, classroom teachers to identify the braille beads.



Alt tag: A pair of earrings rests on the memory wire earring instruction card.

This product follows APH guidelines for determining relevance of a product. Braille Beads eliminate the need of a student who is blind to have an individual with sight seek out the correct letters to create a wanted word. Braille Beads create an opportunity for the student to be independent, feel positive about the activity, and feel confident that he or she has the message or word on the jewelry or gift that he or she wants. Students with visual impairments can take ownership of their creation. Making jewelry-and beading in general-have become popular pastimes and have sprouted many cottage industries. Beading groups provide social opportunities. As field testing showed, Braille Beads are enjoyed by young students in school and by adults in rehabilitation programs.

There is evidence of an examination of the need for this product. During a visit with Lee Shultz, the art teacher at the Overbrook School for the Blind, the project leader learned of the need for Braille Beads. Shultz showed the project leader how her students make jewelry and the skills they learn while doing it. There is no literature that states if a child does not have an opportunity to create braille jewelry that he or she will not learn braille, however, children learn and practice literacy in many ways. Literature reviews demonstrate that active learning, which includes learning through art, contributes to self-confidence and self-control in the learner. Children can engage in learning at a physical level through hands-on experiences such as making, constructing, and designing. A Chinese Proverb states, "Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand."

APH sought opinions of knowledgeable individuals to determine the need for this product. As stated previously, the idea of Braille Beads was initiated by the art teacher at the Overbrook School for the Blind. The project leader then visited the Kraft Korner at the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Convention. There were two booths of three women with blindness who presented their art of beaded jewelry. They loved the artistic and educational value of Braille Beads, and hoped APH could manufacture them. They recommended specific needles that should be included in the kit that they feel have proven to be the easiest to use if one is blind.

Braille Beads address an identified need for a person who meets the definition of "visually impaired" directly and indirectly. Directly, stringing beads helps develop fine motor skills; teaches sorting skills by color, shape, size, and texture; teaches planning and organizational skills; and allows students to learn about art principles of color and design. Various bracelet designs that use the multiple colors of beads provided in the kit teach students about monochromatic design, analogous design, and complementary design. Students can create designs that promote school colors and celebrate holidays. Stringing Braille Beads provides young learners with a fun and lasting way to learn and spread braille literacy. When individuals create and wear art made with braille, they help promote braille to the general population. According to the National Center for Leadership in Visual Impairment (NCLVI), there is a need for more professionals in the vision field. For this reason, it established NCLVI Fellowships. Braille Beads have the potential to get young learners who have sight interested in braille and to consider the vision field as a career choice. This indirectly affects the future of young persons with visual impairment.

Research

Data were gathered using an appropriate method. APH sent out seven Braille Bead Kits for field testing in September 2010. Field testing ended December 30, 2010. Field test site coordinators completed an online evaluation form designed in Google Docs. They e-mailed photos of their students'/clients' creations.

There is evidence that research data are considered as part of decision-making in product completion. This product is not completed. Currently tooling costs make it prohibitive to manufacture. When it is manufactured, APH will consider the field test results and comments of the field testers. The students/clients determined that the following items and instructions should be included in the kit.

By answering "yes" or "no" to a series of questions, the students/clients determined that the following items and instructions should be excluded from the kit.

The following three items and instructions were rated 50/50.

Only 17% were able to thread the Easy Threading Needle, but 83% successfully threaded the EasyEye Needle. The Easy Threading Needle was to be used with the Bolster. Within the comments, one field tester stated that she did not have a Bolster so had difficulty threading the needle and thus rated it low. All kits were shipped with a Bolster and instructions on how to use the Bolster with the Easy Threading Needle.

The participants were asked to pick their six preferred colors for both braille beads and pony beads. For braille beads, in order of preference, they chose red, blue, black, yellow, and green, with pink and white tied for sixth place. For pony beads, in order of preference, they chose red, blue, pink, yellow, and green, with white and black tied for sixth place.

When asked if they were able to successfully make jewelry, 100% responded yes. Likewise, 100% said they enjoyed making jewelry. Half of the field testers said their student/client needed to acquire sorting and organizational skills prior to using Braille Beads. Half also said that their student/client improved their sorting and organizational skills while using Braille Beads.

Despite the extreme highs and lows of the written instructions and material scores, 83% of the field test participants recommend that APH manufacture the Braille Beads.

Research for this product followed APH research guidelines. The prototype was field tested, and data sought through an electronic evaluation form. Data were gathered from a geographically diverse U.S. population, from appropriately qualified individuals, and from an adequate number of sources. All are described in detail in this report.

The research method used collected sufficient information. Participants were asked to evaluate the written instructions and the tangible items of the kit on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high). The responses for the written instructions could be based on the student/client reading the instructions or having someone read the instructions to him or her. This report will state majority by "3 and higher" or "3 and below," whichever is greater.

Ball and chain necklace written instructions: 83% rated 3 and higher 

 
2@17%   3@50%  
 
5@33% 
Ball and chain material: 83% rated 3 and higher 
1@17%  
 
3@17%   4@33%   5@33% 
Pendant cord necklace written instructions: 83% rated 3 and higher 

 
2@17%   3@17%   4@33%   5@33% 
Pendant cord material: 100% rated 3 and higher 

 

 
3@33%   4@33%   5@33% 
Twisted end necklace written instructions: 84% rated 3 and higher 

 
2@17%   3@17%   4@17%   5@50% 
Twisted end material: 100% rated 3 and higher 

 

 
3@17%  
 
5@83% 
Wire choker written instructions: 84% rated 3 and higher 

 
2@17%   3@17%  
 
5@67% 
Wire choker material: 100% rated 3 and higher 

 

 
3@17%  
 
5@83% 
Triangle earring written instructions: 67% rated 3 and below 
1@17%   2@33%   3@17%   4@33% 
 
Triangle earring memory wire material: 83% rated 3 and higher 
1@33%  
 
3@17%   4@17%   5@33% 
Earring fish hook material: 83% rated 3 and higher 
1@17%  
 
3@33%   4@33%   5@17% 
3-in-1 combination tool: 67% rated 3 and lower 
1@17%   2@33%   3@17%   4@17%   5@17% 
Fringe earring written instruction: 100% rated 3 and lower 
1@33%   2@50%   3@17%  
 

 
Fringe earring cord material: 100% rated 3 and lower 
1@17%   2@17%   3@67% 
 

 
Gold elastic bracelet written instructions: 67% rated 3 and higher 

 
2@33%   3@33%   4@17%   5@17% 
Gold elastic bracelet cord material: 100% rated 3 and lower 
1@50%  
 
3@50% 
 

 
Memory wire bracelet written instructions: 84% rated 3 and higher 

 
2@17%   3@67%  
 
5@17% 
Memory wire bracelet wire: 67% rated 3 and higher 

 
2@33%   3@17%   4@33%   5@17% 
3-in-1 combination tool: 67% rated 3 and lower 
1@17%   2@17%   3@33%   4@33% 
 
Bead Bolster: 100% rated 3 or lower 
1@50%  
 
3@50% 
 

 
Memory wire bracelet 2-strands instructions: 84% rated 3 and higher 

 
2@17%   3@17%   4@50%   5@17% 
Memory wire bracelet 2-strand wire: 67% rated 3 and higher 

 
2@33%   3@17%   4@33%   5@17% 
3-in-1 combination tool: 51% rated 3 and lower 
1@17%   2@17%   3@17%   4@50% 
 
Twisted end bracelet written instructions: 84% rated 3 and higher 

 
2@17%   3@17%  
 
5@67% 
Twisted end bracelet w/ detachable ball: 100% rated 3 and higher 

 

 
3@17%  
 
5@83% 
White stretch floss bracelet instructions: 83% rated 3 and higher 

 
2@17%   3@17%   4@33%   5@33% 
White stretch floss elastic material: 67% rated 3 and higher 
1@33%  
 
3@50%   4@17% 
 
EasyEye beading needle: 67% rated 3 and higher 
1@17%  
 
3@17%   4@50% 
 
Easy threading needle: 67% rated 3 and higher 
1@17%  
 
3@50%   4@17% 
 
Tear mender glue: 100% rated 3 and lower 
1@17%   2@50%   3@33%  
 

 
Lashtite glue: 84% rated 3 and lower 
1@17%   2@50%   3@17%   (one did not respond) 
 

The kit included a set of tactile instruction cards. They were produced on the Tactile Vision Machine and were accessible to both print and braille readers.

Needles card written instructions: 67% rated 3 and higher 
1@33% 
 
3@33%  4@17%  5@17% 
Needles card: 66% rated 3 and lower 
1@33% 
 
3@33% 
 
5@33% 
Bending Memory wire ends instructions: 50% rated 3 and lower 
1@33%  2@17%  3@33% 
 
5@17% 
Bending Memory wire ends card: 83% rated 3 and lower 
1@33%  2@17%  3%33% 
 
5@17% 
Surgeon's knot written instructions: 100% rated 3 and lower 
1@33%  2@50%  3@17% 
 

 
Surgeons knot card #1: 100% rated 3 and lower 
1@50%  2@33%  3@17% 
 

 
Surgeons knot card #2: 83% rated 3 and lower 
1@33%  2@33%  3@17% 
 
5@17% 
Fringe earring card: 67% rated 3 and lower 
1@33%  2@17%  3@17%  4@17%  5@17% 
Memory earring card: 50% rated 3 and lower 
1@33% 
 
3@17% 
 
5@33% 

The prototype included braille beads and pony beads. The students/clients rated the beads using the same scale.

Braille beads: 84% rated 3 and higher 

 
2@17%   3@50%   4@17%   5@17% 
Pony Beads: 100% rated 3 and higher  

 

 
3@17%  
 
5@83% 

Data were gathered from a geographically diverse U.S. population. The participant sites were the following:

Data were gathered from appropriately qualified individuals. On average, the field test site coordinators have 14 years experience teaching/working with students/clients with visual impairments.

Data were gathered from an adequate number of sources. Six of the seven sites completed the online evaluation form and submitted pictures of their students'/clients' jewelry. Each field test site had numerous students/clients who participated, but the evaluation forms were completed on one student per site with general comments including all participants. The students/clients range in age from 11 to 41 years. Half of the participants have severe low vision (20/200 to 20/400), 17% have profound low vision (20/500 to 20/1,000), none have near total blindness (more than 20/1,000), and 33% have total blindness (no light perception). Only one participant has an additional disability (cerebral palsy with intellectual disability).

Data were gathered on student/client outcomes. The students/clients rated their beading proficiency. Before using Braille Beads, only one (17%) student felt he or she was a proficient beader. After using Braille Beads, three (50%) students considered themselves proficient. Before and after using Braille Beads, two (33%) considered themselves to be intermediate beaders. Before using Braille Beads, two (33%) considered themselves to be beginning beaders; and after using the prototype, only one (17%) self-identified as a beginner. Prior to receiving the prototype, one (17%) had never before beaded. After field testing, all participants were able to bead and all improved.

Work planned for FY 2013

The cost of the molds is very expensive. The amortization of the cost into the product makes it improbable that after-school programs or scout troops can afford to purchase the kit. In 2012, APH submitted grant proposals to two private foundations to pay for the movable molds. Unfortunately, neither proposal was accepted. In 2013, APH will continue to seek funding to manufacture the molds and begin production on the beads.



Color-by-Texture Marking Mats

(New)


Alt tag: Tactile mat underneath a coloring page of a rainbow; Four possible textures for tactile marking mats

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Katherine Corcoran, Pattern/Model Maker


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.

Work during FY 2012

In July, the concept was considered and approved for development by both the Product Evaluation Team and the 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.

Work planned FY 2013

Multiple prototypes of the Color-by-Texture Marking Mats will be designed by the project staff. Field test evaluation sites will be located, and teacher and student feedback will be garnered. Field test results will directly impact the final design and production of the marking mats. The project staff will initiate work on final tooling and product specifications. The availability of the product will likely occur in FY 2014.

MATHEMATICS

Common Core Math Kits

(New)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Jeanette Wicker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Lisa Wright, Consultant

Derrick Smith, Consultant

Rosemary Dawson, Consultant

Alexis Moore, Consultant

Lorette Nuzzo, Consultant

Miriam Schaper, Consultant

Deborah Squire, Consultant

Kim Wilson, Consultant

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

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

Work during FY 2012

A product submission form was developed by the project leader and approved by the Product Evaluation Team and the 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: a website that would identify existing products and manipulatives available to teach the standards for grades K-8 and high school, and 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.

Work planned for FY 2013

Materials needed in kits for grades 6-8 will be identified. A website will be developed to provide TVIs with a reference tool to determine currently available math products for grades K-8 and high school 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. Project staff will develop prototypes of Math Kits for grades 4-5 and grades 6-8 that include new tools and manipulatives to support instruction in the CCSS.

Consumable Hundreds Chart

(New)

Purpose

To provide elementary students who are blind and visually impaired with a tool to learn and reinforce basic number concepts

Project Staff

Jeanette Wicker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Background

The Hundreds Chart is a tool used in many elementary classrooms to develop understanding of Counting and Cardinality, Operations and Algebraic Thinking, and Numbers and Operations in Base Ten. APH has a product, Hundreds Board and Manipulatives Kit, for classroom demonstration but no consumable print/braille charts for student use. Many classroom teachers use these charts frequently and have electronic resources to produce the charts on demand for classroom use.

The product submission came informally from an Ex Officio Trustee who had been receiving request from TVIs in her district. A product submission was subsequently received from a teacher in that district.

Preliminary Research

Work during FY 2012

The product submission was evaluated by the project leader as outlined above and submitted to the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee for approval. A Product Development Committee meeting was held to obtain input for other project leaders. Two (print only) prototypes were developed by Technical Research. The first prototype had alternating highlighted lines. The second prototype had no highlighted lines. The prototypes were sent to 10 elementary teachers for review of chart size, font size, and physical arrangement and to determine the need for the highlighting.

Work planned for FY 2013

Using feedback from elementary teachers, the project leader will determine the best design for the Consumable Hundreds Chart. A print/braille prototype and a teacher's guide for evaluation will be developed.

Expanded Beginner's Abacus

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide young braille students with a beginner's abacus that extends to the hundreds place

Project Staff

Sandi Baker, Project Leader

Jeanette Wicker, Core Curriculum Consultant

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

David McGee, Manufacturing Specialist

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Bisig Impact Group, Graphic Designer

Background

The submission for a beginner's abacus that extends to the hundreds place came from a teacher in the field. She used the existing beginner's abacus "with trainable/low educable mentally handicapped students" who cannot memorize their addition and subtraction facts to use the "secrets" method but can use counting to add and subtract.

In FY 2009, the product submission was approved by the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee. A Product Development Committee meeting was held and work began on designing the Expanded Beginner's Abacus (EBA). The existing manual would also need to be revised to include lessons, examples, and problems using the hundreds column.

In FY 2010, three different prototypes were developed using rapid prototyping. The third design was accepted. Work continued on revising the manual. This product was turned over to a new project leader.

During FY 2011, the Instructions for Use booklet (manual) revisions were completed and prepared for field testing. The EBA was field tested in the winter/spring of 2011. Fourteen teachers of the visually impaired field tested the EBA with 17 students, ages 4-20 years. The majority of the field evaluators felt the abacus is usable by their students and that they have a need for the abacus in the classroom. They felt the product was usable by students with multiple disabilities (7), blindness (14), learning disabilities (11), low vision (11), deafblindness (10), binocular vision issues (1), and autism (1). One hundred percent of the teachers felt the content of the Instructions for Use booklet was thorough and helpful, and most felt the number of lessons was adequate and the lessons were appropriate. One hundred percent of the teachers said that based on their training and experience as a teacher that the product is an effective teaching tool, and that their student(s) benefited from using the EBA. Teacher and student comments were largely positive.

As a result of comments from field evaluators, the following changes were made to the abacus and the Instructions for Use booklet: 1) "Extensions" page added to the booklet, that addresses teaching strategies and concepts that can be taught using the EBA; 2) rods on the abacus adjusted in order to tighten the beads so there is no accidental slipping during normal use of the abacus; and 3) two strips of Velcro® added to each EBA so that two or more abaci can be joined together to teach computation skills that go beyond the hundreds place.

Work during FY 2012

The project leader completed the final revisions to the Instructions for Use booklet, both print and braille, and the abacus. Project staff received the mold from vendor for constructing the abacus and proceeded with production.

Work planned for FY 2013

Project staff will work to complete the production of the EBA, and the product will become available for sale.

EZeeCOUNT Abacus

(Continued)

Alt Tag: Image of the 10 x 10 bead arrangement of the EZeeCOUNT Abacus

Purpose

To provide a unique abacus, currently produced in Malaysia, that is arranged in a 10-row by 10-column configuration that allows young students, including those with multiple disabilities, to perform basic mathematical functions. The abacus features sliding beads of two colors and two textures. The reverse side of the abacus has a dry-erasable surface.

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Zeenat Durrani, Product Originator/Vendor

Mustapha Debbabi, Materials Department Manager

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Background

On May 14, 2010, a product submission form was received from Zeenat Durrani regarding a manufactured abacus in Malaysia that is routinely used to assist children who have learning difficulties. Anticipating that the product could also benefit students with visual impairments and blindness, the vendor submitted the tool, titled the EZeeCOUNT Abacus, to APH for resell consideration to customers in the United States. The project leader was asked to review the product submission and provide feedback to the Product Evaluation Team. Pairing a list of "notable strengths" with "suggestions for improvement," the project leader gave the abacus a positive rating. On September 8, 2010, the product was reviewed by the Product Advisory and Review Committee and approved for development. The product quickly moved to the active development stage. By the end of FY 2010, the project leader had established a positive working relationship with the vendor, acquiring preliminary information on costs, exclusivity rights, quality updates, and safety documents.

The first quarter of FY 2011 was devoted to readying the prototype for field test purposes. This effort was carried out solely by the project leader with regard to direct communication with the vendor to acquire prototypes, as well as authoring an instruction guide to illustrate possible mathematical uses (basic counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, patterning, etc.). By the end of the year, the project leader had prepared multiple field evaluation packets.

The project leader posted a request for field evaluators in the January issue of the APH News. Nearly 25 teachers requested to participate in this field test opportunity. Field test sites were selected based upon location, type of setting, and potential number of students.

The field test of the EZeeCOUNT Abacus was initiated in January 2011 and extended through mid-April. Product evaluations were completed by 15 teachers representing the states of Arizona, Illinois, Kansas (2), Maine, Missouri (4), Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. The majority (86%) of evaluators worked in itinerant settings, 7% worked at a residential school, and 7% worked in a resource center. Half of the teachers had taught for 5 years or less; 14% had 6 to 10 years of teaching experience, 21% had 11 to 15 years of teaching experience, and 14% had 16 to 20 years of teaching experience. Large percentages of the teachers reported previous use of the Beginner's Abacus (67%) and Cranmer Abacus (87%) with students with visual impairments and blindness. Nearly half (47%) reported using abacuses either "frequently" or "occasionally" with their students. Sixty-seven percent of the evaluators reported typically using abacuses with students in grades 1-3 and grades 4-8. Approximately half typically used abacuses with preschool students (47%) and kindergarteners (53%); only 20% routinely used abacuses with high school students.

The student sample of 63 students ranged in age from 2 to 21 years old, with equal percentages between the ages of 4-6 (29%) and 7-9 (29%); likewise, equal percentages were between the ages of 10-12 (19%) and 13-20 (19%). Only 2% were 2 years of age, and the ages of 2% of the students were unreported. The student sample was composed of more males (63%) than females (37%). The student population reflected cultural diversity: 59% White, 19% Hispanic, 17% African American, 3% Asian, and 2% American Indian/Alaskan Native. The distribution of students across grade levels was as follows: 24% in preschool or kindergarten, 30% in grades 1-3, 27% in grades 4-8, 14% in high school, and 5% ungraded or "unreported." The largest percentage of the students (57%) were classified as either large print or print readers (with or without magnification), 24% were braille readers, 8% were auditory learners, 6% were dual readers (i.e., large print/braille or braille/auditory), and the remaining students (5%) lacked a specified primary reading medium. More than half (56%) of all of the students had other disabilities (e.g., cognitive delays, autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, deaf blindness, orthopedic handicaps, developmental delays, and speech/language impairments). One-third of the students had prior experience using the Beginner's Abacus, and 17% had prior experience using the Cranmer Abacus.

The vast majority (80%) of the evaluators indicated that the EZeeCount Abacus offered specific advantages over other similar counting/computation devices. Testimonials from evaluators clarified:

Using a scale of 5 ("Very Well") to 0 ("Not at All"), field evaluators indicated the degree to which the EZeeCOUNT Abacus promoted the following skills/concepts:

Skill/Concept

 

Average Rating

 

Counting by single units

 

4.3

 

Counting by groups (e.g., by 3s)

 

3.9

 

Addition

 

4.3

 

Number combinations

 

4.1

 

Subtraction

 

4.5

 

Multiplication

 

3.7

 

Division

 

3.6

 

Fractions/Percentages/Decimals

 

3.2

 

Patterns

 

1.9

 

Graphs

 

2.9

 

Perimeter/Area

 

3.1

 

Place value

 

3.7

 

Transitioning to Beginner's Abacus and/or Cranmer Abacus

 

3.4

 

Games

 

3.6

 

The following percentages of evaluators reported appropriateness of the EZeeCOUNT Abacus for various target populations:

Target Population

 

Percentage of evaluators who found the EZeeCOUNT Abacus to be suitable for target population

 

Preschoolers with visual impairments/blindness

 

93%

 

Kindergarteners with visual impairments/blindness

 

93%

 

Tactile readers in Grades 1-3

 

80%

 

Low vision students in Grades 1-3

 

93%

 

Tactile readers in Grades 4-8

 

73%

 

Low vision students in Grades 4-8

 

53%

 

Tactile readers in high school

 

47%

 

Low vision students in high school

 

53%

 

Students with multiple disabilities

 

80%

 

Students with Cortical Visual Impairment

 

73%

 

The reported strengths of the EZeeCOUNT Abacus highlighted its ideal size, high-contrast color, versatility, ease of use, and concrete representation for basic math functions. However, it was apparent, given a less than unanimous vote for its availability from APH, that there was room for design improvements before final production. Although 73% of the evaluators recommended its availability, 20% were "uncertain" and one evaluator checked "No."

At a Product Development Committee meeting in late April 2011, the project leader detailed needed structural improvements, namely

These design enhancements were outlined for the vendor in an e-mail sent in early May, along with other requests to ease manufacturing, ensure safety, and make the product as accessible as possible. Specifically, the vendor was asked to bulk ship the product without their original documentation and outer packaging (that lacked English translation) and incorporate an APH identification label on the dry-erase side of the abacus.

Throughout June and July, the project leader communicated directly with the bead manufacturer in New York about needed revisions to the beads' textures. A sample of the ideal rough texture for the red side of the bead was provided to the vendor for replication purposes. The bead manufacturer quickly submitted three groupings of beads of different sandpaper texture. After garnering input from braille readers, sample "B" (representing a medium grade sandpaper texture) was selected.

As of August 2011, APH was awaiting the vendor's submission of the latest prototype of the EZeeCOUNT Abacus built to APH's specifications.

Work during FY 2012

Nearly a full year lapsed before APH received an updated version of the EZeeCOUNT Abacus. This delay was imposed by the wait for textured beads produced by a second vendor. In early June, the new prototype was delivered to APH. The project leader reconvened the Product Development Committee to review the structural updates. Notable and satisfactory improvements included the two-textured beads and the expanded gutter area. The project leader continued to serve as the main contact with the vendor. Remaining discussions addressed cost per unit, minimum orders, expected lead times, preferred packaging style, application of APH logo, and furnishing of required safety reports. In July, the Materials Department Manager prepared an exclusivity agreement to be signed by both parties.

A Product Structure Meeting was conducted to plan the provision of the kit and related components. Two catalog items will result: a) EZeeCOUNT Abacus with a large print instruction guide and b) the braille version of the instruction guide. Three raw material items will be stocked: a) EZeeCOUNT Abacus, b) large print guidebook [as a replacement part], and c) braille parts list.

By the end of the fiscal year, the project leader completed the final content of the accompanying instruction booklet and was overseeing its layout with the outside graphic designer.

Work planned for FY 2013

In mid-October, Quota approval will be requested from Educational Products Advisory Committee for the EZeeCOUNT Abacus at APH's Annual Meeting. The remainder of the fiscal year will witness the conclusion of in-house production tooling and specifications and eventual availability of the EZeeCOUNT Abacus. This product will be referenced and showcased with other APH math-related materials.



Flip-Over Concept Books: Fractions

Formerly Flying Through Fractions

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide teachers with a tool that will assist primary and intermediate students to learn fractions via a flip-chart type "booklet"

Project Staff

Sandi Baker, Project Leader

Jeanette Wicker, Core Curriculum Consultant

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Cathy Senft-Graves, Research Assistant

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Bisig Impact Group, Graphic Designer

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 to be explored tactually. The pins would be stable enough not to change position with tactile exploration, yet easy enough to depress with a template. Templates would be created for common shapes with fractional sections. The templates would be pushed onto the pin board, and the sections of 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 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 scenarios. The project leader at the time contacted the teacher who submitted the product idea to discuss these options. After consulting with Technical Research and the teacher, a low tech option was decided upon. For each fraction, there would be a small booklet. The book would be hole-punched in the upper corner with a ring binding. On the first page, there would be a circle divided into the appropriate fractional part with the fractional name, followed by the pages with the fractional parts tactually presented and 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.

Project was turned over to current project leader 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 this product would become part of the Flip-Over Concept Books series and utilize the format of the previous Flip-Over books, except that this book will have two possible display options: flat or easel style. It will be an interactive print and tactile booklet that provides 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 to display the panels. The print/tactile panels are 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 instructions booklet and submitted to the research assistant for review and edit.

Work during FY 2012

The content of the instructions booklet was finalized and turned over to Terri Gilmore for design.

Work planned for FY 2013

Production will develop prototypes, and field testing will take place.

Geometro

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide teachers with a tool (manual, student workbook, and manipulatives) that utilizes tactile images and 3-D manipulatives to teach students the basic concepts of geometry

Project Staff

Sandi Baker, Project Leader

Jeanette Wicker, Core Curriculum Consultant

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Aniceta Skowron, Author and Consultant

Anthony Slowinski, Graphic Designer

Bisig Impact Group, Graphic Design

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Background

The submission for this product came from the previous project leader, who was the project leader for the Geometro models that APH has sold since 2010. The models have been wildly popular since that time, but teachers asked for instructions for using these tactile manipulatives. This product idea was to work with the author of two existing print workbooks, Building 3-D Solids Using Geometro and Nets of 3-D Solids, to adapt the books for use with braille readers. The adapted books would function as instructional guides to teach geometric concepts using the Geometro models. The product would consist of an adapted student workbook with consumable tactile worksheets. The workbook would instruct the teacher and student to build solids, identify sides and vertices, and develop "nets" for the various forms using Geometro models. The graphics on the tactile worksheets would help students better understand how to use the Geometro models as well as to better understand the basic concepts of geometry. While intended to be used with Geometro models, the workbooks would be sold independently of Geometro. The workbook would be used by braille readers at the elementary level. Many standardized tests have questions about "nets" for geometric 3-D solids, but students who are blind struggle with this concept. The activities in the Student Workbook, along with its manipulatives-including Geometro, would assist the classroom teacher and the elementary student to meet the Geometry Standards set forth by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

In October 2011, this product was turned over to the current project leader. Some initial discussions with the workbook's author took place at Annual Meeting in October, at which time a contractual agreement was established. The project leader had a 2-day meeting with the consultant in Louisville in December, at which time the project began to take shape. Meetings were held with the Director of Research, Core Curriculum Consultant, Technical Research Manager, Materials Manager, and others to discuss various ideas for the project. At the end of the 2-day meeting, the project leader and consultant had developed a plan. This project will consist of the following: Teacher's Manual, Student Workbook that will include both tactile and magnetic pages, and two sets of manipulatives (rod models and magnetic tiles). Outlines for both the Teacher's Manual and Student Workbook, including timelines, were developed.

In January 2011, a draft of the Introduction to the Teacher's Manual was written by the project leader; by March, the drawings of the tactile images were created by the consultant and turned over to the manufacturing specialist. In July, the consultant submitted the first draft of the Teacher's Manual. Editing of the Teacher's Manual continued as did regular phone conversations and sharing of information via Dropbox. The consultant began to write the Student Workbook.

During FY 2011, the consultant worked with local manufacturers (in Canada) to develop and produce the rod models and magnetic tiles to complete this product.

Work during FY 2012

The content of the Teacher's Manual and Student Workbook was completed, working prototypes of the rod models and magnetic tiles were produced for field testing, and the product was field tested in the spring of 2012. Analysis of field testing results began.

Work planned for FY 2013

Analysis of field testing will be completed, and necessary changes will be made to any and all components of product. Production will begin.

Graphic Aid for Mathematics, Revision

(Continued)

Purpose

To revise the Graphic Aid for Mathematics by changing some components and adding new ones to make the product easier to use and read

Project Staff

Fred Otto, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Background

At the advice of teachers who use the APH kit or homemade variations, staff investigated ideas for making graphs easier to display and more readable. Some suggestions came from retired teacher Ken Kalina, who constructed his own boards with grids made on a braille embosser and uses a variety of wires and pins to create his graphs. Other revisions originated in-house.

Project staff purchased a variety of wires and pins to augment existing components of the kit. They also developed new, inexpensive tools to help in making and marking graphs: a pivoting ruler with print and tactile markings, to help students mark points at a given radius from another point, and a set of adjustable X-Y axes that can be placed anywhere on the grid board. Manufacturing bids were obtained for the resized board and a new component, an embossed circle graph to be mounted on the reverse of the grid.

Preliminary input was gathered at two Annual Meeting sessions and from teachers at a multi-school in-service in New York.

In FY 2011, 15 complete prototype sets were made and a full field evaluation was conducted. Sites included both public and residential schools in California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York (2), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas (4).

The field evaluation included 45 students in all grades 4-12, except 6th grade. Of these students, 24 were male and 21 female; 11 were stated to have other handicapping conditions such as learning disabilities or cerebral palsy.

The compiled results showed broad support for the proposed additions to the kit. Most respondents wanted the new components added and the original ones retained as well. Reactions to a proposed size reduction for the grid were evenly split.

The project leader decided on final design revisions. Specific sizes of pins and wires were rejected as a result of the evaluation, and a final board size was settled on that essentially compromises between the original size and the proposed smaller one. An instructional insert was written, and a product logo and box label designed.

The project leader began to consult with Technical Research staff to get production specifications drawn up.

Work during FY 2012

No significant work was done. The project leader is waiting for Technical Research staff time to become available for work on product specifications.

Work planned for FY 2013

Technical Research staff will examine the existing mold for the grid to learn how to adjust for shrinkage in the produced parts.

Specifications will be completed, and the revised kit will be scheduled for production. A timetable for actual production will depend on the vendor for the raised grid and circle graphs, which will be the most difficult parts to produce.



MathBuilders

Formerly Primary Math Units

(Continued)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Jeanette Wicker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Derrick Smith, Math Consultant

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

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.

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 during FY 2012

Unit 5, Measurement became available for sale in February 2012. Five of the eight units are now available for use in the classroom.

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.

Work planned for FY 2013

Project staff will complete the prototype of Unit 3, Place Value, and begin the field evaluation. Lessons for Number Concepts and Number Operations will be developed. Work will commence on the manipulatives and worksheets for these units, and preparation for field evaluation will take place.

Multiplication and Division Table

(Completed)

Purpose

To provide elementary students who are blind and visually impaired with a tool to assist in reinforcing basic multiplication and division facts

Project Staff

Sandi Baker, Project Leader

Jeanette Wicker, Core Curriculum Consultant

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

Nancy Etter, Administrative Assistant

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Bisig Impact Group, Graphic Designer

Background

This is a product modification. There were no meetings of the Product Evaluation Team, Product Advisory and Review Committee, or Product Development Committee. When this product was given to the project leader, it was determined that there would be an in-house review without field evaluation.

During FY 2011, a prototype was developed that utilized the size and format of the new Addition and Subtraction Table. The Table grid was expanded to include the multiplication and division of whole numbers up to 10. As with the Addition and Subtraction Table, the Multiplication and Division Table incorporates alternating, highlighted lines to assist students who have low vision with tracking. This product underwent an in-house review by four reviewers: two who are blind and two with low vision. Reviewer comments supported the proposed modernization. A specification meeting was held in July 2011, and the project was added to the production schedule.

Work during FY 2012

The product was completed and made available for sale (Catalog #5-82700-01) in December 2011.

Work planned for FY 2013

No further work is anticipated on this project.



Nemeth Tutorial

(New)

Purpose

To create a tutorial that effectively teaches Nemeth code to both sighted and blind learners that is platform independent

Project Staff

Gaylan Kapperman, Project Leader (Consultant)

Shannon Pruitte, Consultant/Author

Larry Skutchan, Technology Project Leader

Michael McDonald, Programmer

Keith Creasy, Programmer

Ken Perry, Programmer

Background

Gaylen Kapperman, Ph.D., and his staff created a comprehensive Nemeth code tutorial designed to teach braille readers and teachers the rules of Nemeth.

It originally ran only on the Braille Lite notetaker and later on the Humanware Braille Note. There was also a print version that helped sighted teachers understand the rules and concepts, but did not include any of the interactive tutorial aspects of the program.

The interactive tutorial provided exercises and tasks the user performed to obtain feedback about their progress and understanding of the subject matter.

The Nemeth Tutorial project attempts to both update the lesson content through the valuable feedback received over the years when the original tutorial was used and to put it onto a platform that can serve both sighted and blind users equally.

Work during FY 2012

Work planned for FY 2013

Project staff will work to complete the following:

Tactile Tangrams

(Continued)

Alt Tag: Front cover art of Tactile Tangrams

Purpose

To provide accessible versions of tangram puzzles for use by blind and low vision students and adults

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Katherine Corcoran, Pattern/Model Maker

Tom Poppe, Pattern/Model Maker

Bryan Rodgers, Manufacturing Specialist

Bisig Impact Group, Graphic Designer

InGrid Design, Graphic Designer

Rodger Smith, Programmer

Background

Tangram puzzles are frequently used to teach geometry concepts and skills. A Tangram puzzle is made up of seven simple shapes: two small triangles, one medium-size triangle, two large triangles, a parallelogram, and a square. The goal is to arrange the pieces to create geometric shapes, buildings, animals, letters of the alphabet, human figures in motion, etc. Silhouette print images are presented in books or on cards that accompany the tangram puzzle pieces.

Many types of tangram puzzles are available commercially-from wooden tangram sets and magnetic foam pieces to giant tangram floor tiles. However, the movable puzzle pieces are never accompanied by tactile silhouette cards or tactile "solution" pages from which the tactile reader can independently solve and recreate the pictures and shapes, nor are tactually-discernible puzzle frames provided.

Describing figures and visualizing what they look like when they are transformed through rotations or flips, or are put together or taken apart in different ways, are important aspects of geometry in the lower grades. Tangram puzzle activities encourage spatial reasoning, shape recognition, size comparison, and pattern replication. Concepts such as congruence, symmetry, sides and angles, and fractions are reinforced. The following National Geometry Standards are supported:

In April 2008, the project leader prepared a formal product submission form detailing the purpose and proposed components of the product. It was reviewed by the Product Evaluation Team the same month, and then approved by the Product Advisory and Review Committee in May 2008 for development and production.

The project leader initiated work on this project during the first quarter of the fiscal year. Efforts entailed the following:

In January 2009, the project leader acquainted the Product Development Committee with the proposed components of the kit, as well as the anticipated production methods. A product timeline was established.

Between the third quarter of FY 2009 and the second quarter of FY 2010, the project staff focused on the development and construction of multiple prototypes of the planned kit, including the following:

In January 2010, the project leader posted a request for field evaluators in the APH News. Many e-mails were received from teachers, parents, and blind adults interested in field testing the prototype. Field test sites were selected based upon location, type of setting, and potential number of students.

The field test of Tactile Tangrams was initiated in March 2010 and extended through mid-May 2010. Product evaluations were completed by 19 teachers representing the states of California (2), Connecticut (2), Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio (2), Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas (2), and Utah. The majority (74%) of evaluators worked in itinerant settings, 11% in residential schools, 11% in resource settings, and 5% in after-school enrichment programs.

The student sample of 66 students ranged in age from 6 to 20+ years of age with 25% between the ages of 6 and 8, 20% between the ages of 9 and 11, 28% between the ages of 12 and 14, 15% between the ages of 15 and 17, and 13% 18 years of age or older. The student sample was nearly equally divided between males (53%) and females (47%). The student population reflected cultural diversity: 50% White, 24% Hispanic, 18% African American, 3% Asian, and 5% "two or more races" or "other." Over half (51%) of the students were in grades 4-8, 31% were in grades K-3, 15% were in high school, and 3% were post-secondary level. The largest percentage of the students (56%) were classified as either large print or print readers; 34% were braille readers, 4% were dual readers (i.e., large print/braille or braille/auditory), and the remaining students were reported as either nonreaders, auditory readers, or with an "unspecified" primary reading medium. One-third of all the students had other disabilities.

One hundred percent of the evaluators recommended that APH produce Tactile Tangrams. Among the strengths were the lesson plans, the format and illustrations of the activity guide, the size and color of the puzzle frames, the size of the tangram puzzle pieces, and the kit's appropriateness for both blind and low vision students. The kit was also noted for its organization, tactile qualities, color contrast, combined tactile/print format of the solution pages, and compliance with core curriculum skills, all of which serve to promote geometry concepts and terminology.

The field test results supported the need for various types of tangram puzzle pieces. Although the largest percentage (53%) of the evaluators used the thick foam pieces most frequently, 37% reported using the magnetic-backed pieces "often" as well. All types of puzzle pieces were used at least "sometimes" by the students-63% used translucent pieces "sometimes," 42% used the thick foam pieces "sometimes," and 37% used the magnetic-backed pieces "sometimes." One evaluator stated, "I liked the versatility of having all three kinds."

One hundred percent of the evaluators reported using the puzzle frames/pieces "often" (68%) or "sometimes" (32%) as standalone parts. However, at least 21% used them in combination (either "often" or "sometimes"-5% and 21%, respectively) with a light box and 47% used them in combination (either "often" or "sometimes"-21% and 26%, respectively) with a metal board.

A rating scale was used to indicate the difficulty of each tangram puzzle based upon observed use by the students. A rating of "1" indicated "easy," a rating of "2" indicated "adequately challenging," and a rating of "3" indicated "difficult-rarely solved." The following average ratings were compiled:

Puzzle Frame

 

Average Rating

 
 

Boat

 

1.5

 
 

Arrow

 

1.7

 

* Received most "1" (easy) ratings-5 total

 

Barn

 

1.8

 
 

Square

 

1.8

 
 

Chicken

 

2.0

 
 

House

 

2.0

 
 

Table

 

2.0

 
 

Tree

 

2.0

 
 

Well

 

2.0

 
 

Fish

 

2.1

 
 

Hourglass

 

2.1

 
 

Rectangle

 

2.1

 
 

Spinning Top

 

2.1

 
 

Swan

 

2.1

 
 

Bowl

 

2.2

 
 

Ramp

 

2.2

 
 

House w/Chimney

 

2.3

 
 

Prism

 

2.3

 
 

Vase

 

2.3

 
 

Maple Leaf

 

2.4

 

Received most "Omit" recommendations (4 total)

Trapezoid and Maple Leaf received the most 3 ("difficult") ratings-7 total

 

Triangle

 

2.4

 
 

Hexagon

 

2.5

 

Received the 2nd largest number of 3 ("difficult") ratings-6 total

 

Trapezoid

 

2.6

 

Trapezoid and Maple Leaf received the most 3 ("difficult") ratings-7 total

 

The largest percentages of evaluators used Tactile Tangrams to facilitate the following activities: solving tangram puzzles (94%), puzzle piece comparison (90%), and the concept of symmetry (85%). More than half used the kit to demonstrate types of angles (74%), congruent polygons (79%), convex and concave puzzle frames (64%), making convex and concave polygons (58%), making symmetrical shapes (63%), and identifying symmetrical puzzle frames (53%). The least-used activities were "reviewing area/perimeter" (47%) and "creating tangram puzzles" (27%).

Using a scale of 5 ("Very Well") to 0 ("Not at All"), field evaluators indicated the degree to which Tactile Tangrams promoted the following skills/concepts:

Skill/Concept

 

Average Rating

 

Comparison and recognition of shapes

 

4.4

 

Geometry concepts (e.g., angles, symmetry, congruency, convex/concave, area/perimeter

 

4.4

 

Visual/tactile discrimination

 

3.7

 

Independent problem solving

 

3.9

 

Recreational skills

 

3.5

 

The following percentages of evaluators reported appropriateness of the kit for various target populations:

Target Population

 

Percentage of evaluators who found Tactile Tangrams to be suitable for target population

 

Kindergarteners with visual impairments/blindness

 

47%

 

Tactile readers in Grades 1-3

 

63%

 

Low vision students in Grades 1-3

 

84%

 

Tactile readers in Grades 4-8

 

79%

 

Low vision students in Grades 4-8

 

89%

 

Tactile readers in high school

 

68%

 

Low vision students in high school

 

74%

 

Students with multiple disabilities

 

42%

 

Adults with visual impairments/blindness

 

63%

 

The last quarter of FY 2010 was dedicated to reviewing the field test results and finalizing changes to the kit based upon evaluator feedback. Suggested improvements include the following:

During FY 2011, the project leader conducted a Product Development Committee meeting to review final components and changes to the kit. A timeline was established and tooling of the product components was undertaken. The tooling process involved the following tasks:

By the end of August 2011, the majority of the production tooling was in place. Throughout the remainder of the fiscal year, the project leader finalized content for the accompanying guidebook and related photos and illustrations.

Work during FY 2012

The first and second quarters of FY 2012 were devoted to the final tooling of the print guidebook and its braille translation and HTML conversion. The company's transition to a new outside graphic designer introduced a "learning curve" delay, but by the end of November the layout of the guidebook, as well as the binder cover art, was complete. The clean file, prepared by the project leader, was then sent to the Braille Department for translation. Concurrently, the HTML conversion was initiated; for this task the project leader prepared and provided the graphic designer with alt tag descriptions for numerous photos shown throughout the guidebook. The project leader also prepared approximately 30 CorelDraw® layouts of the tactile graphics needed for collation into the braille guidebook. These drawings were used to generate the Roland masters for eventual table-top thermoforming.

During December, the production specifications were under construction. An appropriate-sized binder to house all of the related product components (e.g., puzzle pieces, magnetic strips, puzzle frames, etc.) was selected; a vendor-produced sample was approved. The project leader also furnished Technical Research with the file to produce the solution pages.

The conversion of the HTML extended into April. Multiple proofs were generated and edited by the project leader. All minor discrepancies between the braille copy, print copy, and HTML versions were reconciled and corrected. Samples of vendor-produced acrylic puzzle pieces, with appropriate radius corners, thickness, and transparency, were approved. By the end of April, the product received Quota approval from the Educational Products Advisory Committee.

On May 29, 2012, a Specifications Meeting was conducted. At that time, all final files for the accessible versions of the guidebook were provided to Production staff. Related tooling and expected production processes were reviewed. The production timeline was updated.

Work planned for FY 2013

The project staff will monitor the quality of produced parts during the pilot and initial production run. The availability of Tactile Tangrams is slated for November 2012. The project leader will participate in post-production activities such as readying the product brochure content and demonstrating the product at workshops/training sessions.

Talking Protractor

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide students and teachers of the visually impaired a protractor that measures to the nearest degree and provides an audible announcement of the measurement

Project Staff

Sandi Baker, Project Leader

Jeanette Wicker, Core Curriculum Consultant

David McGee, Manufacturing Specialist

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Mike McDonald, Programmer

Larry Skutchan, Technology Project Leader

Ken Perry, Programmer

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Samir Azer, Consultant

Robert Williams-Neal, Consultant

Background

The product submission for the Talking Protractor came from two teachers in the field.

This protractor will enable students with visual impairment to measure any angle and hear the measurement spoken. An optical encoder would be used to record the amount of rotation, and the readout would then be translated into degrees (and/or) radians, which would then be reprocessed for speech output. This would provide an accurate means for students to measure angles in mathematics or science classes. Students currently use protractors that provide approximate measurements. Currently available protractors make use of tactual clues (e.g., one dot for 10-degree divisions, two dots for 45 and 135 degrees, and three dots for 90 degrees). Other values would need to be interpolated.

The product submission was approved by the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee. A meeting was held with the teacher consultants to review a prototype and brainstorm ideas for improvements.

In 2010, two prototypes were developed and evaluated by staff at APH and teachers of the visually impaired. Concerns were raised about the size of the prototypes. Research staff continued to work and refine the models. The project was turned over to the current project leader.

The project leader met with consultants and Technical Research in October 2011 to look at the models being considered and discuss design as well as connectivity to APH products such as the Braille+ and Book Port Plus. Protractor software for the speech component would run on Windows® 7. Project leader reported that in her research she found several reasonably-priced digital protractors, and presented the idea that perhaps one of these could be made to "talk." In January 2011, another meeting was held to discuss issues related to the encoder (which would actually do the measuring of angles), software, and BluetoothTM, as there were issues with each. The software being used wouldn't work with Windows 7, so new software was procured. Bluetooth wasn't working, and it was decided to look at USB connection. There were further problems with the working model being "upside down," how/where the angle would be measured, and issues about where to place the vertex. Further discussion centered on the idea to create software that will not require a screen reader, one that preferably uses Bluetooth technology vs. cable connection. It was decided to search for a USB/Bluetooth Electronic protractor, and to order more encoders and make a second model.

In late January 2011, a digital protractor manufacturer was found who was very interested in working with us to add speech to one of their protractors. We secured two sample protractors to examine, with the idea of creating an external interface to prove the concept of adding speech. A meeting was held in February with APH staff and teacher consultants to show the protractor to the consultants, to determine feasibility, and to determine if this would meet our needs, with modifications. We looked at its size/length, adding a "speech" button, how frequently it should announce the measured angle, adding a "repeat" button, and other physical modifications that would stabilize the protractor when in use. It was decided the two teacher consultants would "test-drive" this protractor with students. Later in February, a Product Development Committee meeting was held. Issues brought forward had to do with degree of accuracy, stability of protractor during use, and weight.

In March 2011, the protractor was introduced to some high school students at the Kentucky School for the Blind. It was well received by both students and teachers. It was decided that APH would move forward with discussions with the distributor of this protractor to adapt their existing digital protractor by adding speech capabilities. In July, Wixey (digital protractor distributor) provided APH with a cost estimate for the first eight stages of adding a talking component to the existing digital protractor. With a minimum order of 1,000 units required, APH began an informal survey of math teachers to determine need for this product.

Work during FY 2012

Project staff completed the informal survey and decided to proceed with this product. APH communicated to Wixey an interest to obtain a working prototype. Wixey communicated to APH repeatedly that the manufacturer was working on a prototype and that it was forthcoming. In the spring of 2012, Wixey informed APH that a new manufacturer had been sought and a price was given in order to produce a number of prototypes.

Work planned for FY 2013

Prototype development will continue for this product.



PHYSICAL EDUCATION / HEALTH

Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box

(New)

Alt tag: 1) Two preschoolers running on a guide bar. 2) A girl balancing on one leg with her eyes closed.

Purpose

To provide a box of adapted equipment with quick-step instructions to help early interventionists and parents teach and encourage locomotor skills and object control skills prior to young learners entering school

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Physical Education Project Leader

Lauren Lieberman, Consultant

Pamela Haibach, Consultant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

James Robinson, Electronics Specialist

Tom Poppe, Model Maker

Andrew Dakin, Model Maker

Background

Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box was conceived after Lauren Lieberman, Professor, The Brockport College at SUNY, presented to a standing-room-only crowd at the 2001 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 be made to 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.

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 on November 3, 2011. The Product Evaluation Team voted to move the project forward. On November 9, 2011, the Product Advisory and Review Committee approved the project, and it was assigned 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, HTML, and DTB to meet APH requirements for accessibility. Online links will be provided 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 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, n.d.) 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 the need was voiced by attendees at the 2011 APH Annual Meeting of the Ex Officio Trustees. (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. Kit items will include a beep-t-ball, a tactile guide bar, and a motivational button.

Work during FY 2012

Initial piloting of the guide bar at Visually Impaired Preschool Services in Louisville, KY, resulted in a new prototype with a tactile surface. The prototypes of the beep-t-ball, motivational switch, and tactile guide bar were made in the APH Model Shop and in Technical Research. The beep-t-ball was run through a battery of test (hits with an aluminum bat), and multiple prototypes with housing and foam variations were tried. At the National Family Conference in Boston, MA, young children used the beep-t-ball and the project leader took photographs.

Work planned for FY 2013

The project leader will continue to field test the adapted equipment and edit the instruction cards.

References

Lieberman, L. J., Houston-Wilson, C., & Kozub, F. M. (2002) Perceived barriers to including students with visual impairments in general physical education. Kinesiology, Sport Studies and Physical Education Faculty Publications. Paper 21. http://digitalcommons.brockport.edu/pes_facpub/21

Lieberman, L. J., & Pecorella, M. (n.d.) Activity at home for children and youth who are deafblind. Retrieved from http://mtdeafblind.ruralinstitute.umt.edu/MainMenu/InformationalResources/ArticlesMonographs/Lieberman_Activity.pdf

Everybody Plays!

(Continued)

Alt tag: 1) A boy and girl wear goggles and play under water. They smile and blow bubbles. 2) A boy and woman paddle a kayak. They wear life vests.

Purpose

To provide elementary school students who have visual impairment or blindness with a storybook that is entertaining and educational as it teaches the students about many athletic activities available to them

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Physical Education Project Leader

Cindy Aillaud, Author

Lauren Lieberman, Author

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Product Description

Everybody Plays! is a storybook about a child who goes to a sports camp for children who have visual impairment, blindness, or deafblindness. The co-authors are Cindy Aillaud, an Alaskan educator and winner of the 2004 Disney Teacher of the Year designation, and Lauren Lieberman, Ph.D., an adapted physical education (APE) professor at SUNY Brockport and founder of Camp Abilities. In 2012, Lieberman was named AAHPERD's National APE Professional of the Year and honored as a Distinguished Service Professor by SUNY. The storybook introduces young children to a variety of sports and encourages them to try as many as they can. Twenty-one different sports are discussed in the book. The reader learns about the Paralympics and which sports are open to athletes with visual impairments. For young readers who are not familiar with a particular sport in the story, each sport has a "Listen Up!" page that describes that sport in detail. The book is full of vibrant and colorful photos that show many children in full action, enjoying sports. The photos range from up high, on the top of a rock climbing wall, to below, deep in the water of a swimming pool. Erik Weihenmayer graciously wrote the inspirational foreword. The end of the book has advice from six elite athletes. The story is written for 4th grade reading level.

Relevance

APH made the decision to produce Everybody Plays! through APH's standardized process of product selection. Co-author Lauren Lieberman submitted the New Product Idea Submission form on September 11, 2008. The project leader and APH's reference and catalog librarian did a search and could not find any storybooks on the commercial market or within the field of blindness written at an elementary level to teach young children with visual impairments about sports and the Paralympics. APH published Going Places in 2005, but it is targeted for middle school children through adults. Feedback and requests from teachers at AAHPERD national conventions confirm the relevance of this product. The project leader presented the product idea to the Product Evaluation Team on November 25, 2008. The project was approved and forwarded to the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC). On December 8, 2008, PARC recommended that APH proceed with the development of the product.

Everybody Plays! is accessible to the population using it. It is available in large print and braille. Both versions come with a CD that contains accessible formats (HTML, DTB, and TEXT).

Everybody Plays! follows APH guidelines to determine relevance of a product. The product is relevant to the education and overall health of children who have visual impairment. Content standards state that elementary students assess and maintain a level of physical fitness to improve health and performance (California Department of Education, 2005). If a child does not know about sports that can help him or her maintain a needed level of physical fitness, then he or she is at a disadvantage.

APH examined the need for this product through a literature search and by feedback from parents and teachers at national conference and via e-mail messages. Literature states that children with visual impairments are behind their same-age peers with sight in motor skills (Lieberman & McHugh, 2001), and in play and social interactions (Celeste, 2006), all of which are addressed in sports. Several times the project leader has presented at and attended the National Family Conference and the AAHPERD convention. Sessions are full of parents and teachers who want information for their young learners about sports and sport camps. E-mail messages are frequently forwarded to the project leader when parents search for a sport camp for children with blindness. Since the project leader's initial literature search, a review of sports camps for children with special needs concluded that children with visual impairment at National Sports Education Camps increased their independence and self-esteem as a result of learning how to adapt play experiences (Clark & Nwokah, 2010).

The project leader and the authors sought opinions of knowledgeable individuals to determine the need for this product. Positive field test comments from teachers and students on a previous product that was targeted to middle and high school students prompted the project leader and the authors to consider a storybook for younger children. In addition, they identified seven individuals with visual impairments who are successful professionals and athletes. All of them embraced the project, felt it was important that young children be introduced to sports, and agreed (pro bono) to write a brief "word of advice" to our young readers.

Research

Field test data were gathered using an online evaluation form (Google Docs). The evaluation form included questions that require yes/no responses, a rating response of 1 to 5, and qualitative responses. Most questions included a space for comments. The braille, print, and electronic prototypes were field tested from October 4 to December 30, 2011.

The research data prompted several changes in the product completion. APH made additional edits in the foreword to align more with the 4th grade reading level. Two Listen Up! pages required edits for clarity and one to insert safety information. Several story pages required miscellaneous, one to two word edits. APH deleted the page about a professional baseball game because the photos did not express the action in the text and campers do not always get to attend a professional baseball game. APH inserted a page at the back of the book to introduce young readers to the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA).

Students found the metal rings on the braille bookbinder to be cumbersome and the rings interfered with the students' ability to read. APH will produce the final product with spiral binding and a full color, soft cover. APH will increase the margin on the binding side (embosser set up).

As requested by one of the authors, APH changed the one-photo front cover to a multiple-photo design. The pagination of the large print book was changed by the addition of a page at the beginning of the story so that each sport now begins on a left-hand page, which results in each sport's presentation viewed on an open spread. The reader no longer has to turn a page to finish reading about a sport. The foldout pages remain the same. Margins were altered on all pages to adjust for the pagination change. The large print book will remain a hard cover, perfect bound book, like commercially-available storybooks. No design changes were made on the HTML (electronic) version of the book.

Everybody Plays! follows APH research guidelines. There was an investigation of need, recruitment and use of qualified consultants (Katrina Arndt, Ph.D., and Chinwe Ikpeze, Ph.D.) for grade-level reading determination, universal design of materials, and field testing. Due to the parallel design of the storybook pages and the Listen Up! pages, it was beneficial to field test the HTML of the book; feedback determined that the design concept was workable and enjoyable for all children, with or without sight.

The research method collected quantitative and qualitative information.

Braille Book

Eight students read the braille version of Everybody Plays! On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = poor quality and 5 = excellent quality), the majority (50%) rated the braille quality as excellent. The remaining 50% split the quality between good and very good. The braille version was presented in a 3-ring binder. Three of the students recommended that the margin next to the three-hole punch be increased; they had difficulty reading the words that were close to the metal rings. One student recommended that APH use an alternative method of binding for the braille version.

The braille book is designed with the Listen Up! pages on 81/2 x 11" paper and the story pages on 111/2 x 11" paper. This provided the reader with the opportunity to skip the Listen Up! pages if the reader was already familiar with a sport and did not need the description of the sport. Five of the eight braille readers read every Listen Up! page. Only one student felt the Listen Up! pages interfered with the story. All eight (100%) feel that the Listen Up! pages are beneficial to the book. Teacher and student comments include the following:

My student thoroughly enjoyed the Listen Up! pages. She has not had a lot of exposure to sports and the pages provided her with more information - which in turn prompted lots of conversation and discussion!

The different size pages made it very easy for my student to identify the Listen Up! pages.

Student: The different size paper was confusing. The paper felt the same.

When my student was told to find a page number he would find it but then would not move the Listen Up! page out of the way and begin reading that instead of the page he was suppose to be on.

He knew the Listen Up! pages were smaller than the informative pages. He read all of the pages and did not skip any of the Listen Up sheets.


Large Print Book

Ten students read the large print version of Everybody Plays! Eight of the 10 read all the Listen Up! pages. Four of the print readers read the book a second time. The print book is designed so that the right-hand page is a foldout page. The Listen Up! page is on the inside of the foldout page. Readers have the option to skip the foldout pages. Like the braille version, only one print reader felt this design interfered with the story. One student wishes the 18-point type font was bigger and bolder. All 10 (100%) feel that the Listen Up! pages are beneficial to the book. Teacher and student comments include the following:

She enjoyed reading it all.

[My student] Commented after the first couple of Listen Up's that it didn't make since but then realized the set up of the book and had no more problems.

My student and I like the Listen Up information. We did not like the folding pages. Instead, I would recommend keeping the Listen Up information in the line of the text but starting new sports on their own pages.

I think the Listen Up! pages are the best part of the book.

That is the "Meat" of the book.


Electronic Book

Everybody Plays! is available in HTML; 12 of the students (braille and print readers) field tested the electronic format. The Listen Up! pages are designed as pop-up windows, so they are not seen or read (by the screen reader) until the reader clicks on the Listen Up! icon. If a reader does not wish to read the Listen Up! pages, then he or she just reads the story straight through without ever clicking the icon. Students who read the HTML were reading the story for the second time; they had already read the braille or large print version. This may explain why only five of the 12 readers clicked to read the Listen Up! windows. When asked if the design made it easy for the student to return to the storyline after reading the Listen Up! pages, 11 responded and 10 replied yes. Nine of the 11 who responded said that the Listen Up! pop-up windows are beneficial to the electronic book. The majority of field testers (64%) identified "Other" as their student's screen reader, but only two commented: one listed Zoomtext and the other wrote, "I don't know." Some students used Jaws (27%) and Non Visual Desktop Access (NVDA) (9%).

Teacher comments included the following:

When using JAWS everything was easily found under headings or links.

We did not realize that we had to use a screen reader to read the electronic version. I thought it was an audio CD and it would just play. Once we realized that we needed JAWS we did not have any further issues.


Reading

APH posted in the APH News that we were seeking large print and braille readers who read at the 4th grade reading level to field test Everybody Plays! The writing of Everybody Plays! was run through an analysis program to review length of words and number of syllables at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY. When asked if there are any specific words that proved too difficult for the 4th grade reading level of the student, nine (50%) responded no, seven (39%) responded yes, and two (11%) did not answer the question. One teacher commented that her student was too young to really read, one cited cognitive impairment, and another listed short attention span and limited reading ability as to why their students had difficulty reading at grade level. Refer to Table 1: Reading Levels of Students.

To measure student outcomes, prior to reading the book, field testers questioned their students about their knowledge of each sport shown in the book. After reading the book and in some cases trying the sport after reading about it, teachers questioned the students again about their knowledge of the sport. Both times, students rated their knowledge on a scale of 1= no knowledge to 5 = very knowledgeable. See Table 4: Student Outcomes. The students registered greater knowledge on all 21 sports.

Table 4: Student Outcomes

Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Archery  50%  6% 

 
39%  33% 

 
6%  33% 

 
6%  17% 

 
0%  6% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Athletics  44%  0% 

 
39%  17% 

 
17%  44% 

 
0%  28% 

 
0%  6% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Beep Baseball  50%  0% 

 
11%  22% 

 
22%  39% 

 
17%  22% 

 
0%  11% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Cycling  33%  0% 

 
22%  6% 

 
28%  56% 

 
17%  22% 

 
0%  11% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Dancing  17%  0% 

 
33%  0% 

 
22%  50% 

 
6%  22% 

 
22%  22% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Fishing  33%  0% 

 
28%  22% 

 
11%  39% 

 
11%  22% 

 
17%  11% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Goalball  67%  0% 

 
0%  11% 

 
17%  39% 

 
17%  39% 

 
0%  6% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Gymnastics  28%  0% 

 
39%  28% 

 
22%  50% 

 
0%  6% 

 
6%  11% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Hiking  17%  0% 

 
39%  11% 

 
39%  56% 

 
6%  17% 

 
0%  11% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Horseback Riding  17%  0% 

 
44%  11% 

 
6%  44% 

 
28%  28% 

 
6%  11% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Judo  83%  0% 

 
11%  39% 

 
6%  39% 

 
0%  17% 

 
0%  0% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Jumping Rope  22%  6% 

 
11%  11% 

 
28%  28% 

 
17%  17% 

 
22%  33% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Kayaking  61%  6% 

 
22%  22% 

 
6%  44% 

 
11%  11% 

 
0%  11% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Obstacle Course  17%  0% 

 
33%  0% 

 
22%  44% 

 
6%  22% 

 
22%  28% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Rock Climbing  39%  6% 

 
44%  17% 

 
0%  33% 

 
17%  33% 

 
0%  6% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Roller Lading  39%  6% 

 
33%  17% 

 
22%  44% 

 
6%  22% 

 
0%  6% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Showdown  94%  11% 

 
0%  28% 

 
6%  33% 

 
0%  17% 

 
0%  6% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Soccer  17%  0% 

 
22%  11% 

 
39%  44% 

 
11%  17% 

 
11%  22% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Swimming  11%  6% 

 
17%  6% 

 
39%  39% 

 
17%  11% 

 
17%  33% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Twister  56%  6% 

 
11%  28% 

 
11%  28% 

 
6%  6% 

 
17%  28% 
Sport/Activity Rating Prior After
Virtual Tennis  94%  17% 

 
6%  22% 

 
0%  33% 

 
0%  17% 

 
0%  6% 

Prior to reading Everybody Plays!, seven (38%) readers could name at least one Paralympic sport; of them, two could name five. After reading Everybody Plays!, 16 (89%) readers could name at least one Paralympic sport and six of them could name five or more. One student named them all.

Data were gathered from a geographically diverse U.S. population. Nine adults who work with 18 children in six states (CT, IA, IL, OH, PA, and TX) field tested the prototype for 3 months.

Data were gathered from qualified individuals. The adults included a parent, physical therapist, orientation and mobility specialist, physical education teacher, and five teachers of students with visual impairments. The teachers used their prototypes in public schools; the parent used it at home. One field tester has 28 years of experience teaching children with visual impairments, and another only has 3 years; on average, the field testers have 10 years of experience working with children who have visual impairments or blindness. Seven (39%) of the field testers incorporated Everybody Plays! into the student's independent education program (IEP).

Data were gathered from an adequate number of sources. Ten female students and eight male students read Everybody Plays! The students ranged in age from 6 years to 17 years old. Their cognitive level is from 3 years to 17 years. The proposal to field test the storybook stated that the story was written at the 4th grade reading level, but only 28% of the students read at that level. See Table 1: Reading Level of Students

Table 1: Reading Levels of Students

Reading Level

 

No. of Students

 

Beginning to recognize braille letters

 

1

 

Kindergarten

 

3

 

3rd grade

 

3

 

4th grade

 

5

 

5th grade

 

2

 

6th grade

 

2

 

8th grade

 

1

 

12th grade

 

1

 

The students' eye conditions included anophthalmia, Lowe syndrome, maculophathy, microphthalmia, nystagmus, optic nerve hypoplasia, partial achromotopsia, pseudophakia, retinal blastoma, and strabismus. The majority of the students have near low vision (56%), closely followed by far low vision (44%). See Table 2: Students' Vision. Respondents could select more than one answer, so the total exceeds 100%. A student could have low vision accompanied by a limited visual field.

Table 2: Students' Vision

Vision

 

No. of Students

 

Percentage

 

Blind

 

4

 

22%

 

Light perception only

 

2

 

11%

 

Perception of finger movement

 

0

 

0%

 

Low vision (near)

 

10

 

56%

 

Low vision (far)

 

8

 

44%

 

Limited visual field

 

6

 

33%

 

Although this storybook is not specifically targeted for children who have visual and multiple impairments, most of the students in this field test did have an additional impairment-predominantly limited motor skills and intellectual disability. Three students had no other handicapping condition, and the question was left blank on five of the student forms. See Table 3: Additional Handicapping Conditions. Again, respondents could select more than one answer, so the total exceeds 100%.

Table 3: Additional Handicapping Conditions

Condition

 

No. of Students

 

Percentage

 

Autism Spectrum Disorder

 

1

 

8%

 

CHARGE Syndrome

 

0

 

0%

 

cerebral palsy

 

1

 

8%

 

deafblindness

 

0

 

0%

 

dyspraxia

 

0

 

0%

 

hearing impairment

 

1

 

8%

 

intellectual disability

 

5

 

38%

 

limited fine motor skills

 

5

 

38%

 

limited gross motor skills

 

5

 

38%

 

Usher Syndrome

 

0

 

0%

 

None*

 

3

 

23%

 

Other**

 

5

 

38%

 

*Five respondents did not answer.

**Sensory needs, ADHD, mental health diagnosis

Of the 18 students, 39% are braille readers, 61% are large print readers, and 33% read standard print with a magnification device. Some students may use more than one reading medium.

The majority (89%) of the 18 students who read Everybody Plays! said they enjoyed reading the book. Most teachers (78%) said that their student(s) had a new or refreshed interest in playing sports after reading the story.

She was emphatic that she will not wear a bike helmet when it's time for tandem biking but she is willing to try everything.

Every week when I introduce a new topic he wants to review all the previous activities.

Physical activity is a big challenge for this boy and he will likely fight exercise to the day he graduates, but I do think he enjoyed getting to work with his classmates. More importantly those around him have included the young man in exercise [and] like it or not he his getting regular doses of exercise.

He became increasingly comfortable with activity and began spontaneously demonstrating skills-like dropping to the floor and crawling on the day after we did obstacle course. He became aware of where the balls with bells were stored in his classroom and became good at retrieving them.

She has been nervous to do some active sports such as soccer because of the limited vision...but has been more involved when she is feeling good.

My student now wants to play sports. Her activity level has been rather low, so this is a good thing. I plan to share some of the information about some of the adaptive games with the PE teacher and the Adaptive PE teacher, so that they can hopefully incorporate some of the activities into their programs.

He has made comments that he will ask his parents if he can do a particular sport at home and he has shared some interesting sports with the PE teacher as ideas for them to play.

He is an active young man and stated several times that he would like to attend the sports camp.

It was hard to get his interest at first. He has so much homework. I think testing books would be much better in a school setting than at home because of all the other things he had to do. [parent comment]

She is now pestering her parents to let her take horseback riding lessons again-a good thing!!

All 18 teachers recommended that APH publish the large print book and the braille book; 15 recommended including the electronic version in the hardcopy books. They all said that they would recommend that their school or agency purchase Everybody Plays!

Work planned for FY 2013

Everybody Plays! is complete. It is in queue on the APH production floor.

Gross Motor Development Study and Curriculum

(Continued)


Alt tag: 1) A coach uses verbal instruction and physical guidance to teach a young runner proper arm movement for running. 2) 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 are visually impaired, and to develop a comprehensive curriculum for teachers, parents, and specialists

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Physical Education Project Leader

Lauren Lieberman, Consultant and Principle Investigator

Pamela Haibach, Investigator

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Advisory/Review Team

Karen Blankenship

Monica Lepore

Marla Runyan

Kari Smoker

Erin Weaver

Background

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 children were filmed while they performed 12 gross motor skills: six demonstrated object control, and six demonstrated locomotor ability. Data was collected from 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 Gross Motor Development Curriculum.

Relevance

APH made the decision to produce this product based on a standardized process of product selection. The product idea was submitted by Lauren Lieberman, Professor, The Brockport College at SUNY, on March 15, 2011. The project leader presented the product submission to the Product Evaluation Team (PET) on April 6, 2011. PET voted to move the project (study, curriculum, and video) forward. On April 13, 2011, the Product Advisory and Review Committee approved the multi-phase project, and it was assigned grant #490.

This product will be fully accessible to the population who will use it. In order to meet APH requirements for accessibility, the Gross Motor Development Curriculum will be available in print, BRF, TEXT, HTML, and DTB. The video will include closed-captioning and narrative description.

Gross Motor Development Curriculum follows APH guidelines to determine relevance of a product. The nine components of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) can be met with 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. Social interaction skills are not learned casually and incidentally by persons who are blind as they are by persons with sight; skills must be carefully, consciously, and sequentially taught. 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.

APH examined the need for this product three ways. 1) The project leader talked with the co-author who submitted the product idea. She 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 the skill before they are tested on it, students with visual impairment are at a disadvantage. 2) The authors and project leader sought the opinions of knowledgeable individuals to determine the need for this product. The product idea and sample outline were given to university professors, teachers of students with visual impairment, and parents. Seven of these individuals-one a 2X Olympian-agreed to participate as curriculum reviewers. 3) The authors and project leader conducted a literature review.

Houwen, S., Hartman, E., & Visscher, C. (2009). Physical activity and motor skills in children with and without visual impairments. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41, 103-109.

Houwen, S., Hartman, E., Jonker, L., & Visscher, C. (2010). Reliability and validity of the TGMD-2 in primary-school-age children with visual impairments. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 27, 143-159.

Houwen, S., Visscher, C., Lemmink, K. A. P. M., & Hartman, E. (2008). Motor skill performance of school-age children with visual impairments. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 50, 139-145. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8749.2007.02016.x

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

Jazi, S. D., Purrajabi, F., Movahedi, A., & Jalali, S. (2012). Effect of selected balance exercises on the dynamic balance of children with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 106, 466-474.

Winnick, J. P., & Lavay, B. W. (2005). Perceptual-Motor development. In J. P. Winnick (Ed.), Adapted physical education and sport (pp. 359-372). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

This product helps to address an identified need for a person who meets the definition of "visually impaired." Persons with sight learn motor development skills casually and incidentally by first seeing and then watching other people perform these skills. This curriculum provides teachers with the step-by-step approach to pre-teach their students locomotor and object control skills prior to assessment day. 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.

Work during FY 2012

The authors completed the manuscript, and it was reviewed by the advisory panel. A draft of the video manuscript was created. The curriculum photography was taken at Camp Abilities (NY) and at the National Family Conference (MA). The video was filmed at camp.

Work planned for FY 2013

The product will be field tested. The design and layout of the curriculum will take place, along with video editing, descriptive narration, and subtitling. The authors will finalize the research article from this research and submit it to Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly (APAQ).

MyPlate

(New)

Purpose

To develop a visual and tactile model of MyPlate, the nutrition guide created by the Nutrition Center at the United States Department of Agriculture

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Physical Education Project Leader

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Background

The U.S. Government-with the help of First Lady Michelle Obama-introduced MyPlate in June 2011 to replace MyPyramid. MyPlate is the official nutrition icon of the First Lady's "Let's Move!-America's Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids"initiative.APH manufactured tactile versions of MyPyramid because students are tested on the nutrition information on MyPyramid. Students will now be tested on MyPlate nutritional information.

Work during FY 2012

The project leader conducted a Product Development Committee meeting on January 4, 2012. Staff from research, field services, and tactile graphics attended the brainstorming session. Physical Education Consultant Lauren Lieberman, Professor, The College at Brockport, SUNY, attended the meeting while she was at APH working on another project.

Work planned for FY 2013

Sample lessons and prototypes will be created.

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

Tristan Pierce, Physical Education Project Leader

Inge Formenti, Librarian

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Background

APH funded a 3-year study on parent-child physical activity intervention among families of children with visual impairments. During year three of the study, APH produced a resource manual for the participating families. Upon completion of the study, it was recommended that APH make the information available on its website. The original resource manual was updated and made available on the APH Web site. Viewers can navigate between PE programs, organizations, articles, books, equipment, events, magazines, mailing lists, national services, regional and state services, sport camps, switches, toys and games, and websites. This is a live document; viewers can submit items to be reviewed for placement on the Web site: http://www.aph.org/pe/index.html

Work during FY 2012

The project leader and project assistant conducted a complete review of the PE Web site and updated all content.

Work planned for FY 2013

Two new features are planned for the upcoming year: 1) a week at a sports camp video and 2) an Adapted Physical Education contact list by state.

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

Tristan Pierce, Physical Education Project Leader

Background

APH recognized the need and began to develop products and fund university research in the area of physical activity in relation to students who have visual impairments, blindness, and deafblindness. The positive feedback from the field prompted a new designation in the budget for Health and Physical Education, a core curriculum subject. Since the inception of the Physical Education and Health Special Projects and Needs, APH has completed and made available seven new products for this topic area.

Work during FY 2012

The project leader continued to maintain the PE Web site and to work on Everybody Plays!, Gross Motor Development Curriculum, and Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box. The project leader prepared a PowerPoint presentation on adapted sports equipment for the 2012 AAHPERD convention, which Lauren Lieberman presented for APH as part of a daylong, pre-conference workshop.

Work planned for FY 2013

Work will continue on the Gross Motor Development Curriculum and Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box, plus new features and menu pages for the PE Web site.

Visually Impaired Yoga Mat (VIYM)

(Discontinued)

Purpose

To research if using a tactile yoga mat is beneficial to a person who is blind and wishes to learn yoga

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Physical Education Project Leader

Tracy Curly, Inventor and Consultant

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Background

A certified yoga instructor developed and manufactured the Visually Impaired Yoga Mat. She field tested it at the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired and the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Both field test sites have posted on her website that they like the product and found it beneficial to the students. APH was interested to know if adults who take community-based yoga classes are comfortable using the tactile mat and if they find it beneficial. The mat comes with instructional DVDs. In 2011, APH developed an MP3 file of the instructional DVDs' narration so individuals who have blindness could field test the product. Community-based field testing was conducted but did not provide enough data for APH to continue with the project. In 2012, the project leader contacted residential schools for the blind that used the special mat within their physical education curriculum to determine if APH should continue with the project. One school submitted a positive response, but APH did not hear from other schools. The inventor of the mat decided to seek someone to lease her patent. The small volume of continued sales made future production unlikely. APH chose to discontinue development of this product. APH gave the MP3 file to the inventor and created a Features page on the PE Web site to promote the product and help the inventor sell her remaining product inventory.



READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS



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

Jeanette Wicker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Cay Holbrook, Consultant

Anna Swenson, Consultant

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Michael McDonald, Programmer

Rodger Smith, Programmer

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 SunshineTM 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 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 be added 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 are now 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 selecting 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.

Work during FY 2012

The 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.

Work planned for FY 2013

Seventy-five books at the first grade level are now available for TVIs to use with emerging braille readers. The original goal of the project was to make at least 100 books available in braille at the first grade reading level. A survey will be conducted in the fall of 2012 to determine the need for additional books at the first grade level. The survey will ask participants to determine the need for additional sets and if needed a new publisher for the next series.





Magnetic Dolch Word Wall

(Continued)


Alt Tag: Front binder art of Magnetic Dolch Word Wall

Purpose

To offer a magnetic set of Dolch Words for use with APH's ALL-IN-ONE Board for a myriad of activities by large print and braille readers. The size of the labels would be much smaller than APH's existing Dolch Word Cards that currently measure 3.5" x 2" and serve primarily as flashcards. The "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 Dolch Word Cards.]

Project Staf

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Anthony Slowinski, Graphic Designer

Background

Dolch Words are the 220 most common words found in children's literature and are based upon research conducted by Edward Dolch in the 1940s. 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 format will make reading and construction of words and sentences more compact, versatile, and interactive. Target populations 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® attachments 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.

Work during FY 2012

The preparation of print/braille labels needed for the field test of the Magnetic Dolch Word Wall was tackled intermittently throughout the year 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 indentifying 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 and used to cold form the braille into .005" clear and yellow vinyl. Formed sheets were then laminated to white-coated magnetic sheets and cut apart into separate labels.

Less labor-intensive tasks involved the project leader ordering and collating other prototype components including three-ring storage binders, magnetic notebook pages, zipper pouches, etc. Two lengths of blue magnetic strips (eight of each type) were provided in the prototype kit to accommodate 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. The prototype also includes an Instruction Booklet, authored by the project leader, that gives basic starter ideas for using the labels. The finishing touch-an attractive binder insert-was created by the in-house graphic designer.

Work planned for FY 2013

Field testing of the Magnetic Dolch Word Wall will likely occur in the first quarter of the fiscal year. Teachers who currently use APH's ALL-IN-ONE Board or (SM)ALL-IN-ONE Board, as well as BOP users, will be ideal field evaluators.

Wilson Reading System

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a remedial reading program for students with visual impairments

Project Staff

Jeanette Wicker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Cheryl Kamei Hannan, Consultant

Mary McCarthy, Consultant

Justine Carlone Rines, Consultant

Rosalind Rowley, Consultant

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

Rod Dixon, Manufacturing Specialist

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

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, Arizona, 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 committees in July 2006. Three teachers from Perkins School for the Blind, Justine Rines, Mary McCarty, 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, & 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 reader 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 was begun 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 day Web Training was held on August 30, 31, and September 1. The three consultants from Perkins (Rowley, Mccarty, 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. Hannan trained teachers in the use of data collection tools that will 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.

Work during FY 2012

Dr. 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 CEC 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 the work of revising the prototypes.

Work planned for FY 2013

Project staff will complete the revisions to the readers, workbooks, modified workbooks, supplemental worksheets, letter tiles, and word cards. Specifications for production will be prepared, and the process will begin to make all materials available for sale.



SCIENCE



4-Box Tactile Punnett Square

(New)

Purpose

To provide tactile/bold-line versions of the 4-box Punnett Square worksheet for students with low vision or blindness to use in biology classes alongside their sighted peers; this version of the Punnett Square assists students to determine the outcome of single factor genetic crosses. These consumable worksheets are designed for use with any braillewriter that accepts 8.5" x 11" paper and will save time for the TVI, classroom teacher, and student.

Project Staff

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Rod Dixon, Manufacturing Specialist

Background

The Punnett Square is a tool used by biologists now and since the early 1900s to predict the outcome of genetic crossings. A 4-box Punnett Square predicts the probabilities of offspring genotypes of a single factor parental cross (e.g., green vs. yellow pea seed color). Punnett Squares are simple to draw, but producing blank tactile versions for student use takes time away from teachers and students. The lack of commercial availability of tactile/bold-line versions of these worksheets coupled with requests from the field for these educational materials support product development.

Work during FY 2012

The preliminary product design featured two tactile/bold-line 4-box Punnett Squares per page, leaving room on all sides for brailling the details of a genetic cross. In the spring of 2012, field test responses were solicited online from a pool of TVIs with experience evaluating APH science product prototypes. TVIs provided product format preferences including paper size, number of Punnett Squares per page, and number of worksheets per pack. The product consists of a resealable envelope containing 25 sheets of 8.5" x 11" braille paper embossed with two 4-box Punnett Squares each. Each embossed Punnett Square is outlined with bold black lines with exact registration. Tooling began.

Work planned for FY 2013

When tooling is complete and sample worksheets are approved, the 4-Box Tactile Punnett Square will be placed in the production queue. This product is eligible for Quota approval and is expected to be available for sale in FY 2013.

16-Box Tactile Punnett Square

(New)

Purpose

To provide tactile/bold-line versions of the 16-box Punnett Square worksheet for students with low vision or blindness to use in biology classes alongside their sighted peers, particularly those in advanced classes such as Advanced Placement Biology. This version of the Punnett Square assists students to determine the outcome of two-factor genetic crosses. These consumable worksheets are designed for use with any braillewriter that accepts 11.5" x 11" paper and will save time for the TVI, classroom teacher, and student.

Project Staff

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Rod Dixon, Manufacturing Specialist

Background

The Punnett Square is a tool used by biologists now and since the early 1900s to help predict the outcome of genetic crossings. A 16-box Punnett Square predicts offspring genotype probabilities of a two-factor parental cross (e.g., green vs. yellow pea seed color and smooth vs. wrinkled pea seed shape). Clearly, it is even more time-consuming to prepare tactile/bold-line 16-box Punnett Squares than 4-box versions. The lack of commercial availability of tactile/bold-line versions of these worksheets coupled with requests from the field for these educational materials support product development.

Work during FY 2012

The size required for each box (eight cells across) of the 16-box Punnett Square limits the design to one 16-box Punnett Square per worksheet to allow room above, below, and to the left of the square for brailling the details of the genetic cross. In the spring of 2012, field test responses were solicited online from a pool of TVIs with experience in evaluating APH science product prototypes. TVIs provided recommendations for paper size (11.5" x 11" vs. 8.5" x 11") and the number of worksheets per pack. The product consists of a resealable envelope containing 25 sheets of 11.5" x 11" braille paper embossed with one 16-box Punnett Square per worksheet. Each embossed Punnett Square is outlined with bold black lines with exact registration. Tooling began.

Work planned for FY 2013

When tooling is complete and sample worksheets are approved, the 16-Box Tactile Punnett Square will be placed in the production queue. This product is eligible for Quota approval and is expected to be available for sale in FY 2013.

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

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Tony Grantz, Product and Services Consultant

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Marshall Montgomery, Consultant

Linda De Lucchi, Co-Director, Full Option Science System (FOSS), Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS)

Mathew Bacon, Vice President of Product Development, Delta Education

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 are available from LHS and used in association with the SAVI, SELPH (Science Enrichment for Learners with Physical Handicaps), and FOSS (Full Option Science System) programs. Nevertheless, access to these tools has lost visibility, which was brought to the attention of APH by more than one TVI. APH plans to kit all of these time-tested science measurement tools into one product along with other measurement aids; advertising them as such should correct this apparent invisibility.

ASMK consists of a booklet that describes each item and its use and the following 17 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 scale/float; 7) two 100-ml graduated cylinders with braille scale/float; 8) large print braille tactile meter tape; 9) 50-ml syringe with stop; 10) 50-ml syringe modified with notches; 11) histogram board with tactile stickers; 12) funnel stand; 13) two tray inserts of APH Multi-Section Tray; 14) talking Fahrenheit/Centigrade thermometer; 15) tactile/braille 1.5-meter tape; 16) Large Print Braille Genetic Code; and 17) Adapting Science for Students With Visual Impairments (ASSVI).

Most measurement items in the ASMK have been field tested and used successfully for over three decades. Others are, or will be, established APH products (talking Fahrenheit/Centigrade thermometer, ASSVI, tray inserts of the APH Multi-Section tray, Large Print Braille Genetic Code) or approved by expert reviewers (tactile/braille 1.5 meter tape). ASMK will be produced without additional field testing.

Work during FY 2012

As previously described, most measurement items come direct from Delta Education. Because of problems with the battery housing, the tone generator is no longer included. The talking Fahrenheit/Centigrade thermometer (Thermoworks, Inc.) is an item already available for separate purchase in the APH catalog; this item ships from the same vendor. ASSVI is an established APH product detailing the adaptation of science measurement devices for students who are visually impaired; one of these manuals is included. Two inserts of the APH Multi-Section Tray, also an established APH product, replace the sorting tray originally made for LHS by Marshall Montgomery.

Most work during FY 2012 centered on establishing sources for custom kit items or the materials to make them. APH has started tooling for the histogram board for production at APH, an item originally manufactured by Montgomery.

Several materials for the 50-ml and 100-ml braille floats (to be packaged with the corresponding graduated cylinders) and the large print braille meter tape have been recommended. When deemed CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) compliant, tooling will begin for these items for production either by APH or Montgomery.

The project leader sought and found a 1.5-meter tactile/braille measuring tape in Vienna, Austria (CareTek International). This item will be included in the kit pending CPSIA compliance.

Tooling is almost complete for a new product, the Large Print Braille Genetic Code, at APH (see separate report for this project). This product will be available as a separate catalog item from APH; one unit will be included in each kit.

Work planned for FY 2013

Materials identified for the production of custom kit items must be tested for CPSIA compliance. New materials will be sought if those under consideration are not appropriate for the 50-ml and 100-ml braille floats and the large print braille meter tape. Acceptable materials will be shipped to Montgomery for the production of these items if APH is unable to manufacture them.

If the 1.5-meter tactile/braille measuring tape from CareTek International is unacceptable per CPSIA, it will be eliminated from the kit.

The project leader will write a brief booklet describing all items in the kit.



DNA Twist

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide students who are visually impaired with a model of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) that demonstrates its chemical structure as well as the 3-dimensional double helix shape

Project Staff

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Andrew Dakin, Model Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Background

In 2010, the project leader developed a DNA model after viewing an educational science film from NOVA. The model is unique in that it changes from a 2-dimensional ladder shape to a 3-dimensional double helix with a simple twist. Furthermore, the model remains stable and fixed when it is in either the ladder shape or the double helix. The model also demonstrates base-pairing rules within the ladder rungs using color and texture, making all aspects of the model accessible to students with low vision or blindness. Andrew Dakin made a prototype of the model, which was presented in a poster session at the 2010 APH Annual Meeting. Positive feedback from meeting participants supported design of several more prototypes and ultimately product development.

Work during FY 2012

Andrew Dakin constructed prototypes with materials recommended for students who are blind or who have low vision: white foam side bars were fitted with 10 "rungs" of two different color and texture pairings: bumpy blue and smooth yellow, and sandy white and banded tan. Eleven teachers and 39 middle and high school students from nine different states and Canada participated in field evaluation during late fall 2011. Student and teacher evaluators expressed enthusiasm about the instructional value of the model and suggested minor changes for the actual product.

Rung color contrast and tactile patterns were enhanced. A manufacturer suitable for the production of the rungs was identified. Dakin designed a thermoformed stand that allows the model to remain upright in its twisted configuration. An Instruction Booklet with photographs was submitted to graphic designers for layout in July 2012.

Work planned for 2013

Instruction Booklet graphic design will be completed; braille translation will take place after approval of the printed booklet. After receipt of the rungs from the manufacturer, complete models will be assembled with foam side bars at APH; stands will be thermoformed at APH. The complete product will include the model, a stand, large print Instruction Booklet, and non-slip adhesive backing for the stand.

The DNA Twist will be available on Quota.

DNA-RNA Kit

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide students who are visually impaired with an interactive model of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) and Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) that demonstrates DNA structure and replication and its transcription to messenger RNA (mRNA)

Project Staff

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Andrew Dakin, Model Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Background

The general educational materials market lacks an interactive DNA and RNA model suitable for students with blindness or low vision. The project leader and Andrew Dakin designed an interactive model consisting of jigsaw puzzle-like pieces representing individual subunits, or nucleotides, of DNA and RNA for demonstration at the poster session during APH's 2010 Annual Meeting. The subunits are made of die-cut, 1/4-inch foam pieces covered with thermoformed laminate of different colors and textures. Meeting participants could see how the DNA subunits linked together to form single and double strands. The model also demonstrated how mRNA is formed from a DNA template. Participant feedback was positive and provided support for product development.

Work during FY 2012

Andrew Dakin prepared 11 sets of prototypes of this model for field testing in the fall of 2011. Thirteen teachers and 45 middle and high school students from nine states and Canada participated in prototype evaluation and made suggestions for model improvement.

Color contrast and tactile markings distinguishing the different DNA and RNA subunits were enhanced. The shape of the interlocking blanks and corresponding tabs of the nucleotide subunits were modified to ease attachment and detachment.

A guidebook detailing how to use the product was submitted to the graphic designer in August 2012.

Work planned for FY 2013

After completing the appropriate drawings, bids for a die to cut the foam nucleotide subunits will be submitted and a vendor identified. Molds for vacuum-forming the laminate will be prepared at APH. All parts of the kit will be produced at APH, including the guidebook.

The project leader awaits layout of the large print DNA-RNA Kit Guidebook, submitted to the graphic designer in August 2012. Braille translation will take place after approval of the printed guidebook. A braille accessibility file of the guidebook will be made available for free download.

The complete product will consist of 32 interlocking foam and laminate DNA subunits, 20 interlocking foam and laminate RNA subunits, and a large print DNA-RNA Kit Guidebook.

The DNA-RNA Kit will be available on Quota.

Large Print Braille Genetic Code

(New)

Purpose

To provide the genetic code table in large print and braille, making it accessible to students with low vision or who are totally blind; the reformatted table facilitates the introduction of molecular biology concepts by TVIs and classroom teachers and will save time in the preparation of these lessons.

Project Staff

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Rod Dixon, Manufacturing Specialist

Cathy Senft-Graves, Research Assistant and Certified Braille Transcriber

Background

The genetic code table, in use by scientists since the early 1960s, is a reference chart found in high school and college biology textbooks. The code reveals the meaning of the nucleotide sequence found in DNA: the identity and order of amino acids that form the building blocks of all proteins in living organisms. The genetic code table is typically presented in abbreviated form and does not lend itself to direct braille transcription. Requests from TVIs in the field for a braille version of the genetic code in a simpler tabular form prompted the development of this product.

Work during FY 2012

The genetic code table typical of biology textbooks was reformatted and transcribed; it is now four pages long and very easy to use. In the spring of 2012, a one-page excerpt of the new format was sent to a pool of TVIs with experience evaluating APH science product prototypes. TVIs provided feedback regarding format, preferred braille medium (paper or thermoformed plastic), and number of tables per pack. The reformatted Large Print Braille Genetic Code was enthusiastically received. It consists of 10 sets of the four-page genetic code table in large print and braille, printed and embossed on white 11.5" x 11" regular braille paper and packaged in a resealable plastic envelope. Tooling for this product began.

Work planned for FY 2013

When tooling is complete and sample units are approved, the Large Print Braille Genetic Code will be placed in the production queue. This product is eligible for Quota approval and is expected to be available for sale in FY 2013.

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

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Larry Skutchan, Technology Project Leader

Cary Supalo, President; Independence Science, LLC

Mark Swain, Electrical Engineer; Precision Circuit, LLC

Ron Supalo, Project Manager; Independence Science, LLC

Mick Isaacson, Director of Research & Development; Independence Science, LLC

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, allowing them to be active participants in science experiments rather than passive observers.

The first prototype of SALS was developed in 2005 by a team led by Dr. Cary Supalo 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). Dr. 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. SALS was field tested with students who participated in the ILAB project over a 3-year period. During this time, feedback from student field testers was 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. The current prototype was completed in 2009.

The SALS device consists of a light-detecting probe (photocell contained within a glass wand) connected to a tone output 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, are immediately converted to pitch changes of sound output over a range of several octaves. For example, when a precipitate (solid) forms, less and less light is detected by the probe. Within the tone output 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 output box of the current prototype allows the user to listen to and store pitch data and compare a current pitch to a reference pitch. Voice output capability further enhances data retrieval and manipulation. In spite of many improvements over the past 6 years, the need for a more versatile and state-of-the-art device is clear, prompting this redesign effort.

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

As detailed in the SALS Redesign Proposal submitted by Mark Swain in April 2011, APH supports the following engineering changes in the SALS tone output 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 (for sensors other than a light-detecting probe, such as for pressure, temperature, acceleration, etc.). A July 2011 update to the proposal added modification of the SALS tone output box for Universal Serial Bus (USB) capability, thus permitting the use of an external flash/thumb drive. This feature facilitates the following: speech data programming; mass data storage during an experiment and exportability to Microsoft® Excel; software upgrades, eliminating the need to return units 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 impacts both the development time (a 60-day increase) and final prototype cost ($14.00 per unit), it is appropriate given the benefits.

The SALS device is eligible for Quota approval. APH will be the sole distributor of this product.

Work during FY 2012

Contract negotiations between Independence Science and APH were complete in November 2011, allowing Mark Swain to begin work on the first device prototype. Mechanical, electrical, and software requirements were defined in December 2011. Most of the mechanical and electrical designs, including CADD (Computer Assisted Design & Drafting) renderings of the device housing, were completed between January and May 2012. Preliminary software development, including USB, speech, and tone generation, were completed by August 2012. Some features, such as the housing, electrical layout, data acquisition, and operating system, require completion before the first prototype can be built.

Work planned for FY 2013

Design review and testing of prototype components are scheduled to take place toward the end of October 2012. The estimated work schedule as outlined in the SALS Redesign Proposal projects the completion of the first SALS prototype in January 2013. Testing and design modification will take place in February 2013. The remaining four SALS prototypes are projected to be complete by July 2013. Mick Isaacson will prepare the field test materials, and the project leader will identify and contact field test sites. The five SALS units will be shipped to the identified sites, thus commencing the field evaluation process.



Tactile Science Posters/Puzzles

(Continued)


Alt Tag: Image of anterior view of human skeleton as shown in poster

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Katherine Corcoran, Pattern/Model Maker

Bisig Impact Group, Graphic Designer

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, etc., 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 3-D skeleton model to complement and reinforce the poster's content. Although contact with 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.

Work during FY 2012

Throughout the year, 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. These issues are expected to be circumvented in final production by eventual offset-printing of the posters by an outside vendor and use of .010 vinyl conducive to accurate registration of print/tactile images-a material identified during the production of Giant Textured Beads for Pattern Matching Cards [see separate report].

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® 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 3-D 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.

By the end of the fiscal year, the project leader had contacted 18 field test sites and formulated an evaluation package to gather student outcome data.

Work planned for FY 2013

Field testing of the skeleton poster will occur in the first quarter of the fiscal year. Revisions to the poster's design and related components will be made based upon field evaluator feedback. Necessary pre-production tasks will be undertaken including hard tooling construction, the layout of accompanying documentation and interactive labels, and the product specifications. Depending upon the popularity of the prototype, the project leader will initiate development of additional tactile/print posters, likely to be titled Label & Learn Posters.



SOCIAL STUDIES



Address: Earth -- Large Format Atlas, Section 2

(Continued)

Alt tag: 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 (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 is on track to be produced next.

Project Staff

J. Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Robert Forbes, Project Consultant/University Liaison

Matt Smith, Cartographer

Carie Ernst, Cartographer

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Jeffrey Lucas, Expert/Writer

David Pepper, Expert/Writer

Phillip Cantrell, Expert/Writer

Anu Sabhlok, Expert/Writer

Iman Azzi, Expert/Writer

James Erwin, Expert/Writer

Carol Hanchette, Expert/Writer

Andrew Novak, Expert/Writer

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

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 (ArcView). 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 first section; it was completed and made available in September 2007. In 2007, the project leader and department director decided to contact geography and history experts to write the units. Most were professors of geography and social sciences at 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.

In FY 2011, Address: Earth, Section 2 was field tested. Content was refined based upon field test data. Final content for four of six chapters was approved. Final content of the Maps and Charts books was approved. Finalization of the last two text chapters, documentation, and tooling commenced.

Work during FY 2012

Texts were subjected to a number of tests to ensure appropriate language, punctuation, and usage. Text edits and photo acquisition for Section II was completed. Maps were edited and redrawn. A new Symbol Guide was developed. Clean files were generated and submitted for braille translation.

Work planned for FY 2013

As soon as Section 2 is in production, editing of the chapters in Section 3 will commence, as will photo permissions and sidebar development. Edits, development, and layout of the first 10 chapters will take place. Schedules will be drawn up by project staff.

Tactile World Globe

(New)

Purpose

To update APH's Globe: Tactile and Visual by applying a topographical relief and braille labels for continents, oceans, and latitude/longitude lines

Alt tag: The APH Globe: Tactile and Visual

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Tom Poppe, Pattern/Model Maker

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; study 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."

The 30" 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 catalog. Some of the original production copies of this globe are still displayed and used throughout the country in residential schools for the blind.

Alt tag: The APH 30-inch Relief 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].

Alt tag: The APH Geophysical Globe

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 staff 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 (e.g., Leap Frog® and Odyssey® editions) 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.

Work during FY 2012

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. The model/pattern maker 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.

Work planned for FY 2013

Once the updated globe design is taken through the paces of expected manufacturing processes and verified successful, multiple prototypes of the new tactile design of the world globe will be built. Feedback will be collected from teachers and students, including those who use the current APH globe. Alterations to the prototype design, if any, will be guided by evaluator feedback. The project staff will usher the product through the post-field test stages of production tooling and specifications. Production and introduction of the new globe will likely occur in FY 2014.

U.S. & Canada Tactile/Print Atlas

Formerly U.S. & Canada Basic Atlas

(Continued)

Purpose

To produce new volumes of high-quality tactile thematic maps by continuing a partnership with The Princeton Braillists

Project Staff

Fred Otto, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Nancy Amick, The Princeton Braillists, Tactile Map Design

Background

An earlier collaboration with The Princeton Braillists resulted in the product World Maps, which has been well received. This project aims to address a deficiency in APH's offerings of detailed thematic maps showing land use, elevation, major cities, and so on. It is based on the multi-volume set Northern North America by The Princeton Braillists, but has fewer and simpler maps and will be contained in one volume.

A major advance represented in this volume is the addition of color and print maps, making it more accessible to low vision or sighted students and teachers. The medium on which the tactile maps must be produced for best readability-a thin vinyl-limited the methods by which the print maps could be provided. Through various trials, project staff decided to produce the tactile maps on a clear vinyl and the print maps as paper underlay sheets. These will be put in a binder so that pages can be removed as desired. The chosen format also has the advantage of using all in-house processes, so no coordination with outside vendors is needed.

The project leader and Ms. Amick agreed on the maps to be included and the simplifications needed for each. The model maker created vacuum-form patterns, poured molds, and revised the production patterns.

Because the content of the maps was already determined, a full field evaluation was deemed unnecessary; an expert review of several representative maps with the clear map/print underlay format was conducted. The expert reviews were positive and helpful to determine the changes needed in format and coloring. The project leader colored the remainder of the map scans accordingly.

The project came to a halt when the project leader sent Ms. Amick a sample set of the maps in their proposed final format. It was Ms. Amick's opinion that the tactual quality of her original maps was compromised by production on the clear material, and she expressed reluctance to remain associated with the product.

To investigate these concerns, the project leader devised and conducted another field evaluation focused solely on tactual readability. The tasks in the evaluation assessed students' ability to locate or identify specific tactile features on the maps, using a key page for reference. Map interpretation skills beyond basic feature identification were not involved.

Eight evaluation sites were chosen comprising 14 braille-reading students in grades 5 through 10. Teachers were instructed in writing to let students become familiar with the symbols key provided, then to present individual maps and ask the students to locate or identify specific items on them. Each map had 3 to 5 location tasks associated with it.

In an attempt to gauge not only the students' performance but also the reasons for their performance, teachers were given the following instructions for recording students' interactions with the maps, along with comments:

  1. Please fill out a form for each student, and use the following rating scale for each task:

    1 Student did not locate the information successfully.

    2 Student found information with difficulty.

    3 Student found information with moderate or typical effort.

    4 Student found information with ease.

  2. Did the student use a methodical approach or strategy in examining the graphic to answer the questions?

  3. If the student did not answer the questions correctly, it was because (mark any that apply)

1 the map design was unclear.

2 the tactile elements were not distinct enough.

3 the subject matter was unfamiliar or too advanced.

4 student hasn't developed the skills needed for this task.

5 other reasons. (Explain)

 

As might be expected with such a heterogeneous group of students, a great deal of variation was found; but despite instances of students being unable to perform certain tasks on some maps, nearly all teachers indicated that this method of providing clear vinyl tactile maps on top of printed maps is appropriate for future product development.

Based on the predominantly encouraging findings, it was decided to resume development of this product while negotiating an agreeable plan for collaboration with Ms. Amick.

Work during FY 2012

Nancy Amick gave her blessing for the APH project to continue, but wanted to take steps to distinguish it from the map volumes that may continue to be produced under The Princeton Braillists name. The result was a name change to U.S. & Canada Tactile/Print Atlas, with a credit given to The Princeton Braillists for initial map design.

The key pages and other print content were finalized, and the project leader worked with Technical Research to register the print and tactile pages together. Technical Research began to draw up production specifications.

Work planned for FY 2013

A production run will be completed, and the product made available for sale. The project leader will follow sales and responses to the maps to judge whether similar volumes are called for.



TECHNOLOGY AND MEDIA



For FY 2012, there are no active Technology and Media products to report. For related products, see the Assistive Technology section.





Early Childhood

APH/Dolly Parton's Imagination Library Accessible Books

(Ongoing)

Purpose

To provide books in Dolly Parton's Imagination Library in accessible formats, increasing the number of accessible books for children with visual impairments, birth to 6 years, and to reach parents with information and resources for obtaining and sharing books with their child

Project Staff

Suzette Wright, Emergent Literacy Project Leader

Background

An opportunity was opened to partner with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library (DPIL) to increase the number of accessible books available to children from birth to 5 (which has since been expanded to birth to age 6). In late 2008, individuals at the Tennessee School for the Blind contacted APH about obtaining DPIL books in accessible formats. The Emergent Literacy Project Leader contacted the President of the Dollywood Foundation; they discussed the topic and the mission of both organizations, recognizing the two had much in common. DPIL partners with local sponsors in 1,300 communities in three countries to provide a quality, age-appropriate book each month to each preschool child enrolled in program. Local sponsors such as United Way, Rotary, Kiwanis, and school systems decide to bring the program to their community by agreeing to fund the cost of the books and postage. The Dollywood Foundation manages the system at no cost to the sponsors or the families; the Foundation selects the books and manages the database and the process to prepare books for mailing. It is a unique effort that has now mailed more than 40 million books to children.

For 2 years, the Emergent Literacy Project Leader provided the DPIL with the results of a Louis database search of the 75 plus books in each year's collection, as well as contact information for other providers of braille, print/braille, and tactile books. In the spring of 2010, the Foundation's President, David Dotson, and the Emergent Literacy Project Leader began to discuss the terms of a partnership, proposed by the Emergent Literacy Project Leader, which would result in APH providing the DPIL books in audio formats and offer APH the opportunity to purchase, at low cost, print books to produce in print/braille formats. They developed the proposal for the partnership's activities and passed this through the approval process at APH, agreeing upon terms with the publisher of the DPIL books, Penguin Group USA.

A website for the APH/DPIL Partnership was developed and became operational in September 2011. The site houses encrypted audio book files of DPIL books recorded at APH. These are available as free downloads. It includes links to the National Library Service, links to DPIL books offered by APH in print/braille, as well as links to other APH books, emergent literacy information, and other providers of print/braille and tactile books. The APH/DPIL Partnership Web site may be accessed at www.aph.org/dpil.

Work during FY 2012

Each month, the Emergent Literacy Project Leader received and evaluated that month's books from the DPIL booklist to determine if they would be suitable as an audio book. (Some are too picture-based or feature highly visual concepts as a central topic.) She added limited verbal descriptions of some pictures. The APH Studio recorded the books and picture descriptions. More than 50 encrypted audio book files are now available as free downloads from the APH/DPIL Accessible Books Web site.

The Emergent Literacy Project Leader evaluated all DPIL books planned for 2012 and involved other staff in selecting five titles most suitable to be produced as print/braille books. The books feature clear adhesive-backed braille labels applied to the original book. Specifications for the first title, Old Bear and His Cub, were completed. Working together with a variety of in-house staff members, procedures for purchasing, producing, and shipping the books were agreed upon and responsibilities assigned. Gary Mudd, Vice President of Public Affairs, sought funding to provide the books free of charge to eligible families and provided leadership for this effort. The Emergent Literacy Project Leader identified the functions of a database needed to manage administration of the Partners Print/Braille Book Program. She prepared a form to enroll eligible families in the program, meeting and consulting with various APH staff. She and Kristin Binkowski, Director of APH's Fundraising Department, oversaw the development and implementation of this as an online form to feed a database for managing the program. Procedures for enrolling families in the program, handling their data, publicizing the program, and providing initial exclusive access to DPIL members planned and carried out by various staff at APH, were coordinated by the Emergent Literacy Project Leader. The Partners Print/Braille Book Program is now open for parents to enroll and begin receiving free print/braille books. This was announced in the summer of 2012.

The Emergent Literacy Project Leader maintained communication with DPIL staff and other APH staff about other aspects of the partnership. At this point, the model developed with APH is being considered by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Royal National Institute for the Blind for replication in those countries. APH received word that our partnership with DPIL will be one of several programs featured in a documentary being produced for the Disabilities Funders Network.

Work planned for FY 2013

In the future, APH's Fundraising Department will manage enrollment in the Partners Print/Braille Book Program and mailing of the free books to enrolled families. Most responsibilities for APH/DPIL activities will be passed to other APH departments and staff for ongoing work. The Emergent Literacy Project Leader will continue to intake, organize, and describe each month's DPIL books and provide these to the Studio for recording and posting at the APH/DPIL Web site as free downloads. She will evaluate the 2013 DPIL books and oversee the selection of five more titles for production in print/braille.

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 production of the books on iGen equipment, update to utilize sans serif fonts, and modify the books' visual illustrations

Project Staff

Suzette Wright, Emergent Literacy Project Leader

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer and Co-Project Leader

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. Because the original film art for these books has deteriorated with time, and because printers are reluctant to use it, the print tooling for the books is being recreated in digital file formats. Meetings with production staff defined additional objectives for the modernization effort. Since 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, the books' page dimensions are being reduced slightly. In addition, any serif fonts are being replaced with more readable sans serif fonts. Consumers and focus group members have 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. The updated illustrations implement changes that add visual appeal but do not reduce visibility for low vision readers or introduce visual elements that are key to understanding the story. None of the modifications affect the tactile illustrations or change the content of the book's texts.

The project leader and Technical Research staff 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 complete 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 are in the process of modification. A change in binding may be considered for some books provided a suitable, less expensive alternative to the current binding can be found. Standardization was specified as being of lesser importance than the ability to move production of the product in-house at a competitive price as well as retain current art for the tactile illustrations and plates for the braille text.

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 as needed to address concerns with color consistency and margins. These are being tested again. Digitized art for The Littlest Pumpkin was 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. It was necessary to select new binder colors for all On the Way to Literacy storybooks; colors were chosen to harmonize with the new visual art in the redesigned books.

Work during FY 2012

Due to work on higher-priority projects, work on the art digitizing/modernization of the On the Way to Literacy series was delayed in FY 2012.

Work planned for FY 2013

Testing of the modernized art files will continue. Modernization of the print art for the remaining books will continue. The project leader will consult with Philippe Claudet of Les Doigts Qui Revent (LDQR) regarding the redesign of the art for the remaining books. Books produced by LDQR incorporate a wide variety of attractive visual background art produced by artists. This is similar to the objectives for the redesign of the On the Way to Literacy books; their experience in this regard can be helpful.

Beginnings [Modernization]

(New)

Purpose

To revise and modernize Beginnings: A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers of Visually Impaired Babies. This product provides valuable information to parents and service providers about various issues and developmental areas involved in working with infants and toddlers who have visual impairments. Some of the areas include The Way Things Are, Off to a Good Start, Your Babies Eyes, No Longer a Little Baby, and Education Now and Tomorrow.

Project Staff

Charles "Burt" Boyer, Early Childhood Project Leader

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Sharon Bensinger, Author/Project Consultant

Suzette Wright, Author/Emergent Literacy Project Leader

Rebecca Davis, Project Consultant (Parent)

Background

Beginnings is a product that was developed and made available for sale on Quota by APH in 1985. In the fall of 2011, questions were raised about the need to modernize/revise the product. Notably, much of the wording in the project is either out-of-date or no longer relevant. In addition, some activities recommended to be used by parents and service providers were also outdated and needed revisions. Safety issues were raised about some products recommended for use, and these definitely needed to be removed from the book. Kay Farrell, Ph.D., Professor and Coordinator of the Low Incidence Programs at the University of Northern Colorado, edited this product and had several recommendations to consider. Sharon Bensinger and Suzette Wright, both developers of the original Beginnings, were requested to work on the product revision. Wright and Bensinger agreed to undertake this project. Rebecca Davis, who is a parent of a child with a visual impairment, was asked to recommend revisions from a parent's perspective.

Work during FY 2012

The project leader met with Bensinger and Wright to develop a work plan to modernize Beginnings. Areas were identified that need revisions, and everyone agreed to meet later to discuss progress. Davis was placed under contract and began her work to recommend revisions from a parent's perspective; she is also writing the foreword of the book. Discussions were conducted about pictures and graphics to include in the book.

Work planned for FY 2013

The project leader will work with project staff to complete all the recommendations and revisions of Beginnings by November 1, 2012. Then, the project leader will work with graphic designers to format the book. By March 2013, the modernized version of Beginnings will be prepared and sent out for expert review and field testing. Results from these evaluations should be returned by June 2013. Results from field testing/expert review will be reviewed and necessary changes implemented.

FirstTouch Books

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop read-aloud, tactile illustrated books that support the development of emergent literacy skills for students, ages birth to 3 years, who are blind or visually impaired

Project Staff

Suzette Wright, Emergent Literacy Project Leader

Wendy Sapp, Ph.D., COMS, Project Consultant

Dana Fox, M.A., Project Consultant

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 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 Emergent Literacy 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 Emergent Literacy 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 Emergent Literacy 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 "parking 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 Emergent Literacy 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.

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 Emergent Literacy 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.

Work during FY 2012

The graphic designer continued to work on completion of print art files.

Work planned for FY 2013

Print art for Holy Moly! will be completed by the graphic designer. Prototypes of Holy Moly! will be produced and sent out for field review. Revisions will be made based on teachers' and parents' observations through extended use with children in the target audience.

Getting in Step With Little Feet

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop a product that will be a practical, creative, and "how-to" manual on purposeful movement for children who fall within the infant through preschool developmental range

Project Staff

Charles "Burt" Boyer, Early Childhood Project Leader

Kay Clarke, Consultant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Background

Over the past two decades, purposeful movement and O&M have increasingly been acknowledged as important for infants and young children who are blind or visually impaired. Although some "how-to" booklets have emerged to guide families and practitioners to meet the early O&M needs of their young children, additional practical information is needed. In recent years, professionals (and families) in our field have expressed (via numerous electronic mailing lists messages and personal requests at meetings, workshops, and conferences) a strong desire and need for the following:

  1. Specific guidance on what skills to incorporate into purposeful movement and O&M instruction for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, who are not developmentally ready for more "traditional" O&M skills

  2. Guidance on when certain skills may be good developmental matches for young children

  3. Ideas for how to reach and teach infants and young children (creative, developmentally-appropriate songs, rhymes, activities, and teaching materials that are user-friendly for families and professionals to use, engage young children, and achieve results)

This product will be based on researched early child development principles and practices. The author of this product holds a master's degree in child development and a Ph.D. in special education with an emphasis in the areas of early childhood, visual impairment, and multiple disabilities. She has practiced as an O&M and TVI specialist for the past 25 years and has developed numerous original songs and poems and other activities contained within this product. Some of the activities presented in this product were developed for, and used with, children in the author's dissertation study that compared the use of adapted mobility devices and canes by preschoolers.

This product will be an extension of the research-based module developed by staff at UNC Chapel Hill (2004) on developmentally appropriate O&M for infants and toddlers. It will be designed to offer clear, brief background information blended with fun, "hands-on" activities to be used by family members, early childhood educators, child care providers, visual impairment professionals, and related services providers. The information provided in this guidebook will be appropriate for young children who are visually impaired and those who may also have additional disabilities. The introductory section of this guidebook will begin with a simple overview of unique developmental aspects of young children who are blind or visually impaired.

In 2010, this product idea was submitted by the author to APH. A contract was signed by the author allowing APH to develop Getting in Step With Little Feet: A Practical Guide to Purposeful Movement for Adults who Love, Teach and Care for Infants and Preschoolers who are Blind or Visually Impaired.

In September 2011, the author, project leader, and other project staff met to discuss Getting in Step With Little Feet. They established a timeline and work plan for the completion of the product.

Work during FY 2012

The author continued work on the guidebook content. The author and the project leader continued to discuss how this product will "look" for final production. In August 2012, the author presented the product idea to the Early Childhood Focus Group at APH. Feedback was positive regarding the relevance and need for the product. The author has expressed interest to include a CD with this product. The CD would contain musical rhymes and songs related to movement and travel for young children. She recommends a professional band, based in Columbus, OH, to record the CD; the band has three members, all of whom are former students of the Ohio State School for the Blind.

Work planned for FY 2013

Once the content is complete, the project leader will work with project staff, including graphic designers, to prepare prototypes for field testing. The plan is to have the written documents and support materials ready for field testing by September 1, 2013. Project staff will use the expertise of Research staff to gather feedback as the product development progresses.

Laptime and Lullabies

Formerly Focus on Fingers Kit

(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

Charles "Burt" Boyer, Early Childhood Project Leader

Kay Clarke, Consultant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

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 (Focus on Fingers) is an innovative, initial attempt to meet this need.

The author 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 (Focus on Fingers) 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 (Focus on Fingers) 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.

The author, Kay Clarke, submitted this product idea to APH for consideration during 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 (Focus on Fingers), 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.

Work during FY 2012

The author renamed her product "Laptime and Lullabies." The product will include a handbook and storybooks. 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, as well as 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. Discussion topics included whether all six storybooks should be included in the kit, or if only three storybooks should be included. It is possible the kit will be broken into an initial product (e.g., handbook and three storybooks) and a subsequent product (e.g., three additional storybooks). 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.

Work planned for FY 2013

In 2013, the author will complete the handbook content and mock-ups of all storybooks in the product. Editing of the content will take place. The project leader and author will work with APH production staff to determine how the tactile components can be best produced in the field testing stage, with consideration for what materials will be possible in final production. APH will fabricate prototypes and prepare the product for field testing.

Little Breath of Wind

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a high-quality tactile illustrated book that supports the development of emergent literacy skills of young students

Project Staff

Suzette Wright, Emergent Literacy Project Leader

Background

Little Breath of Wind is a children's tactile illustrated book produced by Les Doigts Qui Revent (LDQR) (Dreaming Fingers) workshop. The LDQR workshop, located in Dijon, France, has produced some 30,000 tactile illustrated books (147 titles) since its opening in 1994.

Little Breath of Wind has a brief but appealing text provided in large print and durable, clear braille applied to the page. The tactile illustrations are especially inviting to touch and provide a variety of textures to encourage tactile exploration. They are composed of collaged fabric, paper, plastic shapes, and raised lines formed of thick, soft yarn. Such a highly textured book meets a need identified by the Early Books Focus Group (2004), and Meeting of the Minds (2011) for books with textured illustrations-"something besides raised line drawings and thermoforms." It is different in style from most APH tactile storybooks, addressing a request from the Early Books Focus Group (2007) for a greater variety of types of early books for children who are beginning or potential braille readers. The book is case bound with sturdy card stock pages, a colorful cover, and measures approximately 8 x 8 inches.

Although it is intended for children who are ages 5 years and older, children who are younger are also likely to enjoy the book's appealing textures. In addition, sighted adults, peers, and siblings are also an important audience and should find the book engaging.

LDQR reports that the European sales of Little Breath of Wind were 568 in 2010; 2011 sales were also high. Reflective of its quality, the book was selected by the International Board on Books for Young Children as an international selection in the Catalog 2011 of Outstanding Books for Youth with Disabilities.

Philippe Claudet, director of LDQR, has been in communication with the Emergent Literacy Project Leader since 2005. Claudet has made several presentations in the United States-including a presentation at APH, and a presentation and display of tactile books at Getting in Touch with Literacy (GITWL) in December 2011. APH staff and GITWL participants commented on the high quality of the books' construction, quality of the braille, and their use of rich textures. Gathering input from staff and others, Little Breath of Wind was chosen as a book that APH would seek to purchase and distribute. A submission form for Little Breath of Wind was completed; it was approved as a "pass through" product. In-house, the Emergent Literacy Project Leader and others met and made decisions about preferred labeling and packaging methods, the need for safety testing, and issues related to shipping and passage through Customs.

Work during FY 2012

LDQR's director contacted Intertek, an international testing agency recommended by APH, to conduct all necessary safety tests. APH's Purchasing staff negotiated purchase quantities and terms of delivery with LDQR. The book's text was translated into English and a braille file provided to LDQR by APH. Permission to distribute the book on Quota was sought and received. All standard U.S. safety tests were passed with the recommendation that one illustration utilize a different method of attachment or glue. That modification is being made. The part that detached posed no hazard. However, Intertek failed to conduct additional safety tests required by the state of California. Safety testing is extremely costly, and Intertek has agreed to bear the cost of the additional testing since this oversight was their error; the extra tests are underway.

As evidence of their interest in collaboration, LDQR has expressed an interest in producing versions of some APH tactile illustrated books for a French audience. Some exploration of this has already taken place. This year, LDQR published a French translation of the 2nd edition of the handbook, On the Way to Literacy: Early Experiences for Children with Visual Impairments. In addition, the director has placed the Emergent Literacy Project Leader in contact with a group of educators from six countries supporting research and development of tactile books for children from birth to 5.

Work planned for FY 2013

Additional safety testing required by California will be completed. Plans are for the books to be delivered to APH in December 2011. The books will arrive on APH's docks, already labeled, shrink-wrapped, and ready to ship to customers.

The potential for a range of activities with LDQR, benefiting APH, will be explored with in-house staff. LDQR has been open to sharing production methodologies, materials, and design ideas and to collaboration on new books being developed at APH and at LDQR. Contacts with other educators may lead to future products available from APH, such as an English translation of a parent guide to activities, toys, and books promoting emergent literacy published by Institut du Nazareth et Louis Braille.

On a related, though separate topic, APH's successful sponsorship of U.S. involvement in the 2011 Typhlo & Tactus (T&T) tactile book competition will be repeated in 2013. T&T was established with guiding support from LDQR to increase the quality and number of tactile illustrated books available to blind children in its eight member countries. In 2011, the competition included entries from 20 countries.

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

Suzette Wright, Emergent Literacy Project Leader/Author

Lois Harrell, Project Consultant/Author

Mila Truan, Project Consultant

Josephine Stratton, Project Consultant

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 Visions 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 Velcro®-backed 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, had 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 Visions 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 Visions process; several problems with paper were encountered and resolved. It was necessary to design and add a special switch and tray to the Tactile Visions 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.

All final tooling for the third book in this series (The Boy and the Wolf) and the accompanying Reader's Guide has also been completed, and the book has been produced. This book is similar in format to Splish, utilizing a combination of full-color visual graphics, Tactile Visions graphics, and paper-embossed braille. Lois Harrell is the author of the third storybook in the series.

The Boy and the Wolf was priced and made available for purchase in November 2010. All art for the Turtle and Rabbit storybook, braille embedded word labels, storyboard, and accompanying Reader's Guide was completed by the graphic designer and proofed by the Emergent Literacy Project Leader. Final art and specifications were written and given to Production in March 2011. The Emergent Literacy Project Leader participated in proofing the book's components as they were produced.

Work during FY 2012

Turtle and Rabbit became available for purchase in November of 2011.

Work planned for FY 2013

The Emergent Literacy Project Leader, working with a consultant and with possible input from and collaboration with Les Doigts Qui Revent (LDQR), will identify a commercially-available children's book suited to development as the next Moving Ahead book. Please refer to the Annual Report for Little Breath of Wind for additional information about LDQR.

Parents and Infants with Visual Impairments (PAIVI)

Formerly Parents and Visually Impaired Infants (PAVII)

(Continued)

Purpose

To revise and modernize Parents and Visually Impaired Infants (PAVII), which has been sold on Quota by APH since 1990. The new name of the product is Parents and Infants with Visual Impairments (PAIVI).

Project Staff

Charles "Burt" Boyer, Early Childhood Project Leader

Deborah Chen, Consultant

Gail Calvello, Consultant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Background

PAVII (now PAIVI) addresses the need for materials focused on early intervention for infants and toddlers who are blind or visually impaired. These materials have been used extensively in early intervention programs serving families and infants and toddlers who are blind or visually impaired nationally and internationally. The target groups for these materials have been teachers of the visually impaired, O&M instructors, early childhood special educators, and early interventionists.

PAVII was developed and field tested in a federally-funded project that served families of infants and toddlers with visual impairments and was based on recommended practices of the time. These recommended practices have not really changed, although person-first language will be used, i.e., Parents and Infants with Visual Impairments. The revised edition of this product will draw on current evidence-based practices.

The project leader contacted the authors of PAVII and requested they consider modernizing this product. Deborah Chen agreed and submitted a Product Idea Submission Form for modernization. A contract was agreed upon by the authors and APH. The authors developed a work plan, and the project leader worked with the authors to finalize this plan.

The project leader worked with the consultants on the following tasks during FY 2011.

  1. Calvello commenced updates and revisions to the following:

    1. Identification of visual impairments in infants

    2. The art of home visiting

    3. Getting ready for school

  2. Chen commenced updates and revisions to the following:

    1. Introduction to product materials

    2. Overview of "how to" papers on assessment

    3. Parent assessment of needs

    4. Functional hearing screening

    5. Parent observation protocol

    6. Assessing infant communication

    7. Assessing interaction with objects

    8. Developmental assessment section

    9. Learning together

Work during FY 2012

During FY 2012, the co-authors completed their revision of the product content and submitted the files to the project leader. In the process, the product name was changed to Parents and Infants with Visual Impairments (PAIVI) to reflect person-first language. The project files were assigned to a research assistant for compilation and proofing; however, higher-priority projects prevented additional progress on this project.

Work planned for FY 2013

In FY 2013, PAIVI will be reviewed by the project leader and project assistant. Necessary revisions will be made to the manuscript. In addition, the project leader will work with the APH graphic designer and outside graphic designer to develop graphical components for this product. The project leader will work with co-authors to determine if pictures are needed in specific sections of the product; this may require a professional photography session. When this work is complete, the project leader will work as necessary with Technical Research to develop prototypes for expert review and field testing. A product evaluation survey will be written. It is anticipated PAIVI will be readied for field testing by March 2013.

Reach for the Stars

(Continued)

Alt tag: Front cover of Reach for the Stars

Purpose

To review and modernize the guidebook Reach for the Stars

Project Staff

Charles "Burt" Boyer, Early Childhood Project Leader

Jennifer Grisham-Brown, Author/Consultant

Diane Haynes, Author/Consultant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

InGrid Design, Graphic Designer

Rod Dixon, Manufacturing Specialist

Background

The need for this product has not changed since it became a Federal Quota item in 1999. The educational principles identified when this product was developed have not changed, but new interventions resulted in a revision of this product. The authors of Reach for the Stars, Dr. Jennifer Grisham-Brown and Diane Haynes, stated, "It is a person-centered planning process designed to facilitate the development of educational plans that will lead to inclusive education programs for young children with disabilities. The process was developed to be used with several audiences. First, families of children with disabilities can use the material to articulate their hopes and dreams for their child's future. The materials are designed so that a family may complete the maps and supporting materials prior to attending a transition meeting for their child. Service providers may use the material to interview a family regarding their desires for their child's future."

Research was conducted to determine national standards pertaining to transition, especially in early childhood years. Particular attention was paid to transitioning from 2 to 3 years old because 3 years of age is the time when public schools get involved with the education of children, including those with disabilities. Research focused on transition from the programs serving children with disabilities who are 3 to 5 years of age. Transition from kindergarten to primary (1st grade to 2nd grade) was also addressed.

Reach for the Stars has been an effective transition tool, but the authors and the Early Childhood Project Leader believe the product can be substantially improved and made more user-friendly for families and service providers.

In 2008, the project leader and authors met to discuss the review and modernization of Reach for the Stars. The conclusion was that Reach for the Stars required modernization, and the following steps occurred:

  1. A contract was established with consultants.

  2. A second meeting was held involving the project leader and authors. The result was to form a focus group to review Reach for the Stars and make recommendations to modernize the product.

  3. A focus group convened on March 26, 2008, at General Butler State Park and Resort to carry out the plan. Many recommendations came from the focus group, and everyone felt the activity was very beneficial.

  4. The consultants and project leader developed a plan of action that included a timeline for completion of the product in 2010.

In FY 2009, the authors outlined a detailed work plan and timelines for various modules of the product. They completed research of national standards for transition, especially the early years. Components of the product that needed revision were identified. The authors completed the following sections of the book: introduction/overview, assessment section, and assessment maps. Feedback was sought on these sections and changes made.

In August 2009, the authors met with the project leader and graphic designers to discuss artwork for the book. The APH graphic designer presented an artistic theme for the book, which was approved by the authors and project leader. At this meeting, a revised timeline was discussed; the authors committed to a January 2010 date for submission of final content.

The authors presented the developing product at several training sessions, including the Division of Early Childhood Conference in October 2009. These training sessions were used as an opportunity to collect input from the field and make revisions to the product while in development.

In the spring of 2010, authors submitted a complete manuscript of Reach for the Stars to the project leader. This manuscript included assessment maps/forms and photos taken by the authors. The project leader reviewed the submission. Then, the manuscript and assessment maps/forms were edited by the research assistant. These edits were then shared with the authors for their feedback.

In FY 2011, authors and project staff finalized book content and graphic layout. A call for field reviewers was published in the April 2011 APH News. Field reviewers were identified, and prototypes were sent out. Twelve reviewers provided feedback about the curriculum. Eleven of the 12 completed the product evaluation survey (including 1 joint review by the authors). Reviewers represented the states of California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and South Carolina. One hundred percent of the reviewers recommended that APH produce Reach for the Stars and make it available on Quota. The reviewers also provided constructive feedback. Suggested revisions included the following: clarification of "priority skills" and "target skills," the inclusion of glossary terms, graphical layout revisions, and the addition of more detailed procedures for completing each map and form. Results and input from field review were shared with the authors.

Work during FY 2012

In October 2011, the authors submitted manuscript revisions, which were based on input from the field review. These revisions included new text sections, i.e., Useful Terms (glossary) and Using the Maps. The project assistant edited all revisions/additions to the guidebook. The project leader and assistant worked with the graphic designers to complete a major revision of the color scheme of the guidebook. This artistic revision was guided by field reviewers' comments as well as input from InGrid Design, who started working with APH during FY 2012. Other completed tasks include the following: creation and approval of CD label art, format of guidebook into an HTML by InGrid Design, preparation of the guidebook for braille transcription, and creation and approval of the cover art for the braille guidebook. The project leader and assistant met with a braille transcriber and tactile graphics transcriber to determine the best way to present the maps/forms in the guidebook for the braille reader. They recommended that some of the maps/forms be transcribed into tactile graphics. All project files were turned over to the Braille Department for transcription. It was also determined that the CD included in the guidebook will contain an HMTL of the entire guidebook as well as a PDF of the guidebook appendix. The print guidebook with CD will be stocked as one catalog item, and the braille guidebook will be stocked as another catalog item. The manufacturing specialist began to draft product specifications.

Work planned for FY 2013

Final tooling and specifications will be completed by Technical Research. The project leader and assistant will monitor the first production run. The product will become available for sale.

Tactile Book Builder

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop a blank book kit and accompanying manual that will encourage/facilitate the creation of individualized books for children; materials will support inclusion of text in an appropriate medium as well as various types of tactile illustrations, including objects from the child's own environment, shapes, textures, collaged illustrations, and raised-line illustrations.

Project Staff

Suzette Wright, Emergent Literacy Project Leader

Wendy Sapp, Ph.D., COMS, Project Consultant

Dana Fox, M.A., Project Consultant

Jane Barabash, COMS, Project Consultant

Background

The request that APH create a kit of materials that would enable users to more easily create a variety of individualized, custom-made books has been expressed. A 2004 online survey elicited this request, and various focus groups have remarked on the usefulness of such a tool. Individualized books offer a way to provide a range of audiences with books in an appropriate medium with related tactile components. Because a very 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 commercially-available books for typically sighted children. If the child helps to dictate and produce the written text, the adult can use this opportunity to build important early literacy skills. The child can also participate in illustrating the book, broadening 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, can broaden the number of appropriate books available to the child and increase his/her interest in books and in reading.

The idea for a blank book kit and accompanying 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, which marked the first Product Development Committee meeting, yielded a number of 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 will be grouped was finalized. Dimensions and quantities for kit materials were selected, and costs were estimated. The basis for the kit is a small binder (8" x 9" x 1.75") with plastic safety rings and blank pages, 3-hole punched, for insertion into the binder. A number of different page types may be fitted into the binder: doubled braille paper pages, board stock pages, pocket pages, permabraille pages, magnetic pages, Velcro® loop pages, and colorful polyblend pages. Labeling material will be included in the basic kit, as will "tools" such as Sticky DotsTM, adhesive-backed Velcro hook attachments, and adhesive-backed magnetized strips. Add-on "packs" are also proposed, including a version of the APH SoundPage sized for the small binders in the kit, a textured fabric and paper pack, a scented sticker pack, and a pack containing materials and fibers for creating raised lines.

The project leader completed a rough first draft of a 42-page manual. It includes instructions and guidelines for using the kit materials to construct books with a variety of tactile illustrations. Suggestions for writing and illustrating tactile experience stories are included, as are suggestions for creating concept books, and selecting print books suited to adaptation. Examples of custom-made books were gathered, and photographs of students sharing these books were included in the manual. The list of suggested kit items and a draft of the manual were submitted to two consultants for evaluation in March 2010. 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 be integrated into one document. Originally, the project leader had planned to include the second document as a separate piece. The consultants also suggested that two blank book sizes or construction types be considered: a smaller size for infant/toddlers, and the 8" x 9" size for preschoolers and older students.

Work during FY 2012

The Tactile Book Builder Kit Manual and Guide to Designing Tactile Illustrations for Children's Books were merged into one document. Technical Research and Model Shop staff began work to gather materials for prototype kits. Technical drawings were made of the kit's custom binders, pocket pages, and Ziploc® pages. These were given to vendors for quotes and input regarding design. Field evaluation sites were sought.

Work planned for FY 2013

The merged manual will be given to the graphic designer for layout and addition of photographs. The kit will be prototyped, field evaluations forms designed, and teachers contacted to act as field evaluators. Results of the field evaluation will be compiled and indicated revisions made.

As suggested by the project consultants, a smaller "blank book" may be designed and proposed as part of the current kit or as the basis for another project. This added book is envisioned as a product for infants and toddlers, perhaps incorporating "chewable" rings, foam construction pages that can be wiped clean, and an assortment of textures that can be attached and removed for cleaning.

Tactile Treasures [Modernization]

(Continued)

Alt tag: Photo of the updated Tactile Treasures guidebook cover

Purpose

To modernize Tactile Treasures: Math and Language Concepts for Young Children with Visual Impairments, a kit first produced by APH in 1997

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Tom Poppe, Pattern/Model Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

InGrid Design, Guidebook Layout

Background

Tactile Treasures: Math and Language Concepts for Young Children with Visual Impairments is an informal assessment and teaching tool for use with children with visual impairments and blindness in preschool, kindergarten, and elementary grades. It includes thermoformed sheets with pictures made from real objects to illustrate concepts related to shape, size, amount, comparison of two or more objects, position, pre-reading, and page orientation. The guidebook provides two suggested scripts/stories for each concept. These scripts can be read aloud to the child as the tactile pages are presented.

Tactile Treasures was originally published by the APH in 1997. It continues to be a useful product, with sales averaging 200 units a year despite years of availability. Since the product's introduction, APH has implemented new production methods and materials that could greatly enhance the current kit, especially as related to the application of color and added durability. The upgrade would transform the kit from a tactile-only presentation to a tactile/color edition that is useful to a broader number of students. This kit's tactile design served as a basis for the new Boehm Test of Basic Concepts [see separate report].

Although Tactile Treasures was originally pilot tested and field tested with young students with visual impairments in 1995-1996, the project leader thought it would be valuable to conduct a survey of recent customers of the kit to assess the current design and determine needed revisions. In June, a total of 17 teachers of the visually impaired responded to a mailed survey. Nearly one-quarter of the teachers had used Tactile Treasures for more than six years, 41% had used it between 1 and 5 years, and the remainder (35%) had used it for less than one year. Sixty-five percent of the teachers indicated that they used the kit "occasionally" with their students, 18% used it frequently, 12% used it rarely, and one teacher didn't use the kit because her student had already mastered the concepts. Over half of the survey respondents thought Tactile Treasures was appropriate for preschoolers with visual impairments (94%), kindergarteners with visual impairments (88%), tactile readers in grade 1-3 (82%), and students with multiple disabilities (59%). Nearly half (47%) thought it had application for sighted students.

With regard to specific design features, more than half of the teachers indicated that they were "very satisfied" with the following: scope of concepts, provided scripts/stories, tactile quality of pages, size of pages, variety of thermoformed objects, two scripts per page/concept, divider line separating top/bottom scripts, and binder format for storage. The product's durability received the lowest rating, with only nine of the teachers being very satisfied. Durability will be addressed in the revision of the product by doubling the thickness of the tactile sheets. Color will also be added to the tactile sheets, as requested by the largest number of survey respondents.

In late June 2011, the project leader conducted a Product Development Committee meeting to review expected revisions to the original kit and to set a production timeline. By July, updates to the vacuum-form patterns were being made and product specifications were initiated. The project leader incorporated new text into the existing guidebook and furnished the documentation to the outside graphic designer for layout. By the end of August, the new cover art was established for the "Tactile/Color Edition" of Tactile Treasures.

Work during FY 2012

The first quarter of the fiscal year primarily targeted the preparation of the cover art, binder art, CD label, and layout of the inside text pages for the updated version of the guidebook. This effort experienced transitional delays inherent in switching to another outside graphic designer. Nevertheless, the layout of the large print guidebook came to a brisk conclusion in late October. At that time, the braille translation of the guidebook's content was undertaken. By the end of November, the braille page count was determined and reported to Technical Research for inclusion in the specifications document. Concurrently, the outside graphic designer worked on the HTML conversion. The latter endeavor experienced a lengthier tooling stage, yet by the end of January 2012, all files were approved for production and the expected goal date for completion of this portion of the product was met. The programmer posted the accessible files onto the CD, along with the "Checklist of Concepts" prepared by the project leader.

The most challenging and labor-intensive activities required for the modernization of this product were a) the re-tooling of the vacuum-form patterns [which were switched from Type A patterns to Type B patterns to accommodate the combined print/tactile presentation], and b) the preparation of the silkscreen art itself. Exactly 20 4-up patterns were re-fabricated and over 80 silkscreen pieces were readied-all executed by the pattern/model maker. These tasks were initiated after the project leader determined enhancements and updates to the tactile pages (that impacted the re-tooling of the vacuum-form masters) and created a color-selection matrix for all 4-up patterns to guide the design setup of the silkscreen art itself. Once silkscreen art was prepared, application of color was double-checked prior to production. Given the large number of needed screens, the tooling extended into late summer. The project leader intentionally utilized APH-stocked ink colors to expedite the process.

The project leader worked with the Cost Department to flag obsoleted parts from the original kit. Preliminary specifications were reviewed by the project staff in July and then formally presented to the Production staff in August; the production timeline was updated.

Work planned for FY 2013

The quality of the pilot and initial production runs will be carefully monitored by the project staff. Once the product is available, the project leader will prepare brochure information and demonstrate the product's enhancements at workshops and training sessions. The product will continue to be available with Quota funds.

Teaching Puzzles for the Light Box

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop teaching puzzles that encourage fun learning, and to have puzzles that children can manipulate as well as use on the Light Box

Project Staff

Charles "Burt" Boyer, Early Childhood Project Leader

Background

Several users on the Early Intervention electronic mailing list have suggested more products need to be made available from APH for use on the Light Box. In addition, the Early Childhood Project Leader heard those suggestions from attendees at various conferences who visited the APH booth in exhibit halls. The Face Puzzle and Ball Puzzle are very popular APH products used on the Light Box. The project leader plans to develop more puzzles for the Light Box that will be manipulatives, and, at the same time, benefit children with usable vision. The puzzles will be used to teach a variety of concepts, and several categories will be included: farm animals, body parts, foods, fruits, shapes, etc. The puzzles will have color discrimination, and activities will be written for each puzzle to teach about the theme (farm animals, fruits, shapes, body parts, etc.).

An example of how this will work: Take the category of fruits to include apple, banana, orange, grapes, etc. Each fruit will be a puzzle, and activities will describe each fruit allowing the child/student to learn about that particular fruit. The puzzles can be assembled on a flat surface or on the Light Box. This type of learning will be fun.

In 2008, research was completed on APH products available for use on the Light Box. Research was also completed on APH products available for use on the Light Box that can be used as standalone manipulatives. A review was conducted to determine what products are available that are not presently available from APH. Categories were identified, and the project leader began to write activities to accompany the puzzles. The categories include the following:

  1. Fruits-orange, apple, banana, grapes, strawberry

  2. Body Parts-arm, hand, foot, leg, head (ears, eyes, mouth, nose)

  3. Farm Animals-children, horse, pig, cow, dog, cat

  4. Shapes-irregular shapes

  5. Tree-branch, limb, trunk, bark, leaves

In FY 2009, the project leader continued efforts to develop a variety of puzzles for use on the Light Box. Designs were developed by the project leader for farm animals, fruits, and cars. The project leader talked with TVIs in the field to get additional ideas, and began work on designs for word games and mazes as several TVIs suggested the project leader pursue these ideas. In addition, several O&M specialists suggested developing O&M routes for the Light Box. The project leader outlined the next steps of the project, but was unable to share plans with the graphic design firm and other staff at APH.

The project leader selected eight animals to use in developing puzzles for the Light Box. The animals chosen are horse (and foal), cow (and calf), cat (and kitten), dog (and puppy), bear (and cub), deer (and fawn), pig (and piglet), and wolf (and pups). The plan calls for each animal to have several pieces allowing the children to put them together forming an animal. The project leader began to write a story about each of the eight animals, including the babies.

Work during FY 2012

The project leader's schedule constraints precluded further development of the product during FY 2012. The Early Childhood Focus Group, which met at APH in August 2012, expressed an interest in this project and validated the need for it.

Work planned for FY 2013

The project leader will provide to Technical Research the shapes of the eight animals, and how each animal is to be formed utilizing puzzle pieces. For instance, the horse will have the following pieces: legs, a head and neck combined, full body, and tail. The horse will stand upright, and shape of the horse will present a side view. The head of the horse will look to the side. All animals, and their babies, will be formed for the Light Box using the above-described picture of the horse. The project leader will complete the stories for all animals and their babies, and work with the graphic design team to complete the written documentation.

The National Registry for Children with Visual Impairments, Birth to Three

(Continued)

Purpose

To establish a national registry of young children, birth to 36 months, by working with public and private agencies to collect standardized epidemiological and demographic data on young children with visual impairments. All data are coded to ensure confidentiality of children and families.

Project Staff

Charles "Burt" Boyer, Early Childhood Project Leader
Deborah Hatton, Research Scientist

Background

In 1995, the Model Registry of Early Childhood Visual Impairment Consortium Group (MRECVICG) was established to address the issue of data collection to ensure its consistent and systematic completion. The mission of MRECVICG was to develop and implement a model registry of birth to 3-year-old blind and visually impaired children, and to demonstrate the feasibility of a registry that could be replicated on a national basis. The MERCVICG was a high-powered committee representative of agencies serving children with visual impairments, Departments of Education, institutions of higher education, and the medical community.

In late 1998, four members of the MRECVICG developed a proposal requesting that APH assume the project as a national project. Tuck Tinsley, Ed.D., President of APH, presented the proposal to the Board of Trustees and in June 1999, it was officially announced that APH would assume the project. In August 2000, an Early Childhood Project Leader was employed in the Research Department by APH, and APH agreed to begin collecting data in January 2001. The Board is to be commended for approving the use of endowment funds to support this project.

Benefits of the project include the following:

The project coordinator continued efforts to add additional participants to the project. When the project was taken over by APH in 2001, there were eight states participating. In the following years, 26 states participated, and another five states were trained to get involved. Most states have several agencies providing early intervention services to blind and visually impaired children, birth to 3. A total of 2,155 surveys were entered into the database as of December 31, 2004. An analysis was done on the 2,155 surveys, and a PowerPoint presentation developed. The project coordinator presented the data at several conferences during 2007.

In 2008, the project coordinator continued to encourage more states and agencies to participate in the project. Project coordinator participated in several conferences and seminars to promote the project. An Advisory Committee was established to review the present status of the Babies Count Project, and to recommend strategies to improve the project in the future. Advisory Committee members included Dr. Deborah Hatton, Tom Miller, Dr. Lee Robinson, Gail Calvello, Chris Tompkins, Mindy Ely, and Janie Blome. Some of the recommendations included the following:

  1. To have data analyzed on an annual basis

  2. To identify 12 to 17 items from the survey to be analyzed annually for each participating agency

  3. To upgrade/revise the present database

  4. To have a place on the APH website just for Babies Count

The project leader for Babies Count did not complete the above-recommendations from the Advisory Committee. Several new states joined Babies Count during FY 2008: Kansas, Texas, Montana, and Nevada. Interest in the project continues to be fairly high. Pennsylvania, Florida, and Michigan have shown a desire to get involved.

During FY 2009, the coordinator of Babies Count continued to work closely with states and agencies participating in the Babies Count Project. The agencies participating continued to collect and enter data into the database. Interest was shown from several states, but no new states were added during FY 2009. The following work was also completed in FY 2009:

  1. Twenty-two items were identified to be included in a report for each individual agency participating.

  2. Improved entry time for surveys sent to coordinator of project

  3. Better communication between coordinator and participating agencies was established.

  4. Identified what materials should be part of a link on the APH Web site

Someone outside APH had done data entry into the database, but that individual was unable to continue working on the project. The project leader worked to identify an outside source to do this work, but efforts were not successful.

The Babies Count Project continued to be important to the field, and to APH. During FY 2010, efforts were made to re-define APH's commitment to the project. This included (1) identification of how best to analyze the data that is currently in the database, and (2) what data should continue to be gathered in the future. The process through which data is gathered and entered into the database was reviewed. The electronic survey form was reviewed and needed changes identified.

Work during FY 2012

Dr. Deborah Hatton, with the assistance of a graduate research assistant, completed the analysis of data entered into the database from January 1, 2005, through January 1, 2011.

Work planned for FY 2013

It is anticipated the results of the data analysis will be disseminated in a PowerPoint presentation with a written report to be released by October 1, 2012. APH is no longer coordinating this project because it does not align with APH's mission as determined by the federal government. Discussions are being conducted with other agencies whom might be interested to continue this important project.

VIPS@Home Parent University Series

(Continued)

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

Charles "Burt" Boyer, Early Childhood Project Leader

Pauletta Feldman, Author/Consultant

Terri Connolly, Author/Consultant

Suzette Wright, Author/Emergent Literacy Project Leader

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

InGrid Design, Graphic Designer

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 raising and 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. They most likely have no background or experiences to draw from in dealing with having a child who is blind or visually impaired. They typically feel devastated and terribly alone, not knowing anyone else who has had to face such a difficult situation. Young families need information and support to accept their child's disability and to know how to cope with it, reducing both the child's and the family's risks of adverse effects.

VIPS@Home Parent University Series 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. These courses can be taught in the home. Many parents find it difficult to attend parent meetings, so this is a way to get information to families at their convenience while making it possible for them to connect with other parents to network and share information and support.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) obtained a grant for $15,000 to develop VIPS@Home Parent University. 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; overview of special education, (2) Emergent Literacy, (3) Power at Your Fingertips; introduction to Braille, and (4) Magical Moments. 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.

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 of the VIPS@Home Parent University Series needed revisions in order to have them become a product sold by APH. The project leader worked with consultants from VIPS, and the Emergent Literacy Project Leader from APH, to revise each of the four courses. Considerable progress has been made in the revisions of each course.

During FY 2010, the project leader worked with the APH research assistants to edit the courses. In addition, the project leader worked with graphic designers to design each of the four courses, including cover art. Cover pages have been designed for each course, and have been approved by the project leader. A brief description of each course follows.

Power at Your Fingertips: Introduction to Braille: This course emphasizes a basic understanding of braille. Parents will learn how braille was developed, the braille alphabet and numbers, how to basically read braille by sight, and how to write braille using both the braillewriter and slate and stylus. The course is designed to be parent-friendly and easy to understand.

Emergent Literacy: Children are never too young for parents to begin working on literacy skills. This course will help parents learn about the foundations of early literacy, the importance of reading to their children, and how to make story time come alive. Parents will learn about how to incorporate literacy opportunities into daily routines. Parents will learn how to make a story box, adapt books, and create homemade books. The course is designed to be parent-friendly and easy to understand.

Special Education: A Tour Through the Jungle: Parents will learn about special education laws, and what is meant by a free and appropriate education for children with disabilities. The course discusses the differences between early intervention services and special education services in public schools. Parents learn about the Individualized Education Plan, and how to be a strong advocate for their children. The course is designed to be parent-friendly and easy to understand.

Magical Moments: Everyday: Parents will learn about what makes a magical moment, and how to create a magical moment each day. As their child grows, parents will learn how to ensure their child is a part of-not apart from-the places of their everyday lives. Parents will learn they truly are the magician in their child's life: (1) They make amazing things happen in the life of their child every day; (2) They are the one who pulls it together throughout the day; and (3) They are the major support for their child. The course teaches how vision loss affects early learning and play. Having fun is emphasized throughout this course. The course is designed to be parent-friendly and easy to understand.

VIPS@Home Parent University Series was presented in November 2009 at the Literacy Conference. In addition, a presentation was made at the International AER Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, 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 the consultant, Terri Connolly. Content for the other three courses is complete.

Work 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 consultant who is writing Magical Moments was unable to complete the third module of the course. The project assistant edited the first two modules in Magical Moments.

Work planned for FY 2013

Prototypes of Power at Your Fingertips and Emergent Literacy will be made, field testers will be identified, and field testing will occur for these two courses.

The project assistant will edit the content of Tour Through the Jungle; photos for the course book will be identified, and a determination will be made if a photography session is needed for new photos. The third module of Magical Moments will be written either by Terri Connolly or by another member of the project staff. InGrid Design will format the course books and presentation tools. Prototypes of Tour Through the Jungle and Magical Moments will be prepared for field testing.



Expanded Core Curriculum

Multiple Disabilities Projects and Needs

(Ongoing)

Purpose

To assess needs, plan research, and manage product development to better serve individuals who are visually impaired and have additional disabilities

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Multiple Disabilities Project Leader

Background

A Multiple Disabilities Focus Group met at APH in March 2001. The group identified a total of 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 48 product ideas were developed into a needs survey that was distributed nationally and received international participation. The results of the survey were presented 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. The final surveys were made 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.

Work during FY 2012

Both reports were announced in the APH News and posted on the APH Web site.

Work planned for FY 2013

The Multiple Disabilities Project Leader continues to work on products recommended by the surveys, and on existing APH products that need to be updated to meet current APH and educational standards.

ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY



Book Port DT

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a replacement for the table top cassette player/recording machine currently supplied by APH

Project Staff

Larry Skutchan, Technology Project Leader

Takoru Shiroki, Project Consultant

Rob Meredith, Programmer

Keith Creasy, Programmer

Ken Perry, Programmer

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Background

The increasing difficulty obtaining parts, manufacturing, and cassettes themselves makes the current table top recorder less and less useful as a simple versatile tool for making and playing recordings.

NLS has transitioned to online and flash cartridge distribution and is looking for ways to reduce the distribution of magazines on cassette.

Many users love the old table top recorder. They cite its simplicity of use, good recording quality, and cheap, archivable media (the cassette) as reasons for their admiration.

While only time can help bring down the price of digital storage media, the ease of use and recording quality in the digital arena are far superior to analog counterparts. Unfortunately, some learning will still be necessary for making recordings. On analog, virtually every machine was similar-the user pressed the Record button to start recording, and that was all.

In digital, there are a few more considerations and some advantages. It is still possible to press the Record button to start the recording. Now, however, the new recording does not overwrite material beyond the existing segment, so there is no danger of accidentally overwriting an important part of the recording.

While creating a device that is easy enough for nearly anyone to use like the cassette recorder links to the past, another strong consideration looks toward the future by providing support for the specifications that permit Daisy devices to obtain their content from an online service.

In the search for existing desktop DTB players that could be adapted to accept the NLS cartridge, APH identified the Plextalk PTX1 as hardware that, with the replacement of its CD drive with a cartridge receptacle and some firmware enhancements, could serve as the platform for the new Book Port DT.

The new device should contain the following characteristics:

Work during FY 2012

Project staff completed the following tasks:

The Book Port DT was made available for sale in August 2012.


Work planned for FY 2013

Project staff will monitor this product and any needs/questions that arise. Improvements/updates to software will continue.

Book Port Plus

(Continued)

Purpose

To replace the analog cassette machine and the Book Port with a portable electronic device that is simple enough for anyone to use for both playback and recording of Digital Talking Books and to harness the capabilities of wireless networking to obtain content

Project Staff

Larry Skutchan, Technology Project Leader

Takoru Shiroki, Project Consultant

Rob Meredith, Programmer

Keith Creasy, Programmer

Ken Perry, Programmer

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Background

As the difficulty of using cassette tape as a playback and a recording medium increases due to normal equipment breakdown and the lack of parts and tape, the National Library Service (NLS) transitions to online and cartridge distribution of its titles, and the ever quickening capabilities of the Internet for educational and content distribution purposes explodes, the need for a portable, reliable, expandable reading device for a blind student in a technological classroom setting becomes apparent. At the same time, elderly NLS patrons who embrace the simplicity of the operation of the cassette machine and its adequate recording capabilities require a device to perform the functions for which they formerly employed the APH Handi-cassette or other analog tape recorder. They want to be able to simply and effectively play a book or make a recording without having to consider extra complexity because the medium has moved from tape to digital. Many also desire the increased recording quality made possible by the digital media, recording level controls, recording monitoring, and the ability to append to existing recordings without having to position a tape.

In addition to simplicity of playback and recording, many users desire physical controls that are large and distinctive. Of all the existing DTB players, the Plextalk Pocket was identified as the hardware base that most closely meets the desired characteristics. The Plextalk Pocket contains 12 large telephone keys with a very pronounced dot on the 5 key, a five-way arrow/selection control, and six additional, easily distinguishable keys for various purposes including recording. Its keys are well spaced and arranged in a familiar telephone-like layout.

In addition to its desirable key controls, the Plextalk Pocket features state-of-the-art hardware that will let it evolve over the next few years with quickly evolving standards. Standards of particular interest from the DAISY consortium are the online specifications that define methods for transferring content directly from the provider to the patron's device and specifications that will eventually let users answer test questions in a DAISY title.

APH contracted with Shinano Kenshi Co., Ltd., to adapt the existing Plextalk Pocket (PTP1) DAISY player recorder to meet the following goals:

The hardware already supported the goals which include the following:

Staff and engineers from Shinano Kenshi met and evaluated the feasibility of firmware modifications, packaging, warranty and repairs, marketing, and distribution.

Firmware modifications were broken down into options that would increase the simplicity and usability of the interface, improvements in performance, more optimal behavior for an auditory interface, and features specific to APH's interests.

Programmers at Shinano Kenshi added the following:

Work during FY 2012

Project staff added integrated bookshare.org API support in Book Transfer.

Work planned for FY 2013

Project staff will work to complete the following tasks:

Book Wizard

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a program that lets a student read textbooks using the National Industry Standards Organization (NISO) 3.0 Digital Talking Book (DTB) file specifications in whatever accessible format is most appropriate for that student and to provide a program that can create and edit these titles

Project Staff

Larry Skutchan, Technology Project Leader

Keith Creasy, Programmer

John Hedges, Programmer

Rob Meredith, Programmer

Rodger Smith, Programmer

Jane Thompson, Director of ATIC

Steve Mullins, Special Projects Manager

Background

The need for a program that supports multiple output media arose from several places, including APH's and other accessible media publishers' desire to efficiently produce textbooks in the media that best meets a student's needs. Such a task requires intelligent software and a file format that is both universal and expandable.

The first step in creating such software is to identify or define the file format that best supports the characteristics required by all the output media types. Careful analysis and a worldwide trend to the extensible markup language (XML) convinced staff that this file format provided the structure, features, and extensibility required. The existence of math markup languages such as Math Markup Language (MML) and LaTex also provides the possibility of integration into the final file format. XML uses a Document Type Definition (DTD) to define the vocabulary for a markup language, and these DTDs can become quite elaborate. Creating one from scratch is not a trivial task.

The National Library Service (NLS) is also attempting to define the file format for digital talking books of the future. They put a committee together to study DTDs and requirements for digital distribution of talking books in the United States. The committee consists of talking book libraries from around the world, alternative media producers, schools and training centers, and experts from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to identify and define the parameters of this file format. A large part of this committee is represented by the Digital Access Information System (DAISY) Consortium, which is another group comprised of alternate media producers from around the world. Their mission was to create a digital distribution system that met the needs of the users and producers and one that would be compatible from country to country. European, Australian, Canadian, and some Asian countries are already using the DAISY 2.x file specifications to produce and distribute digital talking books.

When NLS first commissioned the study, they were mainly on a quest for information about how to produce and distribute digital talking books for United States citizens, and this is still their primary goal. But as the process evolved and their needs coincided so well with the needs of many others, they soon found themselves, under the leadership of first Michael Moody then Michael Katsman, defining the standards. They are working through the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) to define the characteristics of a file format that will meet the needs of all these producers, as well as the end user, provide compatibility among countries, and remain extensible to provide the option to grow. The file format they chose uses a number of existing technologies, so it will be possible to create tools and applications to work with such files much more easily than if they had defined their own file formats.

The new file format was submitted to the National Information Standards Organization, and it gained approval in December 2002. A revision was approved in 2005. The format is called NISO z39.86. The NISO Digital Talking Book combines Simultaneous Multimedia Integrated Language (SMIL) 2.0, with a Document Type Definition (DTD) that defines the elements in the text, and an XML file called the Navigation Control to tie the parts together. The Open Ebook's package file, which contains a list of all of a book's associated files, is also included.

Having attended the meetings defining the standards and insuring APH's interests were represented, research programmers gathered information about the issues and technologies and wrote specifications for a software package that uses the NISO Digital Talking Book Document Type Definition. These standards are integrating the audio representation of a work to let a student read a textbook in whatever media he desires. The package, Book Wizard, also provides services to make it simple and efficient to create such a book. Keeping all this in mind, staff is also aware that using a handheld device such as the Compaq Ipaq or other Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) to read digital talking books is also required. Staff used the Book Wizard services to permit reading NISO z39.86 Digital Talking Books on Book Port.

Staff continued to participate in NISO and DAISY consortium activities. As they learned more about specific APH requirements, they ensured specifications were defined to meet these requirements. Keith Creasy is a member of the Digital Rights Management Committee, and helped identify features and characteristics about protecting books that would be least intrusive to readers while still offering publishers the protection they desire.

Work during FY 2012

Most work on this project took the form of enhancing braille production support..

Work planned for FY 2013

Project staff will work to complete the following tasks:

Future long-term enhancements include the following:

The programmers will continue to write code that performs the functions and capabilities outlined in the specifications.

Hardware drivers, reproduction capabilities, and library management functions are among the more time consuming components remaining.

Programmers will write a new Windows printer driver to address the deficiencies in the generic text driver provided with Windows that will permit embossing to a variety of devices.

Programmers will develop refreshable braille drivers for several popular commercial displays. These drivers also make it possible for trained and qualified proofreaders to make corrections directly to the original file.

Programmers will develop tactile graphics embossing support and applicable drivers for the corresponding hardware. This work includes an analysis of the requirements and capabilities of the available devices. While several devices support the capability to provide simple tactile graphics, others support capabilities way beyond what previous devices have supported.

The programmers will examine the feasibility of creating drivers that use one image and provide code that transforms the vector graphic or bit map image into a series of printer escape sequences that gracefully degrades or expands as the device's capabilities degrade or expand. If feasible, the programmers will write such drivers. If it is not feasible to support the use of a single image for all possible devices, programmers will write specific drivers for specific devices and add the capability to select among images given the specific output device. They will write formatting algorithms for both the large print and braille hard copy options. These formatting functions require the material to be rendered with respect to the style sheets in use and any XML tags that may include a Media attribute that could include or exclude parts of a book. They will add image display support. This may include intelligence to select an appropriate image based on the media output. They will add functionality to the braille translation component to support forcing characters to upper case in the reverse translation, respect XML tags to control the formatting and translation process, and work on style sheets that take braille's unique formatting requirements into account.

Programmers will incorporate library checkout and check-in facilities and remote server support. This makes it possible for two editors, both in remote locations, to work on the same book. This collaboration process is expected to be an effective means of getting books that are more complex to students more quickly.

Braille Plus 18

(Continued)

Purpose

To create a portable notetaker with a built-in refreshable braille display and high-quality braille input that uses modern hardware and software

Project Staff

Larry Skutchan, Technology Project Leader

Marc Mulcahy, Project Leader/Consultant

Rob Meredith, Programmer

Mike McDonald, Programmer

Mike Borsuk, Programmer

Ken Perry, Programmer

Keith Creasy, Programmer

Background

While many students continue to appreciate the tasks made possible with the original Braille+, the hardware became increasingly difficult to obtain, and software had dramatically shifted in the years since its introduction.

In 2005, the iPhone was barely noticeable, and it was certainly not accessible. In the intervening years, both Apple and Google have introduced products that have changed the world.

The modern Apple products have been an unprecedented success, and their built-in accessibility has forever changed accessibility expectations. Android, too, has come to dominate the portable device market; while its accessibility is not nearly as far advanced as that of the IOS devices, its open source status makes it a platform on which it is very attractive to develop innovative solutions to complex problems.

While Apple's accessibility features are excellent, typing text onto a touch screen is possible, but still cumbersome especially in various common situations such as high noise areas or in a moving vehicle. The problem of text input is often solved by adding a portable braille display to the iPhone, but then the student has two devices to keep up with, charge, and care for. More importantly, it is critical to completely control the braille process in order to provide more advanced braille features such as braille training and tutorials.

Building hardware that incorporates a braille display and keyboard was not an option for IOS. Apple does not permit others to manufacture hardware on which to run their software.

Engineers sought to create a device with the following broad characteristics:

It was determined that Android could provide the core services and a jumping-off point from which to provide a growing body of code.

During the first year of the project, the team worked with a firm to obtain input about what features and form factor are most desirable. Project staff designed hardware that includes the following:

During the first phase of this project, the engineers performed the following:

Work during FY 2012

Project staff worked to complete the following:

With the help of the field testers, project staff identified and added the following:

Work planned for FY 2013

While APH and Levelstar have spent the last 2 years rebooting on the platform, we have now paid the dues. Innovation can and will come quickly now.

Monitoring Technological Developments and Educational Applications

(Continued)

Purpose

To identify and develop microcomputer materials that support educational needs; to monitor technological developments and educational applications of technology; to provide support to the production area for various Digital Talking Book production issues and to disseminate information on current uses of assistive technology

Project Staff

Larry Skutchan, Technology Project Leader

Rob Meredith, Programmer

John Hedges, Programmer

Keith Creasy, Programmer

Mike McDonald, Programmer

Rodger Smith, Programmer

Ken Perry, Programmer

Mark Klarer, Programmer

Tim Allen, Consultant

Chuck Myers, Consultant

Background

The rapid advances in use and development of software, hardware, accessibility considerations, and educational theories require significant attention. The Technology Group in the Educational Research Department monitors and participates in numerous activities to keep abreast of developing trends and current implementations and encourages trends, policies, and standards that use technology to promote APH's mission. These ongoing endeavors help keep APH personnel knowledgeable and influential in the areas of regular and assistive technology.

The Technology Group stays informed through participation in numerous electronic mailing lists that focus on programming and accessibility issues. The group actively uses and beta tests pre-releases of operating system code, key applications, active accessibility, screen enlargement, and speech or braille output accessibility aids. The group attends conferences, presents products and activities, and demonstrates APH products related to technology. The Technology Project Leader and two of the programmers are also members of the DAISY Consortium to help ensure that APH continues at the forefront of the conversion to digital talking books and that APH is represented in the shaping of guidelines and specifications. In its efforts to influence direction, the Technology Group creates software for both internal research and use as direct products, applies expertise to help make APH effective and accessible in its production of braille and large print and its application of new and emerging technologies to these processes, and disseminates information to APH and directly to users. The group promotes accessibility within APH by establishing techniques that make the entire company accessible.

Staff regularly works with other project leaders to suggest and implement technologies for projects that have technological components in specific areas of interest. Such projects include a Web-based early trade book learning and management system for braille readers (see the write-up for Early Braille Trade Books), an orientation and mobility instructor tool to help disseminate useful information to a client's parents, and a Web-based tool for wheelchair users that includes both video description and accessible captioning.

Staff continues making enhancements to Studio Recorder and Book Wizard Producer for APH's recording studio. Staff also creates CD layouts for projects that have CD-based training material or documentation.

Work during FY 2012

Work planned for FY 2013

There are two additional areas of software development that require addressing. They are automated testing and error reporting. Staff has started implementation of automated tests for the new Braille Plus code.

The group also has need for much more rigorous testing on all its products by someone who is not the product's developer or another developer in the group. Such extensive testing should both better catch problems that the developer would not normally think to consider/check and help to free the developer for more time to program.

The Technology Group will increase its involvement in the following:

Refreshabraille 18

(Formerly Refreshable Braille Display)

(Continued)

Purpose

To produce a high-quality, portable, and inexpensive refreshable braille display and input mechanism to be used in conjunction with devices such as the iPhone (and its relatives), laptops, desktop computers, and other devices

Project Staff

Larry Skutchan, Technology Project Leader

Thomas Friehoff, Project Consultant

Rob Meredith, Programmer

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Background

Designed initially as an adjunct braille display for Braille+, Refreshabraille 18 provides an ergonomic, high-quality keyboard and display that can be connected to a variety of other devices via its USB connector or via its wireless BluetoothTM interface. The firmware keeps device configuration simple by automatically detecting requests for a connection through either interface.

Input capabilities mean the user can control her PC or other portable device such as an iPhone from the braille display. When these input features are combined with the Bluetooth wireless communications, it is possible to keep the iPhone away in a purse or pocket and use Refreshabraille to both read and control the device. This small, elegant braille control is ideal for both students and professionals who prefer or require braille.

Refreshabraille is easily configurable with respect to its orientation. In other words, the user may use the device with the braille cells either on the side closest to her or on the side farthest away. All controls also flip their orientation when the orientation of the braille cells is altered.

In the time since its introduction, Refreshabraille has been added as a recognized braille display in programs like Window-Eyes for the PC and Outspoken for the Mac. These screen readers make it possible to both read and control the user's computer all from Refreshabraille 18.

In 2009, APH staff wrote drivers to support the JAWS screen reader.

A hardware modification introduced the Human Interface Device (HID) protocol so the need for individual USB drivers was eliminated.

The height of the joystick was increased. This makes it easier to control the direction of scrolling the display.

Administrators of online testing systems and others suggest that a 40-cell display is a better educational experience. While certainly not as portable as a display with fewer cells, there is certainly no argument that a 40-cell display is far superior in many respects.

In 2012, Google added support for Refreshabraille under Android in its BrailleBack app. (This works only on Android 4.1 or later).

Work during FY 2012

Project staff worked to complete the following:

Work planned for FY 2013

Project staff will work to complete the following:



CAREER EDUCATION AND TRANSITION



Transition Tote System, Revised

(Continued)

Purpose

To update materials and resource lists in a curriculum that teaches skills necessary for successful entry into the world of work

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Karen Wolffe, Project Author/Consultant

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Background

In light of the high unemployment rates for people who are blind or visually impaired, the 1993 Educational Research and Development Committee of APH strongly recommended that APH develop career preparation materials. The Transition Tote System was produced to meet this need. This product provided instruction in the following skill areas: personal organization, self-awareness, self-advocacy, work exploration, job seeking, and job keeping. An extensive list of important educational and vocational resources was also included. The Transition Tote Case was developed to provide an organizational system for storing job-search materials and to serve as a carrying case for braille and large print media, cassette recorders, note takers, and laptops.

Revision of the Transition Tote System is needed because its resource sections are outdated, because experienced users suggest that several new content areas should be included, and because the Tote Case has never functioned as originally intended. Resource information was collected during 1996 and 1997. Major changes in assistive technology, vendor contact information, and service delivery systems have occurred since that time and need to be incorporated into resource lists. Inclusion of material that might help students use recorded materials more effectively and improve students' self-advocacy should be considered. The Transition Tote Case is not sturdy enough to transport electronic equipment, note takers, and computers safely.

Changes to be considered in a new version of the case were discussed in an informal meeting with Karen Wolffe, a developer of the original project. An additional text section was also discussed.

During FY 2006, the project leader acquired background materials on state standards and requirements for transition classes. During FY 2007, the project leader contacted Wolffe regarding revision issues. Wolffe wanted to update and provide major expansion of the Transition Tote System. During FY 2007, Wolffe conducted extensive exploration of additional funding sources and potential collaboration partners.

During FY 2008, Wolffe indicated that additional funding sources had not emerged for this project. She proposed a series of revisions that were approved by the project leader. She agreed to write the revision material at no cost to APH.

During FY 2009, Wolffe completed revisions on the Student Manual and began revisions on the Facilitator's Guide, formerly called Information Supplement. A new backpack design was developed to replace the tote bag. Drawings were sent to three vendors, and one sample was received.

During FY 2010, Wolffe completed the draft of the Facilitator's Guide. Terlau edited the Student Manual and Facilitator's Guide, making sure that changes and terminology were consistently applied to both books. Research assistants also edited these books. Resource sections for both books were revised and verified.

Two other vendors sent samples of the backpack, a preferred sample was selected, and the associated vendor produced additional samples to match changes in specifications.

During FY 2011, the Backpack was produced and made available for sale. Final content checks and updates were made for both the Student Manual and the Facilitator's Guide. Graphic design layout was begun for the Student Manual.

Work during FY 2012

Layout of the large print Student Manual and Facilitator's Guide was completed. HTML, braille translation, audio recordings, and accessible CDs of both books were completed. The braille translation and print files for the braille/print forms packets were created. Specifications were completed, and the Specifications Meeting was held.

Work planned for FY 2013

Production and stocking of kits is scheduled for early FY 2013.



COMPENSATORY AND ACCESS SKILLS



MATCH-IT-UP Frames (Large Set and Small Set)

Formerly Match-It Up Board

(Continued)


Alt tag: Photo of Match-It-Up prototype with counting activity displayed

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

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Joanne C. Banman, Consultant

Andrew Dakin, Pattern/Model Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

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 table-like wooden board that fits on a desk or table. Two rows of squares (each with a Velcro® 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 of the lower holes is a cord with a peg attached; 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® surface (e.g., ALL-IN-ONE Board); long drapery cords would be replaced by shorter nylon cords that stay in place on a Velcro-hook 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 hook Velcro was unsuccessful. The nylon cords were replaced by various lengths of matching strips cut from polyblend of various colors and backed with hook Velcro; 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 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 2 row by 5 column arrangement, with the two rows separated by a raised tactile bar. The board was sized to fit conveniently onto the Veltex® 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, Velcro 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. 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.


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.


There were noticeably more males than females-62% and 38%, respectively.


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.


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%).


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% was 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.


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.

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), the following average scores were received for each design feature:

Design Feature

 

Average Rating

 

Overall size

 

4.55

 

Color

 

4.35

 

Number of windows/cutouts

 

4.40

 

Size of windows/cutouts

 

4.45

 

Distance between windows/cutouts side-by-side

 

4.45

 

Distance between windows/cutouts top-to-bottom

 

4.35

 

Tactile/print divider line

 

4.47

 

Ease of mounting/positioning on a Velcro surface

 

4.79

 

Masking overlays

 

4.45

 

One hundred percent of evaluators especially 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. 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 and 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. As one teacher clarified, the matching method used depended upon the activity and the student's ability.


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. Ratings supported the versatility of the board.

Activity

 

Average Rating

 

Matching

 

4.9

 

Sequencing

 

4.89

 

Calendar Activities

 

4.12

 

Story Retelling

 

4.36

 

Matching Games

 

4.6

 

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 Velcoins and a long strip of Velcro. The provided Sticky-DotsTM Package was used by fewer teachers (65%) to apply objects/textures/pictures, etc., 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, etc.

The following percentages of evaluators reported appropriateness of the kit for various target populations. Among the most appropriate were students with multiple disabilities, preschoolers, kindergarteners, tactile and low vision students in grades 1-3, and students with cortical visual impairment.

Target Population

 

Percentage of evaluators who found the Match-It-Up Board to be suitable for target population

 

Preschoolers with visual impairments/blindness

 

90%

 

Kindergarteners with visual impairments/blindness

 

95%

 

Tactile readers in Grades 1-3

 

90%

 

Low vision students in Grades 1-3

 

85%

 

Tactile readers in Grades 4-8

 

45%

 

Low vision students in Grades 4-8

 

45%

 

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).


Alt tag: Photo of Match-It-Up prototype used by a student with cortical visual impairment; Photo of Match-It-Up prototype used as a counting activity for Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar storybook; Alt Tag: Photo 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.

Work during FY 2012

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 Velcro-backed to affix to a black Veltex platform, and the black frames will be magnetic-backed to affix to a metal surface.

During the second quarter of the fiscal year, the pattern/model 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 Velcro 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.

The project leader devoted the latter part of the fiscal year to documentation completion; professional photographs were taken of various uses of the frames.

The same instruction booklet will be included with both sets of the MATCH-IT-UP Frames.

Work planned for FY 2013

Pre-production tasks will continue throughout the first and second quarters of the fiscal year. These tasks will primarily involve finalizing the layout of the activity booklet, preparing braille translation, acquiring needed cutting dies, preparing silkscreen art, and outlining production specifications. Production staff will establish a feasible goal for pilot/production runs. Availability of the product will likely occur in the first half of FY 2014.



Braille

Alphabetic Braille and Contracted (ABC) Braille Study

(Continued)

Purpose

The Alphabetic Braille and Contracted Braille (ABC) Study was conceived as a 5-year exploration of literacy environments, skills, and experiences of children who are totally blind or have light perception only. The organizing factor of the study was a comparison of students who were initially taught contracted braille with those initially taught uncontracted braille. The study also collected data on the larger issue of how the learning environment impacts literacy skill acquisition, especially in the context of braille reading. Children in the United States and Canada were enrolled. Due to assistance from the Canadian Braille Authority and the American Foundation for the Blind, the project expanded its budget to include 6 years of research (5 years of data collection).

Core Team

Anne Corn, Ed.D., Vanderbilt University, Principal Investigator through Summer 2007

Robert Wall Emerson, Ph.D., Western Michigan University, Statistician, Data Storage

Jane Erin, Ph.D., University of Arizona at Tucson, Quantitative Research Team Leader

Sharon Sacks, Ph.D., California State University Qualitative Research Team Leader

Diane P. Wormsley, Ph.D., North Carolina Central University, Principal Investigator beginning Summer 2007

2006-2007 was the final year of the project. Since that time, the Research Team has been conducting an analysis of data and writing and submitting articles for dissemination of the research information.

Background

The ABC Braille Study was a 5-year study of literacy acquisition in children who are braille readers. The study explored the development of literacy skills and charted literacy experiences of children who initially learn contracted braille as well as those who initially learn uncontracted braille.

While this study sought to develop guidance for teachers of students with visual impairments with regard to initial instruction in braille, it also provided the first in-depth look at how young blind children were learning to read, write, and spell. This study was the first time a consortium of eight universities, two organizations, and a special school for the blind, had joined forces to conduct research.

Children in the study resided in the U.S. and Canada and attended special schools and local education agencies, as well as pre-kindergarten programs, e.g., Head Start. They were enrolled in the study in either pre-kindergarten or kindergarten and were followed through to the end of the 5 years, with the fourth grade being the highest grade level achieved by students in the study. Over the course of the study, 45 students were enrolled. Four children were dropped from the study because they had been identified as having multiple disabilities. Three other children left the study for various reasons. Data from these children were included where it was appropriate to do so. Enrolled children resided in 12 U.S. states and one Canadian province, with children coming from a range of educational environments.

During the 2009-2010 school year, researchers continued to work in their various writing groups. A publication of Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) in October/November 2009 was presented to participants at the APH Annual Meeting as it contained the following articles on the ABC Braille Study:

In addition, a presentation at the 2009 Getting In Touch With Literacy Conference highlighted the study.

During the 2010-2011 school year, researchers continued to work in their various writing groups. Writing teams continued to pull together the existing literature and research, and submitted the data from the ABC Braille Project to various journals. The writing teams functioned with the assistance of APH Staff members, Eleanor Pester, and Ralph Bartley.

The following articles were published in JVIB during FY 2011:



In addition to the writing, the team has met once and is considering a follow-up study of the students involved in the ABC Braille Study. Preliminary work for the proposal has been accomplished.

Current members of the writing team are as follows:

ABC Braille Cumulative Contributor List up through 2007

Research Team

Research Support

Research Assistants

Observers

APH Officers

APH ABC Braille Study Staff

APH Support Staff

Financial Contributors

In Kind Contributors

Test Publisher Acknowledgement

We would like to thank the following for allowing APH to emboss the test instruments we used.

Work during FY 2012

The following articles related to the ABC Braille Study were published in JVIB during FY 2012.

Two presentations related to the ABC Braille Study were made:

Work planned for FY 2013

Publications in preparation will be submitted and, if accepted, published. Planning will continue on possible future research activities and follow up.

Building on Patterns, Second Edition: Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Level

(New)

Purpose

To revise and update Building on Patterns: Kindergarten Level by creating a BOP Second Edition Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten Level

Project Staff

Cathy Senft-Graves, Project Leader

Eleanor Pester, Braille Project Leader

Deanna Scoggins, Consultant/Advisor/Writer

Jo Ellen Croft, Consultant/Head Writer

Luanne Blaylock, Consultant/Writer

LeAnn Nannen Alexander, Consultant/Writer

Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader

Kate Dilworth, Consultant/Head Writer

Kristen Buhler, Consultant/Writer

Robin Wingell, Consultant/Head Writer

Izetta Read, Consultant/Writer

Cay Holbrook, Consultant/Advisor

Mila Truan, Consultant/Advisor

Anna Swenson, Consultant/Advisor

Marjorie Ward, Consultant/Advisor

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Jeanette Wicker, Core Curriculum Consultant

Background

The Building on Patterns (BOP) Kindergarten Level is in need of revision because it will soon be 6 years old. At the April 2012 meeting, Educational Products Advisory Committee recommended that there be a schedule for regular revisions of BOP.

Work during FY 2012

In June of 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 (which is 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 2nd Edition project was approved by the Product Advisory and Review Committee in August 2012.

Work planned for FY 2013

The writing group will meet October 10-11, 2012. Regular conference calls will be held to develop the details of the project. Writing will begin.

Building on Patterns: Second Grade Level

Formerly Revision of Patterns: The Primary Braille Reading Program

(Continued)

Purpose

To revise and update Patterns: The Primary Braille Reading Program

Project Staff

Eleanor Pester, Braille Project Leader

Deanna Scoggins, Consultant/Advisor/Writer

Cathy Senft-Graves, Research Assistant

Jo Ellen Croft, Consultant/Head Writer

Luanne Blaylock, Consultant/Writer

LeAnn Nannen Alexander, Consultant/Writer

Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader/Writer

Kate Dilworth, Consultant/Head Writer

Kristen Buhler, Consultant/Writer

Robin Wingell, Consultant/Head Writer

Izetta Read, Consultant/Writer

Cay Holbrook, Consultant/Advisor

Mila Truan, Consultant/Advisor

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Anthony Slowinski, Graphic Designer

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader/Expert Reviews

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant/Proofreader (Consultant)

Jeanette Wicker, Core Curriculum Consultant/Children's Book Selections

Background

Patterns: The Primary Braille Reading Program was designed to teach reading to children who would use braille as their primary reading medium. It was built on strong reading and braille principles and has remained an effective learning tool since its debut in 1980. In education, where textbooks over 5 years old are considered outdated, Patterns is now ancient history. Times have changed, and for some years, full inclusion has been in vogue, and reading has been taught first with a whole language focus and then with phonics playing a major role. More recently the emphasis has been on phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, fluency, and development of oral vocabulary. With this being the case, some teachers are having a difficult time justifying the use of a program as old as Patterns. Young braille readers, however, still need a firm foundation for beginning braille reading upon which to build. It is the goal of this project to produce an updated and enhanced braille reading program for beginners by building on the successes and philosophy of Patterns.

In September 1997, the project advisory committee met at APH to discuss the revision of Patterns: The Primary Braille Reading Program. Decisions were made regarding features to keep, features to change, ways to update the content, and topics that would be of interest to today's visually impaired children. The committee discussed current trends in reading for the general population, some new programs, and methods for teaching reading and language arts, and the use of tactile graphics with young children.

In 1998, a detailed timeline and budget were developed for this project. Work on a revised prototype of the early levels of the program began. An extensive bibliography on the latest literature related to braille reading was compiled and reviewed by project staff. Current reading programs and methods were also reviewed.

In 1999, the basic prototype for the kindergarten level of the Patterns revision was developed, and ideas for possible supplementary phonics and character development tapes, games, and books were explored.

In 2000, changes were made in the kindergarten level based on conference sessions, reviews of research, and project advisory committee recommendations. Work began on the first grade level of the program. New approaches to teaching reading continued to be investigated.

In 2001, work continued on the kindergarten and first grade levels of the program. A draft of the kindergarten level was completed and turned over to APH by the textbook writer.

In 2002, work continued on the preparation of the kindergarten level for field testing and on the development of the first and second grade levels. It was decided to talk about a child rather than children in the text since the majority of braille readers are educated in public rather than in residential schools and are likely to be working on braille reading individually rather than in a group. The kindergarten lessons were edited to reflect this change.

In 2003, introductory lessons for the kindergarten level were written and the decision was made to teach braillewriting of the letter words and letters at the same time as the letter words, letters, and sounds are taught in reading rather than waiting until the students can read 10 words or so to start writing. Efforts were also made to clear the project leader's schedule so that more time could be devoted to this project. Meanwhile the textbook writer continued work on the text and teacher's guide for the firstst grade.

In 2004, content editing of the kindergarten level was completed. This included adding a teacher's note on using the braillewriter versus the slate and stylus to introduce braillewriting and adding allergy alerts when food is used as part of a lesson. The mechanics of braillewriting were taught early to allow the child to be as independent as possible as early as possible. A checklist for the mechanics of braillewriting was provided to help the teacher track the child's progress and identify where the child still needs help. Some selections written especially for the original Patterns were edited to relate better to kindergarteners and to emphasize concept development for a visually impaired child. Meetings were held with the graphic designer to discuss graphics needed and work out designs for covers. Several meetings were also held to talk about production. Work continued on the first grade level, including the development of original stories and activities for the lessons and additional planning on selections and phonics and vocabulary to be included. During the summer, the project leader held a working meeting with six teachers of primary visually impaired children and the textbook writer. This group discussed state assessment standards and drafted test and remediation materials for the kindergarten and first grade levels of the revised program.

In 2005, additions were made to the kindergarten level for presenting the tactual graphics on the covers and those used in the introductions of the color words to children who are blind and have limited concept development and usually do not automatically recognize two dimensional representations of three dimensional objects. These textbook introductions were also used along with the titles to begin working on the skill of forecasting. Forms were created for recording the progress on the work covered in each textbook. For field testing, the eight textbooks were then produced in braille and the Teacher's Edition, Posttest Manual, and Assessment Forms were produced in both print and braille. Sample print lessons were laid out two different ways with icons and formatting for field testing. Using the items written by the teachers of the visually impaired, the Kindergarten Posttest was put together. Several evaluation forms were developed for field testing and expert review.

In 2006, field testing was conducted. Results were reviewed as they came in and then pulled together in a more complete report. Revisions included additional worksheets, suggestions for read-aloud books at the end of each lesson, and the correction of copy errors. A general introduction to the program, a specific introduction for the kindergarten level, and an introduction for the posttest were written. Acknowledgements, references, a table of contents, a scope and sequence chart for the level, several appendices, and an index of skills were added. Copyright permissions were secured as needed, and replacement selections were found and lessons rewritten when permissions were unable to be secured. Such selections were often ones that evaluators had recommended to change. A number of new books and research articles were reviewed during the writing of the introduction and were very helpful as the first grade level was developed. A group of teachers of the visually impaired (TVIs) from Ohio helped with the development of some stories.

In November 2006, the beginning of FY 2007, the kindergarten level of Building on Patterns (BOP) became available for purchase. Development of the lessons for first grade continued. When a draft of the first grade lessons was about half done, two experts reviewed the lessons. Possible cover art and titles for the proposed seven units for the level were discussed with one of the experts and APH graphic artists. The other expert felt that too many things were being taught in each lesson. The project leader worked with this expert/consultant on reordering the phonics and the language activities, spreading them out over the lessons for the year, and teaching them in a more systematic way. A few of the reading selections were also reordered to better fit the phonics and language being taught. This consultant revised the lessons to conform to the new plan, filled in new activities when needed, and edited the reading selections and the spelling activities accordingly. The project leader continued to work on additional reading selections, comprehension questions, oral reading and fluency activities, and vocabulary and concept development activities. In May, the project leader and the other expert who had reviewed the lessons co-hosted a meeting with the head of the Ohio teacher group and two of the teachers from the 2004 Summer Group, one from California and one from Oregon. The expert proposed reordering each lesson into a 5-day schedule and supplementing the lesson with additional tactile graphics and other activities. Following the meeting, each of the three participants from Ohio, California, and Oregon formed teams of TVIs to work on this.

In 2008, work continued on the first grade lessons. The project leader and the local consultant developed lesson drafts and sent them to the teacher writing teams from Ohio, California, and Oregon to reorder the lessons into 5-day sequences and supplement with additional tactile graphics, creative writing, and other activities. The project leader worked with the teams and edited the lessons coming back from them to maintain consistency, checked print layout copy being prepared for field testing, and answered questions from the Braille transcriber. In May, a new writing team of three TVIs in Arkansas was trained to reorder and supplement lessons by a team leader from California and the expert whose idea it was to reorder and supplement the lessons. In June, members of the teacher writing teams and other consultants met at APH and discussed questions the groups had about the development of the remainder of the lessons for Building on Patterns Grade 1 (BOP-1) to include the reading selections and all remaining parts of the lessons yet to be done. Preliminary planning for the development of BOP Grade 2 (BOP-2) began. In September, the first two units of BOP-1 with all accompanying materials and appropriate evaluation forms were sent to field testers and expert reviewers.

In FY 2009, the evaluation of BOP-1 Units 1 and 2 was completed, and prototypes of Units 3 and 4 were distributed with appropriate evaluation forms. Data from these units were analyzed, and appropriate revisions to the units were made and proofread before they were laid out in print and transcribed into braille for production. Drafts of lessons for Units 5, 6, and 7 were received from the writing teams, revised as needed, finalized, and prepared for evaluation. The Scope and Sequence Chart for BOP-1 was completed. Beginning reading books available in braille for the students to read were identified for Units 5, 6, and 7. At the end of the year, the expert review for Units 5 and 6 was in progress and Unit 7 was being prepared for review. BOP-1 Unit 1 became available for purchase in September 2009.

Also in FY 2009, planning and development of BOP-2 were well underway. The heads of three writing teams had regular conference calls beginning in April and continued throughout the year. In June, all available members of the writing teams met at APH for further planning. All team members were put on Google Docs so that lessons could be shared and critiqued in progress. A BOP-2 Scope and Sequence Chart, outlining Phonics and Syllabication, Spelling Words, Language Topics, and Braille Contractions to be introduced lesson by lesson, was put together. To provide some cohesiveness, Guidelines for Writing the Lessons were prepared. Writing teams decided upon unit themes, were assigned to various units, and created sample lessons. The project leader and other consultants worked on Guidelines for Writing Unit Assessment Lessons for the writing teams to use.

In FY 2010, expert reviews of BOP-1 Units 5-7 were completed; results were analyzed and used to make revisions. These units were prepared for production, laid out in print, and transcribed into braille. During FY 2010, five units were produced. BOP-1 Unit 2 became available for sale in December 2009; Unit 3, in January 2010; Unit 4, in June 2010; Unit 5, in July 2010; and Unit 6, in September 2010. Drafts of the BOP-1 Posttest and the BOP-1 Teacher's Edition Reference Volume were completed. The Reference Volume included front and back matter from the BOP-K Teacher's Edition updated to explain items included in the BOP program as a whole, as well as specific new items included in BOP-1. Examples of the new items included are lists of New Reading Words, Dolch Words, Braille Contractions, Spelling Words, and an Index of Concepts and Skills taught at the level. By the end of FY 2010, BOP-1 Unit 7, the BOP-1 Posttest, and the BOP-1 Teacher's Edition Reference Volume were either awaiting their turns in production or were in final preparation for production.

Also in FY 2010, three writing groups were hard at work on the first three units of BOP-2. The Guidelines for Writing Unit Assessment Lessons had been completed and distributed to them. Conference calls with the group leaders to discuss concerns were continued for most of the year. In June, two of the three group leaders met with other project consultants and personnel to discuss issues that had come up during the lesson development and to plan the agenda for a meeting of more writers in August. In August, all but one of the consultants/writers met and worked on their assigned units for BOP-2. At that time, plans were made to feature chapter/series books in Unit 7, the last unit in BOP-2. At the close of FY 2010, the draft of the Unit 1 Lessons had been completed and the drafts of the Unit 2 and Unit 3 Lessons were being finalized. All three units were expected to be sent out for expert review before Annual Meeting.

In FY 2011, the remaining BOP-1 materials were completed. Unit 7 became available in January; the BOP-1 Posttest, in March; and the BOP-1 Teacher's Reference Volume, containing all of the back and front matter usually found in a one-volume teacher's edition, in April. One more product, Animal Shapes and Pages Set, which was developed along with BOP-1 Unit 6, sent out for expert review with it, and then dropped because of time and possible animal cracker availability constraints, was revisited. It is now made with inedible, hard-foam, pretend animal crackers and comes with suggestions for matching the incised nests with the correct animal cracker shapes and for practicing reading the braille words for the animals. Available in September, this product must be ordered separately.

During FY 2011, BOP-2 Units 1-3 were reviewed both by APH personnel and then expert reviewers. Minor revisions were made based on the results of these reviews. The units were edited as needed, and prepared for production. The art, print layout, and braille transcription were completed. BOP-2 Unit 1 was available in September. Units 2 and 3 were in production or in final preparation for production. Work on BOP 2 Units 4-6 began as soon as the writers completed their work on Units 1-3. The writing groups kept in touch through Google Docs and regular conference calls. In June, they spent a week at APH working together on the lessons. By the end of FY 2011, drafts of units 4-6 were beginning to be posted on Google Docs for review.

Work during FY 2012

Drafts of BOP-2 Units 4 through 6 were completed and reviewed by APH personnel and then expert reviewers. Results were analyzed and revisions made as indicated. On December 6 and 7, many of the consultants met at APH prior to attending and presenting at Getting in Touch with Literacy to tie up loose ends in Units 4 through 6 and firm up plans for Unit 7. Three chapter books were selected as the basis for Unit 7, which was named Celebrate Books! The books chosen were Fish Face by Patricia Reilly Giff, Skin by Shannon Caster, and Bones by Gillian Houghton. Plans were made to buy copies of Fish Face already available in braille from Seedlings and to braille Skin and Bones at APH. Books were divided among the three writing groups, and lessons assigned and developed. Drafts were reviewed by APH personnel and then by expert reviewers. Final editing was done. The art work was finalized, laid out for print production, and then transcribed for braille production. The BOP-2 Posttest materials were developed and prepared for production. The BOP-1 Teacher's Reference Volume was edited as the basis for the BOP-2 Reference Volume and prepared for production. During this FY, the following BOP-2 Units became available for sale: Unit 2 in November, Unit 3 in January, Unit 4 in April, Unit 5 in July, and Unit 6 in August.

Work planned for FY 2013

BOP-2 Unit 7 Celebrate Books! is expected to be available for sale early in the new fiscal year. The BOP-2 Posttest materials and the BOP-2 Teacher's Edition Reference Volume will continue making their way through editing, layout, and production, and will be made available for sale by the end of 2012. This will complete the basic materials for the three levels-Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade-of Building on Patterns: The Primary Braille Literacy Program.



Handwriting



Printing Guide

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop teaching materials and printing templates to assist persons who are blind to learn to print legible capital letters according to positions of the braille dots in a cell

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T). Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Linda Ray, Project Consultant

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Tom Poppe, Model/Pattern Maker

Background

Although computers increasingly are being used as a means of written communication on the job and in social and recreational life, production of legible written communication still remains an essential skill. Jotting notes to colleagues, writing a quick comment on a page of printed material, leaving a note on the refrigerator for a family member, and filling in information on a check while shopping are only a few of the tasks that are accomplished more easily with a pen than with a computer.

Some persons who are congenitally blind have developed legible script and/or print styles. However, many adults who did not have functional vision during primary and elementary grades have not learned to produce print or script letters that sighted persons can read.

Linda Ray, a teacher of the visually impaired, submitted one print teaching method for consideration. With this method, students are taught to shape block print capital letters by connecting dot positions within a braille cell for each letter. Additionally, students are taught to print within a template of lines of rectangular openings. By using this template, cell boundaries can be detected when printing, print remains constant in size, and characters do not drift into one another.

Early research indicated that, though braille dot positions had been used to teach both printing and script writing throughout the blindness field, teaching curricula and materials had been developed primarily for script and not for print. Print samples from persons using Ray's print teaching method and from persons who had been taught to print using a variation on this method were examined. Preliminary data indicated that, with several significant exceptions, the connecting dots method of print teaching in combination with a printing template resulted in very readable block print. However, when printed with this method, several letters were indistinguishable or ambiguous. It was deemed desirable to develop a system that could eliminate as much ambiguity as possible. Additionally, it was deemed necessary to provide materials that could help students improve their production of diagonal lines.

To resolve ambiguity between block letters of D and O, attempts were made to teach students to draw curves by using templates with curved rather than sharp corners and tracing boards with curved letters. Tracing boards also included K, M, V, W, and Y, to help students learn to draw more complex diagonals.

Results of preliminary field testing showed that curved templates and tracing boards did not help students print curved letters; D-O and 8-B remained indistinguishable. Results also indicated that tracing boards might be helpful for teaching diagonals to some students, but a more streamlined approach to materials development was needed.

To resolve the D-O ambiguity, a Greek Delta character was offered for D; this character is very recognizable and may be easier to produce than the curved D. The small Y and a restructured B were also included. The product was reconfigured to provide one learning page per letter. Each learning page will include a letter description (the braille dot combinations to be connected for that letter), a raised image of the letter shape, and an engraved, pencil-traceable letter. Additional feedback from the field was sought by consulting Sally Mangold and by conducting a focus meeting at the AERBVI International Conference in July 2004.

Feedback from the field was reviewed, and a plan for the project prototype was finalized. As a result of this input, an additional description of each print letter based on position in the cell and not on dot numbers will be included on learning pages. Letters will also be presented in an order that allows students to master simple strokes and then join them into multi-stroke letters. Placement of letter descriptions and of embossed and engraved letter shapes on learning pages was finalized.

Work during FY 2012

The project leader's schedule constraints precluded further development of the product prototype during FY 2008 through FY 2012.

Work planned for FY 2013

The project leader will work closely with the model maker to develop product prototypes. Field test prototypes for the learning pages will be developed. A guidebook for teachers will be written, and a printing template based on the braille slate will be developed.

Symbol Communication

SAM: Symbols and Meaning

(Continued)

Level One
Whole Objects

Level Two
Pictures and part object tactile symbols

Level
Three Printed and braille words


Alt Tag: Level One-a girl drinks from a cup. Level Two-a picture drawing of a cup. Level Three: a child's hands reading braille.

Purpose

To provide a program to help build the conceptual foundation for successful symbol use including words, objects, tactual symbols, pictures, and graphics for learners with visual impairment and multiple impairments

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Multiple Disabilities Project Leader

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Millie Smith, Consultant and Author

Tanni Anthony, Foreword

J.C. Greeley, Contributing Writer

Linda Hagood, Contributing Writer

Zoe Morgese, Contributing Writing

Jennifer Stocker, Contributing Writer

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Background

This is the continuing revision and replacement of the modalities of the Sensory Stimulation Kit (discontinued). This kit is being designed to complete the intervention continuum that APH has created by the sequential use of the Sensory Learning Kit, SAM: Symbols and Meaning, and Tactile Connections: Symbols for Communication.

SAM consists of a teacher's guidebook; an assessment and games book; a flash drive containing accessible formats of the books, the electronic Game Planning Worksheet, and the digital recorder instructions; two carry-all cases; two baskets; a sport bag; three story bags; six story boxes; a digital recorder; two trays; multiple tray and story box liners; and Velcro®. The electronic assessment forms and the game videos are housed on the Internet.

Relevance

APH made the decision to produce this product based on a standardized process of product selection. Consultant Millie Smith and the project leader submitted the New Product Idea Submission Form on September 8, 2006. It was submitted with the title, Sensory Concepts for Communication, and later changed to SAM: Symbols and Meaning. The project leader presented the new product idea to the Product Evaluation Team (PET) on October 11, 2006. It was presented as a sequential "sister product" to the successful Sensory Learning Kit (SLK). PET unanimously forwarded the product idea to the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC). On October 25, 2006, PARC approved the product for development.

SAM: Symbols and Meaning is fully accessible to the population using it. The SAM flash drive contains a BRF, HTML, TEXT, and DTB files of the guidebook and games and assessment book. The electronic assessments forms were designed in house to ensure accessibility. New technology was developed using HTML5 to make the videos accessible to individuals with blindness, deafness, or deafblindness.

The consultant and project leader followed APH guidelines to determine relevance of SAM. The purpose of SAM is to help learners acquire, store, retrieve, and use sensory information in order to build a strong conceptual base of knowledge about the people and objects in the environment. When learners recognize familiar people, objects, and places, symbols used to represent those things can be used meaningfully for communication. SAM is designed for young learners who can process and use sensory input in natural environments.

There is evidence of an examination of the need for this product. APH conducted an extensive literature search. APH purchased new and out-of-print books (historical perspective) for review and for use by the author. The author and project leader agree that SAM promotes good educational principles because SAM consists of three levels of interventions to be used hierarchically.

As stated previously, SAM is the middle component of the APH Intervention Continuum. For too long teachers experienced a void on how to teach non verbal learners with multiple disabilities once they are ready to advance beyond the sensorimotor level of learning, but before they were ready for the use of tactile symbols in augmentative communication environments. The late sensorimotor and early preoperational level of cognitive skills was missing. Finally, SAM addresses that need. Since APH has been developing SAM, the author, project leader, and Director of Research continue to get inquiries from the field about when the product will be available.

APH sought opinions of knowledgeable individuals to determine the need for this product. The author and project leader identified five teachers of students with visual impairment who also have additional certifications as speech language pathologists, an occupational therapist, an orientation and mobility specialist, and a visual impairment consultant for a state Department of Education, who championed this project and agreed to be contributing writers. SAM is still part of the overall design to replace the Sensory Stimulation Kit (see report for Multiple Disabilities Project and Needs) as recommended by the 2001 Multiple Disabilities Focus Group and Survey.

SAM addresses identified needs for a person who meets the definition of "visually impaired." Learners who are 1-5 years old and visually impaired can use SAM as a bridge between the SLK and Tactile Connections. Since the tactual/proprioceptive perception plays an important role in concept development for young learners, SAM is appropriate for visually impaired learners who have low vision as well as those who are primary tactual learners.

Research

Field test data were gathered using an appropriate method. The field testing of SAM: Symbols and Meaning began in the Spring of 2008 when APH solicited teachers to participate in what would be a full academic year of testing, August 2008 to May 2009. The field testers participated in a 6-hour long, live, online training conducted by the author and project leader. At the beginning of the school year, all teachers conducted and submitted an Environmental Gap Inventory for their learner(s). This was designated as each learner's baseline. In late December, the same Environmental Gap Inventory was conducted and submitted. The final was done in April 2009. The comparison of the three inventories and the teachers' evaluation forms were used to determine the effectiveness of the program.

Data were gathered from a geographically diverse population: Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas in the United States and Ontario, Canada.

Data were gathered from qualified individuals. Ten teachers from seven states participated in the field test. On average, the teachers had 9 years experience teaching learners with visual impairment and averaged 10.5 years teaching learners who have profound disabilities.

Data were gathered from 12 learners with 10 teachers who completed all three Environmental Gap Inventories. Eighty percent of the teachers had never used another program to help learners develop the conceptual foundation necessary for the use of meaningful symbols. Fifty percent of the learners had used APH's Sensory Learning Kit (SLK) prior to using SAM. Due to the advanced planning for recruitment and training, and the extended length of field testing, 80% of the learners' teams (family, friends, teachers, specialists) incorporated SAM into their learner's IEP.

The chronological ages of the learners range from 1.5 years to 15 years. The cognitive ages range from 10 months to 6 years old. Ideally, the product is targeted for learners with a 2-4-year-old cognitive level or those in the late sensorimotor, early preoperational stage of cognitive development. Retinopathy of Prematurity is the most prevalent eye condition of the learners, closely followed by Cortical Visual Impairment. The learners have the following eye conditions:

Eleven of the 12 learners have additional handicapping conditions:

The field test generated sufficient data on general information and consumer outcome information. The SAM kit includes a variety of items used to play the SAM games. Teachers were asked to rate the items on a scale of 1-5 (5 being best), on durability, ease of use, reliability, and need. Not all teachers responded to every item, and some teachers only placed an "x" in the box indicating "yes, the item is durable, etc." The assumption cannot be made that the respondent meant the "x" to indicate a 3 or 5; therefore, they were eliminated and only the 1-5 ratings were averaged. (See Table 1.)

Table 1

Item

 

Durability

 

Ease of use

 

Reliability

 

Need

 

Collapsible Baskets

 

4.8

 

4.6

 

4.6

 

4.6

 

Digital Recorder

 

5

 

4.7

 

5

 

4.5

 

Plastic Story Pages

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

4.8

 

Sound CD

 

5

 

4.8

 

5

 

4.6

 

Sport Bag

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

4.5

 

Story Bags (3 sizes)

 

5

 

4.8

 

4.8

 

4.8

 

Story Binders (3 sizes)

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

4.8

 

Story Boxes (6)

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

Story Box liners

(7 colors)

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

Tray liner (clear)

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

Tray liners (7 colors)

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

Trays (2)

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

Velcro (white)

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

Velcro (black)

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

5

 

Data were gathered on student/consumer outcomes. Teachers' comments indicate that learners acquired the following conceptual and symbolic skills from using SAM:

SAM includes 18 games to help develop conceptual and symbolic skills. Table 2 shows the number of students who played each game and whether they were successful, unsuccessful, or did not play the game. Some teachers did not respond to all games; therefore, the total does not always add up to 12.

Table 2

GameSuccessful Unsuccessful Did not Play
Body Buzz822
Whoopee Clothes 6 0 4
Finger Tag 4 1 6
Hot Potato 5 1 4
Slap 4 4 3
Simon Says 5 1 4
Yours and Mine 5 1 5
Do It Again 5 2 3
Go Fish 3 1 7
Show Me Who 2 4 4
What Do 2 3 6
Sounds Like 2 1 7
Mystery Voice 2 1 7
Scavenger Hunt 2 0 8
Bag Stories 2 0 8
Box Stories 1 2 7
Binder Stories 2 1 7
Clue 1 1 8

When asked if the guidebook clearly indicates the intended populations for the product and if it clearly explains the need to develop a conceptual foundation, based on experiences with high-quality sensory information, necessary for the use of meaningful symbols; 100% of the respondents replied yes. All respondents felt that the guidebook clearly explains how to create daily opportunities and provides direct instruction in natural environments. They responded that the topics and specific terminology (medical and educational) are clearly defined and explained. One respondent asked if the Appendix area could describe how SAM activities could be incorporated into the four student profiles used as examples of types of students who might use SAM. She felt this would give her more ideas on how a professional would address the concerns described in the profiles.

Prior to the use of SAM, teachers were asked which concept categories their learner(s) understood. At baseline, 66% of the learners understood the category People: The Self and Others. Concepts about people start with knowledge of one's own body. Self-awareness becomes the core knowledge to which new information is attached. New information includes the characteristics of other people's bodies first and, then, more sophisticated things associated with the body like its emotional content, what it does, where it goes, its name, and how it relates to other bodies (Smith, in press). After the use of SAM, 75% of the learners understood this category. One teacher wrote, "I finally had a strategy/teaching approach to use. No other books gave me the knowledge I needed."

Prior to the use of SAM, 42% of the learners understood the category Objects: Tangible Things. Concepts about objects start developing as soon as the blanket touches the newborn's body. Information about the physical characteristics of objects is acquired through the senses. Acquisition of sensory information leads to recognition of the object and associated information about how it is used and how it relates to other objects (Smith, in press). After the learners and teachers used SAM, 83% of learners understood this category.

Prior to the use of SAM, 50% of learners understood the category Actions: Body Movements of the Self and Others. Concepts about actions start with random movements of the learner's own body in infancy. The actions become more intentional as certain results are associated with certain movements. Information about the actions of other people's bodies allows the learner to imitate and expand his range of options in choosing how he will interact with his environment (Smith, in press). After the learners and teachers used SAM, 75% of learners understood this category.

Last, prior to the use of SAM, no learners understood the category Places: Where Things Are and Contexts for Groups of Things. Concepts about places allow the learner to find things. Simple place concepts include things like knowing where to look or to move the hand to find the cup during mealtime. Things have to be in the same place consistently in order for place concepts to develop successfully. Place concepts build mental maps of how things relate to one another spatially. Places are also contexts-environments or surroundings-that provide meaning. A kitchen is the context that helps to provide meaning to objects like pans, spatulas, strainers, etc. (Smith, in press). After the learners and teachers used SAM, 50% of learners understood this category.

In brief, all learners improved in all categories. (See Table 3.)

Table 3

Concept Categories

 

Pre SAM

 

Post SAM

 

People: The Self and Others

 

8

 

9

 

Objects: Tangible Things

 

5

 

10

 

Actions: Body Movements of the Self and Others

 

6

 

9

 

Places: Where Things Are and Contexts for Groups of Things

 

0

 

5

 

Fifty percent of the learners learned to successfully use sensory bridging (sound, smell, or impaired sight paired with associated tactual information to create a concept at a distance). Teachers' comments included the following:

I at least had a strategy to teach these concepts.

She learned a symbol meant to go to the gym to play ball, to eat lunch at a table, to feed herself without prompting.

Movement, watched self and Humpty Dumpty sit on and fall off of small wall. Watched Humpty from distance.

In the games we did not get further than the body but one student knew when he heard my voice from a distance that it was time for Whoopee Clothes.

Learners develop the ability to use objects as symbols in four steps. Prior to the use of SAM, 75% of the learners used touch to discriminate tactual characteristics of an object; after SAM, the percentage increased to 83%. Learners who used objects in natural contexts went from 33% to 75%. Learners who formed associations with other things related to the object went from 8% to 50%. Finally, learners who used objects as symbols went from 8% to 42%. Again, all students improved. (See Table 4.)

Table 4

Object Symbols Steps

 

Pre SAM

 

Post SAM

 

Tactual learner uses touch to discriminate characteristics of an object.

 

9

 

10

 

Learner uses object in natural context.

 

4

 

11

 

Learner forms associations with other things related to the object.

 

1

 

6

 

Learner uses the object as a symbol to receive or send messages.

 

1

 

5

 

To complete the Environmental Gap Inventory, teachers were not required to conduct all assessments within the kit. However, most teachers read all assessments and evaluated their helpfulness. Three of the 10 teachers used the Symbol and Referent Analysis: Common Words Assessment. Eight considered it to be helpful. Three teachers used the Symbol and Referent Analysis: Academic Vocabulary Assessment. Again, eight found it helpful. Eight teachers stated that the directions for the Symbol and Referent Analysis: Academic Vocabulary Assessment are clearly written and easy to follow. One teacher said she really did not understand this area.

The teachers were asked if any environments on the Environmental Gap Inventory should be omitted or new environments added. Two recommended that fast food environments, the gas station, and the airport be eliminated. One recommended that the movie theater, movie rental store, and pharmacy be omitted. As the recommendations were made by such a few number of respondents, and because the environments are or may be important to other learners, none of the 14 environments will be removed from the Environmental Gap Inventory. (See Table 5.) The Inventory is designed so it can be tailored to the needs of an individual learner. Comments included the following:

I gained a new perspective on areas that need to be taught to the student.

I think it should be broken into functional levels or set up for student individuality. Many students' issues are not addressed in homes that are addressed at school and vice-versa. I have many parents who don't want to implement what is done at school into their home environment although it may be very successful.

Teachers were asked to do the same recommendation for the sub-environments or related object. Only one teacher made a recommendation.

Six teachers used the Curriculum-based Gap Inventory, and all found that the recommended games in it were helpful in designing a program for their student(s). One teacher wrote

I gained a new perspective by reading the additional explanation. I can write additional teaching interventions from the ideas discussed on these pages.

The Environmental Gap Inventory consisted of 14 environments. Not all teams were able to observe all environments. However, they all submitted the school environment (See Table 5.). While some learners improved more than others, all learners improved. Improvement was shown in all environments submitted by the teachers. The results demonstrate the benefit of field testing for an entire school year.

Table 5

Learner

 

Sept

 

Dec

 

April

 

HW

 

31.64%

 

45.73%

 

70.82%

 

AM

 

8.60%

 

10.60%

 

11.50%

 

SF

 

9.10%

 

10.30%

 

11.50%

 

TV

 

3.60%

 

7.20%

 

57.00%

 

RD

 

20.50%

 

52.60%

 

54.90%

 

SM

 

46.60%

 

48.00%

 

49.20%

 

SM

 

30.70%

 

33.50%

 

49.80%

 

JO

 

20.70%

 

41.10%

 

41.20%

 

CR

 

10.80%

 

16.00%

 

11.90%

 

GWR

 

0.00%

 

10.40%

 

17.20%

 

VE

 

3.10%

 

64.80%

 

64.80%

 

GG

 

47.00%

 

69.00%

 

90.00%

 

Average

 

19.36%

 

34.10%

 

44.15%

 

APH used research (field test) data to help make final production decisions. The prototype included a DVD that contained three videos of SAM games. Not only did 90% of the teachers say the DVD was helpful and should be included in the final product, they requested that more and/or all games be filmed for the final product. The final product has 25 videos that are available on the Internet. The prototypes had seven different colors of tray and story box liners to provide the teachers and learners with options and to determine which colors were needed most often to produce color contrast for the learner. Given the option of yellow trays and story boxes, 50% of the respondents chose black liners and 25% chose red. White, blue, and green were each mentioned once. Two teachers said they liked having all seven colors. The final kit has five liners: black, white, red, blue, and green. Teachers were asked if they would prefer purchasing the SAM kit exactly like the prototype, with all the tangibles included, or purchasing just the guidebook and using their own items. Overwhelmingly, they said they want the kit to be made available like the prototype with all the tangibles included, but they also want the option to purchase the book separately. APH sells as replacement parts the collapsible baskets, the story bags, and the plastic story pages, all of which are custom-made and not available elsewhere. APH will wait and see if consumer demand indicates the need to sell the custom-made carry-all bag and the sport bag as replacement or catalog items.

Work during FY 2012

The SAM videos and electronic assessment forms were completed. The BRF, HTML, TEXT, and DTB files of the guidebook and the assessment and games book were completed. The library of SAM Sounds was finalized. A proposal to bid on the custom-made items was sent to vendors, and Genuine Promotions was selected. Samples of custom-made items were approved and manufactured. The two books were printed at APH. The author and project leader presented the principles and methodology of SAM in Louisville, KY, at the Getting in Touch With Literacy conference. They presented the SAM field test results in Bellevue, WA, at the Association for Education and Rehabilitation (AER) conference.

Work planned for FY 2013

SAM will be available for sale. APH will co-host National Instructional Partnership trainings on SAM.



STACS: Standardized Tangible Augmentative Communication Symbols

(Formerly Universal Symbol System)

(Continued)

Alt tag: Three tactile communication cards with objects embedded into the cards: 1) Drink-one-half of a plastic drink cup. 2) Music-two jingle bells attached to webbing strip. 3) Snack-Mylar® wrapper.

Purpose

To provide a starter set of standardized tangible symbols to represent a dominant feature of an object, person, or activity that could be recognized by many children

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Multiple Disabilities Project Leader

Ellen Trief, Consultant

Susan Bruce, Foreword

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Background

The Lavelle Fund for the Blind funded a study-conducted by Dr. Ellen Trief-on the use of standardized tangible symbol cues by visually impaired, non-verbal students. Trief has presented her findings both nationally and internationally. APH currently sells Tactile Connections: Symbols for Communication, a kit for teachers and parents to make individualized communication cards for their students. APH believes that it will meet the needs of more students if both an individualized system and a standardized system are offered. STACS: Standardized Tangible Augmentative Communication Symbols is a set of 26 tactile communication cards: 24 cards with embedded symbols and 2 blank cards for the consumer to make personalized cards (i.e., student and teacher symbols). The product idea was submitted from the field of visual impairment and is based on an evidence-based research study (Bruce, Trief, & Cascella, 2011). STACS is designed for individuals who have visual impairment, blindness, or deafblindness with additional physical and/or cognitive disabilities. Many individuals who will benefit from STACS are nonverbal and are wheelchair users.

Relevance

APH made the decision to produce this product based on a standardized process of product selection. Alex Truesdell, Executive Director, Adaptive Design Association, submitted the New Product Idea Submission form on December 9, 2009, with the original name Tangible Symbol Cues. The project leader presented the product to the Product Evaluation Team on January 7, 2010. Five of the seven voting members approved the product, one voted no, and one was absent. On January 13, 2010, the Product Advisory and Review Committee approved the product for development. It was assigned grant #459.

STACS will be fully accessible to the population using it. The teacher's guidebook will be accessible in print, HTML, BRF, TEXT, and DTB. Each communication card will have an object symbol, large print, and braille.

This product follows APH guidelines for determining relevance of a product. As stated earlier, the philosophy and design of STACS is based on the Lavelle Fund study. Long before the study, literature and videos have been available that show how many pioneers (i.e., Dr. Jan van Dijk, Charity Rowland, Philip Schweigert, etc.) in the area of communication of non verbal children with severe multiple disabilities and/or deafblindness, validated the methodology of using tangible symbols with this population. To further validate this, the Perkins School for the Blind has developed a series (six chapters) of videos that demonstrate the relevance of using tactile communication symbols (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIncpzdZDrs).

APH examined of the need for this product through the perspective of a product manufacturer and as an agency dedicated to providing educational materials to persons with visual impairment so they can live more independent lives. One criterion that APH considers when a new product idea submission form is sent to the Research Department is, "Does a current product on the market already meet this need?" The answer to this question, in regards to STACS, is both yes and no. The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) has a website dedicated to standardized tactile communication symbols. Teachers use it as a resource and then make their own symbols. It is not a product for sale. APH sells Tactile Connections: Symbols for Communication. It includes cards and a pictorial library so teachers can make the communication cards as needed for each student. Tactile Connections is based on the philosophy that each student needs symbols that are meaningful to him or her and not necessarily standardized (as recommended by the APH 2001 Multiple Disabilities Focus Group). The TSBVI system and Tactile Connections are sized to fit easily in the palm; they are very portable and fit nicely on augmentative communication devices, particularly Intellikeys®. There are two commercially-available products: Tactile Talk and Talking My Way. Tactile Talk is based on the TSBVI Web site. The tactile symbols are adhered to small plastic cards by an adhesive. They come with print labels on each card, and braille labels are available for separate purchase. They are not manufactured and or sold in collaboration with TSBVI. Talking My Way are large plastic cards (4.75 x 6.75 inches) with whole and part objects attached to the cards by zip ties threaded through holes in the cards. Print words are screen printed on the cards. Per the instructions, teachers and parents may attach their own braille labels with Velcro®. What makes STACS different from the previously mentioned products, is that the symbols are embedded into the cards. The cards are 4 x 6 inches. They are 5/8-inch thick so that card material can be removed and the object embedded. By embedding an object-sometimes a whole object-it is no longer usable as an object and becomes a symbol. In 2007, Trief conducted a study with 25 participants, 15 of whom learned to use symbols successfully. With this encouragement, Trief continued to work on the instruction methodology and symbol identification. The symbols used in STACS are the results of a survey that asked participants to identify the tactile symbols they used, new activities and concepts that they would like to represent in tactile symbols, and their preferences for tactile symbols for a set of 28 referents (Trief, Bruce, Cascella, & Ivy, 2009). A more in-depth study that used the identified symbols was conducted, but results were still in press at the time of the new product idea submission.

APH understands that no two students are alike. APH will continue to serve individuals who are nonverbal and possess no formal means of communication by offering more than one tactile communication system. Teachers can use a standardized system with large cards, or they can use an individualized system with small cards, whichever meets the needs of the student best.

There is evidence that APH sought opinions of knowledgeable individuals to determine the need for this product. This product is not without controversy: individualization versus standardization. The project leader and the Director of Research listened to pros and cons of each philosophy. They presented the opposing philosophies to the Product Evaluation and the Product Advisory and Review Committee. Again, it comes down to what is best for each student. Even with a standardized system, there is always need for individualized person symbols for the student and the people within that student's life, and for colloquial language. STACS includes blank cards for teachers and families to meet the individualized needs of a student, along with instructions on how to construct an individualized card. Many schools who serve students who are non verbal and have a visual impairment or blindness use tactile symbols with some of their students. However, most of the symbols are handmade by teachers, and the decisions for which referent to use for each symbol vary within and across the schools. A teacher must ask himself which symbol to use to represent something, e.g., snack or circle time. APH looked at the pilot study funded by The Lavelle Fund for the Blind between September 2004 and June 2005 in which 25 children at the Lavelle School for the Blind used a universal set of symbols throughout the school year. In 2007, the Lavelle Fund for the Blind funded a 3-year research project to study the efficacy of using a standardized set of tactile symbols for a population of children who are visually impaired or blind with additional disabilities, specifically in the area of receptive and expressive language. Ellen Trief, project investigator and Professor in the Blind and Visually Impaired and Severe/Multiple Disabilities Special Education Departments at Hunter College, put together a research team and an advisory group to design and implement the study. Paul Cascella, Professor and Director of the Speech-Language Pathology Department at Hunter College; Susan Bruce, Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education/Special Education at Boston College; and Sarah Ivy, Teacher and Hunter College Graduate Assistant were all members of the research team. In addition, a 14-member advisory panel composed of program directors, college professors, and speech-language pathologists met three times during the study to determine the type of symbols, the protocol for instruction, and evaluation of the results after data collection. Three advisory members were from the Perkins School for the Blind, one was from APH (Janie Blome, Director of Field Services), and the remaining members were from various programs and colleges throughout New York City.

STACS addresses identified needs for a person who meets the definition of "visually impaired." In the 1960s, Dr. Jan van Dijk researched and developed a methodology to teach communication skills to children with deafblindness. The use of tangible symbols with individuals who are non verbal and lack formal means of communication grew out of Van Dijk's work. Tangible or object symbols are used as expressive and receptive forms of communication with children who have multiple disabilities, visual impairment, blindness, and/or deafblindness because the symbols are tactile and make fewer demands on memory and representational abilities than more abstract symbols (Rowland & Schweigert, 2000). A main feature of STACS is that the objects are embedded into the cards so that they are symbols and not actual objects. For example, if a card for "drink" has an entire cup adhered to the surface of the card with hot glue, it is still a cup. The STACS card for "drink" has half a cup (sliced vertically) embedded into the card so that it is a symbol; it is not a cup.

The target population with which to use a standardized tactile symbol system are learners who have a variety of disabilities and who may benefit from a multisensory approach to language learning. Disabilities can include cognitive, speech and language, fine and gross motor, and/or hearing delays. Learners who are blind/visually impaired with emerging language skills; learners who are not able to use print, picture symbols, or braille; and learners who need support in their expressive communication are potential candidates for a tangible symbol system. In addition, learners who are deafblind often benefit from a tangible symbol system.

Research

APH sent prototype kits to field test sites and gathered data using an online survey designed in Google Docs. Teachers and parents field tested STACS (26 symbols, guidebook manuscript, and instructional videos) in their classrooms/homes across the country for 3 months. The evaluation form incorporated rating scales (1 to 5), multiple choices, check boxes, open-ended questions, and solicited comments. The rating scales were non-biased (1 = low, 2 = somewhat low, 3 = average, 4 = somewhat high, and 5 = high); participants had an equal number of negative choices as they did positive choices. Some questions included measurable outcome responses (e.g., "Prior to using " ...and "After using ...").

Data were collected from a geographically diverse population. APH sent out 12 prototypes. Eleven teachers from seven states submitted evaluation forms. The field test sites were located in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, and Ohio.

Data were gathered from qualified individuals. The majority of field testers are teachers of students who have visual impairments (45%). The remaining field testers consist of one creative arts therapist, treatment services director, music therapist, special education director, education consultant, orientation and mobility specialist, and parent. The field testers are very experienced professionals. Four field testers (36%) have taught students with visual impairments for 11-20 years, three (27%) for 6-10 years, and four (36%) for 1-5 years. All of the field testers have experience working with learners who have profound disabilities: one (9%) for 30+ years, four (36%) for 11-20 years, three (27%) for 6-10 years, and three (27%) for 1-5 years. Prior to using STACS, four (40%) said they had never before used a symbol communication system. One (10%) had used APH's Tactile Connections: Symbols for Communication. The remaining five (50%) listed the following as communication symbol systems that they have used:

The one parent did not answer the question.

Data were gathered on 11 learners (six males and five females) who participated in field testing STACS. The chronological ages of the learners ranged from 4 years to 57 years-36% were 40 years old or older, and 64% were 16 years old or younger. The oldest cognitive age was 5 years old (18%), 36% were considered to have 2-3 years cognitive ability, 18% were at 1 year, 18% were at less than 1 year, and the teachers were uncertain as to cognitive level for 9% of the learners.

Field testers responded that two (18%) of the learners have retinopathy of prematurity, and another 18% have nystagmus. One (9%) has cortical visual impairment, and one other (9%) has optic nerve hypoplasia. Teachers responded that they did not know the eye condition of four (36%) learners. Another 4% listed other eye conditions, including aphakia ou, coloboma, esotropia, legally blind, macular dragging, micropthalmia, retinal detachment, septo-optic dysplasia, and s/p vitrectomy ou.

The various eye conditions of the learners result in visual impairment or blindness. Six (55%) of the learners are blind, two (18%) have light perception only, three (27%) have near low vision, one (9%) has far low vision, none experience a limited visual field, and one (9%) was listed as unknown.

STACS is designed for learners who have multiple disabilities, particularly those learners who have no formal means of communication. The learners who participated in the field test each had an additional disability accompanying the visual impairment. See Table 1: Other Handicapping Conditions. Most of the children had more than one additional disability identified; therefore, the total percentages are greater than 100%.

Table 1: Other Handicapping Conditions

Condition

 

No. of Children

 

Percentage of Children

 

cerebral palsy

 

1

 

9%

 

CHARGE syndrome

 

1

 

9%

 

deafblindness

 

3

 

27%

 

hearing impairment

 

1

 

9%

 

intellectual disability

 

8

 

73%

 

limited fine motor skills

 

3

 

27%

 

limited gross motor skills

 

3

 

27%

 

other health impairment

 

1

 

9%

 

unknown

 

2

 

18%

 

One (9%) learner is a braille user, but none are print users. Two (18%) learners use picture symbols. Five (45%) students could speak but spoke less than six words.

Four (36%) learners had never used a symbol system before STACS. One (9%) learner used Tactile Connections: Symbols for Communication by APH previously. It is unknown if three (27%) of the learners had prior experience using a symbol system. Three (27%) learners had used other methodologies or products that use symbols: Adaptivations, Talking My Way, textures and positions on a four-part talker, and whole object cues.

Data were gathered on student/consumer outcomes. Field testers answered two questions on learner outcomes. Teachers were asked if the learner could establish joint attention (a type of social interaction in which a learner coordinates his or her attention between a partner and an object or event) before he or she used STACS. They answered the question again after the learner used STACS. Teachers were asked how many key landmarks (e.g., lunchroom, playground, and music room) the learner could identify prior to using STACS, and then again after the learner used STACS. Learners improved on both skills. See Table 2: Skills Before and After STACS.

Table 2: Skills Before and After STACS

Skill

 

Before STACS

 

After STACS

 

Learner establishes joint attention.

 

67%

 

73%

 

Learner identifies key landmarks.

 
   
  • No landmarks identified

 

55%

 

27%

 
  • 1-3 landmarks identified

 

36%

 

27%

 
  • 4-6 landmarks identified

 

9%

 

27%

 
  • 7 or more landmarks identified

 

0%

 

18%

 

Teachers were asked to provide comments on measurable/observable outcomes.

Learner would use eye gaze to look toward the correct symbol 50% of the time.

His participation level and desire to communicate greatly increased.

Once the learner understood that the object was a symbol that represented a location, she was able to far more quickly add object cards to her repertoire.

Student's attention during tasks seemed to increase by about 20%. He developed a routine of performing the activity and identifying the symbol board and at times showed anticipation to be asked to select the symbol of the current activity.

Student is able to make choices between three options, able to anticipate events as well as refuse choices. Student also had tactile landmarks of his schedule so that he knew where he was going next as well as an overview of his day. At the beginning of the day, student would have a daily schedule laid out of his day, then with each transition, student would remove his tactile reminder. Within each session, i.e., braille, student would have choices, i.e., "would you like to do calendar, shapes or alphabet" and each of those choices would be a universal symbol card/board.

Did not use symbols for landmarks. Used symbols for activities, i.e., songs and literacy. Student made distinct choices by picking up the symbol for song to sing on regular basis.

The learner is able to identify the music therapy interventions with the universal symbol and sometimes differentiates between the universal symbol and the null symbol.

She was slow to pick up at the beginning, but eventually began to experience success and learned more quickly.

System was too abstract for this particular student.

For my child it takes a little longer for her to learn things.

The research method used collected sufficient information. Field testers rated instructional attributes of the manual on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high). Overall reviewers rated the manual high. See Table 3: Instructional Attributes of the Manual.

Table 3: Instructional Attributes of the Manual

Attribute

 


 

Low High

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

The description-as given in the manual-of what defines a tangible symbol

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

27%

 

73%

 

The instructional process on how to introduce symbols to a learner

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

27%

 

73%

 

The description on how to use symbols consistently across appropriate activities during the day

 

0%

 

0%

 

18%

 

36%

 

45%

 

The philosophy and explanation of using universal symbols and individualized symbols together

 

0%

 

9%

 

9%

 

9%

 

73%

 

The described characteristics of what makes a good symbol

 

0%

 

0%

 

9%

 

9%

 

82%

 

The introduction and explanation of unfamiliar/specific terms (e.g., indicating responses, probing, errorless learning, etc.)

 

0%

 

0%

 

18%

 

36%

 

45%

 

The special chapter dedicated to deafblindness

 

0%

 

0%

 

18%

 

18%

 

64%

 

The File Review and Case History Protocol

 

0%

 

0%

 

18%

 

45%

 

36%

 

The Teacher and Parent/Caregiver Rating Scale

 

0%

 

0%

 

9%

 

64%

 

27%

 

The Structured Sampling Tasks to Elicit Communication and Intentionality

 

0%

 

0%

 

9%

 

54%

 

36%

 

The Weekly Data Collection Form

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

40%

 

60%

 

The Task Analysis Form

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

27%

 

73%

 

The Data Collection and Probe Form

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

36%

 

64%

 

The SAMPLE forms (John)

 

0%

 

0%

 

9%

 

27%

 

64%

 

Appendix A: Universal Tangible Symbols

 

0%

 

0%

 

9%

 

18%

 

73%

 

Appendix B: Evidence-Based Studies on Tangible Symbols

 

0%

 

0%

 

18%

 

9%

 

73%

 

Appendix C: Building Your Own Tangible Symbol - Instructions for Embedding Objects

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

18%

 

82%

 



Teachers commented that the manual instructions are clear and understandable; they said the manual is very beneficial and provides excellent instructions on how to introduce an object symbol program. One teacher liked the stress on initial errorless learning. Another teacher stressed that it is not enough to just present the object one time to a student-before leaving and then after arriving. Learning partners should continue to alert the student to the object cue and to have a conversation (limited scripted language) about the destination. Just as the cue is presented throughout the activity, it should be presented several times during the trip.

The point is very clear that one is teaching a symbol system, that relies on tactile information rather than creating tactile associations from an object to the real item. This is very important because a small miniature bus would not "feel" at all like a real bus if one examined both using solely tactile information.

I appreciated the point of why an imbedded symbol is more of a communication tool than just an object.

One teacher expressed concern about the concept of standardization.

There does not seem to be enough info [in the manual] about the benefit of using individualized symbols (even as a starting point-such as in an anticipation object calendar system). It seems to be hiding right at the end. People are going to read the negative aspects about creating symbols (people too busy, it's too difficult, etc.) Our students interact with objects throughout the course of their day. Each object represents itself in the activity-finished concept taught with all-done box. I'm worried people will take the easy way out without truly understanding if this system is concrete enough, meaningful, accessible. [The product/STACS] Needs to be meaningful from the perspective of the student, NOT the staff.

Teachers appreciated the special chapter on deafblindness. One teacher liked that the chapter pointed out that the learner's educational team (including the family) must consider if the representation in the standardized set is a good match to the learner. Another teacher expressed that deafblindness should be stressed in the introduction as well-not just in the section for students who are deafblind.

The File Review and Case History Protocol did not generate any comments other than one site did not use it because they have a protocol in practice already.

One teacher appreciated the thoroughness of the Teacher and Parent/Caregiver Rating Scale because it allowed the parent and teacher to determine if they were both realizing the same scenario. Another teacher thought it was fairly straightforward, but with many students in this population, she thought there will be too many unknown answers in the receptive communication section to be useful.

Positive comments about the Structured Sampling Tasks to Elicit Communication and Intentionality included beneficial, easy to understand, and that the identical toy activity is a fascinating concept. One teacher said that each learner is so individualized, so some tasks are okay for some learners but not for her learner.

The Weekly Data Collection Form prompted two comments:

We have our own daily collection form that we need to use for all programming.

I would imagine it would be acceptable if an individual team chose to represent the data day by day as opposed to a whole week at a time...looks crowded and is difficult to read.

Field testers said the Task Analysis Form is useful, clear, and concise. No one commented on the Data Collection and Probe Form. The sample form for a student named John was well received.

Needed this visual to picture how to do the data collection

Found this to be very helpful and easy to follow.

Appendix A: Universal Tangible Symbols, a photo listing of all the symbols in the kit, received positive ratings but generated some constructive feedback.

There were items on the Universal Tangible Symbols list that would be more suitable to a school environment, some items missing that I would include and some items included that were not as relevant.

Pictures are clear. (I don't understand the symbol for Sensory, though.)

Appendix B: Evidence-Based Studies on Tangible Symbols received good ratings. Comments were the following:

Good information.

Well written. Based on personal experience, however, if I didn't have to read this section for the field testing, I would likely just skim it very quickly if I had gotten the kit on my own.

Appendix C: Building Your Own Tangible Symbol - Instructions for Embedding Objects also received good ratings, but two of the three comments suggested alternative methods to construct the cards.

One could easily follow the directions to create additional items to add to one's set. For our purposes, however, we prefer to place items on a hard plastic card which offers greater ease in storage and would be less likely to harm someone should the item be thrown.

Great idea

I wonder if the object itself could be fasten to the card with hot glue, etc, instead of needing to cut out a portion of the card with an Exacto® knife. Some of the objects should be raised slightly more out of the card so the student who uses touch solely, can locate the object on its card and understand its meaning more independently.

Seven (64%) of the field testers watched the DVD on how the make a symbol card, but only four (36%) of them made their own card using the blank card included in the kit. Two (18%) field testers did not find the DVD useful, but 50% found it very useful.

Not every teacher field tester watched every activity video. On average, eight field testers watched each video. Field testers rated the usefulness of the videos on a scale of 1-5 (1 = not useful, 5 = very useful) See Table 4: Usefulness of Activity Videos.

Table 4: Usefulness of Activity Videos

Activity Video

 

Not useful Very useful

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

Nicole Creating Art

 

11%

 

0%

 

11%

 

33%

 

44%

 

Christopher Eating Snack -- Pretzels

 

25%

 

0%

 

0%

 

25%

 

50%

 

Nicole Having Speech

 

11%

 

0%

 

11%

 

33%

 

44%

 

Anthony Eating Snack -- Popcorn

 

13%

 

0%

 

0%

 

38%

 

50%

 

Comments: Nicole Creating Art

It would have been more meaningful to Nicole if she was able to participate in the gathering of materials, cleanup, etc. Otherwise materials begin to magically appear from nowhere and disappear into nothingness.

Provide Nicole with time to touch the actual glue, describe it "Glue is sticky." She can be reaching for the glitter etc if her work area is organized for her. The salient features of the paintbrush should be taught and explored together as well. Not just a swipe at the cue.

Comments: Christopher Eating Snack -- Pretzels

During the probing section of the activity, Chris is only provided the opportunity to touch the "correct" cue. While a second cue is also presented to him; he is not given the opportunity to touch the 2nd choice so he truly is identifying the correct cue. Chris will need to identify and distinguish between two choices using his hands if he will truly be given the chance to learn to communicate a choice.

If he is using vision solely, the choices should be presented on a flat plane, tracking left to right to find two choices, identify them, ultimately touch the cue he prefers.

Why isn't Christopher assisting (at the very least with holding the plastic cup, taking a pretzel from the cup)? If his hand does not fit, he can help with pouring the pretzels from the cup into a bowl. He truly can be more actively involved in his snack activity.

My concern is other staff learns the student sits passively, waiting for the world to come to them.

More time should be provided for the student to explore the object cue, touch all its sides, not just a quick swipe on the top of the cue. Slow the pace to the speed of the student, allow more time.

Comments: Nicole Having Speech

In my opinion, Mr. Potato Head is NOT a meaningful activity for students to learn to identify and locate body parts.

Comments: Anthony Eating Snack -- Popcorn

Appreciate that the student has plate in front of him and that he is deciding when he wants to pick up a piece of popcorn, etc. (Student is more actively and independently involved in this activity.)

Concern is the activity finishes without the student knowing. The plate is silently removed from the table without telling Anthony. He reaches out for another piece to find the plate missing (disappeared into nothingness). He can assist with bringing the plate to the sink; cleaning area; then there is a clear ending to the activity.

The field testers were asked to rate how successful their learner was when he or she used each symbol. Percentages are based on the number of respondents per symbol. Field testers were instructed to leave the symbol rating sheet blank for symbols that their learner did not use. See Table 5: Rating of Symbols.

Table 5: Rating of Symbols



Symbols

 

Unsuccessful Very successful

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

Bathroom

 

20%

 

0%

 

0%

 

20%

 

60%

 

Gym

 

25%

 

0%

 

0%

 

25%

 

50%

 

Speech

 

20%

 

40%

 

0%

 

40%

 

0%

 

Yes

 

40%

 

40%

 

20%

 

0%

 

0%

 

No

 

40%

 

40%

 

20%

 

0%

 

0%

 

Classroom

 

33%

 

0%

 

0%

 

33%

 

33%

 

Literacy

 

25%

 

25%

 

0%

 

25%

 

25%

 

Circle time

 

67%

 

0%

 

0%

 

33%

 

0%

 

Music

 

0%

 

33%

 

0%

 

50%

 

17%

 

OT

 

20%

 

20%

 

20%

 

20%

 

20%

 

PT

 

20%

 

20%

 

20%

 

20%

 

20%

 

Snack

 

0%

 

33%

 

17%

 

17%

 

33%

 

Art

 

33%

 

33%

 

0%

 

33%

 

0%

 

Sensory

 

33%

 

0%

 

0%

 

33%

 

33%

 

Rest

 

50%

 

0%

 

0%

 

25%

 

25%

 

Toothbrush

 

0%

 

43%

 

0%

 

14%

 

43%

 

Cooking

 

25%

 

0%

 

0%

 

25%

 

50%

 

Drink

 

14%

 

14%

 

14%

 

14%

 

43%

 

Lunchroom

 

20%

 

0%

 

0%

 

20%

 

60%

 

More

 

50%

 

25%

 

0%

 

25%

 

0%

 

Finished

 

25%

 

25%

 

25%

 

25%

 

0%

 

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Song

 

50%

 

0%

 

0%

 

25%

 

25%

 

Wheels on the Bus Song

 

50%

 

0%

 

0%

 

25%

 

25%

 

Alphabet Song

 

25%

 

0%

 

0%

 

25%

 

50%

 

Field testers submitted comments about the success of specific symbols.

When a tactile card was handed to her, she knew that was the next activity and would get up and go to the appropriate location with no additional cuing.

The snack card was great because of the crumbling sound.

The classroom, alphabet, and drink were especially successful since the student could easily relate the cause and effect of symbol with the action/place. As well, the blank card had a digital USB card on it that the student associated with listening to a story, and he would immediately find and choose this card. I simply velcro'ed the USB card to the blank card.

[The learner] Had very good success with the song symbols with me during sessions, deliberately choosing a song to sing.

She was very successful with the bathroom symbol, but likely because we had already been using something VERY similar. She was also very successful with the toothbrush, but she also is very interested in toothbrushes anyway.

These symbols were too abstract for the student to understand. The one exception being the toothbrush. This whole object cue has been in use in her 3-activity-calendar schedule for over a year.

She needs more time to get use to these cards. It takes her a long time to get used to new communication options.

Field testers submitted comments about specific symbols that were not successful.

Symbols need to be very relevant to her daily activities and environment to become meaningful.

The large cards (classroom) are too bulky. Some of the cards (wheels on the bus) were too heavy to carry around with the student.

The speech card did not translate--the lips-did not translate to speech perhaps because he is more of a language as a second learner instead of a "speech" student or perhaps because the lips were not "real."

The yes and no symbols were not successfully used at this point, though the aide who works with the student felt he was "on the verge" of using them a bit successfully.

We could never really establish a good connection with the speech symbol.

Student is deafblind with no light perception. It was quite difficult for the student to search the card to locate the cue; too abstract in nature: objects are not familiar to her.

Field testers rated the attributes of the symbol cards (1 = low, 5 = high). Size, durability, portability, ability to clean, relevance of objects, and quality of objects rated highly. Attributes of braille and print received ratings across the scale. See Table 6: Symbol Card Attributes.

Table 6: Symbol Card Attributes


Attributes

 

Low High

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

Size

 

10%

 

0%

 

0%

 

40%

 

50%

 

Durability

 

0%

 

9%

 

0%

 

45%

 

45%

 

Portability

 

9%

 

0%

 

27%

 

27%

 

36%

 

Ability to clean

 

0%

 

10%

 

0%

 

40%

 

50%

 

Relevance of objects

 

0%

 

18%

 

18%

 

36%

 

27%

 

Quality of objects

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

50%

 

50%

 

Location of braille

 

27%

 

0%

 

9%

 

27%

 

36%

 

Quality of braille

 

27%

 

0%

 

9%

 

18%

 

45%

 

Location of print

 

20%

 

0%

 

20%

 

20%

 

40%

 

Quality of print

 

20%

 

0%

 

20%

 

20%

 

40%

 

Field testers submitted the following comments on the symbol cards.

Braille and print not necessary to residents in this facility.

Overall, the cards that the items were placed upon were quite bulky. We preferred the heavy plastic cards that Adaptivations uses, because they fit in a felt book, and were easier to carry throughout the day. Specifically, some particular items would be dangerous as well as bulky, for example the doorknob that is used on the classroom card would really hurt if dropped or used to hit someone. Our population would probably be more likely to associate a doorknob with going outside than the word it was used to represent, which is "classroom." Some concepts and the items used to represent them were quite abstract and our population of individuals who have cognitive as well as sensory impairments have a hard time making associations that are not quite concrete. For example, concepts like "more" and "finished" were difficult. The symbols were often fairly abstract as well. For example, snack time is the material of a snack package, and this was harder for learner to associate than the spoon that is on the other system we had been using. It might have been easier for her, had she not already used the other system for a few initial words. Bathroom tile was also harder to understand than the small toilet seat, which was easy to identify by shape. Some items were more geared toward children and those who are in school so were not relevant.

The variety of cards provided in the kit was great!

Try to braille the labels on black or blue label tape. For a student with some available vision, it will be almost impossible to be aware that the braille is there unless he accidentally finds it.

Place the braille under the print so a teacher can make the print more tactile with puffy paint or just so the letters are not intermixed with each other.

The door handle was too big. My daughter bounces her head back and forth and would hit her head on the handle and she would cry. So we stopped using that one.

Field testers were asked about which specific items from the prototype should be included in the final kit. All field testers felt the assessment forms should be available in an electronic format. They all believe the videos are valuable.

Field testers were asked if they would recommend that their school or agency purchase STACS. Their responses reflected directly whether they had previous experience using an already available product, and whether the product was standardized or not. See Table 7: Purchasing Decisions.

Table 7: Purchasing Decisions


 

Would Purchase STACS

 

Would Not Purchase STACS

 

Never used an object/tactile communication system before

 

8

 
 

Used a homemade object/tactile communication system

 
 

1

 

Used an object/tactile communication system already available (i.e., Adaptivations, Talking My Way, Tactile Connections)

 

1

 

1

 

Research data are still being considered as part of decision-making in product completion. Some symbols have changes as a result of field testers' comments.

References

Bruce, S., Trief, E., & Cascella, P. W. (2011). Teachers' and speech-language pathologists' perceptions about a tangible symbols intervention: Efficacy, generalization, and recommendations. Informa Healthcare, 27, 172-182. doi:10.3109/07434618.2011.610354

class="HangingIndent"Rowland, C., & Schweigert, P. (2000). Tangible symbols, tangible outcomes. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 16, 61-78.

Trief, E. (2007). The use of tangible cues for children with multiple disabilities and visual impairment. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 101, 613-619.

Trief, E., Bruce, S. M., Cascella, P. W., & Ivy, S. (2009). The development of a universal tangible symbol system. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 103, 425-430.

Work during FY 2012

Field testing was completed.

Work planned for FY 2013

Design and layout of the manuscript will take place. Consideration of training videos will continue. An outside vendor will begin to manufacture the symbol cards.



Tactile Graphics



Flip-Over Concept Books: TEXTURES

(Ongoing)

Alt tag: Front cover of Flip-Over Concept Books: TEXTURES

Purpose

To provide young children with an interactive tactile book series that encourages the development and understanding of basic concepts and tactile skills related to shape, texture, spatial concepts, etc.

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Katherine Corcoran, Pattern/Model Maker

Tom Poppe, Pattern/Model Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

InGrid Design, Graphic Designer

Background

In April 2006, the project leader submitted a formal proposal to develop a series of interactive tactile/print books to encourage young children's development and understanding of basic concepts related to shape, texture, spatial concepts, counting, etc. Inspired by recommendations from the Early Books Focus Group, which met at APH in June 2004, these books will address the group's specific requests for both "concept books" as well as "inexpensive, simple books for children 3- to 5-years of age." The Flip-Over Concept Books incorporate an interactive feature whereby the child independently flips pages or adjacent print/tactile panels that can be matched or sequenced. The panels turn so that, for instance, the child can find all of the panels that have a rough texture, continue a line path, complete a sequence, build an image, etc. Additional skills targeted include page turning, fine motor skills, independent choice-making, and problem-solving. The product idea was officially approved for development by the Product Advisory and Review Committee.

The field test of the Flip-Over Concept Books was completed in January 2008. Field evaluations were completed by 13 teachers representing the states of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, and Texas (2). The student sample of 41 students ranged in age from 3 to 16 years old with 24% between 3 and 5, 46% between 6 and 8, 24% between 9 and 11, and 5% between 12 and 16. The student sample was nearly equally divided between females and males (56% and 44%, respectively). The student population reflected cultural diversity: 34% were White, 32% were Hispanic, 20% were African American, 7% were Asian, and 7% were reported as "two or more races." A full 73% were in grades Pre-K through third grade, 20% were in grades 4-6, one student was in 12th grade, and the remaining percentage (5%) were reported as non-graded. The largest percentage of the students (41%) were braille readers; 37% read print or large print; 7% were reported a prereaders; and the remaining percentage were classified as dual readers, auditory readers, or nonreaders. Over half (51%) of the students had other disabilities.



Both Flip-Over Concept Books (LINE PATHS and PARTS OF A WHOLE) were reported as helpful by the teachers in supporting the development and reinforcement of various skills and concepts, with student improvements reported in various areas: more careful tactile exploration, matching, line tracking, page turning, spatial understanding/concept development, overcoming tactile defensiveness, on-task behavior, self-esteem, peer interaction, and interest in tactile games/activities. Additional Flip-Over Concept Books were requested including books to address basic shapes, textures, counting, sequencing, and recreational themes. The most significant change to the books, based upon field test results, was the conversion from a twin-loop binding to one that allows removal, minimization, and randomization of the separate panels.

Quota approval for the two Flip-Over Concept Books (as well as for other future books developed in the series) was received from Educational Products Advisory Committee in May 2008. LINE PATHS became available on November 11, 2009, and PARTS OF A WHOLE became available on June 3, 2010.

Since their introduction to the APH product line, both Flip-Over Concept Books have been in large demand and often backordered. As of July 2012, 2,889 LINE PATHS and 1,998 PARTS OF A WHOLE books have been purchased. Given this popularity, the project leader decided to continue with the development of additional flip-over books. Ninety-two percent of the field test evaluators rated TEXTURES as a much needed book for this series.

Because of work on higher priority projects throughout FY 2011, as well as the lack of available time in the model shop, the project leader was not able to devote significant time to this project. However, she did begin to sketch and select possible textures. The project leader and Tom Poppe also made strides in testing thermoformed and screen-printed flocked styrene; successful outcomes were promising for the incorporation of softer graphic textures for young children.

Work during FY 2012

Following a quiet start in the first quarter of the fiscal year, significant progress on the design of the TEXTURES book was witnessed throughout the remainder of the year. The project leader conceptualized, sketched, and in some cases, fabricated possible textures for the flip-over panels. Molded samples of the considered textures were tooled by Katherine Corcoran during February and March. All of the created textures were vacuum-formed on two types of material-rigid .010 vinyl and flocked styrene. A total of 32 unique textures were generated. These samples were reviewed by in-house tactile readers who were asked to use adjectives to describe each texture, judge its "tactual likability," and note if the texture could be confused with any other in the selection of samples. This anticipated mundane exercise sparked an unexpected lively discussion, resulting in a lengthy list of diverse adjectives for the textures, as well as a pruning of the 32 textures to a total of 24 for use in the final book. In some cases, identical textures, in both the hard vinyl and flocked styrene material, were recommended to encourage careful discrimination by young tactile readers.

One notable difference between the TEXTURES book and the previous Flip-Over Concept Books is the provision of extra panels that the teacher/parent can select from and collate onto the special binding [no more than 10 textures at a time]. This assortment of textures will allow unending combinations of matching panels to avoid boredom and memorization, consequently making TEXTURES more versatile than LINE PATHS or PARTS OF A WHOLE.

In May, the project leader planned and illustrated two vacuum-form setups for the vinyl textures (15 total) and flocked styrene textures (9 total). These drawings were furnished to Technical Research and the Model Shop. By the end of June, Katherine Corcoran had built the two needed vacuum-form patterns-the first a 3 x 5 matrix and the second a 3 x 3 matrix. Concurrently, additional silkscreen printing tests were conducted using the flocked styrene material. In some cases, stocked colors of flocked styrene will be used in production; in other cases, the colors will be silkscreened in-house. The project leader plans to provide each unique texture in three different colors: red, yellow, and blue. A Product Structure Meeting was conducted with the Product Development Committee and a timeline through Goal 5 was determined.

During July, the project leader initiated and guided the art direction of the book's front cover design in conjunction with the outside graphic designer. A mockup employing three different textures in three different colors was provided for reference. The graphic designer duplicated the layout, inserted the series' logo, and used a 5-up template (showing die-cut lines) to prepare the final file for offset printing. This layout was later used by the model maker to construct the vacuum-form pattern to produce the cover as a clear overlay.

The month of August was devoted to the layout of the accompanying Reader's Guide authored by the project leader. By the end of September, the guide's layout had been readied by the outside graphic designer and approved for production. Likewise, the model shop wrapped up hard tooling tasks associated with the vacuum-form masters.

Work planned for FY 2013

Final steps will be taken to prepare Flip-Over Concept Books: TEXTURES for production. Needed cutting dies will be built, locating fixtures will be readied, and the product specifications will be formally presented to Production staff. The project staff will assist in the quality control of the first production run. The project leader will be involved, as well, with post-production activities such as preparing brochure content and demonstrating the product at workshops. Depending on the availability date of TEXTURES, the project leader will initiate work on the next flip-over book in the series.

Note: The popular flip-over book construction is currently being mimicked in the development of a mathematics book titled Flip-Over Concept Books: FRACTIONS [see separate report].

Giant Textured Beads with Pattern Matching Cards

(Completed)

Alt tag: Front cover of the Giant Textured Beads with Pattern Matching Cards guidebook

Purpose

To provide tactile/visual pattern matching cards that extend the use of APH's existing Giant Textured Beads. The tactile cards and textured beads support the tactile continuum encountered in APH's Setting the Stage for Tactile Understanding-real object, thermoformed object, and raised-line drawing.

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Tom Poppe, Pattern/Model Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Bisig Impact Group, Graphic Designer

Background

Giant Textured Beads is a long-standing, consistently popular product produced by APH. The kit consists of 12 large tactile, colored beads that incorporate three different textures (smooth, striped, and checkered), three different colors (red, yellow, and blue), and three different shapes (cube, rectangular solid, and cylinder). Intended for young children ages 3 to 6, the beads can be strung onto a provided cord in various combinations (guided by the teacher's verbal instructions) that reinforce concepts related to shape, color, and texture. However, the kit lacks the common component included with many commercial bead-stringing kits-that is, pattern matching cards. To make the matching cards for the Giant Textured Beads fully accessible to students with visual impairments and blindness, the cards need to be both visual and tactile.

In April 2008, the project leader submitted a product idea form that suggested that APH design and offer tactile matching cards to complement the Giant Textured Beads. The submission form indicated that the proposed product would provide the following:

As proposed, the product will encourage

The target population was expanded to include older students who still need tactile interpretation training.

In May 2008, the product idea was reviewed by the Product Evaluation Team and was approved for development by the Product Advisory and Review Committee. By the end of the fiscal year, the project leader had conducted a "Brainstorming" meeting with the Product Development Committee.

A product timeline for the development of the Giant Textured Beads with Pattern Matching Cards was established in January 2009.

In March 2009, the project leader posted a request for current owners/users of the Giant Textured Beads to complete a 10-question survey to confirm the need for tactile matching cards, as well as to obtain feedback about the current bead design and use. Although only a small number of teachers completed the survey, helpful information was garnered. The feedback provided the following insights:

  1. Giant Textured Beads were being used with children older than 6 years of age, including students in grades 1-3, as well as students with multiple disabilities and cognitive delays. One respondent reported that she used the beads with high school students "in a life skills classroom to build their hand/eye coordination and work on keeping their vision focused on a specific activity," noting that the beads "help build sensory awareness and identification skills."

  2. The beads were used for a variety of activities: matching beads to similar ones of the same shape; following an "ab" or "abc" pattern with the textures/shapes; matching the shape of the bead to other objects in the environment; copying a pattern created by the teacher; using the beads to represent letter sequences, words, or sound patterns; and so forth.

  3. One hundred percent of the respondents thought that pattern matching cards would be a helpful accessory to the existing beads. One teacher noted: "If the cards are tactile, this would be of great benefit for students learning to discriminate tactile graphics and to be able to be more independent when working on a task." Another echoed: "The cards would help the child develop tactile discrimination skills from 3D to 2D."

  4. One hundred percent of the respondents supported the project leader's intention to add a tray to allow a child to place the beads into separate compartments. One evaluator attested: "Currently we use a table and it is difficult to keep the beads in a central location for students to reach." Another expected that "it would specifically help autistic and multi-impaired visually impaired students."

  5. One hundred percent of the respondents indicated that the assortment of print/tactile pattern matching cards (e.g., 2-D raised shape with texture, 2-D raised shapes without texture, and 3-D view with hidden lines depicted) would allow a variety of matching activities. One respondent indicated: "A variety of cards would be great for students at various cognitive/skill levels."

  6. Some respondents requested a duplicate of each type of bead. One teacher explained: "I often combine sets in order to work with students and have them copy me."

Throughout the third and fourth quarters of FY 2009, multiple prototypes of the Giant Textured Beads with Pattern Matching Cards were designed and built by the project leader and the model/pattern maker in preparation for field test activities. These tasks involved the following:

By the end of July 2009, the project leader and the pattern/model maker had all of the tangibles constructed for field test purposes-2 months ahead of schedule despite the product's complexity. In September, the project leader authored an Activities Booklet to accompany the beads and matching cards.

In October 2009, the project leader posted a request for field evaluators in the APH News. Nearly 40 teachers expressed interest in field testing.

The field test of Giant Textured Beads with Pattern Matching Cards was initiated in November 2009 and extended through January 2010. Product evaluations were completed by 12 teachers representing the states of Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Texas (2), Vermont, and Virginia. The majority (75%) of evaluators worked in itinerant settings, 17% worked in resource centers, and 8% worked in day schools. Over half (58%) of the field evaluators had previous experience using the original Giant Textured Beads.

The student sample of 46 students ranged in age from 1 to 16 years of age with 23% between the ages of 1 and 4, 31% between the ages of 5 and 7, 37% between the ages of 8 and 11, and 10% between the ages of 12 and 16. Gender representation was split between 61% males and 39% females. The student population reflected cultural diversity: 72% White, 7% Hispanic, 13% African American, 2% American Indian, and 7% "two or more races." Grade levels were represented like so: 23% of the students were in preschool, 17% were in kindergarten, 30% were in grades 1-3, 12% were in grades 4-6, and 4% were in grades 7-9; a full 15% were classified as "ungraded." The students' primary reading media varied greatly: 28% were braille readers, 22% were large print or print (size unspecified) readers, 17% were nonreaders, 13% were prereaders or pre-braille readers, 7% were auditory readers, and 6% were dual readers (braille/large print and auditory/braille). A primary reading medium was not reported for 7% of the students. A large percentage (72%) of the students had other disabilities including Down Syndrome, autism, speech delays, ADHD, cognitive impairments, developmental delays, and cerebral palsy.

One hundred percent of the evaluators recommended that APH produce Pattern Matching Cards to complement the existing Giant Textured Beads. Unanimous approval was given for the following features of the kit: the provision of three different types of matching cards (i.e., duplicate, 2-D raised platform, and 3-D Views); colors, textures, and size of the matching cards; thickness and color of backing foam applied to matching cards (especially for students with multiple disabilities); durability of cards; usefulness of the sorting trays; the manner in which the trays securely held the matching cards; and the usefulness of the Activities Booklet. All of the evaluators thought the kit reinforced skills/concepts related to identification of shapes, identification of textures, identification of colors, sorting and classifying by various attributes, hand skills, patterning skills, and interpretation of tactile displays.

All of the students were reported as enjoying the use of the Pattern Matching Cards in combination with the Giant Textured Beads. Performance outcomes for the students were reported with regard to their success in matching the three types of cards to the actual textured beads. The performance results supported the tactile continuum from the easiest-to-match cards (Duplicate) to most difficult (3-D Views) across all age groups:

PATTERN MATCHING CARDS (f/Giant Textured Beads)

 
 

Matched successfully on first attempt

 

Matched successfully after a few attempts

 

Never matched successfully

 

Did not use this type of matching card

 

All Students (n =43)

**Note: Outcomes for 3 students were not reported.

 

Duplicate Cards

 

13 (30%)

 

23 (53%)

 

7 (16%)

 
 

Platform Cards

 

12 (28%)

 

13 (30%)

 

9 (21%)

 

9 (21%)

 

3-D View Cards

 

7 (16%)

 

11 (26%)

 

8 (19%)

 

17 (40%)

 

AGES 1-4

 

Duplicate Cards

 

1 (10%)

 

8 (80%)

 

1 (10%)

 
 

Platform Cards

 

3 (30%)

 

4 (40%)

 

2 (20%)

 

1 (10%)

 

3-D View

Cards

 

3 (30%)

 

1 (10%)

 

2 (20%)

 

4 (40%)

 

AGES 5-7

 

Duplicate Cards

 

6 (46%)

 

5 (38%)

 

2 (15%)

 
 

Platform Cards

 

3 (23%)

 

5 (38%)

 

2 (15%)

 

3 (23%)

 

3-D View Cards

 

1 (8%)

 

5 (38%)

 

1 (8%)

 

6 (46%)

 

AGES 8-11

 

Duplicate Cards

 

6 (40%)

 

7 (47%)

 

2 (13%)

 
 

Platform Cards

 

6 (40%)

 

3 (20%)

 

2 (13%)

 

4 (27%)

 

3-D View Cards

 

3 (20%)

 

5 (33%)

 

2 (13%)

 

5 (33%)

 

AGES 12-16

 

Duplicate Cards

 
 

3 (60%)

 

2 (40%)

 
 

Platform Cards

 
 

1 (20%)

 

3 (60%)

 

1 (20%)

 

3-D View Cards

 
   

3 (60%)

 

2 (40%)

 

The following percentages of evaluators reported appropriateness of the kit for various target populations:

Target Population

 

Percentage of evaluators who found Pattern Matching Cards to be suitable for target population

 

Preschoolers with visual impairments/blindness

 

92%

 

Kindergarteners with visual impairments/blindness

 

100%

 

Tactile readers in Grades 1-3

 

100%

 

Low vision students in Grades 1-3

 

100%

 

Older students with limited prior experience with tactile learning materials

 

67%

 

Children with multiple disabilities

 

92%

 

The versatility of the Giant Textured Beads with Pattern Matching Cards was best summarized by one of the evaluators: "This kit offers a complete range of learning opportunities from the earliest learners (infant/toddlers) to academic elementary students with multiple disabilities. The variety gave me, as an instructor, a level of flexibility not found with all teaching materials."

Field evaluators' feedback was used to determine enhancements to the materials and accompanying guidebook. Post field-test activities included the following:

Production tooling for the kit's main components was available by the end of February 2011. In May, the final production specifications were provided to Production staff; during the same month, the Educational Products Advisory Committee granted Quota approval. By July, the first signs of production were witnessed-that is, the product documentation was produced and needed materials from outside vendors (e.g., drawstring bags, textured beads) were received. By the first of August, the new version of the Giant Textured Beads (1-03780-00) was stocked.

Work during FY 2012

Although November 2011 was the target date for availability of the Giant Textured Beads with Pattern Matching Cards (1-03778-00) and the replacement package of Pattern Matching Cards (1-03779-00), significant delays were experienced throughout the fiscal year due to a variety of unforeseen events. Difficulties ranged from outside vendors delivering the incorrect dimension of non-skid foam and the wrong color of flocked styrene, to in-house die-cutting of the Pattern Matching Cards. The latter difficulty was characterized by noticeable fracturing of vacuum-formed vinyl laminated to 6mm foam. Using a suggestion made by the project leader-specifically, to reverse die cut so that the foam was cut through after the vinyl layer-fracturing of parts ceased in future production runs. Other problem-solving tasks involved locating and testing controlled-shrink vinyl that minimized webbing during the vacuum-form process. The chemical content of vinyl sheets located by the model maker was analyzed by an outside company. Finding a type of vinyl resistant to webbing was critical, not only for this product, but for other products utilizing this material-especially combined print/tactile components. Another hurdle was locating an ideal liquid resin used by an outside vendor to produce fully-cured and odorless beads with appropriate pigments. Using a safe resin identified by the model maker for Tactile Town prototypes [see separate report], the Giant Textured Beads were formed and delivered to APH in a satisfactory condition.

Troubleshooting unforeseen production stumbles and vendor issues represented most of the project staff's efforts on this product. By April 2012, production on this kit was at full throttle, characterized by successfully silkscreened, vacuum-formed, and die-cut Pattern Matching Cards. In May 2012, the Pattern Matching Cards (1-03779-00) were stocked. Production and collation of the full kit (1-03778-00) occurred in June, followed by formal announcement of its availability on July 3, 2012. The full kit is available with Quota funds for $149.00, and a replacement package of Pattern Matching Cards sells for $49.00.

Work planned for FY 2013

Aside from the project leader's demonstration of the kit at workshops, conferences, and in-house training sessions, no additional work is expected on this project. Despite earlier production struggles, the vinyl-laminated-to-foam format created by the project leader has positively and directly impacted the design of future products duplicating its production process, e.g., DNA-RNA Kit [see separate report].

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

Karen Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Fred Otto, Tactile Graphics Project Leader


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 2012

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 2013

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 Line Drawing Slate

(New)

Purpose

To provide a clear slate, in combination with an appropriate stylus(es), 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.

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Tom Poppe, Pattern/Model Maker

Background

The idea of the Tactile Line Drawing Slate was conceptualized by the project leader in 2009. A technical drawing of the product was prepared by the pattern/model maker that illustrated possible line types. Due to high-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.

As conceptualized, the clear 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.

Work during FY 2012

Following the completion of some major products-e.g., Tactile Town and Giant Textured Beads with Pattern Matching Cards-the project leader resurrected the technical drawing of the Tactile Line Drawing Slate and submitted a product submission form in April 2012. In July, the concept was considered and approved for development by both the Product Evaluation Team and the 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 fiscal year.

Work planned FY 2013

Multiple prototypes of the Tactile Line Drawing Slate will be built and then field tested by evaluators representing the intended audience. Field test results will directly impact the final design and production of the slate. The pattern/model maker will ready needed drawings for eventual injection-molding, and the project leader will prepare an instruction sheet that demonstrates proper uses of the tool. The project staff will provide Technical Research with the product specifications and work with Purchasing staff to acquire samples prior to production. The availability of the product will likely occur in FY 2014.

Tactile Skills Online Matrix

(Continued)


Alt tag: Photo of sample page of Tactile Skills Online Matrix

Purpose

To provide an online document or "matrix" that cross-references important tactile skills with available APH products

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

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 in the style of YouTube. 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.

Work during FY 2012

Because of higher priority products assigned (most notably the completion of Tactile Town), the project leader was only able to work intermittently on the Tactile Skills Online Matrix. 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.

Work planned for FY 2013

Actual construction of the Tactile Skills Online Matrix will characterize most of FY 2013. Identification and listing of important tactile skills paired with APH products will be outlined by the project leader. A trial run of the online, interactive page will be expert reviewed and altered (if needed) before official unveiling on the APH Web site.

TG TV

(Continued)

Purpose

To create a series of instructional videos that give real-time, specific examples of the thinking that goes into adapting print images into tactile graphics

Project Staff

Fred Otto, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Background

The existing videos relating to tactile graphics, from APH and elsewhere, speak either in very general terms about philosophy or in specific terms about working with production tools. What is apparently lacking is an understanding of how to adapt the 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 and a relaxed tone would be an effective way to depict good reasoning and good practices.

The project leader experimented with "screen-capture" programs, which record the onscreen editing of images in a drawing program along with voice-over narration. This is a low-cost, direct way to illustrate the processes and will form 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 project leader selected textbook graphics to serve as the subject material of the initial videos and began to adapt them into tactile designs. A popular screen-capture software program was downloaded for trial use and then purchased.

Work during FY 2012

Two videos were produced, one to serve as an introduction to the series and the other to convey 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.

Work planned for FY 2013

The first two videos will be released for free viewing or download early in the fiscal year, and more installments of the series will be produced. The project leader will monitor the websites (APH site and YouTube APH channel) for comments, reactions, and suggested directions.



Study Skills / Organizational Skills

Calendar Time

(Continued)

Purpose

To modernize the Classroom Calendar Kit and the Individual Calendar Kit to have them work interchangeably with each other, and have them meet the early childhood standards used by preschool and early elementary classrooms

Project Staff

Charles "Burt" Boyer, Early Childhood Project Leader

Donna Brostek Lee, Consultant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Background

Classroom discussions related to the calendar have become more than just learning months of the year, dates, and events. Several teachers of the visually impaired suggested that APH should review the Classroom Calendar Kit and the Individual Calendar Kit and make revisions to bring them in line with early childhood standards. Teachers of the visually impaired presently have to make their own individual calendars because of the following:

  1. Patterning is being emphasized during calendar time.

  2. Shapes, and colors, are being used for calendar activities, e.g., yellow circles, blue squares, orange triangles, red rectangles, pink stars, purple ovals, etc.

  3. Teachers mix and match the sets to create patterns on the calendar.

The current size of the classroom calendar board is appropriate. For the student-sized calendar, it is recommended that the board be made from plastic (rather than paper) with pieces that are attached with Velcro®; thus, the board can be reused with number sets instead of current paper version. Patterning with shapes and colors at calendar time relates to the integrated curriculum approach (date, reading, numbers, lettering, patterning, shapes, colors, etc.), and this revision will address this issue more appropriately and consistently. This modernization will be very beneficial to teachers of the visually impaired and other service providers, as they have to make these calendars as described, which is very time-consuming.

In 2008, work began on the modernization of the Classroom Calendar Kit and the Individual Calendar Kit. The project leader and the consultant met several times to discuss the modernization, and identified suggestions for consideration as the product idea moves forward. Based on sales of the current products Individual Calendar Kit 1-18971-00 and Classroom Calendar Kit 1-18970-00, these will not be replaced by the new Calendar Kit. Instead of a modernization, the new Calendar Kit, to be called Calendar Time, will be an additional APH product.

In FY 2009, a contract and timeline were established with the consultant. The project leader and consultant began to work with Technical Research on the design and materials of the calendars. Layout templates of the student-sized calendar pieces were completed. The consultant researched curriculum standards set forth by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics as they relate to use of the calendar product. In addition, the consultant began to write the user's guide for the kit.

The consultant, project leader, and research assistant presented the Calendar Time kit during the 2009 Information Fair at the APH Annual Meeting. Prototypes of the student-sized and classroom-sized calendars, along with their calendar pieces, were shown. Comments from attendees were very positive, and people liked the idea of matching calendar boards. Many attendees expressed interest in field testing the product.

Components of the kit were further defined to include an instruction booklet; classroom size calendar and student size calendar; and Velcro pieces for the year, month, days, and numbers 1-31 in several shapes/colors.

Work during FY 2012

Progress on this product was delayed by the consultant's scheduling conflicts as well as the delay of prototype development. The consultant presented the product idea to the Early Childhood Focus Group, which met at APH in August 2012. The group provided a mixed review of current usage of calendars in the early childhood classroom, i.e., some reported that teachers are doing less calendar activities, and others reported that calendar activities are very much incorporated into the curriculum. The APH Core Curriculum Consultant, Jeanette Wicker, expressed that calendars remain an important piece of the early childhood classroom as calendars are used to meet multiple core curriculum standards in early childhood such as patterning, counting, shapes, colors, etc. The focus group recommended that APH construct a survey to assess the current opinions of professionals in the field of early childhood.

Work planned for FY 2013

A survey will be developed to ascertain the current practices of "circle time/calendar time" in the early childhood classroom. The results of this survey will guide APH regarding the next steps for this project. The consultant remains enthusiastic to work on this project in the future. Tasks that remain for the development of Calendar Time are the following: content, design, and layout of the user's guide; the completion of kit prototypes; field testing and subsequent revisions; and production.



Labeling, Marking, and Organization: A Self-Help Guide for Persons After Vision Loss

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide information to adults who have lost vision about how to identify objects and materials in their environment

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Lisa-Anne Mowerson, Project Author/Consultant

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Background

An Independent Living Specialist in Kentucky suggested that APH create a set of large print labels for canned foods and pantry items. Input from a focus group of rehabilitation teachers led to the expansion of this product to include a consumer-oriented book that provides guidance in organizational techniques as well as labeling. A Labeling Tool Kit is also being considered as an accompaniment to the book. These materials will help visually impaired adults who are unable to access rehabilitation teaching services to understand and apply organizational and labeling principles. Rehabilitation teachers can also use these materials with students.

During FY 2004, Lisa-Anne Mowerson produced materials based on her years of experience teaching these skills to individuals and groups of persons with visual impairments. Editing, restructuring, and reorganization of materials for the first third of the book were completed. During FY 2005, revision and editing of materials in the second third of the book was undertaken. During FY 2006, the project leader completed the editing/writing of the middle third of the book. The consultant and project leader redesigned the structure for the final third of the book. This portion of the book was originally based on structure and presentation style used in face-to-face teaching; consequently, the book's material required major reorganization in order to support learning without the aid of a teacher and student group. During FY 2007, the consultant rewrote the final chapters of the book, and the project leader expanded and edited them. Because the project leader's time was required for other projects, essential work on the Labeling Book was postponed during FY 2008.

During FY 2009, the project leader rewrote sections of the book to reflect advances in auditory labeling systems and to include new MagneTacher labels available for sale from APH. Information about MagneTacher labels is available on the APH Web site: http://www.aph.org/advisory/2008adv01.html#P3

During FY 2010, the project leader and consultant completed revisions to the final third of the book, and a draft was prepared for field review. Field reviewers were selected, and the field review process was begun.

During FY 2011, the field review process was completed. Revisions suggested by field reviewers were made to the book, cover art was acquired, and final book content was completed.

Work during FY 2012

Additional photographs were collected for use in cover art. The Resources Chapter was updated to reflect newly available technology and other product changes.

Work planned for FY 2013

Graphic design layout of the book will be completed. Braille translation and creation of HTML and DTB files will be completed. It is anticipated that the product will be produced and made available for sale in FY 2013.



INDEPENDENT LIVING SKILLS



Food Portion Serving Utensils and Food Portion and Carbohydrate Counting Booklet

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop accessible materials that outline appropriate food group portions and teach carbohydrate counting skills for persons with diabetes and others who struggle with appropriate portion sizes and to provide appropriate measuring devices for food portions

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Debra A. Sokol-McKay, Author/Consultant

Background

Obesity and diabetes are highly prevalent in the United States population. Vision loss can be caused by diabetes. Many individuals with diabetes and visual impairment as well as non-diabetics with visual impairment cannot use visual guides to determine appropriate serving sizes and to count carbohydrates (one approach to diabetes management and more general weight management). This project develops a guidebook in accessible form that describes appropriate food portion sizes and carbohydrate amounts in various foods as well as utensils that measure appropriate portion sizes. The accessible guidebook would be produced in recorded, large print, and braille formats. Serving utensils would be marked tactually and visually so that persons who are blind or visually impaired could easily identify serving sizes for each utensil.

During FY 2011, a contract was developed with the author/consultant and initial plans to begin work on the project were made.

Work during FY 2012

The consultant provided samples of slotted and solid serving utensils that measured specific quantities. The consultant indicated that her schedule was too full to begin writing the book during this fiscal year. The project leader located slotted and solid serving utensils that measured specific quantities and that included braille labels to indicate the quantity that they held.

Work planned for FY 2013

A first draft of the guidebook will be written.

Money Handling and Budgeting, Revised

(New)

Purpose

To provide students with current and relevant instruction on identifying money, managing money, and budgeting

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Holly M. Lawson, Consultant

Background

In 1997, APH produced Money Handling and Budgeting, a resource guide to support instruction of students who were blind or visually impaired in areas of identification and management of money and creating and managing a budget. This book provides general descriptions of techniques for money identification, managing bank accounts, and creating and following budgets. However, this book does not present organized sets of age-appropriate activities and lesson plans and does not rely on accepted standards for age-appropriate money management activities.

Since the publication of this book, technologies for managing money have expanded dramatically. Money identification devices, both standalone and iPhone-based, have multiplied and have become very accurate. Online banking and other financial management services have also expanded. In addition, the Jump$tart Coalition®, comprised of financial and education organizations throughout the United States, has developed and maintains the National Standards in K-12 Personal Finance Education, downloadable from http://www.jumpstart.org/national-standards.html. It is desirable to revise Money Handling and Budgeting to include new technology, emphasize use of the Internet to manage finances, and comply with national educational standards for financial education.

On December 8, 2011, Holly Lawson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, George Mason University, conducted a presentation titled "Independence Through Financial Literacy and Money Management" at the Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference in Louisville, KY. In this presentation, Lawson described changes in essential content of financial education that had occurred since the publication of Money Management and Budgeting. In a conversation with Terlau after the presentation, Lawson expressed a strong interest to participate in the update of this APH product.

Work during FY 2012

Lawson and Terlau exchanged e-mails defining the scope of work in this project. A consultant contract was signed by both APH and Lawson. Lawson presented a draft outline for the revised book.

Work planned for FY 2013

A first draft of the revision will be written.

Table Setting Placemats in Braille and Large Print

(Discontinued)

Purpose

To provide a tactile and large print graphic of a table place setting to be used in teaching table setting to persons with visual impairments

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Background

Carolyn Brooks, who teaches etiquette at universities in Texas, proposed the development of tactile graphic and large print graphic table settings that show the correct placement of plates, cups, bowls, and silverware. A brief guidebook written by Brooks would accompany the braille and large print table setting graphics. This graphic could assist students with visual impairments to learn proper placement of table-setting items.

During FY 2011, the product was accepted for development by APH.

Work during FY 2012

The contract was not completed, and product development was abandoned.

Teflon Clothing Tape

(New)

Purpose

To provide material for brailling color labels that, when sewed or pinned to garments, can remain attached when garments are washed and dried

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Rod Dixon, Manufacturing Specialist

Carol Roderick, Research Assistant

Background

Teflon tape, approximately one half-inch wide, has been popular with vision rehabilitation therapists and adults who read braille because it holds braille dots well and does not degrade in automatic washer and dryer cycles. Persons who read braille and cannot identify the colors of their clothes visually can braille color names onto Teflon tape and pin or sew these tags into garments.

This product was available for sale in the past from specialty vendors, but is no longer available. Vision rehabilitation therapists and adults with visual impairments have noted the absence of this product and have indicated that this product is needed.

Work during FY 2012

Terlau provided samples of Teflon material purchased when this item was available for sale. She met with Dixon to discuss possible Teflon sources, determined that strong safety pins should be included in the kit, and procured a number of different kinds of quilting pins (the most durable safety pins available). Terlau and Roderick tested a variety of brands and types of quilting pins and determined the type/brand that would be suitable for inclusion in the kit. Dixon located a source for the tape, and prototype samples were requested.

Work planned for FY 2013

The tape, pins, and print/braille directions will be field tested with vision rehabilitation therapists and adults who read braille. Changes will be made as needed, and the product will become available for sale.



ORIENTATION AND MOBILITY



APH Talking PC Maps

(Continued)

Purpose

To teach street layout and location literacy with an interactive, PC-based, talking, and onscreen United States map in which specific key strokes move students virtually along streets and past points of interest

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader

Background

In 2007, Mike May, CEO of the Sendero Group (a company noted for its development of accessible GPS systems for persons with visual impairments), proposed that APH develop, in collaboration with Sendero, a map exploration tool to be run on the BrailleNote® note taker made by Humanware Inc., and possibly later on a PC. The Product Advisory and Review Committee decided to pursue the development of such a product for the PC.

Ongoing dialog was undertaken among all interested parties, leading to the following conclusions about product development: first, working jointly to provide a GPS solution for the Braille Mobile Manager and a maps solution for the PC was not feasible because technical differences between operating systems precluded parallel and collaborative development; second, Talking PC Maps must present street data by itself to teach street layout and must also present combined street and Point of Interest data to teach the integration of landmarks, location awareness, and street layout; and third, Talking PC Maps must perform in accordance with a stipulated set of essential features, some of which will be stipulated as proprietary to the APH PC program.

During FY 2009, the project leader specified an overall program description, a set of essential features (some of which are proprietary to APH's PC software), a set of directions for describing intersection shapes and layouts, and a set of onscreen color combinations to be used to depict pertinent features.

During FY 2010, Sendero released a map product for the PC that included many of the basic, nonproprietary features of the APH product. In a new product proposal, Sendero indicated that more advanced and proprietary features could be easily added to their existing software to produce the product of interest to APH. In a contract between APH and Sendero, arrangements for purchasing the finished software product from Sendero were made.

During FY 2011, Version 1 of the software was developed with APH proprietary features and was field tested. After appropriate changes were made, Version 1 was made available for sale. Immediately after Version 1 was made available for sale, specified features for Version 2 of the software were developed. Version 2 features include the following: an onscreen graphical map as well as textual location information; navigation from one point of interest to the next; and the ability to record, save, print, braille, or export routes created by the user in addition to routes created by the software.

Work during FY 2012

After final revisions were made to Version 2, it was released. All individuals who had activated Version 1 were notified of the free upgrade, and all inventory was upgraded to the new version. The Sendero Group then prepared a 2012 update including new 2012 maps as well as the ability to check for, download, and install software, map, and points-of-interest updates from within the program. These new features were beta tested.

Work planned for FY 2013

The 2012 software version may become available for sale, and the 2013 maps/POI/software update may be created and beta tested.

Concepts and Skills for Crossings with No Traffic Control

(Continued)

Purpose

To create audio/video/written instructional materials to help persons with visual impairments determine when it may be unsafe to cross an uncontrolled intersection independently

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Dona Sauerburger, Consultant

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 independently crossing 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.

During FY 2011, the product was accepted for development by APH. Initial discussions about the scope of work between the Adult Life Project Leader and Sauerburger were conducted.

Work 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.

Work planned for FY 2013

Creation of videos and written material will begin. Product prototype will be completed or nearly completed.

Echolocation

(Continued)

Purpose

To create a guidebook to teach persons with visual impairments the use of echo location to obtain information about surrounding space and environmental features

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Background

In her 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 echo location techniques. Kish, renowned for both using and teaching echo location methods, will provide content; Hook, noted rehabilitation practitioner and university instructor in the United Kingdom, will provide a vision rehabilitation perspective, structure, and writing expertise. It is anticipated that Hook and Kish will jointly author the manual and that both will be considered consultants on the project after contractual arrangements are completed. The manual proposes that echo location skills can be learned and used by persons with visual impairments to help pinpoint environmental features and move effectively through space. The manual will provide exercises to be done with a teacher or instructor or alone to help students build echo location skills.

During FY 2011, the product was accepted for development by APH. Initial discussions began between the Adult Life Project Leader and Hook regarding scope of work.

Work during FY 2012

APH and the authors began planning for project.

Work planned for FY 2013

Writing of the book will begin.

Freedom

(New)

Purpose

To assess usability and value of Freedom, which is an electronic travel device that acquires environmental data from a video camera and translates it into vibration patterns in a neck strap

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Andrew Mahoney, Consultant, Prototype Developer

Background

Andrew Mahoney has invented a new camera-based mobility aid for persons with visual impairments. A digital camera worn around the neck sends photos of the environment and obstacles in it through processing software that identifies locations of obstacles relative to the wearer. The processor translates this information into signals sent to vibrating units worn around the user's neck as part of the camera strap. Obstacles to the left result in vibration on the left shoulder; obstacles to the right result in vibration on the right shoulder; and obstacles straight ahead result in vibration on the back of the neck. The closer the obstacle is, the stronger the vibration. Vibrators work in unison so that an individual can pinpoint the position of an obstacle within a 180-degree range to the left/front/right and take action to avoid it. Unlike any other obstacle-detection device, the feedback from this device is kinesthetic and intuitive and the device does not require the use of a hand. In addition, the device looks like a digital camera and does not stigmatize the wearer.

On March 11, 2010, Andrew Mahoney met with APH staff to demonstrate an early prototype of this digital-camera-based obstacle detection system. He explained and demonstrated his device to a group consisting of Will Evans, Ralph Bartley, Terrie Terlau, and others. The group's consensus was that Mahoney's prototype held promise because information from a digital camera is far more precise than information from ultrasound or infrared used in previous obstacle-detection devices. The group provided suggestions for improvement and described the process used at APH to determine whether a prototype might be considered for development as an APH product.

After making substantial changes in the device resulting from this meeting, particularly the manner in which feedback about obstacle location was delivered to the user, Mahoney submitted an APH Product Idea Submission Form on March 24, 2011.

Work during FY 2012

Mahoney updated the Product Idea Submission Form with new research evidence on November 15, 2011. The Product Evaluation Team approved this product submission for consideration by the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC) on January 24, 2012. On February 8, 2012, PARC determined that this submission warranted consideration for development as an APH product. Discussion supported the need for extremely rigorous field testing and expert review to determine actual effectiveness and utility of this obstacle detection system and the degree to which such a system would prove useful and acceptable to (and therefore purchasable by) orientation and mobility specialists and students with visual impairments.

In order to thoroughly assess the utility, effectiveness, and acceptability of this product, field testing with 25 orientation and mobility specialists (each with one or more students) is planned. To test this device, each instructor will need to use it on at least three lessons with a given student. It is anticipated that an instructor would need to retain a prototype for a period of two-to-four weeks to test it adequately. Five prototype units were purchased from Mahoney with delivery anticipated during September 2012. A request for orientation and mobility instructors as field testers was made.

Work planned for FY 2013

Field testing with 25 orientation and mobility specialists (each with one or more students) is planned. This plan would allow field test data to be collected within a five to six month period and would allow decisions to be made about further development of this product in a reasonable timeframe.

Nearby Explorer

Formerly GPS (Continued)

Purpose

To provide location, navigation, and routing functions to the Braille+ and accessible Android devices that are geared specifically to blind pedestrians

Project Staff

Larry Skutchan, Technology Project Leader

Michael Borsuk, Project Consultant

Rob Meredith, Programmer

Tim Allen, Consultant

Marc Mulcahy, Consultant

Deanne Chance, Consultant

Background

Since the introduction of the original Braille+, APH and its customers knew that location based services are critical to an independent blind pedestrian, especially in unfamiliar environs.

Since the new design of the Braille Plus 18 is based on the Android operating system, the development team also realized that they were in a unique position to provide state-of-the-art, location-based services at an affordable price by releasing the app in the Android Market (now called Play Store). Thus, anyone with an accessible Android phone could take advantage of its services.

While there are numerous GPS solutions available for sighted drivers, none is appropriate for use by blind pedestrians. Some speak route instructions, but none is accessible enough to let the blind traveler set the device or ask it for information. Devices designed for sighted users also use graphical representations of maps to provide information about location, points of interest, and routes. A blind pedestrian needs a virtual map that lets her use keys to command the program to move through map data in a logical and useful way. To this end, APH began designing software that lets the user navigate through virtual space by moving from point to point. That point can be a street or path intersection, a point of interest, or a distance.

Another feature not provided by commercial GPS devices is the ability to get information about the buildings or other features of the landscape around the user. Such a system might tell the user something like "Papa John's Pizza ahead and to the right" or even "three way intersection with traffic light control."One of the most frustrating experiences for the blind traveler is the inability to read signage that adorns businesses, public facilities, and other landmarks in the environment. Such a system provides this information as well. The user may receive this information upon request, or she may instruct the device to automatically announce each point of interest as she approaches it.

In terms of routing, the blind pedestrian obviously wants to be able to walk on streets that may be controlled in a certain direction for motor vehicle traffic, wants to avoid getting a route that has her walking on an interstate, and wants extra information about pedestrian specific characteristics of the environment.

In this three-phase project, APH will provide the basic navigation, location, and routing functions in the first portion of the project.

Phase two includes the ability to create and share points of interest and information about points of interest.

In phase three, indoor spaces will be included in the ability to locate and get routes for points of interest.

At the same time, augmenting the GPS signal with various other technologies in an effort to improve accuracy and provide more relevant details is critical to this project in order to provide information to the blind pedestrian that is otherwise not available. It is currently very difficult, for example, to tell exactly where a path, door, or entrance to a business because of the limited accuracy of GPS signals. There are also no standards that make precise location possible. One instance of this problem can be observed easily when trying to locate a specific shop within a mall that may contain dozens of businesses. Most maps currently indicate the presence of all the stores as one point, and, worse, that point is often marked in the middle of the street, not 100 yards off the street where the mall entrance is located.

Staff evaluated several Software Development Kits (SDK) for the Android platform and determined the optimal one in terms of licensing, capabilities, and features. In the end, two stood out, and APH decided to use both of them in different ways.

Way Finder is a server-based mapping system that is now available as open source. Staff worked closely with the former Way Finder team to compile the Android port, compile maps, and set up a server to manage users and map data. Phases two and three of this project will likely use this foundation as a means of user communication and map sharing.

The second SDK uses onboard map data. The team used this software because it does not require a network data connection to be used effectively, and there is good support for Android.

Programmers created an Android application that provides the blind user with an excellent method to determine where she is, inform her about what is around, and route her to a selected destination while continuing to provide the additional informational features.

Programmers created a service that posts notifications about selected kinds of objects; so as the user's position changes, the selected items' values are spoken or brailled. These features include the following:

During the first phase of this project, developers performed the following tasks:

Work during FY 2012

Project staff worked to complete the following:

Work planned for FY 2013

Project staff will work to complete the following:

O&M for Wheelchair Users

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide an electronic book with videos for Orientation and Mobility Specialists who work with individuals who have visual impairment in addition to being wheelchair users

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Multiple Disabilities Project Leader

J. Scott Crawford, Co-author

Pat Crawford, Co-author

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Larry Skutchan, Technology Project Leader/Technical Advisor

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Background

This product was identified by the Multiple Disabilities Focus Group (2001). It was rated the ninth greatest need of 48 recommended products with a score of 4.15 (on a scale of 1-5) on the Multiple Disabilities Survey (2001). On a follow-up survey conducted at the 2006 Annual Meeting, it was rated the second greatest need receiving 12 points. The product rated of greatest need received 15 points. Research along with trial and error resulted in the successful use of HTML5 with subtitles. This is new technology. The formatting of subtitles proved successful for use with a refreshable braille display. This makes the product accessible to a consumer with deafblindness who reads braille.

Work during FY 2012

The front matter and the first three chapters were created in HTML5. Three sample videos were embedded. The project leader presented the sample at the 2011 APH Annual Meeting of the Ex Officio Trustees. The author presented the sample at various trainings and presentations, including the 2012 AER convention in Bellevue, WA.

Work planned for FY 2013

Editing and narration will continue on the videos.



Step By Step: An Interactive Guide to Mobility Techniques

(Continued)

Purpose

To offer university students who are studying to become orientation and mobility specialists a visual tool that they can use outside of class time to learn, review, and practice the mobility techniques that they are learning to teach

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Rosanne Hoffmann, Co-Project Leader

Sandy Rosen, Author/Consultant

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

Background

In the Product Idea Submission Form that Sandy Rosen prepared for APH, she provided the following background information about this project. "A laserdisc prototype (developed through a grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education) was originally field tested by students and faculty in orientation and mobility at three universities: The University of Texas at Austin, Western Michigan University, and San Francisco State University. Feedback from students and faculty not only revealed multiple effective uses for such a database and interactive learning tool, but it also confirmed that there were significant differences among the universities in how students were taught to perform mobility skills.

"Surprised by this finding, and wanting to develop a tool that would have national relevance, Dr. Rosen participated in a symposium at San Francisco State University in February 1993. University faculty in O&M from throughout the United States were brought together to share the methods of performing mobility techniques that they each teach at their respective universities and colleges. In this symposium, participants demonstrated their individual methods for performing each technique and, as a nationally representative group, came to a general consensus on acceptable basic standard and accepted alternate methods for performing techniques."

Compiling information developed at this symposium, Rosen produced the Step by Step program, which she describes in the Product Idea Submission Form. "Step by Step combines text, full-motion and stop-action video, and photographs to demonstrate and describe basic, intermediate, and advanced mobility skills used by travelers who are blind. It is an interactive instructional program that has been developed to supplement university professional preparation programs. Users of the program can test their understanding of the techniques, identify errors commonly made by those who are learning to travel, and determine appropriate measures to correct each error. It is a system that lends itself to both individual use and collaborative learning where small groups of students go through the activities together.

"The focus is on learning the elements of how each technique is performed, visually identifying common performance errors made by travelers who have visual impairments, and then learning how to correct those errors in order to enable a person to travel more efficiently, effectively, and to avoid potential injury."

Rosen provided APH with both written and DVD materials. Written materials included photos and detailed descriptions of all techniques covered by the symposium. Additional written materials provided a quick review of all techniques. Videos and electronic photos provided both demonstrations of techniques and assessments in which students selected the video that best answered a specific technical question.

Rosanne Hoffmann viewed videos and read all written materials. Written materials were well-prepared. They required correction of only a few keyboarding errors in order to be submitted for expert review.

Before FY 2008, cross-platform video materials originally developed with Macintosh® hardware presented a persistent problem when running on a PC: the cutting off of text in scroll boxes. This problem was solved by reprogramming by Rosen.

Five certified O&M specialists (three university O&M faculty members and two advanced graduate students) were selected as expert reviewers. Complete Step by Step video and print materials and a questionnaire were sent to them.

During FY 2009, all expert reviews were received; data were analyzed; and multiple, extensive changes to written materials were made based on reviewer suggestions. APH's in-house graphic designer prepared a color scheme and layout to be used throughout all modules of the printed materials. Based on this layout, design of the first Study Guide module, Human Guide, was completed. It was found that video scenarios that challenge the student to select the correct technique from a series did not operate properly; this problem was corrected by reprogramming by Rosen and her associates.

During FY 2010, Rosen provided a corrected set of video DVDs to serve as masters for the videos. Layout was completed for six of the eight Study Guide modules.

During FY 2011, graphic design for the remaining two Study Guide modules was completed. HTML files for all Study Guide modules and the Introduction/Appendices were completed. The design for the Review Guide modules was established, and all photos in these modules were edited. Rosen began updating video DVDs so that they would run appropriately on newer Windows computers. She learned that DVD speeds were no longer compatible with video speeds and that DVDs could not deliver the large amount of videos smoothly. The decision to deliver all 29 gigabytes of video materials on a flash drive was made.

Work during FY 2012

Layout of the Review Guide modules in print was completed. HTML files of the guides were also completed. After transferring videos to a flash drive, additional bugs required major reprogramming of the video software. Additional incompatibility issues between Mac and PC software were recognized and resolved.

Work planned for FY 2013

Videos will be reproduced, Study Guides and Review Guides will be printed, accessibility files will be produced, and kits will be packaged and made available for sale.

Tactile Town: 3-D O&M Kit

(Completed)

Alt tag: Cover of Tactile Town guidebook

Purpose

To provide a comprehensive kit of 3-dimensional (3-D) items that can be used for orientation and mobility instruction, especially with young children who benefit from more realistic, concrete representations

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader/Author

Christina J. Smerz, Project Assistant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Editor (Consultant)

Tom Poppe, Pattern/Model Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Rodger Smith, Programmer

Bisig Impact Group, Guidebook Layout and Photography

Background

Past research indicates the efficacy of using interactive, 3-D models for teaching environmental concepts, especially to young children. From constructed 3-D representations, generalizations to the actual environment can be made. Realistic models allow information to be presented in small scale without the added complexity that raised-line displays can pose for inexperienced, young tactile readers.

The need for 3-D models for mapping purposes was revealed in compiled data from past field test activities and in the results from product-specific online surveys. The need was also supported by multiple submissions of previously designed kits (e.g., Buddy Road Kit manufactured in New Zealand) for APH's review.

In 2003, the project leader conducted an online survey regarding the need for a 3-D O&M kit. The survey requested feedback as to needed components if development of such a kit was undertaken. The results of the survey revealed the following:

In August 2007, with permission from the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC), the project leader transferred the 3-D O&M Kit from "PARCing Lot" status to active development.

The project leader and pattern/model maker focused attention on the development of the prototype throughout the third and fourth quarters of the fiscal year. Notable activities encompassed the following: designing 3-D models of cars, pedestrians, and buildings; determining amount and structure of grassy areas, railroad tracks, roads dashes, and other manipulatives; tailoring components around a newly designed tri-fold Velcro® board; acquiring commercially-available labeling materials; and authoring accompanying lesson plans.

The project leader and pattern/model maker had the opportunity to conduct a Product Input Session on Tactile Town at APH's 140th Annual Meeting. The session was well attended and participants representing teachers of the visually impaired, O&M specialists, and Ex Officio Trustees expressed great enthusiasm for the product and had lots of suggestions for additional parts and a toolbox-like storage container. Encouraged by the feedback, the project staff hurried to construct multiple prototypes for field testing purposes. Because of the complexity of the kit and the number of uniquely built pieces for each kit, prototype preparation occupied most of the first quarter of the fiscal year. Activities carried out by the project leader and pattern/model maker consisted of the following:

Other pre-field test activities included reviewing the kit with two orientation and mobility instructors at the Kentucky School for the Blind, who were so impressed with the kit that they wanted to participate as field test evaluators. The project leader also conducted a Research Department meeting attended by other project leaders and research assistants to review ways to acquire performance outcome data. It was determined that the project leader's Skills Checklist could be utilized for this purpose.

Identified field test evaluators were a blend of respondents to an APH News request for field test evaluators, as well as attendees of the Annual Meeting Product Input Session who indicated an interest in reviewing the final prototype. The number of respondents to the APH News posting was overwhelming, thus reaffirming the great need for this product.

The prototypes of Tactile Town were shipped to evaluators on February 23, 2009. The evaluators were given until the end of May to use the materials with their students. With the exception of one, all evaluators returned their field test evaluation forms, along with three separate progress reports on each participating student over the 3-month evaluation period.

All of the field test evaluators were Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists, with 72% having over 11 years of teaching experience; of those, 43% had teaching experience exceeding 21 years. They represented the states of Connecticut, Kentucky, Tennessee, Hawaii (2), Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota (3), California, Michigan, Texas, and Ohio. The majority (64%) of the field test sites were reported as itinerant settings, 21% residential settings, 7% a combination of itinerant/residential, and 7% resource settings.

The field evaluators used the prototype with a total of 114 visually impaired and blind students. The student sample reflected a range of ethnic backgrounds: 61% White, 13% Hispanic, 11% African American, 5% Asian, 4% Native Hawaiian, 4% "two or more races," and 3% "Other" (e.g., from India or Somalia). Nearly half (47%) of the students were braille readers, 25% large print readers, and 10% read regular print. The rest of the student sample included nonreaders, combination print/auditory or print/braille readers, and pre-readers. The students ranged in age from 4 to 21 years, with 13% between the ages of 4 and 6, 30% between the ages of 7 and 9, 19% between the ages of 10 and 12, 18% between the ages of 13 and 15, 15% between the ages of 16 and 18, and 5% between the ages of 19 and 21. The largest percentage of students (31%) were in grades 1-3; 28% of the students were in grades 4-8; 20% were in high school; 14% were preschoolers or kindergarteners; and smaller percentages were either post-high school/transition (4%), or unreported grade level (3%). Students reported as having additional disabilities represented exactly half of the student sample. Examples of other disabilities reported included speech/language impairment, autism, learning disabled, seizure disorder, cerebral palsy, and hearing loss.

One hundred percent of the evaluators indicated that Tactile Town offered specific advantages over other available tools/materials for teaching orientation and mobility skills. Specific comments included the following:

With regard to ideal target populations, an equal percentage of evaluators (93%) thought Tactile Town was appropriate for preschoolers, as well as tactile readers in grades K-3 and low vision readers in grades K-3. Eighty-six percent of the evaluators thought it was appropriate for both tactile readers and low vision readers in grades 4-6; 71% indicated that it was appropriate for tactile and low vision readers in grades 7-8; 79% indicated it was appropriate for both tactile readers and low vision readers in high school; and 71% indicated that it was appropriate for students with multiple disabilities, blind adults, and sighted peers. These results highlighted the potential impact of Tactile Town on a wide and varied student audience.

One-hundred percent responded "Yes" to the following questions posed on the evaluation form:

Over 90% of the evaluators responded "YES" to the following:

The only component receiving less than a 70% approval rating was the 2-tiered commercially-available storage container, which some evaluators reported as not durable or awkward to carry.

Specific ratings of each Tactile Town manipulative, based upon a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest), yielded the following results from the evaluators:

Tactile Town Component

 

Overall Rating

5 = highest possible rating

 

Pond

 

4.8

 

Railroad Tracks

 

4.8

 

Arrows

 

4.8

 

Stop Signs

 

4.7

 

Dividing Lines

 

4.5

 

Buildings

 

4.4

 

Road Dashes

 

4.4

 

Pedestrians

 

4.2

 

Crosswalks

 

4.2

 

Traffic Lights

 

4.1

 

Sidewalks

 

4.1

 

Cars

 

4.0

 

Grassy Strips

 

3.7

 

Considering students' reactions to the prototype as direct indicators of the expected usefulness and popularity of the kit, the project leader asked evaluators to comment on whether or not their students enjoyed using Tactile Town. One hundred percent of the evaluators responded "Yes." Below are examples of actual comments received from the teachers:

In July 2009, the project leader conducted a Product Development Committee meeting to acquaint other APH staff with the expected components of the kit. A complete product timeline was established.

By the end of the fiscal year, the project leader and pattern/model maker had initiated making improvements to the kit's design based upon field test feedback, such as the incorporation of an upright traffic light, more durable grassy areas, additional building structures, and pieces to facilitate a roundabout setup.

The project staff continued to make product enhancements based upon feedback from field evaluators. Tom Poppe prepared necessary hard tooling (e.g., vacuum-form patterns and silkscreen art) and related specification drawings (e.g., cutting die layouts) needed internally and/or by outside vendors to mass produce the product. This information was provided to Technical Research who inserted the model maker's designs into the product specifications document.

To increase momentum on the project, the project leader held biweekly Product Development Committee meetings to keep all department staff versed in the expected components and planned production processes-whether in-house or via an outside vendor. Detailed charts of all known information about each specific component were provided; information included quantities, colors, production methods (e.g., liquid resin, urethane parts, etc.), and replacement parts. The pattern/model maker made duplicates of the cars, pedestrians, stop signs, etc., as well as full sets of the green grassy areas; thus, Purchasing staff could obtain multiple bids from outside vendors. An ideal vendor to stitch around the periphery of each green "grassy" area was located; this sewn feature addresses the durability concern aired by field evaluators. Added components, such as a custom carrying case with a compartment tray insert, were also designed. The project leader located a new vendor for Inkjet Hook Paper, a package of which will be included in each Tactile Town kit.

Beginning in March 2010, after all component details and quantities were known, the project leader turned attention to the content update of the accompanying guidebook. The guidebook provides suggested activities for each of the following layouts:

The project leader also added new sections such as "Tactile Town Games," as well as enhanced and expanded other sections (e.g., Skills/Concepts Checklist).

On April 8, 2010, the product received Quota approval from Educational Products Advisory Committee.

Throughout June and July, the project leader and Christina Smerz, a graduate student at the University of Louisville, worked together to edit and expand each layout activity. The content was carefully proofed before provision to the outside graphic designer for final text page layout. Numerous supporting photos (approximately 150) were professionally taken. By the end of August, the first proof of the entire guidebook was received for review and was proofread in its entirety by Monica Vaught-Compton. The end of the fiscal year witnessed the review and final preparation of the guidebook layout, the cover art, and the CD label.

Steady effort to bring the tooling of the product to a conclusion characterized most of FY 2011. Specific tasks involved preparing braille translation and HTML conversion of the guidebook, preparing hard tooling for in-house production, and identifying outside vendors for the urethane parts, liquid resin 3-D manipulatives, sewn green grassy areas, and the carrying box/compartment tray. Production specifications were prepared. On June 9, a Specifications Meeting was conducted; all production tooling was in place. The last quarter of FY 2011 witnessed the initial delivery of materials (e.g., assorted polyblend, cutting dies, etc.) from outside vendors necessary for the kit's production, as well as in-house production of many of the environmental accessories (e.g., railroad tracks, crosswalks, and sidewalks). The pilot run for this kit was scheduled for December 2011.

Work during FY 2012

The production of Tactile Town was very involved and complex, demanding close monitoring and problem-solving by the project leader, pattern/model maker, and manufacturing specialists to ensure quality. In some cases, rebuilding of some vacuum-form patterns and silkscreen art was necessary to ensure tighter registration of parts (e.g., crosswalks). The model maker was instrumental in locating a better resin for producing odorless and brighter colored 3-D components furnished by an outside vendor. The most challenging issue was the sudden discontinuation of Inkjet Hook Paper by the Velcro Canada, a product sold by APH for nearly full year. Given the vast inventory built and received for production of this kit, as well as the volume of outside requests for the product, it was decided to insert a "Letter to the Customer" explaining the omission of the component and to introduce the product.

On February 23, 2012, Tactile Town's availability was formally announced in the March issue of APH News: http://www.aph.org/advisory/2012adv03.html

Available components included the following:

Catalog Items

 

1-03135-00

 

Tactile Town: 3-D O&M Kit

 

$479.00

 

7-03135-00

 

Tactile Town: Teacher's Guidebook (Large Print Version)

 

$34.00

 

5-03135-00

 

Tactile Town: Teacher's Guidebook (Braille Version)

 

$34.00

 

Replacement Parts

 

61-221-001

 

BAG A: Buildings

 

$70.15

 

61-221-002

 

BAG B: Street/Scenery Set

 

$52.35

 

61-221-003

 

BAG C: 3-D Components

 

$47.15

 

61-221-004

 

BAG D: Grassy Sections Set

 

$147.95

 

61-221-005

 

BAG E: Print/Braille Labels

 

$29.80

 

The project leader prepared content information for the product brochure and assisted with the photo layout.

Alt tag: Photo shows all components of Tactile Town kit.

Within months of the kit's introduction, the project staff devised an appropriate substitute for creating customized print/braille labels. For subsequent production runs, a package of pre-cut, blank labels of varying lengths were provided for customer labeling; it is identified as Bag F (61-221-011). Detailed options for applying print and brailled text to the labels were prepared by the project leader and furnished with the package. As time allowed, the project staff continued to look for comparable hook-Velcro backed sheets for printing purposes.

Tactile Town was first demonstrated at an all-day workshop conducted by the project leader in March at the Minnesota Department of Education. It was also displayed at national conferences such as the International AER Conference in July. Some O&M instructors are already choosing to give their own workshops on the product at national/regional conferences, such as the SOMA/COMA Conference.

Work planned for FY 2013

Tactile Town will continue to be displayed at national conferences/workshops. The project leader will stay attuned to any requests for complementary materials or packages to supplement the kit. Inkling for an "indoor" equivalent to Tactile Town has already been expressed at recent workshops.

Teaching Street Crossings

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide a guidebook summarizing promising pedagogical methods for teaching street crossings to persons with visual impairments

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Tessa Wright, Project Author/Consultant

Background

Tessa Wright, PhD, COMS, and Coordinator of the Visual Impairment Program at the University of Nebraska--Lincoln noted in her Product Idea Submission Form that, although techniques for successfully crossing streets by persons with visual impairments are well established, little is known about effectiveness of various pedagogical methods for teaching these techniques. Using data derived from her doctoral dissertation and acquiring additional data from a proposed methodologically rigorous survey of practicing certified orientation and mobility specialists, Wright will develop a guidebook to point to promising pedagogical practices for teaching street crossings to persons with visual impairments. This guidebook will assist instructors to recognize their pedagogical practices and add new ones to better support student skill acquisition.

During FY 2011, a contract was developed and signed by APH and Wright. A procedure was developed for provision of funds from APH through the University of Nebraska to Wright for purchase of mailing lists and other project necessities. Wright developed a survey to be sent to selected COMS and requested research approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the University of Nebraska.

Work during FY 2012

Wright obtained research approval from the IRB at her university. Wright selected research participants via randomization and geographic balance, sent out surveys, and received 27 survey results. Preliminary analysis of results indicated that respondents offered a great deal of useful information. However, because the number of respondents was small, Wright continued to collect survey data at the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired conference and elsewhere.

Work planned for FY 2013

Wright will postpone more rigorous data analyses for several months so that additional survey data can be acquired. Writing of the guidebook will begin after additional surveys have been collected and analyzed.

Travel Tales

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop a storybook that models appropriate orientation and mobility skills used by young blind and visually impaired protagonists

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T). Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Suzette Wright, Emergent Literacy Project Leader

Background

Sighted children learn from other children and adults who model relevant travel skills; they see people waiting for walk lights, boarding public transportation, and moving safely through the environment on television, in books, and almost everywhere in visual range. Blind children do not benefit from sighted models for two reasons: first, they cannot see the behaviors being modeled; and second, many travel skills used by sighted persons are not relevant to the travel needs of blind children who must learn an alternate set of travel skills to enable them to move safely and effectively through the environment without seeing it. Because blindness is a low incidence disability and because accurate portrayal of effective blind travelers by the media is extremely rare, blind children generally do not have access to models from whom they can learn more about the value and applicability of the orientation and mobility skills that they develop in school.

The original Travel Tales book made story teaching materials-with a young blind traveler as protagonist and model-available to the orientation and mobility field. When Mostly Mobility, producers of this book, stopped production, they opened a dialog with APH regarding their material.

After careful review, it was determined that the original work, if revised, could provide an excellent resource for use with young people as they develop their orientation and mobility skills. Full rights to the material were obtained by APH.

Suzette Wright and Terrie Terlau met to discuss content to be updated. Wright described a story idea that would introduce the collection and help reluctant cane users be drawn into the book. This introductory story and additional expanded content could make the book an effective tool for modeling and for motivating orientation and mobility students.

Work during FY 2012

Project leaders' full schedules did not allow for work on Travel Tales between FY 2009 and FY 2012.

Work planned for FY 2013

As the project leaders' schedules permit, new content and story revision will be undertaken. Revisions planned include the expansion of some stories; the inclusion of ethnic/racial/gender diversity in protagonists; and the development of a sequence of stories about children with low vision who use low vision orientation and mobility techniques.





RECREATION AND LEISURE



Games of Squares

Formerly Game of Squares (Redesign)

(Continued)


Alt tag: Image of Games of Squares game board with checkerboard layout

Purpose

To redesign and reintroduce a game that has long been a product staple in APH's catalog

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Katherine Corcoran, Pattern/Model Maker

Andrew Dakin, Pattern/Model Maker

Tom Poppe, Pattern/Model Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Background

In October 2008, a facility fire experienced by an outside vendor for many of APH's urethane products destroyed the tooling for Game of Squares, specifically the grid board. This fire was the impetus for the redesign, update, and/or re-tooling of many of APH's products.

The Game of Squares is an adaptation of the two-player pencil and paper game in which dots are connected to make squares. Two players alternate placing white plastic "sides" on the board to enclose a square. Completed squares are covered with the player's marker. The markers differ in texture and color. The player who covers the most squares wins. The original game board has a 16-square, blue game grid and storage areas for game pieces.

Expecting that the game still had merit, but could benefit from an aesthetic and tactile "facelift," the project leader conducted a survey to garner feedback from those using the original version. Feedback received from survey respondents indicated that the original version of the game, although still valuable, could be improved in the following ways:

One teacher noted that "the game develops strategy and problem solving skills. Because of the grid layout, it reinforces many spatial concepts (rows, columns, left, right, etc.). Like all interactive games, it encourages peer interaction and turn-taking." With this reassurance that Game of Squares was still worthwhile with some updated design features, the project leader submitted a Product Submission Form in January 2009. In March 2009, the product was approved for development by the Product Advisory and Review Committee.

In April 2009, with in-house approval to proceed with the update and reintroduction of the Game of Squares, the project leader conducted a "Brainstorming" Product Development Committee meeting to request additional ideas from staff representing various APH departments. The project leader came to the meeting with some preliminary ideas, including a mock-up of a new game layout that involved a decorative border around a larger grid area. Masking overlays were suggested to minimize the playing area, if needed. Intention to utilize the same u-channel "side" pieces was proposed, allowing game players to snap them onto clear, vacuum-formed grid dividers. Visual/tactile game tokens of a more interesting style were suggested as well.

Product activities were a bit sluggish for the remainder of FY 2009 due to the project staff's involvement in higher priority and closer-to-availability projects. However, by August, some actual construction of the game grid was underway.

In December 2010, the project leader and Tom Poppe originated a two-sided, two-color pedestal game token. Several renditions of the game token were molded and tested with other APH staff to determine the best design for tactile discrimination and grasping. Multiple game tokens were then built and constructed for field test purposes.

Concurrently, the thermoformed grids were prepared by Katherine Corcoran. The project leader experimented with various print designs of the game board to complement and align with the tactile grid. In January, the outside graphic designer initiated work on the final print layout; by February, a final layout was approved. Multiple copies of the game board were printed in-house on a wide-format printer.

Remaining prototype construction tasks included the following:

By the end of the second quarter, multiple copies of the game board and related pieces were ready for field testing. The project leader posted a request for field evaluators in the April issue of APH News. Prototypes were mailed to evaluation sites on May 31, 2011. Each evaluator was given until mid-August to use the game board with as many students with visual impairments and blindness as possible; blind adults were also invited to participate.

Field test sites represented the states of Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska (2), New Mexico, North Carolina (2), Ohio, Oregon, and Virginia.


The prototype was used by 17 teachers of the visually impaired with a total of 71 students/adults. The sample of 71 students/adults ranged in age from 4 to 28 years of age with 6% between the ages of 4 and 6, 17% between the ages of 7 and 9, 35% between the ages of 10 and 12, 32% between the ages of 13 and 18, and 7% between 19 and 28; the age of 3% of the sample was unreported.


The student sample was nearly equally divided between males (52%) and females (46%); gender was unreported for 2% of the population.


The student population reflected cultural diversity: 59% White, 18% African American, 8% Hispanic, 4% Asian, 6% "two or more races," and 1% American Indian; the ethnicity of 3% was unreported.


The largest percentage (32%) of the sample were in grades 4-6; 24% were in high school; 15% were in grades 7-8; 14% were in grades 1-3; 8% were post-high school level; 4% were preschoolers; and equal percentages were either ungraded (1%), unreported (1%), or in vocational programs (1%).


Similar percentages were reported as braille readers and large print readers-44% and 34%, respectively. Similar smaller percentages were reported as either dual braille/large print readers (8%) or regular print readers (7%); 6% were nonreaders; and 1% were prereaders.


One-fifth of the student/adult sample had other disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism, physical disabilities, and hearing impairment.

One hundred percent of the evaluators recommended that APH produce Games of Squares. Teachers who had used the previous version of the game unanimously agreed that the modernized version was much improved. Actual testimonials consisted of the following:

Reported overall strengths were many and varied: multi-functional, visual contrast/appeal, pieces stay in place, game options, accessible, flexible, familiar games, good tactile discrimination, teaches many concepts, and suitable for a wide range of abilities. One hundred percent of the students were reported as enjoying the game.

Based upon a rating scale from 5 (Excellent) to 1 (Poor), the following average scores were received for each feature of the various game components:

Component Feature

 

Rating

 

GRID BOARD

 

Overall visual appeal

 

4.47

 

Visual/color contrast

 

4.29

 

Overall tactile features

 

4.47

 

Overall size

 

4.41

 

Size of individual squares

 

4.41

 

Overall durability

 

3.82

 

GAME TOKENS

 

Overall durability

 

4.75

 

Usefulness for a variety of games

 

4.93

 

Overall size

 

4.88

 

Tactile contrast/discrimination

 

4.81

 

Visual/color contrast

 

4.75

 

BLACK U-CHANNELS

 

Overall durability

 

4.64

 

Stay in place during game play

 

4.26

 

Ease of affixing/removing from grid

 

3.90

 

Overall size

 

4.29

 

Ease of locating positioned u-channels

 

4.20

 

Visual/color contrast against grid

 

4.75

 

RED MASKING SQUARES

 

Overall durability

 

4.75

 

Usefulness as obstacles

 

4.73

 

Usefulness of creating checkerboard pattern

 

4.75

 

Usefulness for blocking off smaller section

 

4.60

 

Overall size

 

4.62

 

Tactile contrast against grid

 

4.69

 

Visual/color contrast against grid

 

4.81

 

CROWN/KING PIECES

 

Tactile contrast

 

4.30

 

Ease of crowning kings during checkers

 

4.50

 

STORAGE TRAYS

 

Non-skid feature

 

4.00

 

Overall durability

 

3.90

 

Overall size

 

3.88

 

Visual/color contrast

 

4.00

 

Number of components

 

3.75

 

The table below lists the target populations for which the field evaluators found Games of Squares appropriate:

Target Population

 

Percentage of evaluators who found Games of Squares suitable for target population

 

Children with low vision, ages 6-10

 

88%

 

Children with blindness, ages 6-10

 

88%

 

Students with low vision, ages 11-13

 

82%

 

Students with blindness, ages 11-13

 

82%

 

Low vision students in high school

 

65%

 

Blind students in high school

 

71%

 

Children with multiple disabilities

 

59%

 

Sighted peers

 

82%

 

Others suggested audiences

 

-Blind adults

-Blind adults with sighted children

-Parents of blind children

-High-level preschoolers

 

The table below shows the skills/concepts addressed by the Games of Squares as assessed by the field evaluators:

SKILL/CONCEPT

 

Percentage of evaluators who found Games of Squares to promote the skill/concept

 

Texture discrimination

 

88%

 

Scanning/searching/tracking

 

100%

 

Spatial concepts (left/right, below/above, etc.)

 

100%

 

Shape recognition

 

76%

 

Counting skills

 

71%

 

Organization/sorting skills

 

82%

 

Problem-solving/strategy techniques

 

100%

 

Turn-taking

 

94%

 

Other skills promoted:

 

-Socialization with sighted peers

-Fine motor skills

-Conversational skills

 

Work during FY 2012

The project leader utilized the field test results to implement needed product revisions before final production. Based upon evaluators' ratings, paired with audience feedback at an Annual Meeting "Product Input Session," the following notable improvements were implemented into the final design of Games of Squares:

[Note: As influenced by the results of a follow-up survey with the field evaluators regarding the preferred Velcro application to the game tokens and grid squares, it was determined to keep the application the same as that encountered in the prototype. This follow-up survey was prompted by one evaluator requesting the reversal of Velcro type to the tokens and game grid to avoid a "scratchy" overall feel. Evaluators continued to support the original design because it accommodated the positioning of hook Velcro-backed pieces from other APH kits onto the 8 x 8 grid.]

Preparation of production tooling spanned the entire fiscal year. Multiple in-house meetings were conducted with the Product Development Committee to review all expected components and to plan production processes. The project leader developed a detailed "Specifications Worksheet" for reference by all involved staff. Specific tasks encompassed the following:

By the end of September, the majority of the production tooling was prepared.

Work planned for FY 2013

Games of Squares will likely be scheduled for production during the third quarter of FY 2013. Until then, remaining loose ends will be addressed by the project staff such as construction of locating fixtures for the grid, receiving and approving print samples from outside vendors, acquiring cutting dies, conducting a formal Specifications Meeting, checking the quality of parts received from vendors, etc. Once the product is available, the project leader will assist with post-production activities.



Spangle Tangle

(Continued)

Alt tag: 1) Spangle Tangle, Tangle Stand, Stacking Tubes, and Tube Stands. 2) Four Spangle Tangle segments form a ring that is positioned vertically in a Tangle Stand.

Purpose

To provide a toy and educational aid that can be used by children-who have limited motor skills and visual impairment or blindness-independently for short periods of time on a wheelchair tray without the toy falling off the tray

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Multiple Disabilities Project Leader

Marie Amerson, Author/Consultant

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Andrew Dakin, Model Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Background

The Spangle Tangle is a textured, metallic-coated Tangle Toy made exclusively for APH by Tangle Creations. A Spangle Tangle consists of 18 pop-apart segments; 10 are smooth, two have a tire tread surface, two have a bumpy surface, two have a spiral surface, and two have an alligator skin surface. The Tangle stand adheres to any flat surface (e.g., table, desk, or wheelchair tray) and holds the Spangle Tangle in place.

With its infinite knot shapes and shiny, textured surface, the Spangle Tangle has many features that are ideal in the selection of toys for children with visual impairments-including visual and tactual appeal, sturdiness, and flexibility of use. The "spangle" of the toy attracts a child who has some vision. However, when a child has no vision to partner with touch for exploration, that child must depend on haptic perception alone for object recognition. When a child's hands and feet do not move well for exploration due to central nervous system or peripheral nerve damage, he or she needs to use his or her mouth to get information about the properties of the object regardless of chronological age or cognitive age (Smith, in press). The Spangle Tangle and the accompanying Tangle stand, tubes, and tube stands are designed to accommodate a child who needs to use his or her mouth to gain knowledge about the object and activity. The guidebook activities encourage a child to discover and explore shape (curvature), edges, and textures.

Relevance

APH examined the need for a product like the Spangle Tangle. To start, APH already has a successful product in the Tangle Toy® and Tangle Book Kit. This product is custom-made for APH and is very colorful. Tangle Creations sells a metallic Tangle Toy, but it is smooth. Objects that move or have shiny reflective surfaces, which give the illusion of movement, capture the attention of students with cortical visual impairment (CVI). Individuals with CVI are attracted to movement (Roman-Lantzy, 2007). Work on another APH product, SAM: Symbols and Meaning, highlighted the deficit of ready-to-use items designed for haptic (mouth and tongue) exploration by young wheelchair users who have visual impairment accompanied with motor skill deficits.

APH sought the opinion of a knowledgeable individual to determine the need for the Spangle Tangle. The project leader sent the product idea to APH multiple disabilities consultant, Millie Smith. She reviewed the idea and replied, "Pulling together, looking, and touching is such a challenge. My hope would be that the visual attributes of this object would motivate the learner to interact tactually and that the exploration would be enhanced by the positioning and stabilizing modifications provided by the stand and suction cups. I like it."

The Spangle Tangle addresses an identified need for a person who meets the definition of "visually impaired." The textured Spangle Tangle is a toy that has universal design appeal; it can be used and enjoyed by persons with and without disabilities. The guidebook, which will be available in large print, braille, and HTML, will introduce activities to all readers. The textured segments of the toy attract the attention of the student with blindness; the reflective surface of the toy attracts children who have CVI and/or low vision. The stand mobilizes the toy so it is accessible to children who have limited motor skills. Again, the development of SAM: Symbols and Meaning helped to identify the lack of information, instruction, and products for learners whose only option for educational exploration is the mouth.

APH made the decision to design, produce prototypes, and to field test the Spangle Tangle based on APH's standardized process of product development. APH's Multiple Disabilities Project Leader, Tristan Pierce, submitted the Product Idea Submission Form on May 4, 2010. The submission form describes the product, its purpose, and use. The stand, which adheres to a wheelchair tray, allows for mouth and tongue exploration. The instruction guide describes activities to improve tactual and proprioceptive deficits in tactile discrimination, pressure sensitivity, directionality, haptic exploration, and grip force. The submission form addresses identified needs, educational principles, potential markets, graphical functionality of the product, and product components, including recommended media (i.e., braille, standard print, large print, etc.).

The Spangle Tangle submission was forwarded to the Product Evaluation Team where a quorum approved the Spangle Tangle on June 30, 2010, and forwarded the product submission to the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC). PARC members approved the Spangle Tangle on July 14, 2010. After teachers field tested the prototype for 3 months, the project leader compiled the data for this field test report. This report will be included in the Federal Quota Approval Form to be submitted in Spring 2013.

Research

APH gathered data through an online evaluation form. Teachers field tested Spangle Tangle and accompanying prototype items and manuscript in their classrooms across the country for 3 months. Teachers followed the manuscript to create activities for the students. Through observation, the teachers rated the value of the activities that they did with their students on a 1 to 5 scale (1 = least valuable and 5 = most valuable). They rated how well the activities address visual tracking and tactual discrimination, and how well the activities provide successful opportunities for children with and without sight.

Data were collected from a geographically diverse population. Initially APH sent out 11 prototypes. Two of the field test sites dropped out because of unforeseen students' absences from school. The field test sites were located in Connecticut; Kansas; Massachusetts; Minnesota; Montana; Missouri; North Carolina; Texas; and Ontario, Canada.

Data were gathered from qualified individuals. The majority of field testers are teachers of students who have visual impairments (44%). The remaining field testers consist of one each outreach consultant, early childhood vision consultant, certified orientation and mobility specialist, preschool education consultant, and classroom teacher. The field testers are very experienced professionals. Four field testers (44%) have taught students with visual impairments for 21 or more years, two (22%) for 16-21 years, one (11%) for 6-10 years, and two (22%) for 5-1 years. All of the field testers have experience working with children who have profound disabilities: two (22%) for 21+ years, four (44%) for 16-20 years, two (22%) for 11-15 years, and one (11%) for 5-1 years.

Data were gathered from 11 children (six males and five females) who participated in field testing the Spangle Tangle Kit. All children were under 13 years old: two (18%) were 3 years old or younger, six (55%) were 4-6 years old, two (18%) were 7-9 years old, and one child (9%) was 10-12 years old. All the children (100%) were identified with the cognitive age of 0-3 years old. The children are non verbal.

Nine of the children (82%) have CVI. Five of the children (45%) had other eye conditions identified, such as divergent strabismus, cat-eye syndrome, Moebious syndrome, mitochondrial disorder, and septo optic dysplasia. Often CVI is accompanied by another eye condition as is the case with two of the participating children. Field testers could select more than one response, so the added percentages total more than 100%.

The Spangle Tangle Kit is designed for children who have multiple disabilities; however, the Spangle Tangle toy itself can be enjoyed by anyone. The children who participated in the field test each had more than one additional disability in addition to visual impairment. See Table 1: Other Handicapping Conditions. Most of the children had more than one additional disability identified.

Table 1: Other Handicapping Conditions

Condition

 

No. of Children

 

Percentage of Children

 

cerebral palsy

 

4

 

36%

 

deafblindness

 

2

 

18%

 

dyspraxia

 

3

 

27%

 

epilepsy

 

1

 

9%

 

global developmental delays

 

1

 

9%

 

hearing impairment

 

2

 

18%

 

intellectual disability

 

9

 

82%

 

limited fine motor skills

 

10

 

91%

 

limited gross motor skills

 

10

 

91%

 

Data were gathered on student/consumer outcomes. Field testers were not asked to measure the child's ability to complete an activity prior to receiving the Spangle Tangle prototype because all activities are specifically designed for the Spangle Tangle. The children who participated in the field test have severe, multiple disabilities and are non verbal. Teachers who work with this population often rely on observation to assess and work with their students. A flush of the skin might mean enjoyment, and rapid breathing may signal frustration with an activity. Each teacher knows his or her student and evaluated by his or her gained knowledge from working with that student. Field testers rated on a 1 to 5 scale (1 = not well and 5 = very well) how well the toy provides opportunities for hand and wrist strengthening and how well the toy provides opportunities to improve fine motor skills. See Table 2: Strength and Motor Skill Opportunities. Both questions received positive responses: 87% (ratings of 4 and 5) and 99% (ratings of 3, 4, and 5), respectively.

Table 2: Strength and Motor Skill Opportunities

Opportunities

 

Not well Very well

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

Strengthens hands and wrist with use

 

0%

 

12%

 

0%

 

50%

 

37%

 

Improves fine motor skills with use

 

0%

 

0%

 

50%

 

37%

 

12%

 

The guidebook designates what skill (e.g., cognitive skills, motor skills, social skills, tactile attention, visual attention) each activity teaches, encourages, and/or practices. However, some field testers submitted comments on the product that contained qualitative measurement by use of selected adjectives (more) and adverbs (again):

The stands were wonderful, they allowed the student to manipulate the Spangle Tangle and the student appeared [to] feel more independent in doing their [sic] work.

[I] Expanded on Tangle Tracking for a child who needed to work on visual tracking left to right by having him move a loop across the line--he was much more attentive when his hand was engaged in moving a loop than just following the line. [I] Had him knock the loop off of the end into a tin so that it made a good noise when he got to the end and [he] was motivated to do it again.

Relying on the teacher's knowledge of the child's visual and tactual abilities, APH asked field testers to rate the value of each activity that they played with their student(s) on a 1 to 5 scale (1 = least valuable and 5 = most valuable). See Table 3: Activity Use by Number of Children and Rating Percentiles.

The research method used collected sufficient information. Data were collected on 11 children. Not every child performed every activity, but all 24 activities were tested. Field testers only rated activities that they and their students performed, so they rated on actual experience; they did not rate an activity based only on reading it without performing it.

Table 3: Activity Use by Number of Children and Rating Percentiles


 


 

Least valuable Most valuable

 

Activity

 

No. of Children

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

Coil/Strand Sort

 

7

 

28%

 

28%

 

14%

 

28%

 

0%

 

Corkscrew Twist

 

6

 

17%

 

17%

 

0%

 

67%

 

0%

 

Infinity

 

8

 

12%

 

12%

 

0%

 

12%

 

62%

 

Page Turn

 

8

 

0%

 

25%

 

0%

 

62%

 

12%

 

Ring Sort

 

6

 

0%

 

0%

 

50%

 

33%

 

17%

 

Ring/Loop Toss

 

5

 

20%

 

0%

 

20%

 

60%

 

0%

 

Rocking Round Robin

 

10

 

20%

 

10%

 

20%

 

10%

 

40%

 

Short Stack

 

8

 

12%

 

12%

 

25%

 

12%

 

37%

 

Skyline

 

3

 

0%

 

0%

 

33%

 

33%

 

33%

 

Spangle Accessories

 

2

 

0%

 

0%

 

100%

 

0%

 

0%

 

Spangle Bangle Hunt

 

2

 

100%

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

Spangle Bangle Match Point

 

4

 

0%

 

50%

 

25%

 

25%

 

0%

 

Spangle Bangle Partners

 

4

 

0%

 

50%

 

25%

 

25%

 

0%

 

Spangle Coil

 

4

 

25%

 

0%

 

0%

 

25%

 

50%

 

Spangle Sculpture

 

5

 

20%

 

20%

 

40%

 

20%

 

0%

 

Spangle Steering Joy Stick Ride

 

7

 

14%

 

0%

 

14%

 

29%

 

43%

 

Spangle Steering Wheel Ride

 

5

 

20%

 

0%

 

20%

 

40%

 

20%

 

Spangle Tangle Knot

 

2

 

0%

 

50%

 

50%

 

0%

 

0%

 

Stir the Pot (or Song Time)

 

7

 

14%

 

0%

 

0%

 

43%

 

43%

 

Tangle Tracking

 

5

 

20%

 

0%

 

20%

 

20%

 

40%

 

Thread and Count

 

3

 

0%

 

0%

 

66%

 

33%

 

0%

 

Treasure Hunt

 

4

 

0%

 

50%

 

25%

 

0%

 

25%

 

Twist and Shape

 

4

 

50%

 

0%

 

0%

 

25%

 

25%

 

Twist and Tangle Reflections

 

6

 

0%

 

17%

 

0%

 

66%

 

17%

 

The field testers rated how well the activities provide learning opportunities to address visual tracking, tactual discrimination, refinement of motor skills, independent play, peer interaction and team building, equal success, and learning media assessments. They rated on a 1 to 5 scale (1 = not well and 5 = very well). See Table 4: Learning Opportunities Provided by Spangle Tangle Kit Activities. The learning opportunity that the field testers rated the highest (ratings of 4 or 5) is equal success for children who have well developed motor skills and for those children with limited motor skills (100%), followed by opportunities to coordinate and refine motor skills through play (87%). One field tester commented:

This student is very delayed and has limited response abilities however, he appeared to enjoy his interaction to the Spangle toy when it was presented to him. He had very good visual response and was able to reach for and grasp the rings. Presentation of the toy also created opportunity for initiating reaching and visual curiosity. His peers enjoyed playing with the toy and it created opportunities for peer interaction with this student.

Table 4: Learning Opportunities Provided by Spangle Tangle Kit Activities

Opportunities

 

Not well Very well

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

Visual Tracking

 

0%

 

0%

 

25%

 

50%

 

25%

 

Tactual Discrimination

 

12%

 

0%

 

12%

 

50%

 

25%

 

Coordinate and Refine Motor Skills Through Play

 

0%

 

12%

 

0%

 

50%

 

37%

 

Independent Play

 

0%

 

0%

 

50%

 

37%

 

12%

 

Peer Interaction and Team Building

 

12%

 

12%

 

25%

 

37%

 

12%

 

Equal Success - With and Without Sight

 

0%

 

0%

 

25%

 

62%

 

12%

 

Equal Success - Developed and Limited Motor Skills

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

75%

 

25%

 

Conduct Learning Media Assessments

 

0%

 

12%

 

75%

 

12%

 

0%

 

The attributes of the Spangle Tangle toy (i.e., reflective chrome, tactile surfaces, twistable segments, etc.) hold a child's interest and encourages him or her to explore. Field testers rated on a 1 to 5 scale (1 = not well and 5 = very well) the various attributes of the toy. See Table 5: Spangle Tangle Attributes. The majority of field testers rated the attributes from well to very well.

Table 5: Spangle Tangle Attributes



Attributes

 

Not well Very well

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

Presents five different tactile options (tactual appeal)

 

0%

 

0%

 

30%

 

40%

 

30%

 

Reflective chrome provides visual interest (visual appeal)

 

0%

 

0%

 

0%

 

36%

 

64%

 

Sturdiness of the toy

 

0%

 

0%

 

26%

 

55%

 

18%

 

Toy's flexibility of use

 

0%

 

0%

 

9%

 

45%

 

45%

 

Toy's ease of use

 

0%

 

0%

 

9%

 

55%

 

36%

 

Student enjoyment while playing

 

0%

 

0%

 

9%

 

36%

 

55%

 

The Tangle stand is plastic with an adhesive micro suction tape on the bottom. The suction tape prevents it from falling off the wheelchair tray. The Spangle Tangle pops into the cradle molded into the stand. Overall, field testers felt the stand provides for a less stressful and more independent learning activity. (See Table 6: Tangle Stand Attributes.) A Louisville Occupational Therapist who works at the Home of the Innocents (HOI) recommended that APH incorporate the micro suction tape into some APH products. The staff at HOI uses micro suction tape on all their switches to keep them on wheelchair trays. Field testers' ratings of the micro suction tape were mixed; some field testers liked it and some disliked it. Field testers agreed that the stands are durable.

The stands worked out very well. The student which I was working with gets a little rough with items at times. He had trouble disrupting the work station. I found the stands to be very good for our work sessions.

Held up well after being dropped from the tray and/or table onto the bare floor numerous times

The concept of a stand to support the toy is ideal; however, the mechanism (tape) on the trial model was not strong enough to hold the toy in place-particularly after it was mounted and moved. Again, the concept of having a stand to stabilize the toy is great, and necessary for almost every student with multiple disabilities in our school.

Table 6: Tangle Stand Attributes


Attributes

 

Not well Very well

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

Stand adheres to wheelchair tray

 

18%

 

27%

 

9%

 

27%

 

9%

 

Durability of stand

 

0%

 

0%

 

9%

 

55%

 

27%

 

Less stressful and more independent with stand use

 

9%

 

0%

 

27%

 

36%

 

18%

 

The stand prototypes were made of blue-gray plastic. The choice of prototype color was determined by stock availability, by what color might blend in well with wheelchair trays, and what color allows the toy to remain bright without absorbing the chrome's reflectiveness. The majority (36%) of field testers selected blue-gray followed by black (27%), white (18%), and red (9%); 9% said "It doesn't matter." The blue-gray and white allows for greater reflection of the toy. Black absorbs the reflection and makes the toy appear dull.

The prototype kit included three tubes and two tube stands. The cardboard tubes were 4-inch yellow, 9-inch blue, and 12-inch red. The majority (45%) of the field testers responded that the tubes were somewhat durable, 36% responded durable, and 9% responded very durable. The field testers had concerns that the tubes would not hold up after multiple cleanings after each child uses them. The majority of field testers (91%) want all three sizes of tubes in the same colors (yellow, blue, and red) to be included in the final product.

They seemed to hold up well, but thinking about long term use, many of my learners want to mouth and explore the item before use.

If they don't get wet

Fine for the learner that I evaluated with - but won't hold up to multiple learners and multiple uses

The tubes need to be of stronger material for my spectrum of students.

Materials handled by the students in our school are washed after each use. The cardboard material of the tube may not 'hold up' overtime with repeated cleanings. Is it possible to make the tube out of a plastic material so it will hold up with repeated exposure to water?

All field testers (100%) responded that APH should manufacture and sell the Spangle Tangle Kit with the tangle, tangle stand, book, tubes, and tube stands. They all said that they would recommend that their school/agency purchase the Spangle Tangle Kit.

There is evidence that research data are considered as part of decision-making in product completion. APH will delete two of the activities due to low ratings by the field testers. Two new activities were submitted by two field testers; these will be reviewed for possible inclusion in the book. APH will test plastic tubes as a possible replacement for the cardboard tubes. APH will revisit the design of the bottom of the Tangle stand and the tube stand to test other possible ways to adhere the stand to a wheelchair tray.

References

Roman-Lantzy, C. (2007). Cortical visual impairment: An approach and intervention. New York: AFB Press.

Smith, M. (in press). SAM: Symbols and meaning guidebook. Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind.

Work during FY 2012

Field testing was conducted and data compiled for field test report. The attempt to manufacture plastic tubes was conducted successfully. Testing between suction cups and the micro suction tape was conducted; a decision is pending.

Work planned for FY 2013

Photos will be taken, and the book will be submitted for layout and design. Molds for the stands will be finalized.



SQUID: Tactile Activities Magazine [Issue 7]

(Continued)

Alt tag: Front cover of SQUID Issue 7

Purpose

To continue the development of new issues of SQUID: Tactile Activities Magazine that feature an assortment of activities for developing young children's tactile skills within a recreational context

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader/Tactile and Visual Designer

Katherine Corcoran, Pattern/Model Maker

Andrew Dakin, Pattern/Model Maker

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Bisig Impact Group, Graphic Designer

Background

The premier issue SQUID: Tactile Activities Magazine debuted in FY 2005. This magazine series is intended to encourage young children's development of important tactile skills within a recreational context. Each issue's activities reflect a variety of tactile methods such as thermoform, embossed paper, and thermography for the purpose of familiarizing young children with a variety of raised-line images. Visual counterparts of all the tactile activities are included as well with the expectation that they can be used by peers with low vision and sighted parents, teachers, and siblings. The momentum to continue the development and production of the SQUID series was quickened by the positive reception of the first issue; nearly 1,000 issues were sold in less than a year's time. Unlike a "subscription" ordering method, customers are able to order needed amounts of SQUID issues for their children/students. The Premier Issue and all future issues of SQUID will remain available for future generations of children to enjoy. SQUID issues will hopefully become commonplace in home settings where children can acquire early tactile skills within a relaxed atmosphere with their family and friends.

By April 2010, the project leader had completed the design of 24 original activities for SQUID Issue 7. These activities, like those included in earlier issues, represent a variety of tasks (e.g., coloring pages, find the differences, hidden pictures, simple mazes, and puzzles). Activities included the following:

A Wink and a Smile

ABC Recall

Circular Code

Daisy's Doodles

FISH Coloring Page

Follow that Fly!

Knot that Hard

Lone Star Larry

Missing Numbers

Mittens for Kittens

Parasol Puzzler

Party Hats

Penny Apiece

Rectangle Tangle

Ruff Maze

SQUID Squares

Table Sitting

Take Note

That's the Ticket

TREE Word Search

Triangle Teaser

Undercover Clover

Window Pain

Word Play

A sheet of clear point symbol stickers are included for the completion of the "SQUID Squares" activity.

In May 2010, the project leader prepared a detailed matrix specifying the following for each activity: type of activity, planned production method, number of pages, page orientation, and thermoform pattern assignment (if not an embossed paper or Green Machine graphic).

Significant project activities throughout May and June 2010 involved the following:

By mid-July 2010, all tooling for all components of SQUID Issue 7 was in place for production. The project leader provided Technical Research with necessary information for the development of the specifications document. The Specifications Meeting was conducted in November 2010, and the product timeline was updated. The production of this kit (originally scheduled for April 2010) was greatly delayed due to the production of higher priority products. The availability of this issue was not expected until the first quarter of FY 2012.

Work during FY 2012

As anticipated, the actual production of SQUID Issue 7 occurred in October 2011. On November 7, 2011, the product was officially announced with a selling price of $69.00. By the end of the fiscal year, this seventh issue was the most sold of the series.

Work planned for FY 2013

The project leader plans to continue the development of additional SQUID issues, but she is exploring additional options to give the series a fresh approach, such as creating special issues devoted to one particular type of activity-e.g., "Find the Differences" issue, a "Coloring" issue, a "Maze" issue, etc. The original intention of exposing a young child to different types of tactile media and encouraging the development of tactile skills within a recreational context will remain the same for future issues.

Touch 'em All Baseball

(Continued)

Purpose

To replace the obsoleted APH Baseball Game with a version that is more interesting, educational, and enjoyable to play

Project Staff

Fred Otto, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Background

The previous APH baseball game had been in need of replacement for a long time, as it was overly simple, awkward to handle, and uninteresting to play. The fire at the vendor plant in the fall of 2008 destroyed the mold for the game; this event served as the impetus to begin developing a replacement. The goal became to devise a game that is more accurate in its scoring, more realistic in its graphic format, more educational in its potential for variations and extensions, and more fun for a variety of ages.

The project leader mocked up and tried several playing formats extensively. These included various playing field surfaces and sizes and different combinations of cards and spinner designs. The chosen design uses spinners for the pitcher and the hitter, with areas of unequal size to represent the probability of different events. The playing field will have fabric areas for dirt and grass, raised bases, and game tokens to represent runners and fielders.

A field evaluation was carried out in the summer of 2010 in the following states: Maryland (two sites), New Hampshire, New York (two sites), Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. Seventy-two students were involved, of which 38 were female and 34 male. Students' grade levels ranged from 1st through 12th, and 19 participants were identified with additional handicapping conditions besides blindness (most commonly cognitive or learning disabilities).

A clear result of the evaluation was the need for a simplified or introductory level of play in addition to the full-featured game that was tested. Reactions from teachers and students were generally enthusiastic, and there was broad support for the method of play, game board, and spinner design.

A simplified set of spinners was devised to accommodate players at a very basic level. The game board was enlarged slightly to expand the area where most of the tactile exploration takes place (namely, between the bases). Several kinds of felt and other fabrics were tried, and two colors of "headliner" material were chosen to represent the playing field. The model maker devised a multi-layer setup for the field that will protect the fabric edges and delineate the dirt and grass areas. Project staff also settled on original designs for the stick figure diagrams, spinner pointer, umpire card, and outfield stands and created the tooling needed for each of these. Design staff created a game logo with an old-time baseball look.

The project leader revised the Rules booklet and made the teaching suggestions and extension activities into a separate document. In order to streamline the kit and lower the cost for purely recreational players, the teacher's guide and figure diagrams are being pulled out as a separate Teacher's Kit.

Work during FY 2012

Approval for Federal Quota sale was obtained.

Production specifications were completed, and a meeting was held to send the project to Production. A delay occurred when the chosen vendors declined to perform child-safety testing on the game tokens, forcing the project leader to locate different pieces that are exempt from safety testing.

Work planned for FY 2013

Both pilot and full production runs will be completed and the game made available for sale.



SELF-DETERMINATION



V-file

Formerly Personal Vision Portfolio

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide students, teachers, counselors, and parents of visually impaired students a tool to collect, organize, and document pertinent information and materials that will aid in transition from kindergarten through adult life

Project Staff

Jeanette Wicker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Edith Ethridge, Consultant

Jennifer Stocker, Consultant

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Background

Edith Ethridge developed the Personal Vision Portfolio during her tenure as low vision specialist at Kentucky School for the Blind. She used this portfolio with students across Kentucky through the Outreach Program at the school. This portfolio becomes a working file of activities, documents, and resources used by the student and teacher. It is an aid to students through a variety of transitions: from teacher to teacher, middle to high school, from high school to college, and work/adult life. Edith retired from her position on July 1, 2006. The popularity and continued demand for the sharing of her work by groups and organizations around the U.S. led to a product submission.


In January 2006, the product idea was approved by the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee. Ethridge agreed to serve as a consultant. The initial work of writing and revising the portfolio began.

Work was delayed due to illness of the consultant. She continued to write, revise, and update the text for the teacher's manual as well as the various forms to be used in the portfolio. The Technical Research Department developed models of the parts of the eye that could be used with a story board as well as patterns for tactile graphic of the eye.

Work during FY 2012

The consultant continued to write, revise, and update the text for the teacher's manual as well as the various forms to be used in the portfolio. In addition, the consultant began to develop recording forms for TVIs, parents, and students to use with the portfolio.

Work planned for FY 2013

A prototype of the V-file for field evaluation will be completed.

SENSORY EFFICIENCY SKILLS



SLK: Sensory Learning Kit (Revision)

(Continued)

Purpose

To update this successful product using feedback from the field and to add a video component to match its sister product, SAM: Symbols and Meaning

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Multiple Disabilities Project Leader

Millie Smith, Consultant/Author

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

David McGee, Manufacturing Specialist

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Background

The Sensory Learning Kit (SLK) is the first of three sequential products that APH offers as a communication/intervention continuum-Sensory Learning Kit, SAM: Symbols and Meaning, and Tactile Connections: Symbols for Communication. The SLK has been on the market since 2005. During that time, APH has co-hosted numerous training events across the country. Based on input from the field, we have learned additional information, resources, and educational aids that teachers and parents would like to have in the kit. Through field testing SAM, the second product of the continuum, we learned how valuable videos are to the user. We decided to incorporate videos into the revision of the SLK.

Work during FY 2012

The text changes for the 2nd edition were written. The video component was filmed.

Work planned for FY 2013

Editing and layout will continue.



Cortical Visual Impairment



Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) Projects and Needs

(Continued)

Purpose

To help APH determine both short and long term goals for future research and product development in the CVI field

Project Staff

Christine Roman, CVI Project Leader

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Background

The groundwork established by the CVI Synergy Group in 2002 led to the completion of several projects in 2004-2005. The Research Department named Christine Roman as CVI Project Leader, working on a part-time basis. Several projects were developed from the list of ideas presented by CVI Synergy in May 2002. Plans to establish a CVI Advisory Committee commenced. The CVI Advisory Committee continues to provide input to the project leader regarding future projects and field testing of new CVI products.

Work during FY 2012

The project leader and staff continued to work on a comprehensive functional vision evaluation designed for students with CVI. Updates have been made to the APH CVI Web site, and requests for additional postings or submissions to the Web site continue. The CVI Assessment Kit and the CVI Lightbox to Literacy projects are nearing completion. The CVI Assessment Kit is a set of materials designed for use with the CVI Range. This kit has a set of photo guidebooks and test item cards that can assist vision professionals conducting functional visual assessments for individuals who have CVI. The Lightbox to Literacy Kit contains materials that support vision education professionals in the design and implementation of literacy materials for young children and students who have CVI.

Work planned for FY 2013

Development of the CVI Assessment Kit is projected for completion in 2013. It is based on the CVI Range developed by Christine Roman. The kit will contain a copy of Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention, published by the American Foundation for the Blind. The evaluation kit will contain assessment techniques, guidebooks, and photo supplement support materials. An instructional video is an additional component planned for the CVI Assessment Kit.

Development of the CVI Lightbox to Literacy Kit will continue. It will contain instructional methods and materials designed to facilitate literacy in students with specialized learning needs associated with CVI.

A new project, CVI Leisure Time Activities, has been submitted as a new product and is currently under development.

Updates to the CVI Web site will continue.

The CVI Advisory Committee will assemble and continue to advise the CVI Project Leader regarding products for children and students who have CVI. Specific topics to be considered include the CVI Web site, the use of the iPad or other technologies to assist students with CVI, and products designed to promote communication and literacy.

CVI Assessment Kit

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide educators with materials that will facilitate functional vision assessment of students with CVI. It will include a text that can be used for background information and instructions/procedures for conducting the CVI Range (Roman, 2001, 2005). Materials in the kit will be aimed at assessment of students who have severe (Phase I), moderate (Phase II), or mild (Phase III) CVI.

Project Staff

Christine Roman, CVI Project Leader

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Background

CVI is the primary cause of visual impairment in children in the U.S. and developed nations and presents unique challenges to educators. Most educational assessments and materials designed for students with ocular visual impairment are ineffective with students with CVI. The CVI Range provides educators with a specialized protocol for determining the degree and extent of CVI. Since functional educational visual assessment is mandatory for eligibility and program planning, this kit will support teachers in their efforts to make these decisions.

Work during FY 2012

Kit components were determined and will include a copy of the text by the project leader, Christine Roman (Cortical Visual Impairment: An Approach to Assessment and Intervention). The text, published by the American Foundation for the Blind in 2007, contains assessment forms and assorted materials that may be used to conduct the assessment. This text forms the foundation for the specialized assessment to evaluate the functional vision of infants, children, and older students who have CVI. The Assessment Kit will contain concrete materials, photo guidebooks, and additional guidelines for the completion of the assessment. A video component is being planned, but may be completed as a separate component or product that can be used in conjunction with the CVI Assessment Kit.

The CVI Materials Starter Kit, now integrated into the Assessment Kit product, will include "raw materials" and a list of materials used to make CVI-specific adaptations to functional objects and materials used in daily routines. A guidebook will accompany this kit.

Work planned for FY 2013

Materials used in assessment will be completed and will coordinate with specific aspects of the text. Instructional photo guidebooks will provide examples of assessment materials and are meant to be integrated with individual assessment strategies. An APH product review will be completed; changes will be made according to reviewer comments and recommendations.

CVI Leisure Activities Kit -- Match Sticks

(New)

Purpose

To provide a game format for visual discrimination of salient features of targets that are presented against background patterns that increase in visual complexity; the game format enhances a social and friendly presentation.

Project Staff

Christine Roman, CVI Project Leader

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Linda Almasy Hohman, Consultant

Janet Jerpe, Consultant

Karen Rizzo, Consultant

Background

From 2009 to 2011, a group of professionals from the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children participated in an intensive 2-year CVI Mentor training program. As an outcome of their training, individuals developed CVI leisure games or activities. Match Sticks is one of several games in a kit intended for use by children who have CVI and who have varying levels of functional vision. The individuals who developed this game intend it to be an interactive game for groups of two to four elementary school age children.

The game is designed to have children incorporate matching skills with varying degrees of visual complexity (Phases II-III). Match Sticks can be played by children who have typical or who have limited fine motor abilities.

Work during FY 2012

During 2012, the basic design of the game was developed. A prototype was created that incorporates various background patterns and center "target" colors printed on plastic sticks similar in shape and size to tongue depressors. Procedures for use were outlined, and guidelines for an instruction book or manual were initiated.

Work planned for FY 2013

The Match Sticks game prototype will be completed in 2013. A guidebook or manual will be written. Field evaluators will be identified, and the Match Sticks game will be distributed for field testing. Field testing is planned for the 2013-2014 school year. Suggestions for improvement will be reviewed and incorporated into the final product if needed.

CVI Lightbox to Literacy

(Continued)

Purpose

CVI Lightbox to Literacy is intended to provide professionals and parents a set of materials and suggested methods to plan and implement pre-literacy and literacy activities for children and students who have CVI. This product will contain activities that begin with materials designed for use with the APH Lightbox (students in Phase I or II CVI) and proceed to beginning picture books, intermediate books, and finally books or materials that use symbols including communication symbols, letters, and sight words (students in Phase III).

Project Staff

Christine Roman, CVI Project Leader

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Background

Federal mandates have placed increasing emphasis on literacy for all students. Students with CVI frequently require special methods and materials due to their unique visual needs. The materials in CVI Lightbox to Literacy will be designed in accordance with best practices in literacy and in CVI. The activities are designed to match the individual student's level of CVI (Phases I-III) as determined by the CVI Range.

Work during FY 2012

The outline of the project was completed. Consultations with literacy and reading specialists continued to assist in the development of a basis for the progression of skills. Prototypes of sample materials were developed and presented to professionals and parents of children with CVI for initial product evaluation. Work on a guidebook containing the principles used to create individual materials progressed. Prototypes were presented to APH staff for review and input.

Work planned for FY 2013

Additional samples will be designed to meet the needs of a variety of student age and interest levels. Development of a comprehensive guidebook will continue, and field reviewers will be selected. It is hoped that this product may have implications for use with an iPad or similar technology. Discussions with APH staff and the CVI Advisory Committee in this regard are planned.

CVI Web site

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide accurate and beneficial information to families, educators, and medical personnel who work with individuals with cortical visual impairment

Project Staff

Christine Roman, CVI Project Leader

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Malcolm Turner, Web Master

Background

CVI Synergy, a group of nine professionals, representing both education and medicine, met at APH in May 2002. The group agreed to act as advisors via an electronic mailing lists to help APH develop a new website dedicated to CVI. Unable to attend the meeting, Dr. Jim Jan served via telephone and e-mail as the medical advisor.

In 2003, the Multiple Disabilities Project Leader developed the outline for the website and with a research assistant began writing text for the site and requesting submissions from the field. The APH Librarian obtained permissions on articles recommended by CVI Synergy to be placed on the website. Photographs of children using homemade and APH products were taken.

In May 2003, Dr. Jan organized CVI Synergy West in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This second group, also representing medicine and education, addressed the issue of definitions associated with CVI. This meeting resulted in the medical-based definition and the education-based definition for CVI that APH uses on the website. APH announced in January of 2004 that Christine Roman would serve as the new CVI Project Leader.

Work during FY 2012

Updates on the CVI Web site include new definitions of CVI, educational programming suggestions, information on materials and articles in publication, and current CVI issues. Featured Presentations provide updated information pertaining to special topics of interest. The CVI Web site has a Contact Us link that is available for individual comments, questions, and suggestions. These communications are gathered by a project assistant and responded to by the CVI Project Leader. A number of changes and additions were made based on suggestions from APH staff and comments offered through the Contact Us link on the website.

Work planned for FY 2013

The website, a continuing project, will be updated as new information is gathered. A reprint of an article on the use of CVI adaptations in a special education classroom will be added. There are plans to use parent- or teacher-made videos that show intervention methods and materials used to adapt environments or objects. There have been submissions for ways to adapt CVI Complexity Sequences, which will be added to the CVI Web site. Donna Shaman, MOT, wrote "A Team Approach to Cortical Visual Impairment in Schools" in 2010 and has requested that it be added to the APH CVI Web site.



Low Vision

Barraga Visual Efficiency Program

(Continued)

Purpose

To update and modernizeAPH's Program to Develop Efficiency in Visual Functioning, originally created by Dr. Natalie Barraga

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Multiple Disabilities Project Leader

Millie Smith, Lead Author

Jane Erin, Contributing Writer

Kay Ferrell, Contributing Writer

Deborah Orel-Bixler, Contributing Writer

Christine Roman-Lantzy, Contributing Writer

Irene Topor, Contributing Writer

Background

Millie Smith, who was a graduate student and worked with Dr. Barraga on the original product, is the lead author. APH created an advisory panel that convened at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to establish an outline for the project. Dr. Barraga attended the 2-day meeting.

Preliminary Research

The need to revise the original product has evolved and been documented for many years:

Barraga demonstrated that school-age children with low vision could learn to use their vision more efficiently within a program that taught visual perceptual skills.

Hall and Bailey conceptualized a model for training vision functioning that incorporated three methodologies: 1) visual skills training, 2) visual environment management, and 3) visual dependent task training.

Ferrell and Muir suggest that the environment be designed so that the use of vision is practical, and instruction in the use of vision be incorporated into daily tasks rather than as an individual lesson or component of a program.

Work during FY 2012

Contributing writers submitted the five appendices.

Work planned for FY 2013

The entire manuscript will be reviewed, and the product will be field tested.



Better Vision Magnifier

(Continued)

Purpose

Students and teachers have long requested a good lighted magnifier that provides students with the right color of light and sufficient light to do close work. The Better Vision Magnifier has 24 light emitting diodes (LEDs) that surround a 5x round magnifying lens. It is unique for two reasons:

  1. The LEDs are a 2700 Kelvin temperature, which means they emit light mainly in the pink range.

  2. The LEDs completely surround the magnifying lens and provide even, comfortable light that does not get hot, nor does it cause glare.

The Better Vision Magnifier comes with an informational book about light, head-borne lights, lighted magnifiers, and LED lights specifically.

Project Staff

J. Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Background

Even though students, teachers, and parents have requested appropriate lighting for magnifiers for several years, until recently nothing was on the market that was bright enough, adjustable, affordable, and offered the right emissions for people who had low vision. In the first decade of the 21st century, many lighted magnifiers became available as the possible uses of LEDs were translated into products. Many came close to meeting the needs of persons with low vision, but everything that was bright enough emitted too much blue light.

The problem with most lighted magnifiers is that they have only one source of light, usually from the handle. This means the surface to be lit and magnified is unevenly lit. In addition, the emissions are usually in the 5000-6100 Kelvin range, which is very heavy in blue light, known to cause glare problems and even retinal cell death in the eyes of people who are exposed to them. But the Better Vision Magnifier solves all those problems.

Project Research

The project leader has researched the lighting weblogs, websites, and literature for several years to monitor the development of the well-projected LEDs. When they became available, the project leader accessed the following sources:

  1. Klipstein, D. L., Jr. (2008). LED types by color, brightness, and chemistry. Available from http://donklipstein.com/ledc.html

  2. Klipstein, D. L., Jr. (2009). LEDs 101. Available from http://donklipstein.com/ledd.html

  3. Klipstein, D. L., Jr. (2009). The most efficient LEDs and where to get them! Available from http://donklipstein.com/led.html

  4. Li, R. (2010, April 12). LED flashlight mysteries, What is a LED emitter? Retrieved August 23, 2011, from http://ezinearticles.com/?LED--Flashlight--Mysteries,--What--is--a--LED--Emitter?&id=4094084

  5. Murray, M. (2010). Revolutionary 100mm LED downlight. Durham, NC.

Note: These are the first five of many sources. For a complete list of sources, please contact the project leader, Elaine Kitchel.

Work during FY 2012

The project leader procured two samples of the proposed Better Vision Magnifier and tested them for color temperature, brightness, durability, flexibility, utility, emission projection, and luminosity. She then proposed the Better Vision Magnifier as a product to the Product Advisory and Review Committee, and it was accepted. Additional research is now underway to provide information for a booklet called LEDs and their Uses for People with Low Vision. This booklet will be part of the Better Vision Magnifier kit.

Work planned for FY 2013

Research will continue until the booklet, LEDs and their Uses for People with Low Vision,is complete. At that time, the booklet will be laid out and edited. Once edited, the Better Vision Magnifier and booklet will be field tested. Publishing and availability are expected near the beginning of FY 2013. Right now it appears that the 2700K LED is not available anymore from the current vendor. Some other source may have to be found.

Decision Making Guide

Formerly Determining Appropriate Visual Reading Media
or Students with Low Vision

(Continued)

Purpose

The purpose/need for this project is twofold:

  1. Conduct basic research to determine visual accommodation needs, requirements, and strategies of students with low vision when reading passages of continuous text

  2. To develop a decision-tree product, based on the results of data analysis from the basic research

Project Staff

J. Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader

Amanda Hall Lueck, Project Consultant

Ian Bailey, Consultant/Research Optometrist

Helen Dornbusch, Consultant/Research Optometrist

Rajiv L. Panikkar, Consultant/Low Vision Specialist

Jane Erin, Ph.D., Consultant/ Expert

Background

APH sought the opinion of knowledgeable individuals to determine the need for this product.This project was the third in a sequence of experimental random studies conducted by Amanda Lueck, Ph.D., and Ian Bailey, O.D., which tested how magnification, accommodation, and the visual reserve affect reading efficiency in students who already know how to read. Development and production of reading passages were completed. The team developed comprehension questions for the selected passages and conducted pilot testing.

In-House Preliminary Research

APH examined the need for this product. A first step for any project leader is to search for an existing product that might eliminate the need for development of a current project. For this reason, Internet searches under the following Boolean terms were conducted:

"Print size"

Vision & "print size"

Vision & "learning media"

"Visual impairment" & "learning media"

In addition, the APH Library Services helped to search the patent office database to see if any products had the same basic contents as the proposed one. It was determined that no such product existed.

APH policy dictates that all parts of a product must be accessible to persons with low vision and blindness. Editing began on the User's Guide. Since the product is technically very complex, and not accessible to everyone, the project leader suggested that a low vision optometrist who is not involved in the development of the product, and who is familiar with the needs of teachers, review the product for feasibility and usability. The expert review was begun. Edits of the text and decision tree got underway. The project leader used the decision tree and found it very difficult. Not only was it difficult to see, but translation of the concepts into numeric values and modification of those values was confusing. Field experts as well as APH in-house experts believed educators would not use it. The overly-technical text was of little assistance.

Field Research Conducted

After pilot testing, full-scale experimental research was done on live subjects to ascertain whether the product was needed, and what its characteristics should be. Data were collected, analyzed, and published by Drs. Lueck, Bailey, and Dornbusch.

The data analysis was based on two studies that occurred in previous years (Bailey, Lueck, & Dornbusch, 2001-2002; Bailey, Lueck, & Dornbusch, 2003-2004). Then two follow-up studies took place in 2004. The data from all were incorporated into two reports and published in the Journal of Blindness & Visual Impairment. The data sets are presented and analyzed in those two reports (Bailey, Lueck, Greer, Tuan, & Dornbusch, 2003; Lueck, Bailey, Greer, Tuan, Bailey, & Dornbusch, 2003).

References

Bailey, I. L., Lueck, A. H., & Dornbusch, H. (2001-2002). Optimizing the reading of continuous text for students with low vision. Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind.

Bailey, I. L., Lueck, A. H., & Dornbusch, H. (2003-2004). Accommodation requirements of students with low vision. Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind.

Bailey, I. L., Lueck, A. H., Greer, R., Tuan, K. M., & Dornbusch, H. (2003). Understanding the relationships between print size and reading in low vision. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 97, 325-334.

Lueck, A. H., Bailey, I. L., Greer, R., Tuan, K. M., Bailey, V., & Dornbusch, H. (2003). Exploring print-size requirements and reading for students with low vision. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 97, 335-354.

Work during FY 2012

An expert review of the product took place in FY 2012. Three experts completed reviews of the product and generated the following opinions and conclusions:

There is evidence that research input is considered as part of decision-making in product completion.APH staff concluded that a rewrite of the text and decision tree into a more user-friendly language and format should take place. The originators agreed to develop a simpler version, which they completed and submitted to APH. The project leader began the process to edit and test the new format.

Work planned for FY 2013

When the new format has been accepted and the product has been fully edited, field test sites will be developed and shortly thereafter field testing will take place. Changes to the product will be made based upon field testing. A CD of both the decision tree and the manual will be developed for purposes of accommodation. Additionally, the product may be coded to enable availability on the iPad or other such technologies. Once these processes take place, the project will move into production phase. It is planned for this project to be completed in FY 2014.

ReadWrite Stand

(Continued)

Alt tag: Photos of ReadWrite Stand used by low vision adults for reading and writing tasks

Purpose

To provide a portable, lightweight slant board that serves as both a reading stand and a writing stand in order to reduce equipment needs for students and adults with visual impairments and to help with reading distance and posture

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Tom Poppe, Pattern/Model Maker

Andrw Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Background

APH currently offers two popular reading stands: the Desk Top Reading Stand and the Grandstand: Portable Reading Easel. Both reading stands continue to be in high demand despite years of availability. The Desk Top Reading Stand sold nearly 600 units in 2010, and the combined sales of the yellow and black versions of the Grandstand surpassed 1,600 units in the same year. However, the Desk Top Reading Stand is rather large and clunky for convenient portability, and the Grandstand has cut grooves on the facing surface that prevent writing tasks. The ReadWrite Stand attempts to merge reading capability with writing capability into one portable format with varying angles/resting positions. This product addresses a specific need documented in a Product Submission Form by Jane Redmon, a teacher of the visually impaired in Illinois. She requested: "I would like to see APH (or someone) develop a portable, light weight, bookstand/writing board. The small APH yellow or black book stand is great for books, but I have also needed a writing board for my students and would like to see one device for both purposes."

During FY 2011, the project leader's efforts were focused on the review of existing reading and writing stands produced by other vendors. For example, a combined read/write stand manufactured in Australia was ordered and reviewed by low vision APH staff; although the stand accommodated various reading angles/positions, it was very heavy, large, and not as durable as desired. Failing to find a slant board that ideally addressed the described need and function, APH decided to design an original, "home-grown" read/write stand.

A prototype demonstrating the expected end product was built by Tom Poppe in December 2010. The color, size, and slant options were directly influenced by early feedback garnered from APH staff with low vision. Blue was the unanimous color selection by those queried. The project leader researched and located a vendor for a low-profile clip; this clip style was incorporated into the design.

The product proposal was approved by the Product Evaluation Team on January 5, 2011, and supported by the Product Advisory and Review Committee on January 12, 2011. In March, the project leader conducted a meeting with the Product Development Committee to give known details about the product's design and to establish a product timeline.

The production of multiple prototypes of the ReadWrite Stand was initiated in March. The model/pattern maker built necessary tooling for die-cutting, thermoforming, and production assembly. The final design measures 18" wide x 14-1/8" high and can be positioned at four distinct angles-5 degrees (at rest), 15 degrees, 30 degrees, and 45 degrees; the three latter angles are accommodated by a metal apparatus designed by Tom Poppe for the APH Light Box. Weighing approximately 2-1/2 lbs., the ReadWrite Stand has two handles incorporated for convenient portability. The project leader authored an accompanying Instruction Sheet and took needed photos of the ReadWrite Stand in use by large print readers.

Eight prototypes were available for field testing in mid-June. The project leader prepared content for the product instructions, took needed photos, and identified ideal field test sites. Prototypes were mailed to instructors working with students and adult clients of varying ages and visual acuities; some students/clients had multiple disabilities as well. By mid-September, field test was underway.

Work during FY 2012

The prototype was used over a 2-month period (September 2011-November 2011) with students and adults with visual impairments ranging in age from 4 to 94. Field evaluations were completed by seven evaluation sites representing the states of Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Evaluators included teachers of the visually impaired, vision rehabilitation specialists/instructors, and vision itinerants. Forty-three percent of the evaluators had previously used both APH's Yellow Grandstand and Black Grandstand; 29% had used the Desktop Reading Stand. Seventy-seven percent of evaluators reported that their student/clients use a reading and/or writing stand "frequently" or "occasionally;" 22% indicated "rarely;" and none reported "never." Settings were varied and involved rehabilitation centers, itinerant programs, and low vision clinics.

The ReadWrite Stand was used with a total of 44 students and adults with visual impairments and blindness. One-fourth of the student/client sample ranged in age from 4 to 9 years old; 11% were between 10 and 19 years old; 34% were between 20 and 59 years old; 18% were between 60 and 89 years old; and 11% were between 90 and 95 years old. The sample was composed of 48% females and 52% males. Cultural diversity was evident in the student/client sample: 61% were White, 34% were African American, and 5% were Asian. The students'/clients' primary reading medium was reported as 36% print, 34% large print, and 18% large print with magnification; much smaller percentages were reported as print/braille readers (2%), electronic media readers (2%), pre-readers (2%), and nonreaders (5%). Nearly half (48%) of the student/client sample were reported as having additional disabilities (e.g., brain injuries, hearing loss, motor impairments, arthritis, and cognitive delays).

Ratings of specific product features indicated an overall positive reaction to the ReadWrite Stand following direct use with the expected target populations. Using a rating scale of 5 (Excellent) to 0 (Poor), the following average ratings of the prototype's features were received from evaluators:

ReadWrite Stand Feature

 

Average Rating

 

Overall Size

 

4.28

 

Overall Shape

 

4.57

 

Color (blue)

 

4.28

 

Weight

 

4.71

 

Available Angles

 

4.42

 

Stability During Use

 

4.57

 

Durability

 

4.86

 

Portability

 

4.86

 

Size and Position of Cutout Handles

 

4.67

 

Low-Profile Clip

 

4.57

 

Height of Shelf

 

4.57

 

Ease of Use for Reading Tasks

 

4.28

 

Ease of Use for Writing Tasks

 

4.00

 

Overall Visual Appeal

 

4.57

 

The weight of the prototype was described as "light as a feather," one that "kids can be independent in carrying around," and "easier for older clients." The overall visual appeal was described as "much more contemporary and modern looking'" compared to the existing APH reading stands. As another evaluator explained, "It's attractive so kids want to use it, but not strange looking so they are embarrassed by it."

Reading tasks accommodated by the ReadWrite Stand included recreational reading (e.g., novels, newspapers), reading of worksheets and science labs sheets, previewing pictures of a book "at close angle to get a global idea of the story," reading bills and menus, and reading newspapers and novels (in some cases in combination with a stand magnifier).

Writing tasks encompassed coloring activities, handwriting practice, worksheet completion, taking notes from the SmartBoard, writing checks and cards, and other short-term writing tasks. Most (86%) of the evaluators positioned the ReadWrite Stand on a table surface, 71% used it on a student's desk, and 14% placed it on a wheelchair tray. Unanticipated uses included placing the stand directly on one's lap during use and being held by the teacher during use by young students.

Varied utilization of the available angles afforded by the ReadWrite Stand was evident: the 45-degree and 30-degree angles were the most popular; however, the 15-degree and 5-degree angles were used as well, with the latter being the least preferred. One evaluator elaborated: "The (chosen) angle depended on the student, the task, and the needed focal distance." Another evaluator noticed that the "15-degree and 30-degree angels ease neck strain and still allow the (stand) magnifier to slide without picking it up."

A full 86% (6 of 7) of the evaluators indicated that the ReadWrite Stand offered specific advantages over other reading and/or writing stands used in the past including its stability, bottom shelf, built-in handles, ease of adjusting angles, variety of angles, built-in clip, portability, collapsibility/flatter storage, light weight, and "excellent visual appeal." One evaluator indicated that some of her clients liked using it as a lap desk and another indicated that her young student "liked the stand so much that he would ask for it and go get it himself."

Appropriate target populations for the ReadWrite Stand were defined by the following percentages of evaluators:

Target Population

 

Percentage of evaluators who found the ReadWrite Stand appropriate for the target population

 

Preschoolers with visual impairments/blindness

 

86%

 

Kindergarteners with visual impairments/blindness

 

100%

 

Low vision students in grades 1-3

 

100%

 

Low vision students in grades 4-8

 

100%

 

Low vision students in high school

 

57%

 

Adults with low vision

 

57%

 

Students with multiple disabilities

 

57%

 

Throughout the second and third quarters of the fiscal year, efforts were focused on making improvements to the ReadWrite Stand based upon field test feedback. Updates were minimal, but noticeable and included the following: 1) enlargement of handle openings/cutouts, 2) addition of protective foam to the corners of the large metal brackets for safety purposes, and 3) the inclusion of a LED book light.

Necessary in-house committee meetings were conducted to prepare the product for production. Final tasks by the project staff concentrated primarily on tooling preparation associated with the following:

In May 2012, the Educational Products Advisory Committee gave Quota approval for the ReadWrite Stand. By the end of June, all of the hard tooling was in place for the first production run. A Specifications Meeting was held in August, and the production timeline was updated.

Work planned for FY 2013

Availability of the final product will likely occur in the first half of FY 2013. The project staff will monitor the quality of the first production run. The project leader will provide content for the product brochure and showcase the ReadWrite Stand at workshops/conferences.

VisioBook

(New/Completed)

Alt tag: Front cover of the VisioBook guidebook

Purpose

For decades, people with low vision have made difficult choices with their video magnifiers, previously called "Closed Circuit Television" (CCTVs). New developments in the capabilities of these devices have complicated those choices. For example, when one gives up the x-y table, he gains portability, but loses the smooth movement of the text offered by the x-y table. In its ongoing queries of its customers, APH found that the following are features most wanted by video magnifier users of school age (in order of preference):

Background

APH had searched for a video magnifier that would fulfill all the needs identified by its consumers. Until the VisioBook was presented by Baum, Inc., no video magnifiers were available that provided all the features needed, as well as the quality that APH demands of its products.

Project Staff

Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Preliminary Project Research

The project leader read the listed pre-development research and performed experimental research in the case of item #5 listed here.

  1. Corn, A. L., & Erin, J. N. (Eds.). (2010). Foundations of low vision: Clinical and functional perspectives (2nd ed.). New York: AFB Press.

  2. Ferrell, K. (2011). Best practices in educating students with visual impairments. Greely, CO: University of Northern Colorado.

  3. Smith, D., Kelly, S., Kapperman, G. (2004). Assistive technology for students with visual impairments. Huntsville, AL: University of Alabama.

  4. Kartha, A. (2010). The effects of prolonged reading on visual functions and reading performance in students with low vision. (Doctoral dissertation).Queensland, Australia: University of Technology.

  5. Kitchel, E. (1990). Colored light and low vision. S. Lyon, MI: NoIR Medical Technologies.

  6. Kosciolek, S., & Ysseldyke, J. E. (2000). Effects of a reading accommodation on the validity of a reading test (Technical Report 28). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center on Educational Outcomes. Retrieved from http://education.umn.edu/NCEO/OnlinePubs/Technical28.htm

  7. Smith, A., Huebner, K. M., & Leigh, L. E. (2002). Access to visual learning options for children with low vision: Policy, practice and cost effectiveness. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Toronto, ON.

Work during FY 2012

Many people from APH management and staff evaluated the VisioBook and were impressed with the portability, usability, versatility, and many choices offered by the product. APH staff and consultants conducted limited field testing within the Louisville area. With the exception of one subject, all other subjects preferred the VisioBook to the video magnifier they currently used.

APH decided to carry the VisioBook as a product if certain changes were made. It was decided that first of all, color background and foreground choices would be developed so they would be useful to persons with low vision. For too long, users have been subjected to choices by computer programmers who have little knowledge of low vision but are still responsible for coding the colors included in the program. As a result, a palette of super-saturated, non-friendly colors became common in products for people with low vision. Research conducted by the project leader in 1990, "Colored Light and Low Vision," clearly showed what colors sharpen the text while at the same time provide comfort for the viewer. In addition to the color palette, APH wanted to put the user's guide into conversational English; to add some information, photos, and graphics; and change the format. The project leader and other staff worked with Baum, Inc., to make the needed changes, to both the software and the text and format of the user's guide.

Work planned for 2013

Even though the product is on the shelves and being received joyfully by students and their teachers, APH will continue to gather data on the utility, durability, and usage of the VisioBook. APH will also continue to gather demographic information of the users.

Wow Light

(Continued)

Purpose

Students and teachers have long requested a good head-borne light that students could wear to keep their hands free and their desks clear of clutter and hazards. The Wow Light is designed to be worn on the head. It is an extra-bright LED lamp that has three brightness levels, three directional settings, and is easy to use. The Wow Light is designed to provide light to

  1. Students who do not have enough desk space for a task lamp.

  2. Students who cannot get access to an electrical outlet.

  3. Students for whom task lamps and cords present a hazard.

  4. Students who must hold their text very close to their faces.

  5. Students who need light to supplement task lamp emissions.

The Wow Light comes with an informational book about light, head-borne lights, lighted magnifiers, and LED lights specifically.

Project Staff

J. Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Background

Even though students, teachers, and parents have requested head-borne, bright light for several years, until recently nothing was on the market that was bright enough, adjustable, affordable, and offered the right emissions for people who had low vision.

In the first decade of the 21st century, many head-borne lights became available as the possible uses of light emitting diodes (LEDs) came into being. Many came close to meeting the needs of persons with low vision, but nothing was quite bright enough or flexible enough.

The problem with LEDs is that they do not project the light very far compared to other sources of light. Much improvement has taken place recently to equip LEDs with reflectors and other technology that will project the light several feet. Fortunately APH can take advantage of this new development to provide students with the head-borne light that they need. This item is now the Wow Light.

Project Research

The project leader has researched the lighting weblogs, websites, and literature for several years to monitor the development of the well-projected LEDs. When they became available, the project leader accessed the following sources:

  1. Klipstein, D. L., Jr. (2008). LED types by color, brightness, and chemistry. Available from http://donklipstein.com/ledc.html

  2. Klipstein, D. L., Jr. (2009). LEDs 101. Available from http://donklipstein.com/ledd.html

  3. Klipstein, D. L., Jr. (2009). The most efficient LEDs and where to get them! Available from http://donklipstein.com/led.html

  4. Li, R. (2010, April 12). LED flashlight mysteries, What is a LED emitter? Retrieved August 23, 2011, from http://ezinearticles.com/?LED--Flashlight--Mysteries,--What--is--a--LED--Emitter?&id=4094084

  5. Murray, M. (2010). Revolutionary 100mm LED downlight. Durham, NC.

Utility Research

The project leader purchased two samples of the Wow Light LEDs and tested them for color temperature, brightness, durability, flexibility, utility, emission projection, and luminosity. She then proposed the Wow Light as a product to the Product Advisory and Review Committee, and it was accepted. Additional research is now underway to provide information for a booklet called LEDs and their Uses for People with Low Vision. This booklet will be part of the Wow light kit.

Work planned for 2013

Research will continue until the booklet, LEDs and their Uses for People with Low Vision, is complete. At that time, the booklet will be laid out and edited. Once edited, the Wow Light and booklet will be field tested. Publishing and availability are expected in early FY 2013.



SOCIAL INTERACTION SKILLS



Getting To Know You: A Social Skills/Ability Awareness Curriculum

for Students with Visual Impairments and Their Sighted Peers

(Completed)

Purpose

The purpose of this curriculum is two-fold: 1) to provide an opportunity for students with visual impairments and their sighted peers to learn and teach each other about the social skills needed to get along in the world and how both sighted people and people with visual impairments may differ in how they project themselves in social situations and 2) to have students with visual impairments teach sighted students the techniques they use to be independent in life. The lesson plans are divided into three levels: kindergarten through 2nd grade, 3rd through 5th grade, and middle/high school. Each lesson includes an objective, targeted skill areas, an introduction, a list of materials needed, and an activity section that explains how to conduct the lesson. Lessons were designed to be conducted during a short half-hour period, preferably during students' shared lunchtime.

Project Staff

Charles "Burt" Boyer, Early Childhood Project Leader
Nita Crow, Consultant
Stephanie Herlich, Consultant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

InGrid Design, Graphic Designer

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Background

There are well-documented articles and books written on the need for social skills training for students with visual impairments. There are also studies that have found that teachers of the visually impaired often teach social skills incidentally and not on a regular basis. They do not have concrete materials needed to teach social skills and time has not been set aside to address these skills. There is less published information about the curiosity that sighted students have with regard to how their peers who are visually impaired get around in the world and conduct everyday tasks. While the two topics appear to be quite different, we found that including them both in this curriculum provided both groups with the opportunity to learn about each other and do so in a safe and accepting environment. The targeted group for every lesson in our curriculum is both students with visual impairments and their sighted peers.

This curriculum focuses on learning those skills that will help students understand each other and learn how they are similar and different. The lessons teach students various skills either in the area of social development or adaptive techniques. Understanding each other and getting along in the world are two of the best educational principles that a student can learn. This curriculum was originally developed in 1997-1999 and the lessons have been expanded in the subsequent years. The authors have used this curriculum for 8 years with various groups and presented the curriculum at two California State conferences and at the Denver AER International Conference. Additionally, at least three other teachers in California have used or reviewed this curriculum and two peer reviewers on the East coast have also reviewed the curriculum. Feedback from peer reviewers has been positive. One suggestion that many reviewers mentioned was a desire for the inclusion of some of the specialized materials listed in various lesson plans. They felt this would make the curriculum a great deal easier for them to use.

In 2008, the project leader and consultants met twice to review the curriculum and make revisions to the original document. In addition, a great deal of time was spent discussing what items to include in the kit to accompany the curriculum guidebook. The project leader developed a plan to make some of the items to include in the kit. Some discussion took place as to whether or not a training video should be considered. The final decision was that this was not needed at this time.

The project leader worked with Bisig to begin the process of having the curriculum guidebook prepared for printing. Bisig prepared a draft of the guidebook, and several illustrations have been identified to be included in the guidebook. The project leader and Bisig planned to have pictures of students taken as illustrations to depict a variety of the activities in the guidebook. The Getting to Know You kit was reviewed and revised. Graphics and illustrations needed for the guidebook were identified. Items for the kit were discussed and a preliminary list made.

In FY 2009, the project leader worked with the consultants to finalize the components of the kit to accompany the guidebook. The project leader began to build the prototype of the kit, which included purchasing items and creating others. Illustrations were completed for cards to be used in the kit. The project leader worked to identify a source for the vision simulators; it was determined that three vision simulators will be included in the kit and these will have to be purchased, rather than made specifically for the kit. Pictures and illustrations for the guidebook were completed. A research assistant reviewed the guidebook, and revisions were made.

In FY 2010, additional sections were written for the guidebook; this included a description of kit components and their use in activities. Kit components were readied for field test: CDs containing files to be used in activities were made for field testing; a source for the vision simulators was identified, and samples of these for field testing were purchased; and Facial Expression Cards and Go Fish Cards were printed and brailled. Reviewers were sought via the APH News and APH Field Tester Database. Prototypes and the evaluation form for this product were sent out for field test.

Field testing was completed in FY 2011. Seven reviewers provided feedback about the Getting to Know You curriculum. Five of the seven completed the field test evaluation form. Reviewers represented the states of Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, Texas, and Vermont. One hundred percent of field reviewers recommended that APH produce Getting to Know You and make it available for sale on Quota. The reviewers also provided constructive feedback. Suggested revisions included the following: the inclusion of five blindfolds in the kit; a revision of the illustrations on the Facial Expression Cards, so kids would have an easier time identifying them; and the use of color-coded grade levels (e.g., blue tabs for Middle/High School). The APH graphic designer made necessary revisions to the Facial Expression Cards; these were approved by the project staff. The CD label art was approved.

Work during FY 2012

The project staff worked on several tasks during FY 2012.

  1. Worked with InGrid Design to create adhesive "snack labels" for one activity in the guidebook

  2. The guidebook was formatted in HTML for accessibility.

  3. The guidebook and 13 lesson files for inclusion on the product CD were transcribed into braille-ready files.

  4. A vendor was determined for the Facial Expression Cards and Go Fish Cards. Several test runs of these cards were completed in order to determine the vendor. Braille labels for the cards were tooled.

  5. The storybook, Through Grandpa's Eyes, which is purchased from an outside vendor and included in the kit, was proofed by APH staff for quality and accuracy of the braille. One revision to the braille storybook was necessary.

  6. Determined the APH Innovations Tote Bag (Expandable) is the appropriate size to hold all kit components and will be included in the kit

  7. A mock-up of the master CD was created by the project assistant; master CD made by Technology staff.

  8. Technical Research completed the final tooling and specifications. Kit items from outside vendors were purchased for stock; this included three kinds of vision simulators.

  9. The project staff approved a production copy of the print guidebook.

The project leader and assistant monitored the first production run of the Getting to Know You kit (Catalog #1-08052-00). The product became available for sale on September 14, 2012. The purchase price for the kit is $259.00. This product is available for purchase with Quota funds.

Work planned for FY 2013

A National Instructional Partnership (NIP) event is planned for Getting to Know You. The product authors, Nita Crow and Stephanie Herlich, will conduct the NIP event at the Kentucky AER Chapter Conference in March 2013.

Nonverbal Communication Curriculum

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop an instructional curriculum to help adults who are blind or visually impaired understand and integrate nonverbal communication skills into their daily lives

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Karen McCulloh, Author/Consultant

Background

The ability to communicate nonverbally is an essential skill for successful functioning in occupational and interpersonal situations. Because learning about and producing nonverbal communication is derived from visual modeling and is based on availability of visual information, persons with visual impairments may experience difficulties in both understanding the meaning of nonverbal behavior and producing understandable nonverbal communications. They may need specific educational experiences to help them understand what is going on around them and to develop positive methods of nonverbal communication.

This project will result in a curriculum to help people who are visually impaired learn how to integrate nonverbal communication skills into their daily interactions. Topics such as gestures, posture, social distance, appearance, voice intonations, and facial expressions will be covered. This curriculum will help blind or visually impaired individuals become more successful in interpersonal communication situations such as job interviews, professional meetings, advocacy situations, and everyday social interactions.

Karen McCulloh submitted materials to be used to select and prepare students for the instructional course. Scheduling complications slowed down progress, but materials submitted have been excellent; McCulloh plans to continue to submit material as quickly as her schedule permits. During FY 2010, McCulloh resigned from her full-time position and is devoting work time to this project. She completed preliminary materials and submitted all curricular materials for the first three group sessions. During FY 2011, McCulloh submitted curricula for sessions Four through Seven.

Work during FY 2012

McCulloh submitted curricula for sessions Eight through Twelve. Terlau continued to edit session material provided by Mcculloh.

Work planned for FY 2013

It is anticipated that McCulloh will submit materials for two additional sessions. The project leader will edit these materials.



Social Thinking Curriculum

(Continued)

Purpose

To adapt a social thinking curriculum, originally authored by Michelle Garcia Winner, for the visually impaired population, specifically for students with moderate cognitive impairments, as well as high functioning students, in elementary and middle school grades, who need to develop social thinking and social problem solving skills

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Brett Page, Project Consultant/Author

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Background

In December 2009, the consultant/author submitted a formal product submission form to suggest the adaptation of Michelle Garcia Winner's social thinking curriculum for visually impaired students. Garcia Winner is an internationally recognized therapist in the areas of autism, ADHD, and learning disabilities. The purpose of her curriculum is to provide therapists, teachers, and parents with a fun, motivating, and non-threatening way for students to explore social thinking concepts while increasing their awareness of their own behaviors with strategies taught through a series of worksheets and comic books. The published curriculum can be reviewed in further detail at the following website: www.socialthinking.com

The consultant/author indicated that the social thinking curriculum can be used with therapists in individual and group counseling environments, by teachers within the classroom, and by parents through interactions with their children at home. The program is most effective if all key adults in a child's life use the curriculum together. As the consultant explains in the product submission form, "I use the curriculum in my groups then have our teachers reinforce the concepts daily within the classroom environment while providing the students social thinking homework assignments. I also communicate/share the curriculum with our children's parents to reinforce and use at home." The consultant has observed that a majority of students with visual impairments/blindness exhibit tremendous weaknesses in this skill set. Not developing these skills hinders these students' ability to successfully transition from high school to college or to the workplace. This curriculum addresses this need in a highly engaging and effective manner. The ideal target groups for this product are elementary and middle school students, and in some cases, high school level students.

In January 2010, the product submission form was reviewed and approved by both the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee.

During the summer of 2010, the consultant initiated work on the modifications/companion notes to the initial chapters of Garcia Winner's Thinking About YOU Thinking About ME, a book that provides the philosophy behind the curriculum and is extremely necessary for those who coordinate social-education programming. The adaptation of this book was discussed with Garcia Winner. The consultant envisions the entire curriculum being "a truly interactive, hands-on experience."

The project leader continued to become familiar with the related materials (e.g., Superflex comic books). The project leader suggested the possibility of incorporating the various characters of "Social Town"-that is, the Unthinkables and Superflex-into a board game that would encourage the review of socially appropriate behaviors within a fun context. Commercially-available social game boards/cards were researched and reviewed.

The consultant/author continued the preparation of a companion manual to Thinking About YOU Thinking About ME, giving detailed adaptations for the visually impaired student on a chapter-by-chapter basis. In March, the prologue, introduction, and first three chapters were submitted to APH; the project staff made editorial updates. Research articles and similar APH social curricula (e.g., Getting to Know You) were provided to the author for review and reference within the companion chapters. [See separate report on Getting to Know You.] A teleconference call was conducted that allowed the project consultant to discuss accessibility issues with other research staff from various areas-low vision, early childhood, multiple disabilities, adult life, etc.

In July 2011, the consultant/author visited APH and worked exclusively on Chapter 4 Notes. The author and project leader broadened possibilities for tactile components and accessories (e.g., playing cards, print/braille worksheets, an interactive tactile facial expression board, etc.).

Work during FY 2012

The majority of the fiscal year was characterized by the preparation and editing of Chapter 4 Notes and Chapter 5 Notes. Several drafts of each chapter passed back-and-forth between the consultant/author and the project leader and project assistant until all content was satisfactory for field test purposes.

During FY 2012, the contract agreement was updated; this resulted in the scope of product components being scaled back to the preparation of the Companion Guide and accessible counterparts of the worksheets, figures, and tables featured in Thinking About YOU Thinking About ME. Supplemental materials such as accessible playing cards, "break-the-code" game using names and/or images of Superflex and Unthinkable characters, and an interactive facial expression board were also approved for "Stage One" of the project, but the game board idea and accessible versions of the related comic books were forfeited for possible development at a later date.

The consultant/author conducted two workshops throughout the year that allowed him to gather direct feedback about the planned project. In March, he conducted a daylong presentation to vision teachers at the California School for the Blind. In June, he gave a workshop at the Social Thinking Conference in California titled "Social Thinking without Sight: Application of Social Thinking Principles for Children and Adolescents with Visual Impairment or Blindness or Visual-Perceptual Challenges." The information he gathered at these workshops impacted and expanded the content of the Companion Guide.

The remainder of the year was dedicated to the preparation of the content/notes for chapters 6, 7, and 8. Once finalized, the project staff initiated formal layout and design of the Companion Guide.

Work planned for FY 2013

Prototype preparation will occupy at least the first quarter of the fiscal year. Feasibility of field test during the school year will be contingent upon the completion and preparation of other related materials (e.g., braille/print worksheets, tactile components, etc.). The latter efforts involve a greater number of staff from the Model Shop to the Braille Department to the outside graphic designer. As soon as a representative prototype of the expected product is designed, field test will begin.









Tests and Assessments

Accessible Answer Documents

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide well-designed, accessible answer documents in braille and large print for use in classroom tests, test preparation, and in actual statewide testing situations

Project Staff

Barbara W. Henderson, Project Leader

Kerry Isham, Accessible Tests Editor, Project Assistant

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader, Project Advisor

Andrew Dakin, Model Maker

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

Background

If students with visual impairments are to take tests independently and successfully, they must know how to use a variety of answer document styles. The original project goal was to collaborate with a major test publisher on development of a machine scorable and accessible "scannable answer sheet" or "bubble sheet," for use by braille and large print readers. Such sheets are now totally inaccessible to blind and low vision students. Visually impaired students' answers must be transferred by a sighted person onto a machine scannable document, allowing errors to be introduced and barring independence.

Between FY 2005 and FY 2007, the project leader made several contacts with test publishers and research entities, but a committed partner could not be identified. As a result, the answer document project remained on the PARCing Lot through the end of FY 2007.

In the first quarter of FY 2008, the project leader pulled this project into active development. A survey about kinds of answer documents needed by teachers and other service providers was developed, and in March 2008 was posted on the APH Web site. Over 123 people from 24 states and numerous agencies submitted a survey. The project leader and assistant analyzed survey results in the last quarter of FY 2008.

During FY 2009, results of the survey were gathered into a report. A field review questionnaire was developed in preparation for field testing. During FY 2010, Kerry Isham, Project Assistant, presented a poster session on accessible answer documents at APH Annual Meeting in October 2009. Results of the answer document survey were presented. In Spring 2010, the project leader began to work on designs for a "pop a dot" (plastic dots that can be popped up or down) answer sheet with model maker Andrew Dakin, and on braille answer sheet designs with Technical Research Manager Frank Hayden. Progress was made toward development of prototypes for field testing in late FY 2010.

In FY 2011, 16 field reviewers carried out product trials at 11 sites in the U.S. and Canada. Forty students in grades 3-12 participated. Results were summarized by Ann Travis so that revisions to prototypes could be made in the last quarter of the fiscal year.


Work during FY 2012

The project leader approved revisions made to the prototypes, specifications were drawn up, molds were ordered, and materials readied for the pilot run. The pilot run began in the last quarter of FY 2012.

Work planned for FY 2013

The pilot run will be completed in the first quarter of FY 2013.

Boehm Test of Basic Concepts, Third Edition (Boehm-3): Braille/Tactile and Large Print Adaptations

(Continued)

Purpose

To fill the need, expressed by the field, for a large print and a tactile version of this test of basic concept acquisition in very young visually impaired children (ages 3 through 5.11)

Project Staff

Barbara W. Henderson, Project Leader

Ann Boehm, Project Advisor

Kay Alicyn Ferrell, Project Consultant

Catherine Smyth, Project Consultant

Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader, Project Advisor

Karen Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader, Project Advisor

Tom Poppe, Model Maker

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

Andrew Dakin, Model Maker

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Anthony Slowinski, Graphic Designer

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Background

Based upon feedback from the field, it was determined that a student large print and a tactile adaptation of this testing instrument should be developed using a research-based model. The first Boehm Test had been adapted in tactile format by APH in the 1970s, so there was a tradition of interest in and recognition of the importance of this testing instrument for our populations. Evaluation of the development of basic relational concepts in visually impaired children is now known to be crucial. This knowledge is a prerequisite for later success in school.

Permission to do an adaptation of the Boehm 3rd edition was sought from the publisher, Pearson Assessment, as part of a research project using the adapted materials. The project was proposed by Dr. Kay Ferrell and Dr. Jane Farber, with the approval of Dr. Ann Boehm (author of the test).

The project idea was brought forward through the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee the 3rd quarter of FY 2010. The project leader did preliminary library research into the Boehm Test, including past research studies and publications about basic concept development in blind children. The concepts covered in the Tactile Treasures Kit by Karen Poppe at APH were partially based upon those in the original Boehm Test. Poppe's ideas about production methods on Tactile Treasures and other products helped to inform development of the Boehm-3 Preschool prototype.

The project leader held a teleconference to discuss a possible presentation at Annual Meeting with Dr. Ferrell and Dr. Boehm in early September 2010. Unfortunately, Dr. Boehm was unable to attend Annual Meeting that year.

In FY 2011, Ferrell and the project leader presented a product development input session at APH Annual Meeting in October 2010. Input from the field subsequently influenced the design of the Boehm-3 tactile and large print adaptations for field testing. Ferrell was at APH for the Executive in Residence program in the spring of 2011 and worked with the project leader to design layouts of tactile stimuli. Project leaders Suzette Wright and Loana Mason each provided valuable input about design of the tactile prototype. Project leader Elaine Kitchel reviewed the picture manual for low vision and color vision deficiency considerations.

Institutional Review Board approval of the field study was sought in late May by Ferrell at the University of Northern Colorado. Ferrell worked through the summer to finish instructions for administration of the Boehm-3 Preschool prototypes. The first kit of materials for field testing was sent out by the project leader on August 10, 2011. Four additional sites received materials in early September. Results were returned to APH before September 30.

Work during FY 2012

In FY 2012, results of the preschool edition field test were documented and revisions were implemented in the Model Shop. Updates were made to the administrator's manuals and test records.

Work planned for FY 2013

Finalizing of content and revisions will continue. A Specifications Meeting will be held, and the production pilot run will be scheduled.

Boehm Test of Basic Concepts, Third Edition (Boehm-3): Tactile and Large Print Adaptations

(New)

Purpose

To fill the need, expressed by the field, for a large print and a tactile version of this test of basic concept acquisition in visually impaired children ages 6 through 8 (kindergarten through 2nd grade)

Project Staff

Barbara W. Henderson, Project Leader

Ann Boehm, Project Advisor

Catherine Smyth, Project Consultant

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Anthony Slowinski, Graphic Designer

Background

Based upon feedback from the field, it was determined that a student large print and a tactile adaptation of this testing instrument should be developed using a research-based model. The first Boehm Test had been adapted in tactile format by APH in the 1970s, so there was a tradition of interest in and recognition of the importance of this testing instrument for our populations. Evaluation of the development of basic relational concepts in visually impaired children is now known to be crucial.

Permission to do an adaptation of the Boehm 3rd edition was sought from the publisher, Pearson Assessment, as part of a research project using the adapted preschool materials. The project to do the school age Boehm-3 was proposed by Dr. Kay Ferrell and Dr. Jane Farber, with the approval of Dr. Ann Boehm (author of the test).

The project idea was brought forward through the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee in the 3rd quarter of FY 2010. The project leader did preliminary library research into the Boehm Test, including past research studies and publications about basic concept development in blind children. The concepts covered in the Tactile Treasures Kit by Karen Poppe at APH were partially based upon those in the original Boehm Test. Poppe's insights about production methods on Tactile Treasures helped to inform the model maker's development of the Boehm-3 school-age prototype.

In late FY 2011, project staff worked on the prototype development and field testing of the Boehm-3 Preschool test. A consultant for Boehm-3 school-age test was identified, and she and the project leader began to work on adaptation of tactile arrays.

Work during FY 2012

Once the preschool project was near completion, Catherine Smyth was hired as the consultant for the school-age edition. Elaine Kitchel and the project leader reviewed the Boehm-3 picture manual for low vision and color vision deficiency considerations. Smyth attended teleconferences with Ferrell and Boehm and planned to meet with the project leader during the APH Annual Meeting to work on the project.

Work planned for FY 2013

The project leader and the consultant will continue working toward a prototype for field testing and review.

Brigance® Diagnostic Comprehensive Inventory of Basic Skills II (CIBS-II, ©2010): Braille Edition and Large Print Edition [a.k.a. Brigance Green]

(Continued)

Purpose

To fill the need, expressed by the field, for updated large print and braille editions of this trusted and widely used criterion-referenced test

Project Staff

Barbara W. Henderson, Project Leader

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Sean Tikkun, Project Consultant

Anthony Slowinski, Graphic Designer

Background

Based upon feedback from the field, it was determined that a large print and a braille edition of this popular criterion-based assessment were needed to ensure students with visual impairment are tested using the same version of the test as their sighted peers.

Copies of the new tests were ordered in FY 2010 and reviewed by the project leader.

In FY 2011, an in-depth review of CIBS-II materials revealed that the content differs dramatically from the CIBS-R. It was determined that an entirely new transcription was needed. The idea to update the earlier version was found to be impossible, so the new edition was submitted to the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee. The project was approved in August 2011, removed from the parking lot, and brought into active development. Editing work started.

Work during FY 2012

Project staff were identified. The project leader and research assistant continued to edit and do markups, in preparation for braille transcription and large print formatting. Teleconferences were held weekly with the consultant, Sean Tikkun, to discuss possible inclusion of manipulatives. Tikkun gave guidance on braille formatting as well. Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader, advised the project leader on considerations for students with low vision and color vision deficiencies.

Work planned for FY 2013

When the prototypes have been developed, field testing/expert review will commence.

Functional Assessment

(Continued)

Purpose

To provide assessment tools for daily living/functional skills for students in primary grades, middle school, secondary school, and transition classes

Project Staff

Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau, Adult Life Project Leader

Diane Bender, Project Author/Consultant

Barbara Henderson, Test & Assessment Project Leader

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Background

As the Expanded Core Curriculum becomes increasingly important in the education of students who are blind or visually impaired, a systematic method for assessing a student's progress in learning functional skills becomes essential. Many schools for the blind, university training programs, and rehabilitation agencies have developed their own strategies for assessing different aspects of self-care and daily living tasks. However, a systematic assessment process that incorporates a criterion-based scoring system and utilizes core curriculum skills in all levels of its functional assessment has not been made widely available. The need for such a comprehensive system has been expressed by numerous educators of persons who are blind or visually impaired.

Dianne Bender's assessment system for functional skills has been developed during her extensive teaching career in a residential school for the blind setting. Bender's system is being used as the basis for the Functional Assessment project because of its comprehensive coverage of functional skill areas; scorable testing protocols; and concise, clear testing directions.

Telephone conferences with Bender resulted in the finalization of four areas to be included in the Functional Assessment: Food Management, Clothing Management, Personal Management, and Home Management. Based on this plan, Bender submitted revised materials for all four levels of each of these modules. Item editing/revision and creation of additional items by Bender and the project leader have continued.

During FY 2009, the project leader reviewed all items at all levels in all modules of the system. She prepared suggested item changes throughout all modules and levels of the assessment to support more standardization across assessors and to equalize weights given to similar items across module levels. She spoke with Bender about these issues; provided general descriptions of and rationale for item changes; and prepared specific item change suggestions in spreadsheet format. Spreadsheets with specific item content changes were sent to Bender for consideration and review.

During FY 2010, in monthly telephone conferences, Bender and the project leader reviewed changes to support test-retest and inter-rater reliability, redesigned the scoring system to enhance psychometric properties of the test, determined final rewrites of items in the Clothing Management and Food Management sections of the test, wrote scoring scenarios and item explanations for these sections, and developed plans for content of the Home Management and Personal Management sections.

During FY 2011, Bender and the project leader continued to refine the test scoring system, rewrote scoring scenarios for previously completed modules to conform to new test scoring procedures, and wrote items and scoring scenarios for the Personal Management Module. Because of extensive reworking of previously completed modules in order to improve standardization strategies and potential for high inter-scorer reliability, new item development was confined to the Personal Management Module, with work on the Home Management Module postponed to FY 2012.

Work during FY 2012

Item content, item explanations, scoring criteria, and scoring scenarios were completed for the Home Management Module. The Self Management Module was revised to include self-care, social skills, and consumer skills. The scoring book was developed for the Home Management Module.

Work planned for FY 2013

The Test Manual and Answer Booklets will be prepared for field testing, field testers will be located, and field testing will be initiated.

KeyMath®-3: Braille Adaptation

(Continued)

Purpose

In keeping with a long-time collaborative tradition between AGS/Pearson Assessment and APH, a braille/tactile adaptation will be developed. This instrument has been widely used to assess math skills of students who are visually impaired.

Project Staff

Barbara W. Henderson, Project Leader

Debra L. Sewell, Project Consultant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant (Consultant)

Background

Continuing a long tradition of working with AGS Publishing to develop the original KeyMath and KeyMath, Revised in braille/tactile formats, APH requested permissions from the new publisher, Pearson Assessment, to develop adapted versions of KeyMath-3. APH requested the approved pre-production copy ahead of the print publication date in order to expedite production of the braille and large print editions. The project leader reviewed all test materials. Progress on the project stalled while waiting for copyright approval, during which time, the project was placed back on the PARCing lot.

Application for copyright permissions was resubmitted, as better communications with the publisher were established during the last quarter of FY 2011. The project was removed from the PARCing Lot and brought into active development again. Debra Sewell was selected as the project consultant, and a project assistant was assigned.

Work during FY 2012

Editing for braille translation resumed. The project leader and the consultant held a

2-day work meeting at APH in July 2012. The majority of the editing took place at that time. Several teleconferences were held in August and September to continue the work.

Work planned for FY 2013

A working meeting is scheduled during Annual Meeting in October so that Sewell and the project leader can complete the remaining sections. Sewell and the project leader will participate in an input session on KeyMath-3 at Annual Meeting. Pre-production work will continue until field test materials can be sent to selected sites. When results are back, a Specifications Meeting will be held. Materials will be readied for a pilot run.

Nemeth Code Assessment Kit

(New)

Purpose

To screen students to determine needed interventions and to determine if their problems are due to lack of math skills or lack of Nemeth Code skills

Project Staff

Barbara W. Henderson, Project Leader

Loana Mason, Project Advisor/Consultant

Background

At the APH Annual Meeting 2010 Information Fair, Ex Officio Trustee Yvonne Ali proposed that APH undertake a project to create a Nemeth Code Assessment Kit. She explained that Missouri TVIs often called asking for a way to assess their students' knowledge of Nemeth Code. Were their math difficulties from a lack of Nemeth Code skills or from poor math skills? Could we help them separate the two deficits? The project was approved by the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee and placed on the active timeline.

In FY 2011, Loana Mason was the original project leader, having spoken to Ali about the project at Annual Meeting. The Director of Research passed the project along to Henderson due to its assessment focus. The new project leader began to look for a consultant and to explore various instruments already available. Several avenues of inquiry were followed, but none panned out.

Work during FY 2012

A project consultant was identified and adoption of an existing assessment was proposed. The project leader proceeded to negotiate with authors to see if APH would be able to publish this particular braille skills assessment, which has a Nemeth Code section in it. Henderson is waiting for word from the publisher.

Work planned for FY 2013

If arrangements are made, plans to publish the existing assessment will be carried out. If not, an entirely new assessment will be written by the consultant and the project leader.

NewT: New Tools for Use with FV/LMA

(Continued)

Alt tag: Front cover of the NewT booklet

Purpose

FV/LMA, which is a set of protocols used to conduct functional vision and learning media assessments, requires a set of tools for practitioners to use. The protocols within FV/LMA often require such tools as colored markers, print samples of varied sizes, photos, pictures, cartoons, rulers, etc., to be used with them. In the past, practitioners have been responsible for the development of their own set of tools. However, there is value in standardization and accessibility. When tools are standardized, other practitioners, optometrists, teachers, and all people of a student's vision care/educational team understand how the results of the functional vision and learning media assessments were gathered and analyzed. They all understand what the results mean. With the development of NewT, practitioners across the country will be able to interpret results from their colleagues' reports when a child moves to a different state, for example. The NewT product will be accessible to all persons with blindness or low vision.

Project Staff

J. Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader

LaRhea Sanford, Consultant

Laurianne Matheson, Consultant

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Yoshi Miyake, Freelance Graphic Artist

Background

FV/LMA became available in 2008. Dr. LaRhea Sanford, one of the originators of FV/LMA has done several workshops through the National Instructional Partnership. After each of her presentations, practitioners, teachers, and early interventionists call APH to request sets of tools such as the kind NewT would provide. They are very interested in having the tools to complement their FV/LMA products. During the development of FV/LMA, Drs. Sanford and Burnett developed their own set of tools and made a list of those items. The project leader and other staff are working out ways to make all the tools and materials accessible for practitioners who have blindness or low vision. In June 2009, the project leader and consultant met to determine the scope of the product, and to brainstorm about which items would go into the array of tools in NewT. The project leader then met with the manufacturing specialist assigned to the product and discussed the projected specifications.

Research

  1. Burnett, R., & Sanford, L. (2008). FV/LMA: Functional vision and learning media assessment for students who are pre-academic or academic and visually impaired in grades K-12. Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind.

  2. Koenig, A. J., & Farrenkopf, C. (1995). Assessment of braille literacy skills. Houston, TX: Region IV Education Services Center.

  3. Koenig, A. J., & Holbrook, M.C. (1995). Learning media assessment. Austin, TX: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

  4. Sewell, D. (1997). Assessment kit of informal tools for academic students with visual impairments, part 1 -- assessment tools for teacher use. Austin, TX: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

  5. Sewell, D. (1997). Assessment kit of informal tools for academic students with visual impairments, part 2 -- large print reading assessments for student use. Austin, TX: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

  6. Sewell, D. (1997). Assessment kit of informal tools for academic students with visual impairments, part 3 -- braille reading assessments for student use. Austin, TX: Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Work during FY 2012

The project leader enlisted feedback from many of those who had attended the FV/LMA workshops to determine specific guidelines and grade levels for the NewT materials to meet. The project leader and Dr. Sanford discussed this as well. The manufacturing specialist then identified which items in the tool array would be made within APH walls, and which ones would need to be procured outside APH. The project leader then examined several items procured outside APH to determine if they would be suitable for use in the NewT array. The project leader worked with the consultants who had specific requests about what they wanted in Nigel Newt's Portfolios. Work continued on the products to be made within APH.

Work planned for FY 2013

The consultants have developed a short informational booklet for use by the consumer. The project leader is developing grade-specific materials for use by teachers and practitioners who have low vision. These are the materials in Nigel Newt's Portfolios. The project leader will continue to develop, format, and finalize Nigel Newt's Portfolios. Field testing will take place, and data will be analyzed. Revisions will be made based upon field test data. A search for an appropriate carrying case will take place. Specifications will be updated and finalized immediately after tooling is completed. Completion of the product is expected sometime in FY 2013.

Test and Assessment Needs

(Ongoing)

Purpose

To determine the needs of the field with regard to testing and assessing students who are blind or visually impaired

Project Staff

Barbara W. Henderson, Project Leader

Carol Roderick, Research Assistant

Background

Meeting the needs of TVIs and others who are called upon to assess students who are visually impaired is the focus of this home project. The project leader worked with the staff of Accessible Tests and Communications in FY 2007 to develop the first Accessible Tests Web site. Comments received on how the field has come to view the Accessible Tests Web site included "the best information source out there."

Commercially-available products for development of Daily Living Skills, Job Skills Assessment, and Career Interest Inventories were reviewed by project staff because of their particular importance for instructors who transition students who are visually impaired.

During FY 2010, the project leader spent a lot of time with customers answering questions about the newly released Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement- Braille Adaptation.

The project leader was asked to concentrate on the Test Ready Project as a priority. As a result, the project leader returned to the Research Department where projects were re-evaluated and new projects planned for FY 2011. One new project was brought forward in FY 2010 [Boehm-3].

In FY 2011, the project leader reviewed several new commercially-available assessments. Due to the division of responsibilities, Debbie Willis, Director of the Accessible Tests Department and staff took over the project to update Test Access: Guidelines for Computer-Administered Testing. Henderson agreed to assist Willis with finding resources and reviewing drafts. A package of articles and references were shared with Willis and staff in early FY 2011. The project leader also assisted Willis by reviewing chapters in a best practices document that Willis was reviewing for a test publisher. In August 2011, the project leader was invited to serve on a Common Core Curriculum advisory panel as Senior Advisor regarding accommodations for students who are visually impaired.

Work during FY 2012

The project leader served on the GED Fairness Review Committee and attended three meetings to develop the new GED test, which will be released in 2014. She also worked with Measured Progress, ETS, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) to develop computerized testing guidelines for students who are visually impaired.

Work planned for FY 2013

The project leader will create a new survey to determine the kind of guidance that school systems need to ensure their visually impaired students make a successful transition to the Common Core Standards.

Test Ready® Test Preparation Series

(Continued)

Purpose

To make generic test preparation/practice materials available in accessible formats (braille, large print, and audio) for the purpose of preparing students who are visually impaired and blind in grades 3-12 to take achievement tests. Adult students preparing for the General Education Diploma (GED) or for college entrance exams may also utilize the advanced levels of these materials.

Project Staff

Barbara W. Henderson, Project Leader

Michael Sell, Consultant/Editor

Carol Roderick, Research Assistant

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Background

The project leader reviewed commercially-available test preparation and practice test materials prior to proposal of a new product. In response to a recommendation from the Educational Products Advisory Committee and the Educational Services Advisory Committee, the project leader selected and brought forward the Test Ready Series from Curriculum Associates. Subject areas chosen were Math, Reading, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.

Plus Mathematics and Plus Reading, each comprised of seven levels and seven teacher guides, were the first subjects produced because of their high priority for students who are visually impaired (refer also to NCLB regulations). Students who are visually impaired have traditionally done poorly on math compared to their sighted counterparts due to lack of accessible test materials. Math test practice is therefore especially important for braille readers.

During FY 2010, work continued on the Plus Math books. Plus Math Grade 7 and Plus Math Grade 3 were placed in stock. Production continued to funnel the grade levels through the system. Transcription and large print formatting work began with Bisig Impact Group on the Plus Reading books.

During FY 2011, the Plus Math series was completed in translation. Good progress was made on the Plus Reading books with braille transcription and layout for large print. Editing work on Language Arts, the third subject area, was completed by the project leader and consultant. Braille transcription of Language Arts began in July.

Work during FY 2012

Braille transcription continued for Language Arts, and editing work on Social Studies started. The project leader and graphic designer continued to funnel Plus Reading Advanced and Language Arts books through the process. Plus Math Books 8 and Advanced were stocked and made available for sale, as were Plus Reading 3 through 6.

Work planned for FY 2013

Work on Language Arts and Social Studies will continue. Work on the final subject, Science, will begin.

Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement-Braille Adaptation: Erin Research Study

(Continued)

Purpose

To utilize Woodcock-Johnson III score reports for research regarding test performance of students who are blind

Project Staff

Barbara W. Henderson, Project Leader

Jane Erin, Ph.D., Primary Investigator

Background

The Woodcock-Johnson III (WJ-III) Tests of Achievement (WJ III ACH) are widely known and trusted, and commonly used to assess academic strengths and weaknesses in children and adults. More than any other single title, practitioners in the field of visual impairment expressed their desire to have APH provide an adaptation of the Woodcock-Johnson for braille readers. In late FY 2009, the braille adaptation was stocked and made available to customers.

Related Research: The Erin Study

In FY 2010 and FY 2011, Dr. Lynne Jaffe presented WJ-III ACH-Braille at test administrator trainings in 11 states. When the braille test had been available for 6 months, Dr. Jane Erin of the University of Arizona proposed a study to collect score reports for analysis. APH agreed to collaborate, and Barbara Henderson began to solicit anonymous score reports from across the country. The hope was to receive at least 200 scores, with at least 10 students at each grade level, so the test items that are easy and difficult could be identified. Erin wanted to look for items that are outliers-in other words, missed by many children before a series of items are passed-and to identify test clusters that are related.

Work during FY 2012

Only 60 score reports were received. Henderson and Erin solicited additional score reports several times during the year. The research was placed on hold.

Work planned for FY 2013

Erin and Henderson will continue to accept score reports during FY 2013 so that a larger sample can be gathered. No additional work will be done until then. Please contact us if you have tested a student using the WJ-III ACH-Braille and are able to share your work.

Technical Research and Model Shop

Frank Hayden, Manager

Technical Research and Model Shop Activities

(Continued)

Purpose

The Technical Research Division and Model Shop function as a "bridge" between the concepts of the project leader's product and the concrete reality on the production floor. These areas are concentrations of specialized skill sets within the Educational Research Department. The purpose of these areas is to remain as faithful as possible to the project leader's intent and function of the product while making it as inexpensive and as easily produced on the manufacturing plant's floor as possible. These areas are involved in all aspects of the product including design work, materials selection, tooling development, vendor selection, and process development. While both areas are involved in process and tooling development, the model shop's primary focus is the physical development of tooling. Technical Research is heavily involved in tooling, materials, and process development and research with an emphasis on the documentation of the product's specifications and manufacturing processes. After developing and documenting the product's specifications the Technical Research Division works with production workers, floor supervisors, upper levels of APH management, and outside vendors to shepherd the project leader's product throughout its entire pilot and first production runs.

Some of the contributions Technical Research and the Model Shop make to product development on a regular basis include the following:

This development, documentation, and preparation of the product for actual manufacture, along with the monitoring of the manufacturing process by these two areas, help to assure the greatest probability of success for a new product.

Division Staff

Frank Hayden, A.A.S., C.E.T., Manager

Katherine Corcoran, B.S., B.F.A., Model/Pattern Maker

Andrew Dakin, B.F.A., Model/Pattern Maker

Rod Dixon, M.F.A., Manufacturing Specialist

Darlene Donhoff, Manufacturing Specialist (retired 11-30-12)

Nancy Etter, Administrative Assistant

Andrew Moulton, B.S., M.E., Manufacturing Specialist

Tom Poppe, Model/Pattern Maker (part time)

James Robinson, M.S., E.E., Manufacturing Specialist

Bryan Rogers, A.A.S., Manufacturing Specialist

Work during FY 2012

Accessible Answer Documents, Braille/LP

(Continued)

Technical Research and Model Shop met with the project leader to create prototypes of the items in January 2011. This series of products will include three different versions: a large print version, a braille version, and a Pop-a-Dot version. Final layout of the print and braille versions of the product was completed. After examination and experimentation with the first prototypes, revisions were made to the Pop-a-Dot (changes in the mold, sheet size, and specifications) and final tooling was started. Specifications were started along with the tooling. Tooling for the Pop-a-Dot was completed. Technical Research was given the final vacuum-form pattern, the cutting die, and the final artwork on Pop-a-Dot. A specification meeting was held in July. All tooling was finalized with the exception of the print and the braille insert. This tooling was completed in August and turned over to production. The products are anticipated to be completed and stocked in the first quarter or possibly the second quarter next fiscal year.

Adapted Science Materials Kit

(Continued)

Technical Research has met with the project leader concerning the items to be made at APH and items to be made by outside vendors. After researching the products and processes needed to manufacture them, it has been determined the meter tape will be made outside of APH. Project leader and Technical Research are investigating the out-of-house manufacture of this item. Two companies are currently being considered. Another item in the kit, cylinder floats, is also being investigated for manufacture out-of-house. A unique material is used for the manufacture of the floats, and Technical Research is currently investigating sources of this material. Several items will require in-house tooling to produce the items on the APH production floor. Work has been started by the Model Shop to make vacuum-form patterns for a histogram chart. Silkscreen artwork is also needed. Technical Research and Model Shop will continue to resolve production issues on these items and assist the project Leader on this product.

Address Earth: Section 2

Address Earth: Section 2 Maps and Charts

Address Earth: Section 2 Large Print Textbook Set

Address Earth: Section 2 Braille Textbook Set

Address Earth: Section 2 Symbol Guide

(Continued)

Changes to content were made due to recent political events. Content is currently in the process of being finalized. Technical Research has the specifications for this series of five products in as final form as possible and will complete them when final content is received. Technical Research recommended the case be kept the same size in order to use existing tooling. This suggestion was adopted, and kits will be packaged in two cases. Silkscreen artwork for the case is complete. Specifications will be completed and turned over to production as soon as content of the products is finalized. Technical Research will continue to work with the project leader and monitor the progress of this project.

Address Earth: Section 3

Address Earth: Section 3 Maps and Charts

Address Earth: Section 3 Large Print Textbook Set

Address Earth: Section 3 Braille Textbook Set

Address Earth: Section 3 Symbol Guide

(Continued)

Technical Research will continue to work with the project leader and monitor the progress of this project.

APH Insights Calendar 2013

APH Insights Calendar, Custom 2013

(Completed)

The artwork was selected and photos shot. Technical Research checked that Braille Translation had full size proofs to make plates. The proofs were approved, and this product became available for sale on May 4.

APH Insights Calendar 2014

APH Insights Calendar, Custom 2014

(New)

Work will begin on the 2014 version of these products in early FY 2013.

APH Speedway

(New)

This project is one of five games that CVI Leisure Time Activities was split into and will be listed under its own name. Basic concepts of the product have been discussed, but tooling has not started. Tooling for prototype pieces will start soon.

APH Talking PC Maps Version 2

(Completed/Continued)

Betas are being tested and new features added. Per the materials manager, this updated version of the kit was not issued a new catalog number when the new version was released. The product became available for sale in December. Unsold Version 1 were returned to Sendero, updated and shipped back to APH. Changes have been proposed for a new software version. This new version will be issued a new catalog number for tracking in SYSPRO. A procedure for paying for 2012 and 2013 map updates has been developed and approved. This is a new version of the original APH Talking PC maps. Technical Research is working with cost, inventory, and marketing department as well as the project leader to determine the best way to set this product up in the APH SYSPRO system. Technical Research will continue to work with the project leader and monitor the progress of this project.

Barraga Visual Efficiency Program

(Continued)

Formerly Develop Efficiency in Visual Functioning, 2nd. Technical Research will begin to develop product specifications once more information has been received.

Beginning Braille: Power at Your Fingertips-VIPs Series

(Continued)

This product is currently being worked on to ready it for field testing. Technical Research will continue to work with the project leader and monitor the progress of this product.

Beginnings: A Practical Guide for Parent and Teachers of Visually Impaired Babies [Modernization]

(Revision/Continued)

This project was started in November 2011. The project leader and Technical Research met to go over points that should be considered to avoid complications in production. There are several areas of this project that need upgrading, and it will take more time than the project leader first anticipated. Technical Research will continue to work with the project leader and monitor the progress of this project.

Better Vision Magnifier

(Continued)

Technical Research will continue to work with the project leader and monitor this project.

Boehm Test of Basic Concepts

(Continued)

The Model Shop worked on prototypes that were sent out for field testing. The project consultant worked with the project leader on prototype revisions in February. The project leader met February 15 with Technical Research and the Model Shop; it was decided that everything is good for the revision on the first of three binders. The project leader is waiting for the consultant's review of the materials on binder 2 and 3 before meeting again with the Model Shop. In July, the project leader informed Technical Research and the Model Shop of potential changes to the completed vacuum-form patterns for the items in the first binder. A meeting is scheduled to discuss the potential changes to the tooling.

Braille Beads

(Continued)

Funding requests for this project from outside organizations have not proven fruitful at this time.

Braille Buzz

(Continued)

Technical Research met with the project leader on November 17 to discuss the project and establish beginning dates for the timeline. Since that time, a new project leader has been assigned to this product due to attrition. Technical Research met with the new project leader in early August and continues to work with the project leader to develop this product.

Braille DateBook 2012 Calendar

Braille DateBook 2012 Calendar Tabs

(Completed)

The product was completed and became available for sale on August 30, 2011. This product had two production runs rejected for low braille. The production manager requested different plastic stock to emboss in an attempt to obtain better braille. Technical Research secured a different stock that did emboss better. An ECR was generated to permanently change to the new material.

Braille DateBook 2013 Calendar

Braille DateBook 2013 Calendar Tabs

(New/Completed)

This was put on the active timeline on September 22, 2011. Part numbers were received and turned over to Braille Transcription. Bills and routings were entered into SYSPRO, and the work order was cut. Production with the new tab material went well. There were no rejected production runs. This became available for sale on June 4, 2012.

Braille DateBook 2014 Calendar

Braille DateBook 2014 Calendar Tabs

(New)

Work will begin on these two annual products in the second quarter of FY 2013.

Braille Drill System

(Continued)

Technical Research met with the project leader in November to discuss project. Technical Research will continue to work with the project leader and monitor the progress of this project.

Braille Hundreds Chart

(New)

This project added per the June 2012 the Product Advisory and Review Committee meeting. Technical Research will begin to develop product specifications once more information has been received.

Braille Series

(Continued)
Technical Research met with the project leader on November 17 to discuss basics of the project. Since that time, a new project leader will need to be assigned to this project due to attrition. Technical Research will work with the new project leader assigned to this project and will continue to monitor the progress of this project.

Brigance Green

(New)

Technical Research will begin to develop product specifications once more information has been received.

Building on Patterns, Grade 2

(Continued)

During FY 2012, Technical Research worked on product specifications for Units 2-7 and worked extensively with the Model Shop to design the tooling needed for the game board portions of Unit 5. Unit 1 specifications had been turned over in FY 2011. Unit 1 became available for sale on September 19, 2011. Unit 2 became available for sale on November 28, 2011. Unit 3 became available on January 19, 2012. Unit 4 became available on April 2, 2012. Unit 5 became available on July 2, 2012. Unit 6 is currently in process on the Production floor. Final packaging of Unit 6 is in-process. Unit 6 is anticipated being available for sale in August. Work has begun on product specifications for the Unit 7 materials. There are seven catalog items in Unit 7 as opposed to the normal eight catalog items. Work on product specifications for the braille textbooks has been fast tracked, and specifications on this particular Unit 7 item will be turned over to production in August. The remaining six items in Unit 7 will follow. Technical Research will continue to work with the project leader as well as production to monitor the progress of this project.

Calendar Time

(Continued)

In February, the Product Advisory and Review Committee discussed this project and decided NOT to abandon at this time. It will be reviewed again. Technical Research will continue to work with the project leader and monitor the progress of t