American Printing House
For The Blind



Research

Development Activities

Fiscal Year 2013

 

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 15, 2013

Dear APH Friends,

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) presents the Annual Research Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013.

The report highlights some of the approximately 300 projects that the APH Research Department worked on this past fiscal year. In the appendices, you will find the list of 89 new catalog items that became available for purchase in FY 2013.

This past year has been dubbed the year of the APH "Big Ten STEM" Products. These products are as follows:

These 10 products represent some but not all of the STEM products developed this year. Also, a major development collaboration among Texas InstrumentsTM, Orbit Research, and APH resulted in the manufacturing of the APH Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator. This success resulted from the combined effort and support of APH staff, many of you from the field of blindness, and our manufacturing partners.

Why has APH been so successful, particularly in the past 25 years? In my opinion, it is because the APH Leadership and the field of blindness have practiced this quotation by Charles Darwin: "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor is it the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."

Change is inevitable in our lives and in our organizations. It is our hope that APH and the field of blindness will continue to build on the successes, by being the ones most responsive to change.

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 2013

Chair - Linda M. Lyle (NM)

Collette C. Bauman (MI)

Stephanie Bissonette (VT)

Madeleine Burkindine (KS)

Gerald Kitzhoffer (PA)
Linda M. Lyle (NM)

Paula L. Mauro (OH)

Dorinda Rife (MA)

Alternate -Yvonne Ali (MO)

Educational Services Advisory Committee - FY 2013

Chair - James Olson (CO)

James R. Durst (IN)

Christine Hinton (NJ)

Julie Kagy (NC)

Charlotte Lowry (AL)

 

Alternate - Sally Giittinger (NE)

Department of Research Staff

Educational Research

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

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

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

Enders, Bryan....................................................................................................Programmer

Gilmore, Terri, A.S..........................................................Design & Art Production Manager

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

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

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

Klarer, Mark, M.A..............................................................................................Programmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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........................................................... Technology Projects Manager

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

Smith, Rodger, A.A.S......................................................................Programmer (part-time)

Snow Wilson, Denise, B.A......................................................................Research Assistant

Spicknall, Susan, M.A. Special Ed./V.I............................Project Leader (Braille Literacy)

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

Wilkinson, Dawn, M.Ed................................................. Project Leader (Braille Literacy)

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

Zhou, Li, Ed.D..................................................................Project Leader (Core Curriculum)

Zierer, Laura, B.A. ................................................................................Research Assistant

Technical Research and Model Shop

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

Dakin, Andrew, B.F.A.........................................................................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

Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Thornton, CO

Alabama School for the Blind, Talladega, AL

Anchor Center for Blind Children, Denver, CO

Anchorage School District, Anchorage, AK

Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind, Phoenix, AZ

Blue Springs School District, Blue Springs, MO

Brinson Memorial Elementary School, New Bern, NC

California State University, Los Angeles, CA

Cane Bay High School, Summerville, SC

Center for the Visually Impaired, Atlanta, GA

Cherokee County Schools, Gaffney SC

Cherry Creek School District, Aurora, CO

Cherry Valley Elementary School, Newark, OH

Children's Center for the Visually Impaired, Kansas City, MO

Chinle Unified School District, Chinle, AZ

Clark Middle School, Frisco, TX

Columbia Regional Program, Portland, OR

Coppell Independent School District, Coppell, TX

Corbell Elementary School, Frisco, TX

Cupertino School District/SELPA II Vision Program, Cupertino, CA

Delaware Division for the Visually Impaired, Milford, DE

Delta Education®, Nashua, NH

Delta Gamma Center, Richmond Heights, MO

Desoto County Schools, Hernando, MS

Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County, Valley View, OH

Educational Service Unit, Omaha, NE

Elyria City Schools, Elyria, OH

Escambia District Schools, Pensacola, FL

Fairfax County Public Schools, Falls Church, VA

Fayetteville School District, Fayetteville, AR

Federal Way Public Schools, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA

Federal Way Public Schools, Federal Way, WA

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

Framingham Public District, Framingham High School, Framingham, MA

Francis Howell School District, St. Charles, MO

Friendship Valley Elementary, Westminster, MD

Gaffney High School, Gaffney, SC

Gwinnett County Public Schools, Oakland Meadow School, Lawrenceville, GA

Hardin County Schools, Special Education Department, Elizabethtown, KY

Harrison County Exceptional Learners Cooperative, Corydon, IN

Highline Public Schools, Burien, WA

Howard Elementary School, Kokomo, IN

Hunt Middle School, Frisco, TX

Idaho School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Idaho Falls, ID

Illinois School for the Visually Impaired, Jacksonville, IL

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

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

Iowa Braille School, Indianola, IA; Vinton, IA

Jefferson County Public Schools, Ballard High School, Louisville, KY

Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, KY

Kansas State School for the Blind, Kansas City, KS; Manhattan, KS

Kentucky School for the Blind, Louisville, KY

Lakota School District, West Chester, OH

Leon County Schools, Tallahassee, FL

Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, NE

Livonia Public Schools, Livonia, MI

Los Angeles County Office of Education, Redondo Beach, CA

Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired, Baton Rouge, LA

Malden Public Schools, Malden, MA

Marion County Board of Education, Fairmont, WV

Mechanicsburg Area School District, Mechanicsburg, PA

Mississippi School for the Blind, Jackson, MS

Montana School for the Deaf & Blind, Roberts, MT

Montgomery County Public Schools, Gaithersburg, MD

Morgan Township Schools, Valparaiso, IN

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

Nebraska Center for the Education of Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired, Nebraska City, NE

New Hampshire Association for the Blind, Concord, NH

New Mexico School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, Alamogordo, NM; Albuquerque, NM

North Kansas City Schools, Kansas City, MO

Northern Colorado University, Greely, CO

Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL

Ohio State School for the Blind, Columbus, OH

Oklahoma School for the Blind, Muskogee, OK

Ossipee Central High School, Center Ossipee, NH

Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, Holland, MI

Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Pittsburgh Public Schools, Brashear High School, Pittsburgh, PA

PlayAbility ToysTM, Tucson, AZ

Point Pleasant Intermediate School, Point Pleasant, WV

Precision Circuit, LLC, Columbus, IN

Prime Access Consulting, Inc., Cary, NC

Princeton Elementary School, Orlando, FL

Providence School Department, Providence, RI

Red Oak Independent School District, Red Oak, TX

Rhode Island Vision Education and Services Program, Providence, RI

Robinson Secondary School, Fairfax, VA

Rosemount Apple Valley, Eagan District 196, Rosemount, MN

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

San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA

Santa Barbara County Education Office, Santa Maria, CA

Shadowlawn Elementary School, Green Cove Springs, FL

Shawnee Mission School District, Oakland Park, KS

Shelby County Schools, Pelham, AL

South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, Spartanburg, SC

Southwest Kansas Area Cooperative District #613, Ness City, KS

Sprayberry High School, Marietta, GA

St. Louis Public Schools, St. Louis, MO

St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairments, Philadelphia, PA

Stafford County Public Schools, Garrison Elementary School, Stafford, VA

Suffolk Public Schools, Suffolk, VA

Tennessee School for the Blind, Nashville, TN

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

The College at Brockport, SUNY, Brockport, NY

The Governor Morehead School for the Blind, Raleigh, NC

The Hatlen Center for the Blind, San Pablo, CA

The Maryland School for the Blind, Baltimore, MD

The New York Institute for Special Education, Bronx, NY

Touch Graphics, Inc., New York, NY

U.S. Grant High School, Valley Glen, CA

United States Coastal Studies, Seattle, WA

University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL

University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

University of California, San Diego, CA

University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

University of Louisville, Louisville, KY

Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Rutland, VT

Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind, Staunton, VA

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

Visually Impaired Preschool Services-Bloomington, Bloomington, IN

Washington State School for the Blind, Vancouver, WA

Washoe County School District, Reno NV

Waterloo Region District School Board, Ontario, Canada

West Geauga High School, Chesterland, OH

Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, Pittsburgh, PA

Westmoreland Intermediate Unit, Greensburg, PA

William Southern Elementary School, Independence, MO

Consultants

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

Allen, Tim, APH Technology Consultant, Louisville, KY

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]

Barabash, Jane, COMS, The Governor Morehead Preschool, Raleigh, NC [Tactile Book Builder]

Barraga, Natalie, Ph.D., Ed.D., Retired [Barrage Visual Efficiency Program]

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]

Blankenship, Karen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of the Practice, Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN [Gross Motor Development Study and Curriculum]

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

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

Burnett, Rebecca, Ed.D., Teacher, Nashville Public Schools, Nashville, TN [NewT]

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

Chen, Deborah, Ph.D., Professor, California State University-Northridge, Northridge, CA [PAIVI: Parents and Their 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, Visual Impairment Consultant, Worthington, OH [Getting in Step with Little Feet], [Lap Time 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] , [Building on Patterns Second Edition]

Daugherty, Bill, Superintendent, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, TX [Barraga Visual Efficiency Program]

Davis, Rebecca, M.F.A., Development Director/Parent Advisor, Visually Impaired Preschool Services-Bloomington, Bloomington, IN [Beginnings]

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] , [Building on Patterns Second Edition]

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 [Multiple Disabilities Focus Group: Birth to Grade 12], [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, 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], [Building on Patterns Second Edition]

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

Fox, Dana, M.A., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, The Governor Morehead Preschool, Raleigh, NC [FirstTouch Books], [Tactile Book Builder]

Gendeman, Jennifer, OTD, OTR/L, Certified Low Vision Therapist, Occupational Therapist, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY [Ergonomic Friendly Stylus]

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., 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 Study and Curriculum]

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

Hodges, Kathryn, Writer, Decatur, IL [Sewing and Fiber Arts for People with Visual Impairments]

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], [Building on Patterns Second Edition], [Early Braille Trade Books]

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

Hook, Jo, M.Ed., Diploma in Rehabilitation Work for the Visually Impaired, West Sussex, England [Echolocation]

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]

Jackson, Derrick, Videographer, Frisco ISD, Frisco, TX [SLK Revision]

Jefferson, Janice, Special Education Teacher, Frisco ISD, Frisco, TX [SLK Revision]

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

Johnson, Tami, Special Education Teacher, Frisco ISD, Frisco, TX [SLK Revision]

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

Kish, Daniel, M.A., M.A., COMS, NOMC, President, World Access for the Blind, Placentia, CA [Echolocation]

Klipstein, Donald, M.S.Eng., Retired Engineer and Consultant, Upper Darby, PA [Wow Light]

Landau, Steven, Research Director, Touch Graphics, Inc., New York, NY [Interactive U.S. Map with Talking Tactile Pen]

Langley, M. Beth, M.S., Early Childhood Interventionist, Clearwater, FL [ISAVE Revision]

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]

Lepore, Monica, Ed.D., Professor of Adapted Physical Education, West Chester University, PA [Gross Motor Development Study and Curriculum]

Lieberman, Lauren, Ph.D., Professor, The College at Brockport, Brockport, NY [Everybody Plays!], [Gross Motor Development Study and Curriculum]

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

Maffei, Patricia, M.A., Program Director, The Hatlen Center for the Blind, San Pablo, CA [Quick & Easy ECC: The Hatlen Center 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]

McCarthy, Tessa, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, North Carolina Central University [Teaching Street Crossings]

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]

Myers, Chuck, A.S., APH Technology Consultant, Louisville, KY

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], [Building on Patterns Second Edition]

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]

Osborne, Elaine, Special Education Teacher, Frisco ISD, Frisco, TX [SLK Revision]

Osterhaus, Susan, M.Ed., Statewide Mathematics Consultant, Outreach Program, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, TX [Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator]

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

Ramella, Beth, B.S., M.Ed., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Certified in Special Education Supervision, Pittsburgh, PA [CVI Spinners for the Light Box; CVI Phases Binder]

Ratzlaff, Kay, M.S., Early Childhood Interventionist, Tampa, FL [ISAVE Revision]

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

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]

Roller, Brandon, B.A. English, B.S. Computer Science, APH Technology Consultant, Louisville, KY

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]

Runyan, Marla, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Lane Regional Programs, Eugene, OR [Gross Motor Development Study and Curriculum]

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

Sapp, Wendy, Ph.D., COMS, Visual Impairment Education Services, Chattanooga, TN [Tactile Book Builder]

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]

Schimmelpfennig, Sue, M.S. in Special Education, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Northwest Regional Education Service District, Hillsboro, OR [Building on Patterns Second Edition]

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

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-3TM]

Skowron, Aniceta, Ph.D., Materials Scientist, Founder of 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], [SAM: Symbols and Meaning], [Sensory Learning Kit, Revision]

Smoker, Kari, M.S., J.D., Parent of a child with visual impairments, The College at Brockport, State University of New York [Gross Motor Development Study and Curriculum]

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], [Editing Kits]

Tikkun, Sean R., TVI, COMS and Doctoral Student, University of Northern Illinois, DeKalb, IL [BRIGANCE® Diagnostic Comprehensive Inventory of Basic Skills II]

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] , [Building on Patterns Second Edition]

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

Weaver, Erin, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Gennessee Valley Educational Partnership, Leroy, NY [Gross Motor Development Study and Curriculum]

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]

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

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

 

Field Evaluators / Expert Reviewers

 

APH SMART Brailler by Perkins

Bischof, Eileen, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Leon County Schools, Tallahassee, FL

Bissonette, Stephanie, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Supervisor of Children Services, Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, South Burlington, VT

Changar, Carla, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, North Kansas City Schools, Kansas City, MO

Dilworth, Kate, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Columbia Regional Program, Portland OR

Donaldson, Coleen, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Friendship Valley Elementary, Westminster, MD

Edinger, Pamela, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Thornton, CO

Fortier, Kamie, Teacher Consultant - Visually Impaired, Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, Holland, MI

Furze, Melody Zagami, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Albuquerque, NM

Kalas, Elli, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Cherry Valley Elementary School, Newark, OH

Lovell, Alan, Sales/Customer Service Representative III, American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, KY

Parr, Janie, Preschool Teacher/Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Kansas State School for the Blind, Kansas City, KS

Read, Izetta, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Santa Barbara County Education Office, Santa Maria, CA

Spicknall, Susan, Braille Literacy Project Leader, American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, KY

Terlau, Terrie (Mary T.), Adult Life Project Leader, American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, KY

Van Dyke, Laurel, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Howard Elementary School, Kokomo, IN

Wilkinson, Dawn, Braille Project Leader, American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, KY

Williams, Gloria, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, The New York Institute for Special Education, Bronx, NY

Wingell, Robin, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Santa Barbara County Education Office, Santa Maria, CA

 

Expanded Beginner's Abacus

Barber, Wendy, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Brinson Memorial Elementary School, New Bern, NC

Fazio, Lee, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Rhode Island Vision Education and Services Program, Providence, RI

Fowler, Kerry, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Waterloo Region District School Board, Ontario, Canada

Herder, Jane, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, St. Louis Public Schools, St. Louis, MO

Herring, Sue, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Sprayberry High School, Marietta, GA

Kilbride, Susan, Vision Specialist, Blue Springs School District, Blue Springs, MO

Mattsen, Aileen, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Highline Public Schools, Burien, WA

Nagel-Wilson, Pat, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Iowa Braille School, Indianola, IA

Powers, Rebecca, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Escambia District Schools, Pensacola, FL

Purtilo, Valerie, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Elyria City Schools, Elyria, OH

Walpole, Marilyn, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

West, Karla, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Suffolk Public Schools, Suffolk, VA

Wilson, Kristi, Braille Specialist, Anchorage School District, Anchorage, AK

Woods, Gina, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Shadowlawn Elementary School, Green Cove Springs, FL

Label & Learn Poster: Human Skeleton [Updated title: Touch, Label, & Learn Poster: Human Skeleton (Anterior View) ]

Adair, Cindy, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Hardin County Schools Special Education Department, Elizabethtown, KY

Anonymous, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Rosemount Apple Valley, Eagan District 196, Rosemount, MN

Brewer, Allison, Health and Adapted Physical Education, Ohio State School for the Blind, Columbus, OH

Chamberlain, Merry-Noel, Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Orientation and Mobility Instructor, Educational Service Unit, Omaha, NE

Craig, Sandra, Math and Science Teacher (Grades 7-12), Kansas State School for the Blind, Kansas City, KS

Eagan Satter, Elizabeth, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Federal Way Public Schools, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA

Ennis, Karen, Teacher for the Visually Impaired, Morgan Township Schools, Valparaiso, IN

Fernández, Rhode, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Fairfax County Public Schools, Falls Church, VA

Gault, Tyler, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Alabama School for the Blind, Talladega, AL

Gueltig, Bryan, Science Teacher (Grades 9-12), Mississippi School for the Blind, Jackson, MS

Huntoon, Linda, Science Teacher, Florida School for the Deaf & the Blind, St. Augustine, FL

Layfield, Terry, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Red Oak Independent School District, Red Oak, TX

Lewis, Preston, Science Teacher, South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, Spartanburg, SC

Muir, Justine, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Malden Public Schools, Malden, MA

Petsch, Danielle, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Providence School Department, Providence, RI

Rahni, Fay, Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Science Teacher (Grades 7-12)/Vision Therapist, New York Institute of Special Education, Bronx, NY

Silverstein, Ava, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Los Angeles Unified School District, U.S. Grant High School, Valley Glen, CA

Smothers, Sinikka, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Alabama School for the Blind, Talladega, AL

Stovestull, Colleen, Special Education Science Teacher, The Maryland School for the Blind, Baltimore, MD

Magnetic Dolch Word Wall [Updated title: All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express ]

Chambers, Darla, Elementary Educator, Illinois School for the Visually Impaired, Jacksonville, IL

Collins, Barbara, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Stafford County Public Schools, Garrison Elementary School, Stafford, VA

Davis, Stephanie, Literary Coach, Kentucky School for the Blind, Louisville, KY

Dickson, Judy, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Cherry Creek School District, Aurora, CO

Fullenkamp, Allison, Teacher of Blind and Low Vision Students, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Indianapolis, IN

Gayle, Anna, Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Braille and Art Teacher, Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired, Baton Rouge, LA

George, Sister M. Elaine, IHM, Librarian/Materials Assistant, St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairments, Philadelphia, PA

Hile, Jeri, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Shawnee Mission School District, Oakland Park, KS

Hirsch, Wendy, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Lincoln Public Schools, Lincoln, NE

Hollinger, Kevin, Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Francis Howell School District, St. Charles, MO

Kohut, Patricia, Special Education Teacher, Ossipee Central High School, Center Ossipee, NH

Leader, Patricia, Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Orientation and Mobility Specialist/Program Coordinator, Cupertino School District/SELPA II Vision Program, Cupertino, CA

Martinez, Mary Jo, Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Chinle Unified School District, Chinle, AZ

Shaw, Eric, Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Rutland, VT

Snyder, Pam, Instructional Technology Specialist/Computer & Assistive Technology Teacher, The Governor Morehead School for the Blind, Raleigh, NC

Troester, Jessi, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, William Southern Elementary, Independence, MO

Match Sticks

Adams, Susan, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Montgomery County Public Schools, Gaithersburg, MD

Allen, Margaret, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Lakota School District, West Chester, OH

Alstrin, Kathy, M.S. Ed., ECU, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Children's Center for the Visually Impaired, Kansas City, MO

Anand, Johanna, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Livonia Public Schools, Livonia, MI

Di Lullo, Christina, Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County, Valley View, OH

Hussion, Sharle, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Montgomery County Public Schools, Gaithersburg, MD

Johnson, Tami, Active Learning Teacher, Corbell Elementary School, Frisco, TX

Lawlor, Elizabeth, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Southwest Kansas Area Cooperative District #613, Ness City, KS

Nielsen, Anne, Outreach Director, Kansas State School for the Blind, Manhattan, KS

Pensari, Lynn, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Livonia Public Schools, Livonia, MI

Shelley, Karen, Teacher/Consultant for Students who have Blindness or Low Vision, Harrison County Exceptional Learners Cooperative, Corydon, IN

Wheeler, Jennifer, MA, Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Assistive Technology Specialist, Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind, Phoenix, AZ

Woodward, Anzer, Early Child Intervention Specialist, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Montgomery County Public Schools, Gaithersburg, MD

Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator

Bahram, Sina, Accessibility Researcher and Consultant, Prime Access Consulting, Inc., Cary, NC

Cooley, Kathleen, Math Teacher, West Geauga High School, Chesterland, OH

Dilworth, Kate, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Columbia Regional Program, Portland, OR

Gardner, Jonathan, Math Teacher, Gaffney High School, Gaffney, SC

Greene, Joseph A., Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Painesville, OH

Hodge, Lisa, Math Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Washington State School for the Blind, Vancouver, WA

Kapperman, Gaylan, Vision Program Coordinator, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL

Klump, Kim, Math Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Kentucky School for the Blind, Louisville, KY

Musgrove, Shawn, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Delaware Division for the Visually Impaired, Milford, DE

Nannemann, Allison, Math Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Tennessee School for the Blind, Nashville, TN

Osterhaus, Susan, Statewide Mathematics Consultant, Outreach Program, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, TX

Pedulla, Gian, Math Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, New York Institute for Special Education, Bronx, NY

Plansker, Mike, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Thornton, CO

Remmen, Barbara, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Educational Service Unit #3, Omaha, NE

Smith, Derrick, Assistant Professor, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL

Sparks, Tina, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Cherokee County Schools, Gaffney SC

Squire, Debra, Math Teacher/Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Indianapolis, IN

Treptow, Joan, Braille Transcriptionist, Washoe County School District, Reno, NV

Waddell, Glen, Math Teacher/Department Chair, Washoe County School District, Reno NV

Weimer, Amy, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Westmoreland Intermediate Unit, Greensburg, PA

PAIVI: Parents and Their Infants With Visual Impairments (2nd ed.)

Brostek Lee, Donna, Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Education, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

Clarke, Kay, Visual Impairment Consultant, Private Practice, Worthington, OH

Ferrell, Kay, Professor, School of Special Education, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO

Grisham-Brown, Jennifer, Professor, Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education, College of Education, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

Hannan, Cheryl, Assistant Professor, Division of Special Education and Counseling, California State University, Los Angeles, CA

McCarthy, Tessa, Assistant Professor, Special Education & Communication Disorders, College of Education and Human Sciences, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE

Nielsen, Anne, Outreach Director, Kansas State School for the Blind, Manhattan, KS

 

Protein Synthesis Kit

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

Eagan Satter, Elizabeth, Educational Administration, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Federal Way Public Schools, Federal Way, WA

Fraser, Kate, Science Teacher, Perkins School for the Blind, Watertown, MA

Whitworth, Louise, BS, MA, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Jefferson City Public Schools, Jefferson City, MO

 

Quick & Easy ECC

Blake, Lori, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, The Governor Morehead School for the Blind, Raleigh, NC

Chambers, Stacey, Certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Coppell Independent School District, Coppell, TX

Darrough, Debbie, Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Consultant/Orientation and Mobility Instructor, Fayetteville School District, Fayetteville, AR

Dawson, Rosemary, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, KY

Howard, Michelle, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Berkeley County School District, Summerville, SC

Hurst, Judy, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Marion County Board of Education, Fairmont, WV

Kaltz, Merrie, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Pittsburgh, PA

Jester, Colleen, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Robinson Secondary School, Fairfax, VA

Liao, Melisa, Teacher of the Visually Impaired and Blind, Los Angeles County Office of Education, Redondo Beach, CA

Luthy, Nancy, Educational Specialist for Blind and Visually Impaired, Idaho School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Idaho Falls, ID

McDermott, Maureen, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Framingham Public Schools, Framingham, MA

Pensari, Lynn, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Livonia Public Schools, Livonia, MI

Snulligan, Danita J., Orientation and Mobility Instructor/Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Rehabilitation Teacher, Gwinnett County Public Schools, Oakland Meadow School, Lawrenceville, GA

Wall, Carla, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Tennessee School for the Blind, Nashville, TN

Woods, Gina, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Oklahoma School for the Blind, Muskogee, OK

Woods, Sharon, Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist/Outreach Consultant, Montana School for the Deaf & Blind, Roberts, MT

 

Student Workbook for Geometro

Bonito, Sheila, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Needham West, Lodi, CA

Dowell, Jodi, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Point Pleasant Intermediate School, Point Pleasant, WV

Medley, Anita, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Desoto County Schools, Hernando, MS

Nagel-Wilson, Pat, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Iowa Braille School, Vinton, IA

Odham, Pat, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Princeton Elementary School, Orlando, FL

Osterhaus, Susan, Secondary Math Teacher and Statewide Mathematics Consultant, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, TX

Peirano, Cecelia, Teacher, Ohio State School for the Blind, Columbus, OH

Sample, Denise, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Shelby County Schools, Pelham, AL

Schomerus, Elizabeth, Teacher, Nebraska Center for the Education of Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired, Nebraska City, NE

Torrence, Glenda, Teacher, Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, TX

Troester, Jessica, William Southern Elementary School, Independence, MO

West, Anne, Teacher, Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Indianapolis, IN

Wittmerhaus, Nancy, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Orientation and Mobility Specialist, New Hampshire Association for the Blind, Concord, NH

 

Tactile Book Builder

Moe, Christine, Doctoral Student, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Northern Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO

 

VIPS@Home Parent University Series: Power at Your Fingertips and Emergent Literacy

Anonymous, Braille Instructor, Children's Center for the Visually Impaired, Kansas City, MO

Anonymous, Developmental Vision Specialist, New Mexico School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, Alamogordo, NM

Anonymous, Teacher of the Visually Impaired, The Maryland School for the Blind, Baltimore, MD

Clarke, Kay, Visual Impairment Consultant, Private Practice, Worthington, OH

Cummins, Ann, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Children's Center for the Visually Impaired, Kansas City, MO

Drobnik, Mary Ellen, Developmental Therapist for Vision, Downers Grove, IL

Fernández, Rhode, Teacher for Students who are Blind and Visually Impaired, Fairfax County Public Schools, Falls Church, VA

Filicetti, Mary, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Fairfax County Public Schools, Falls Church, VA

Hughes, Ann Story, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Visually Impaired Preschool Services-Bloomington, Bloomington, IN

Kirby, Renee, Parent Coordinator, Maryland School for the Blind, Baltimore, MD

Lambert, Rebecca, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Delta Gamma Center, Richmond Heights, MO

Maynard, Paige, Developmental Interventionist, Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

McComiskey, Anne, BEGIN Program Director, Center for the Visually Impaired, Atlanta, GA

Stordahl, Luanne, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, New Mexico School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, Albuquerque, NM

Vallese, Sarah, Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, Anchor Center for Blind Children, Denver, CO

Vaughn, Mary, Preschool Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments, New Mexico School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, Alamogordo, NM

 

 

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 Department of Education that Test Central was awarded startup funding for FY 2001. At a meeting with APH 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 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® 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 ProgressTM, 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 in June 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 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 in September. 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.

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, in March 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, in June. 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) 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 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 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 online (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: 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® (WJ) 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 Assessment Compendium: Instruments for Assessing the Skills and Interests of Individuals with Visual Impairments by Lighthouse International®.

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 are formatted and transcribed in a more consistent manner.

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®, Data Recognition Corporation, ETS®, Pearson Assessments, Measured ProgressTM, 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 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 was 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 about 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, 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 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-3TM 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-3TM. Accessible Tests staff also pursued permission from the test publisher to make a braille/tactile version of KeyMath-3TM 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 ProgressTM 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 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. 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 were 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 the APH Web site.

Forty-six members of the CCSSO division on Assessment of Special Education Students (ASES) visited APH for an 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, 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 disseminated to interested parties and made available on the Accessible Tests Department's Web page.

The original selection of released sample test items from 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 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, 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 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 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, 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. 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 Lynne Jaffe presented a session entitled, "Issues in Translating Tests into Braille: WJ 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-Muñoz Foundation. At the dinner, Barbara had the honor to meet Richard Woodcock and Kevin McGrew, two of the WJ III authors, as well as Fred Schrank, Director of the Woodcock-Muñoz Foundation (WMF). A letter of appreciation for the extensive and historic work accomplished by Woodcock, 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 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 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 online (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 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, 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 Questar Assessment, Inc.TM 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 presentation; lists of resources; and more. Questar Assessment, Inc.TM staff expressed appreciation and a strong degree of satisfaction with the instruction and materials they received.

As a member of our IQ Test Group, Carol Evans presented a paper 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 six 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 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 the CTB McGraw-Hill 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 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-3TM, 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. 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.

There were major staff changes in the Accessible Tests Department in FY 2010. Barbara Henderson transferred to the Research Department where she began 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 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 WJ III Tests of Achievement: Braille Adaptation was made available early in FY 2010. Barbara Henderson worked closely with consultant Lynne Jaffe and members of the Woodcock-Muñoz 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 WJ III Tests of Achievement for Braille Readers was held in Phoenix, AZ, in December 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;Lynne Jaffe was the instructor. Several additional NIP events on this product were conducted in FY 2010 via Blome with instruction provided by Jaffe.

Activities in FY 2010 included requesting permission and holding teleconferences to make components of KeyMath-3TM, 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 Accessible Textbooks, Advisory Services, Research, Accessible Tests, the Studio, and NIMAC. 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. The NCAM 90-minute webinar on these new guidelines is available online (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 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 in 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 State 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. 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 accepted the invitation to participate in the first Pearson Accessibility and Innovation Conference to be held in September 2010 at Pearson 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 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 tests for grades 2-12 and adults. These tests were 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 a 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 APH Annual Meeting. 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 scheduled throughout FY 2011 and into FY 2012.

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.

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 Corporate Headquarters in Upper Saddle River, NJ, in September 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 represented APH and participated 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 the Web 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 review. Recommendations and suggested edits were incorporated; the position paper was finalized and made available on the Accessible Tests webpage as well as the TSBVI Web site. Several messages of 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 participated 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 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. 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. In January and February of 2011, 286 unique state assessments, alternate assessments, and reference sheets were produced; copies of each ranged from 1 to 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. Tests included state and district assessments, alternate assessments, and test-related materials such as reference sheets, data sheets, and examiner manuals. Customers included ACT®, Central Services, American Institutes for Research®, Cheeney Media Concepts, CASAS, Data Recognition Corporation, Measured ProgressTM, NCS Pearson, Questar Assessment, Inc.TM, 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 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. The Braille Pre-Production Manager at the time 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 is described below.

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

In October 2011, Priscilla Knight began work with Accessible Tests as the 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

Test Editors Carolyn Zierer and Kris Scott participated on a Bias Review Committee at Pearson's home office in San Antonio, TX, in November 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. 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 tablet devices. 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 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 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 ACT®, Data Recognition Corporation, NCS Pearson, and Questar Assessment, Inc.TM. In November and December 2011, Test Editors reviewed and edited 120 unique tests. Customers included Cheeney Media Concepts, Data Recognition Corporation, NCS Pearson, and Questar Assessment, Inc.TM. 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 to customers.

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 available.

Collaborative Efforts

Debbie Willis and Priscilla Knight worked with Dr. Kim Zebehazy on specifications for sets of select test items taken from the 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.

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.

Tactile Graphics Workshop

Accessible Tests staff participated in a 2-day tactile graphics workshop 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 reviewed and edited 266 unique tests. Copies were produced and shipped according to customer specifications. Customers included ACT®, Cheeney Media Concepts, Data Recognition Corporation, Measured ProgressTM, NCS Pearson, and Questar Assessment, Inc.TM, 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® device. A 2-day training at APH provided more insight into the accessibility features of the device.

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 in May 2012 on the campus of the Perkins School for the Blind. 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®, Cheeney Media Concepts, Data Recognition Corporation, NCS Pearson, and Questar Assessment, Inc.TM

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 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. Also, in late August 2012, John Novak, Quality Assurance Engineer with Pearson, and two associates visited APH to review our internal processes and procedures. Our Quality Management System (QMS) was reviewed to ensure its continuing suitability, adequacy, and effectiveness. The review included an assessment of opportunities for improvement and the need for changes to the QMS. Pearson's audit report was provided to APH in September 2012.

Debbie and other APH staff were invited to join Carnegie Mellon instructors and graduate students in Pittsburgh for the LearnLab Corporate Partners' Meeting in September 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. In September 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.

Work during FY 2013

Annual Meeting and Interim Meeting with EPAC/ESAC

Test Editor Carolyn Zierer participated on APH's Hospitality Committee during Annual Meeting in October 2012. Priscilla Knight and Carolyn presented a poster session to begin to gather ideas and names of appropriate individuals who were likely to be available and interested in assisting APH with revising and updating the Test Access document on Computer-Based Testing. Debbie Willis met 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.

During the Interim Meeting in spring 2013, Debbie Willis provided an overview of department accomplishments to members of the EPAC as well as APH staff. Debbie and Kate Herndon from Research met with members of EPAC to discuss in detail the work of Accessible Tests, the test and assessment work underway and planned via the Research Department that results in accessible tests and accessible test-related materials available in the APH Products Catalog, and also discussed some potential collaborative efforts which would include assessment staff from Kansas University such as Dr. John Poggio.

Tests Produced

In October, November, and December of 2012, a total of 190 unique tests were reviewed, produced in contracted braille, uncontracted braille, regular print or large print per customer specifications, and shipped. Customers included ACT®, Cheeney Media Concepts, Data Recognition Corporation, Discovery CommunicationsTM, NCS Pearson, Inc., Questar Assessment, Inc.TM, and the University of British Columbia in Canada.

In January and February, APH experienced its busiest period during this test season. During these months in FY 2013, APH produced and shipped 290 unique tests. These included state assessments, districts assessments, summative assessments, interim assessments, practice tests, alternate assessments, tests for English Language Learners, parts of a commercially available test (the Wide Range Achievement Test [WRAT]), as well as checklists and reference sheets. Tests were reviewed and edited by Test Editors Kris Scott, Carolyn Zierer, and Priscilla Knight in APH's Accessible Tests Department. After receiving approval from test publishers for various edits, these tests were produced in accessible media for administration to students who are blind and visually impaired in grades 3 through college level. Customers included ACT® Central Services, Cheeney Media Concepts, Data Recognition Corporation, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., Measured ProgressTM, Measurement, Inc., Mississippi School for the Blind, NCS Pearson, Inc., Questar Assessment, Inc.TM, and the College Board.

During March and April of 2013, Test Editors reviewed, edited, and worked with production staff on 230 unique tests and related test materials. Customers included ACT® Central Services, American Institutes for Research®, Data Recognition Corporation, Discovery CommunicationsTM, Measured ProgressTM, Measurement, Inc., NCS Pearson, Inc., and Questar Assessment, Inc.TM A total of 8,800 copies were produced and shipped to customers per their specifications.

During May and June of 2013, Test Editors reviewed, edited, and worked with production staff on 62 unique tests and related test materials. Customers included Data Recognition Corporation, Measured ProgressTM, NCS Pearson, and Questar Assessment, Inc.TM Two thousand one hundred eight (2,180) copies were produced and shipped.

During July and August of 2013, 82 unique tests and test-related materials were reviewed, edited, produced, and shipped from July 1 to August 20. Customers included ACT® Central Services, Cheeney Media Concepts, Data Recognition Corporation, NCS Pearson, Inc., Questar Assessment, Inc.TM, and the College Board; no data is available for September 2013 as this time. Not including tests produced and shipped during the last six weeks of FY 2013, 854 different tests and test-related materials were produced and shipped during this fiscal year.

Contract Work Related to FY 2013 Endowment Project

Abigail Perrine, Higher Education Development Director at PreMedia Global, did not know where to go for some assistance so she posted a request for help on an electronic mailing list. Debbie Willis saw the request and contacted Abigail to explore the possibility of a collaborative effort between PreMedia Global (PMG) and APH to create image descriptions. Debbie worked with Test Editor Carolyn Zierer and Jeremy Ockerman from the Research Department to prepare a few sample selections for PMG to review. PMG approved the sample work and requested APH's involvement in a pilot project. PMG was piloting a project that involved writing descriptions for a college-level accounting textbook published by McGraw-Hill. APH agreed to work with PMG because APH staff could use the experience, APH wanted to be helpful to PMG, and because of the future potential for additional work with PMG and other organizations. Debbie and Julia Myers, Director of Resource Services, assembled a team consisting of Linda Turner, who agreed to be the APH Project Leader, Matthew Rummele, and Carolyn Zierer to work with PMG to prepare the image descriptions. Since PMG's timeline was so short, additional APH staff consisting of Accessible Textbook staff Michael Haynes, Dan Bush, Tom Dunn, and Rodger Miller assisted to create the descriptions while Jeremy Ockerman offered his expertise in the accounting field for clarification and accuracy of the descriptions. APH contributed over 80 image descriptions for two chapters within a 2-week period. The descriptions included various charts, ledger samples, graphs, and more. PMG submitted a select number of the draft descriptions to WBGH to review. APH received positive feedback from PMG who seemed pleased with the descriptions submitted. This was a fruitful learning and networking experience as APH staff embarked on creating image descriptions for a technical source. This project enabled APH staff to gain more experience with preparing text-based descriptions to replace or accompany graphics-based information. This type of work is very likely to become more important and necessary as technology is utilized to access textbooks, instructional materials, and standardized tests.

Partnership

In December 2012, Ron Stewart, who at that time was the accessibility director at ACT®, and Debbie Willis negotiated a consulting agreement. Per the agreement, ACT® retained Consultant APH as an independent contractor to provide them with evaluation and consulting services related to ACT® assessment accommodations process and in the development of next generation products that are accessible to students who are blind and visually impaired. In response to APH's input, Ron Stewart replied, "This is exactly what we need."

After Ron left ACT®, new ACT® project staff was assigned to work with APH staff to complete the assignments. Because the consulting agreement required feedback on a wide variety of topics, staff from Accessible Tests, Research, and Resource Services joined in this effort in order to best serve the needs of ACT®. ACT® was particularly interested in having more technical information regarding text-to-speech output, its advantages and limitations. The five assignments related to this endeavor were completed in August 2012. Accessible Tests/APH and ACT® Assessment Staff are in the process of negotiating a second consulting agreement. If fruitful, this agreement will be underway in FY 2014.

Questar Assessment, Inc.TM, has also had many questions related to accessibility, particularly speech access and the need for tactile graphics. APH and Questar Assessment, Inc.TM are also discussing a potential consulting agreement that is likely to be activated early in FY 2014.

Collaborative Efforts

Debbie Willis continued to serve as Chair of AER's Psychosocial Services Division. Meetings are held via teleconference on a regular basis with members of the Division's Executive Committee. Goals established for the current 2-year term include preparation, production, and dissemination of newsletters, maintaining the division's website and related databases, and exploring assessment of cognitive abilities of individuals who are blind and visually impaired. Debbie is happy to work collaboratively to address some major needs of the field with APH and AER, such as tests and test-related resources available in accessible media, and exploring assessment of blind and visually impaired individuals' cognitive abilities. As part of the exploration of cognitive abilities of visually impaired individuals, Joe D'Ottavio, treasurer/secretary of the Division, prepared an article that was published in the Psychosocial Services Division newsletter in winter 2013.

In late August 2012, APH's Vice President of Public Affairs Gary Mudd brought in Dr. John Poggio from the University of Kansas to discuss computer-based and online assessments in the upcoming future. Poggio expressed great interest in working with APH on test-related research/issues/products. Tuck Tinsley, Bob Brasher, Gary Mudd, Nancy Lacewell, Ralph Bartley, Larry Skutchan, and Debbie Willis participated in this all-day meeting with Poggio; Poggio toured APH's production facility and some departments. He was delighted and excited by what he saw and learned about APH, our mission, some of our goals, and our technology-related products.

At the conclusion of this meeting, Debbie Willis was asked to consider and identify two critical unmet needs in the area of assessment of individuals with visual impairments. The two needs identified were: 1) cognitive assessment of students and adult clients who are blind and visually impaired, and 2) research into the development and production of test items that are equivalent in degree of difficulty and that measure the same concepts as the original test items prepared for a sighted population.

Debbie talked with select APH staff who had met with Poggio and determined that APH would investigate the need and feasibility of adapting/developing a cognitive abilities assessment for individuals who are blind and visually impaired. Factors and information that contributed to this decision included articles from a review of the literature as well as Joe D'Ottavio's article prepared for AER's Psychosocial Services newsletter. During this fiscal year, Debbie Willis also had a discussion with Paul Olson, North Dakota Ex Officio Trustee, and Dr. Joseph Miller, professor of psychology who is a licensed psychologist and has years of experience assessing the skills and abilities of students and adult clients who are blind and visually impaired. This discussion also pointed out the tremendous need for tools that are valid and reliable in order to assess the cognitive abilities of students and adult clients. At this time, Debbie and Director of Research Ralph Bartley are discussing and negotiating "next steps" with Poggio. Potential next steps include forming an advisory group and developing a survey.

Dena Garrett in Accessible Textbooks and Debbie Willis continued to serve as members of the BANA: Test Committee. Priscilla Knight represents the Accessible Tests Department at the UEB Committee Meeting.

Accessible Tests staff volunteered to assist with the third KY Regional Braille Challenge that took place at the Kentucky School for the Blind and APH on February 21, 2013. Thirty-three students from across Kentucky participated in the event, which celebrates braille literacy and braille readers through a series of competitions in spelling, proofreading, speed and accuracy, reading comprehension and interpreting charts and graphs.

Test Editor Kris Scott served on the KY Bias Review Committee held in Lexington, KY, in July 2013. Kris was invited to participate, and all related expenses were paid by the test developer. Kris also continued to participate as a member of APH's internal inventory team, and he continued to maintain his first aid certification in order to assist APH staff, visitors, and others in need of immediate assistance.

Debbie Willis continued to serve as a member of APH's internal team to investigate and improve accessibility via digital file formats. This work is being primarily undertaken via the Research Department's Technology Group lead by Larry Skutchan and Resource Services directed by Julia Myers. Programming staff have worked to upgrade Braille Blaster to work effectively on the parsing and formatting of XML for braille and print using the LibLouisUTDML library and semantic action files. This is the heart of how Braille Blaster renders XML documents for braille and allows transcribers/test editors/textbook editors/others to add special content that is specific to braille and accessibility in general. The Programming staff have also added accessibility to Sigil, an open-source EPUB editor that will have application in the near future to produce accessibility in EPUB and EPUB3 documents.

GAAP Conference and CCSSO NSA Conference

Debbie Willis traveled to Maryland at the request and expense of Measured ProgressTM who had been awarded a technology-enhanced grant to develop audio and sign language guidelines. Guidelines were identified and drafts during the meeting on June 18, 2013, and were made available from Measured ProgressTM. The 2013 CCSSO Conference on National Student Assessments (NSA) started the following day at the Gaylord Hotel and Conference Center. The CCSSO NSA Conference focused on accessibility, accommodations, interoperability across the major systems, alignment of assessment items to the Common Core State Standards, and development of appropriate test items to be delivered via online assessment with the use of accommodations and assistive technology. During the CCSSO NSA Conference, Debbie and Dr. John Poggio met to discuss the feasibility of adapting/developing a cognitive abilities assessment instrument for assessing individuals who are blind and visually impaired and Poggio's tentative interest in a collaborative effort with APH.

Assisting Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)

Staff from Accessible Tests and Research provided information and assistance to the SBAC regarding assistive technology and access to online test items by students who are blind and visually impaired. The first teleconference was held in April 2013 and a second teleconference was held in May 2013. Work with SBAC continued to take APH staff into new territory such as reviewing and editing test items presented via speech output and refreshable braille displays.

PARCC Test Items

Early in July 2013, Debbie Willis was contacted regarding APH's interest in preparing alt tags and text-based descriptions to enable audio output to 23 sample test items in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. APH agreed to prepare the necessary text-based information. Test Editors reviewed Math and ELA sample test items and constructed audio text for the 23 sample items. PARCC Mathematics Audio Guidelines Version 1.1 and PARCC English Language Arts Audio Guidelines Version 1.1 were applied to each description to maintain consistency and clarity throughout the authoring process.

Approximately two days after submitting feedback on the 23 sample test items, Pearson requested that APH bid on providing alt tags and text-based descriptions for PARCC's Math test items for grades 3-5. Debbie Willis developed the bid, and after approval from supervisor Bob Brasher, the bid was submitted. Again, approximately two days later, APH was awarded the bid, and training by Pearson staff was scheduled and delivered to the APH project team. Project team members represented Accessible Tests, Accessible Textbooks, Research, Resource Services, and two NIMAC staff; Linda Turner in Resource Services agreed to act as APH's internal project leader.

The APH Project Team worked on these Math test items for grades 3-5 from July 22 until mid-September 2013. During the training session, Pearson staff again e-mailed Debbie Willis to request that APH take on Math test items for grades 6-8 or some part of them. After checking with internal management, Debbie responded that APH would prefer to get the initial group of Math test items for grades 3-5 underway and receive feedback from Pearson that APH staff is doing a satisfactory job before committing to a second batch of PARCC Math test items. After receiving feedback and checking on available APH staff to work on additional test items, APH let Pearson/PARCC know of our willingness and availability to work on Math test items for grades 6-8, and APH staff began working on test items for grades 6-8.

At the end of August, Pearson/PARCC also requested that APH take on some of the high school Math test items. The window of opportunity for working on the high school test items is approximately September 9-20, 2013. APH staff availability to take on some of the high school items is under consideration.

Kentucky Alternate Assessments

Doug Trent in Contract Administration, Carolyn Zierer, Kris Scott, Priscilla Knight, and Debbie Willis met at APH with staff working on Kentucky's alternate assessments. APH designed and produced the tactile graphics needed to accompany the alternate assessment test items.

Professional Development

Accessible Tests staff participated in webinars on "Digital Accessible Math Images," a webinar about Oregon's computer-based adaptive testing presented by SBAC, and "Making Digital Images Accessible." Staff also participated in training workshops, webinars, and webcasts on the topics of leadership, accessibility, assistive technology, tactile graphics, image descriptions, braille formats, Unified English Braille, use of tablets by students who are blind and visually impaired, and standards such as EPUB3.

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 2014

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 fifth edition of Making Tests Accessible for Students with Visual Impairments will be drafted that 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 and reviewed; once finalized, the updated version will be made available on the APH Web site, and during various presentations at conferences and workshops.

Accessible Tests staff will continue to offer assistance, education, and leadership through product-related services, consulting agreements, 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 CCSSO and the Association of Test Publishers (ATP), test publishers, item developers, and assessment personnel across the country will be pursued. The second edition of the book Operational Best Practices for Large-Scale Assessments will be finalized and made available from CCSSO and ATP.

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. Accessible Tests will continue to serve on internal committees such as the Digital File Formats Committee and the REAL Project Committee.

Accessible Tests staff will continue to develop its skills and abilities with regard to assistive technology and handheld devices, and will continue to learn about the Common Core State Standards, accommodations, assistive technology, instruction and assessment of individuals who are blind and visually impaired, speech output, tactile graphics, image descriptions, most promising practices, current research results, use of 3-D printers, English Language Learners, severely cognitively impaired individuals, and more as time and opportunities are made available.

Assuming positive feedback from EPAC and ESAC, other Ex Officio Trustees, psychologists, and assessment team members, as well as the support of APH's Executive Committee members, specific collaborative efforts such as the adaptation or development of a cognitive assessment instrument are likely to be undertaken. Contractual agreements will be considered and negotiated, and are likely to be undertaken in FY 2014 with ACT®, Questar Assessment, Inc.TM, and perhaps others such as SBAC and/or PARCC Consortia as APH's mission and these important projects are in alignment. The new types of accessibility work initially undertaken by members of Accessible Tests, Accessible Textbooks, Resource Services, and Research staff to provide image descriptions and verify access via speech output, large print output to the screen, provision of tactile graphics, and/or refreshable braille display output will continue. An open position in Accessible Tests for an additional Test Editor will be filled in the beginning of FY 2014.

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

Laura Zierer, 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 2013

APH Adult Life products and their applications to specific populations were presented by the Adult Life Project Leader at the following venues: Southwestern Orientation and Mobility Conference, Austin, TX, November 2012; Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference, Orlando, FL, February 2012; California State University at Northridge Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference, San Diego, CA, February-March 2013; Presentation to Students from Western Michigan University Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies, Louisville, KY, March 2013; Presentation to Students from Vanderbilt University Visual Impairments Program, Louisville, KY, April 2013; American Council of the Blind National Convention, Columbus, OH, July 2013.

Work planned for FY 2014

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 Raising 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

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant

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. Janet stated that she had not been able to find helpful resources as she parented her daughter.

Preliminary Research

A literature review 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.

Although the literature search yielded several articles and books on the subject, examination of these materials convinced the project leader that an in-depth elaboration of techniques for child-rearing found to be effective for parents with visual impairments had not yet been developed. Because of their useful but incomplete information, the following materials supported the need for the development of this product:

Arsnow, G. F., et al. (1985). Blind parents rearing sighted children. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 79, 193-198.

Betker, J. (1988). Parent tips: A guide for blind and visually-impaired parents.

Betker, J. (1989). Parent tips: The challenge years.

Conley-Jung, C., & Olkin, R. (2001). Mothers with visual impairments who are raising young children. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 95, 14-29.

Cranston, R. (1982). Parenting without vision in 1000 easy lessons. Oakland, CA: Bananas, Inc.

Ware, M. A., & Schwab, L. O. (1971). The blind mother providing care for an infant. New York: American Foundation for the Blind. Reprinted. Nice research; old from New Outlook for the Blind, June, 1971.

Initial Product Development

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 reared 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 in 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 and 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.

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.

Work during FY 2013

Graphical layout of the entire text was completed. Braille translation and recording of the book for audio files began.

Work planned for FY 2014

It is anticipated that the recording and braille files will be completed, that the book will be produced in large print and braille, and that it will become available for sale in early FY 2014.

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)

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Alt tag: Three photos of items made with production samples of Braille Beads: 1) a cane fob made of white braille beads with red and yellow Pony beads on black cord; 2) a key ring made with a yellow peace sign, blue initial "r," and a red heart on black cord; and 3) an orange alphabet bracelet made with 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, earrings, barrettes, key rings, and cane fobs as personal items, and gifts

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Project Leader

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Rod Dixon, Manufacturing Specialist

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

Product Description

Braille Beads are small, plastic rectangles that have braille on one side and incised 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 beads will have raised braille on one side and incised print on the other side. This design enables non-braille reading, classroom teachers to identify the braille beads.

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 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 DocsTM program. They e-mailed photos of their students'/clients' creations. The tooling costs to manufacture Braille Beads is expensive. To have prototypes for field testing, APH used 3-D printing (rapid reproduction) to produce a small amount of beads; this limited the number of field test sites.

There is evidence that research data are considered as part of decision-making in product completion. When the product is manufactured, APH will consider the field test results and comments of the field testers. The students/clients recommended that the following items and instructions 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.

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.

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

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 during FY 2013

Bids to manufacture the molds were accepted, and a long-time established vendor with APH was chosen. Sample beads were produced. Photography for the guidebook Bejeweled With Braille was taken. The layout and design of the guidebook was completed. It was decided that because of the cost and the desire to have the kit purchased by organizations outside the vision field (to promote braille) the APH Beading Tray will be sold as a separate item. Bead findings, such as memory wire, that proved too difficult for students to use, will not be included in the starter kit. A chapter on how to make advanced jewelry, which uses memory wire on earrings and bracelets, will be in the guidebook along with a cut-out survey that consumers can submit to APH. The survey will ask consumers this question: After using the starter kit successfully, is there a need for an advanced beading kit that includes items such as memory wire?

Work planned for FY 2014

The accessible formats of the guidebook will be completed. The Braille Beads and the APH Beading Tray will be manufactured.

Color-by-Texture Marking Mats

(Ongoing)

Purpose

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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, Model/Pattern Maker

Tom Poppe, Model/Pattern Maker

 

Alt Tag: Coloring pages of a boat and mitten "colored with textures" using the Color-by-Texture Marking Mats

Background

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

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

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

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

Work during FY 2013

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

Once the final textures of the Color-by-Texture Marking Mats were determined, multiple copies of the 8½ x 11-inch textured sheets were vacuum-formed using a heavy gauge, blue translucent vinyl. Concurrently, the project leader designed 25 coloring pages providing large areas of coloring space to adequately capture rubbed textures. Coloring pages reflected an assortment of objects such as a tree, teddy bear, boat, mitten, and butterfly. Each coloring page was produced via an established in-house thermography method. Although coloring pages will be provided, the textured marking mats can be used for open-ended coloring activities. The package of coloring pages and textured sheets will be accompanied by a starter package of triangular-shaped and twistable crayons.

Work planned FY 2014

The prototype of the Color-by-Texture Marking Mats will be field tested across the country. The final design will be impacted by feedback garnered directly from teachers, parents, and students. The project staff will initiate work on final tooling and product specifications. The availability of the product will likely occur in FY 2015.

Paint Pot Palette

(New/Completed)

Purpose

To provide an adaptive painting kit to teach young learners who have visual impairment or blindness about color, self expression, and creating art through touch

Alt tag: Photo of Paint Pot Palette with red, black, blue, and green paint in the pots

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Multiple Disabilities Project Leader

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant

Raymond Fraze, PlayAbilityToysTM

Marty Fox, PlayAbility ToysTM

Joyce Lopez, Phantom Concepts

Terri Gilmore, Art Director

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Product Description

PlayAbilityToysTM and APH collaborated to create the Paint Pot Palette. The product is a plastic, molded tray that is specifically designed to hold securely four clear paint pots and one water cup. There are special braille tiles with incised print to mark the color of the paint that is in each paint pot. There are nine tiles (one is blank) for primary and secondary colors, plus brown, black, and white. The kit has red, yellow, blue, black, and white paint. The kit includes a packet of print/tactile drawings called "Color SENSEation."



Alt tag: A boy paints the Color SENSEation drawing of a butterfly.

Relevance

APH examined the need for a product like Paint Pot Palette. APH hosts the annual InSights Art Competition, a juried art contest for people of all ages who have visual impairment, blindness, and deafblindness. Submissions for the contest come from all over the United States. APH feels it is appropriate to have a product that helps teach and promote art to young students with visual impairments. As fiscal budgets tighten, art, music, and physical education are eliminated and/or collapsed into shorter and less frequent sessions. For example, in Massachusetts the Arlington Education Foundation's FY 2011 budget proposed to eliminate 7.5 specialists in the areas of art, music, and physical education. The budget called to reduce art and music to every other week (from once a week) and to reduce physical education to once per week (from twice a week) (Arlington Education Foundation, 2010). On March 12, 2010, The Blade in Toledo, Ohio, reported that the Toledo Board of Education planned to cut all art, music, and physical education teachers in their public elementary schools (Kirkpatrick, 2010). As these positions are eliminated and regular classroom teachers take over these specialty areas of instruction, they will need modified tools to help teach students with special needs.

APH sought the opinion of knowledgeable individuals to determine the need for the Paint Pot Palette. Per the Product Submission Form, the Paint Pot Palette was first suggested to PlayAbility ToysTM by an art teacher at the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (ASDB). PlayAbility ToysTM piloted the product at ASDB before they approached APH to be sole distributor. The project leader, who is a former art director for children's educational publishing, reviewed the submission and recommended that APH consider the proposal from PlayAbility ToysTM.

The Paint Pot Palette addresses an identified need for a person who meets the definition of "visually impaired."The palette organizes the painting items and securely holds them in place. Through the multiple pilot sessions at the ASDB, PlayAbility ToysTM learned that shorter and fatter paintbrushes work best for beginning painters who have visual impairments and blindness. The shorter brushes have blunt tips, so they are safer for a child who needs to lean very closely to the paper; the child's hand covers most of the brush handle, and it is less likely to stick a child in the face or eye. The shape of the palette changed several times as requested by the ASDB students. The final shape affords the painter easy access to all paint colors, brushes, and the water cup. The interchangeable braille tiles identify the paint color in each cup. The paint tubes have braille labels. The tactile drawings allow the student to follow the raised line with a finger of one hand while following that finger with the paintbrush held in the other hand.

Aaliyah 1 SGRichard 4 SG



Alt tag: 1) A girl traces the tactile line of a Color SENSEation drawing with the forefinger of her left hand and follows with the paintbrush in her right hand. 2) A boy leans very closely, almost touching a drawing, and paints the rainbow.

APH made the decision to field test the Paint Pot Palette based on APH's standardized process of product development. Raymond Fraze of PlayAbility ToysTM submitted the Product Idea Submission Form on July 20, 2010. The submission form describes the product, its purpose, and use. The product was designed specifically for students who have visual impairments. It allows for the exploration of tactile shapes and colors. PlayAbility ToysTM piloted various prototype designs for over a year at the ASDB.

The Paint Pot Palette submission was presented by Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager, to the Product Evaluation Team on November 4, 2010. The committee approved it and forwarded the product submission to the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC). The Director of Research presented the product, and the PARC members approved the Paint Pot Palette on November 10, 2010. After teachers and students field tested the prototype for 3 months, the project leader compiled the data for the field test report. This report was included in the Quota Approval Form that was submitted on April 12, 2012.

Research

APH gathered data using an appropriate method.Teachers and students field tested the Paint Pot Palette in their classrooms across the country for 3 months. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. Students painted the included raised-line drawings, and some students created original paintings. From observation and interaction with the students, the teachers expressed their thoughts on the product through open-ended response. Students answered questions with a yes/no response, and they rated attributes of the product on a 1 to 3 scale (1 = low and 3 = high). They rated how well they liked elements of the kit, the quality of kit components, and ease of use.

Data were collected from a geographically diverse population. APH sent out 12 prototypes. All field test sites completed the field test and returned the evaluation forms. The field test sites were located in nine states: California, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington.

Data were gathered from appropriately qualified individuals.The majority of field testers, nine (64%), are teachers of students who have visual impairments. Three (21%) are art teachers, and two (14%) are parents of children with visual impairments. One each (7%) is a high school classroom teacher, a special education teacher, and a classroom aide. Six (43%) selected that they have additional professional credentials. Field testers had the option to select more than one checkbox, so percentages total more than 100%.The field testers are very experienced professionals. Six field testers (43%) have taught students with visual impairments for 21 or more years, one (7%) for 16-21 years, one (7%) for 11-15 years, and six (43%) for 6-10 years.

Data were gathered from an adequate number of sources.Twenty-five children participated in field testing the Paint Pot Palette and submitted their own evaluation forms.

 

Data were gathered on student/consumer outcomes. Painting-and art in general-is very subjective. What one person thinks is beautiful art may appear garish to another viewer. Most of the children had mixed paint before, and APH asked if the documentation helped them to mix colors; however, APH did not ask if a child mixed paint more efficiently after using the Paint Pot Palette. Children were encouraged to paint original pieces of art and express themselves. Although the Paint Pot Palette is classified as an "Art" product, it is very usable as an educational aid in teaching other lessons (e.g., various colors of the sky during different times of the day, seasons, and weather patterns). The consumer outcome for the product is that children liked it enough to want to learn more about art and to continue to express themselves through art. Children provided the following comments:

The research method used collected sufficient information. Not every child painted every picture because of time limitations, and children often shared pictures with classmates. One child had never painted before using the Paint Pot Palette, and two children had not used a paintbrush before. Of the children who had used a paintbrush before, 11 (44%) responded that they found the shorter brushes easier to use than a traditional brush. Nine (36%) children responded that the shorter brush was the same as a traditional brush. The raised brush holders in the palette are designed to make it easier to locate the brushes. The majority of children (76%) responded that the brush holders made it easy to locate the brushes, 16% said the holders made it somewhat easy, and 8% said the holders did not make it any easier. Most children (60%) responded that the raised brush holders made it easier to replace and store the paintbrushes, 20% responded somewhat easy, and 16% said not easy. When asked if they found it easy to locate the slots in which to place the braille paint color tiles, 68% responded easy, 24% responded somewhat easy, and no one selected not easy. All children who responded said it was easy (68%) or somewhat easy (28%) to remove the paint color braille tiles. See Table 1: Paint Pot Palette Ease of Use for the number of students who responded to each question.

Table 1: Paint Pot Palette Ease of Use

 

 

Number of Students

 

Action

 

Not Easy

 

Somewhat Easy

 

Easy

 

How easy does the raised brush holders make it to locate the paintbrushes?

 

2

 

4

 

19

 

How easy do the raised brush holders make it to replace and store the paintbrushes?

 

4

 

5

 

15

 

How easy is it to find the slots in which to place the paint color braille tile?

 

0

 

6

 

17

 

How easy is it to remove the paint color braille tile?

 

0

 

7

 

17

 

The majority of children (60%) did not feel they needed more than the two blank tags already included in the kit. Most children (80%) said the wells in the palette held the paint pots in place so they did not move.

On a scale of 1-3 (1 = poor and 3 = good), the children rated the quality of the black lines and the raised lines of the coloring pages. Twenty children rated the black lines: 45% said good, 40% said fair, and 10% said poor. All 25 children rated the raised lines: 40% said good, 24% said fair, and 36% said poor.

The children rated how well they liked each drawing. The pages were shared amongst several children in one classroom, so not all children got to paint each drawing. The favorite drawing is the rainbow, and the least favorite is the snail. See Table 2: Coloring Pages Preferences. Ten children created original paintings without using the raised-line drawings included in the kit.

Table 2: Coloring Pages Preferences

Drawing

 

Number of Children

 

Did not like much

 

 

 

Liked a lot

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

Bear

 

10

 

30%

 

30%

 

40%

 

Birds

 

11

 

27%

 

18%

 

55%

 

Butterfly

 

15

 

27%

 

6%

 

67%

 

Flower

 

11

 

45%

 

9%

 

45%

 

Horse

 

13

 

38%

 

8%

 

54%

 

Rainbow

 

14

 

0%

 

36%

 

64%

 

Snail

 

11

 

64%

 

9%

 

27%

 

Train

 

12

 

25%

 

8%

 

67%

 

Of the 21 children who read or had the instructions read to them, only 10 (40%) said they understood the print and braille documentation included in the kit. Many of the children (56%) had mixed paints prior to using the Paint Pot Palette. Of the eight children who are print readers, seven said the color wheel helped them mix paints. Of the children who are braille readers, nine (47%) responded that the color equations to mix paints were helpful and 10 (53%) said the equations were not helpful.

The majority (96%) of the children liked the quality of the paints. The Paint Pot Palette made 76% of the children feel more organized while painting, and 80% felt safer (fewer messes). Six children said they did spill something while painting. The Paint Pot Palette was considered easy to clean up by 64% of the children. Overwhelmingly, 24 (96%) felt the blue used for the prototype palette was a good color for the final product.

Most importantly, APH asked the children if they had fun using the Paint Pot Palette-23 (92%) said yes. Most children (88%) said APH should sell the Paint Pot Palette.

There is evidence that research data were considered as part of decision-making in product completion. The children wrote complimentary comments (noted above) and gave some insightful recommendations to make the product better. APH and PlayAbility ToysTM agreed to include a reusable stir stick with the kit. The two organizations agreed to have replacement parts (paint, paint pots, etc.) purchased from PlayAbility ToysTM. PlayAbility ToysTM has a direct link to the APH Web site so that when a consumer wants to purchase the kit, they are rerouted to the APH shopping site.

References

Arlington Education Foundation. (2010). Reductions planned for FY11 budget. Retrieved from http://www.arlingtoneducationfoundationma.org/fy11budget.html

Kirkpatrick, C. D. (2010, March 2). Plan to cut teachers draws flak; union: 'warped logic.' The Blade. Retrieved from http://www.toledoblade.com/Education/2010/03/12/Plan-to-cut-teachers-draws-flak-union-warped-logic.html

Work during FY 2013

The project leader completed the documentation; the instructions were designed to match the "product look" (i.e., box) created by PlayAbility ToysTM. Paint Pot Palette became available for sale on February 15, 2013.

Sewing and Fiber Arts for People with Low Vision

(New/Discontinued)

_MG_8529.jpg

Alt tag: Photo shows an assortment of items used for sewing and fiber arts

Purpose

A new sewing book that meets today's standards for inclusion, one that does not see sewing as merely the experience of women and girls, has been needed for a long time. The language of inclusion and the language of modern personal rights need to be parts of the framework for any such book. In addition, sewing and fiber arts have new, complex tools. The new sewing machines, complete with built-in computers, knitting with its new bamboo and custom made needles, and a flurry of other modern changes should be addressed. Therefore APH embarked upon the development of just such a compilation of information.

Project Staff

Elaine Kitchel, Low Vision Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Kathryn Hodges, Consultant

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Background

In 1973 APH published "Sewing Techniques for the Blind Girl." Although it contains some good basic instruction, sewing machines have changed, techniques have changed, and boys and men are now interested in sewing and other fiber arts. Because of changes in the technology, words are used in a new context and have new meanings. Some of these are "disk, embroidery wheel, vine stitch, and self-threading." For these reasons, APH decided to pursue the development of a more modern book on sewing and fiber arts for the artist who is visually impaired.

Product Research

In preparation for the development of the User's Guidebook, the project leader read:

  1. Mauresh, J. S. (2010). Sewing for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing. 
  2. Reader's Digest. (2010). New complete guide to sewing: Step-by-step techniques for making clothes and home accessories. Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest Press. 
  3. Rupp, D. (2007). SEW: Sew everything workshop: The complete step-by-step beginner's guide with 25 fabulous original designs, including 10 patterns. New York, NY: Workman Publishing Company. 
  4. Schaffer, C. B. (2011). Couture sewing techniques, revised and updated. Newtown, CT: Taunton Press. 

Work during FY 2013

The consultant wrote and revised 11 complete units. The project leader edited and revised those 11 units. The consultant wrote parts of 7 additional units but did not complete them. Photos were taken for cover art.

Work planned for FY 2014

Work on the project was suspended in July 2013. The project may be re-opened at a future date.

MATHEMATICS

Advanced Desktop Stick-On Number Lines

(New)

Purpose

To provide upper elementary and middle school math students a tool to gain a better understanding of positive and negative numbers

Project Staff

Jeanette Wicker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Background

The Advanced Number Line is a tool used in math classrooms at the upper elementary and middle school levels to better understand the relationship between positive and negative numbers. The number line has zero as a midpoint and an equal number of positive and negative numbers extending from the zero. A variety of these types of number lines are available as free downloads for classrooms to use in teaching the relationship between positive and negative numbers as well as beginning additions and subtraction involving positive and negative numbers.

The product submission came from a TVI in Arizona who requested a product similar to the existing Desktop Stick-On Number Line.

Preliminary Research

Work during FY 2013

The project leader evaluated the product submission, completed preliminary research, and submitted the findings to the Product Evaluation Team and Product Advisory and Review Committee for approval. The project leader met with Technical Research to begin design of the Advanced Desktop Stick-On Number Lines. A manufacturing specialist was assigned, and the design was completed.

Work planned for FY 2014

Project staff will complete the development of the prototypes and send to expert reviewers for feedback.

 

Bold-line Tactile Graph Sheets

(New)

Purpose

To provide dual-format (bold-line and tactile) graph sheets accessible to both large print and braille readers. New packages will complement and expand APH's variety of graph sheets that are currently provided in separate bold-line, embossed paper, and low-relief versions.

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

Background

The inspiration for combined bold-line tactile graph sheets occurred during the project leader's development of Tactile Tangrams (see separate report). A component of this new product is a package of 10 x 7 (with 1-inch squares) tactile/print graph sheets, produced via an in-house thermography method. These graph sheets are used to determine the area of individual tangram puzzle pieces, or combinations of puzzle pieces, in square units.



Alt Tag: Example of separate embossed and bold-line graph sheets (10 x 10 configuration)

While reviewing APH's current inventory of available graph sheets, the project leader noticed that only separate versions of graph sheets were available in an "either/or" option. Bold-line graphs were routinely offered in packages of 100 sheets, and embossed paper versions were routinely offered in packages of 50 sheets. Review of past sales of the existing graph packages revealed wide fluctuations in the sales of the 20 styles of graph sheets; some were far more popular than others, selling in excess of 700 packages per year.

The project leader prepared and submitted a product submission form on April 13, 2010, proposing the production of bold-line tactile graph sheets as counterparts to the most popular graph packages sold by APH. The product submission form was reviewed by other APH staff to assess product viability. The product idea was formally approved on November 28, 2012, by the Product Evaluation Team and on December 13, 2012, by the Product Advisory and Review Committee. Since the product endeavor was considered an expansion of an existing product line, Quota approval was unneeded. Likewise, extensive field test effort was seen as unnecessary because of the product's simple presentation.

Work during FY 2013

Beginning with a Product Development Committee conducted on February 5, 2013, the project quickly navigated through the necessary product development stages. The project leader determined the introductory package based upon the most requested styles of current graph sheets. The first package offered will be a 50-sheet package of 8.5 x 11 bold-line tactile graph sheets (with ½" squares for creating bar graphs) produced via an in-house thermography ("Green Machine") method. A UV-ink method might be used instead to accommodate the production of larger quantities; if so, samples will be provided to the project leader for approval prior to production.

The project leader's work effort on this project was minimal throughout the second quarter of the fiscal year. Graph samples with different line thicknesses were tested. Once an ideal presentation was determined, specifications were conveyed to the manufacturing specialist who prepared the final file for production. A new catalog number (1-04080-00) was assigned, and product specifications were presented to Production staff on June 25, 2013. The production timeline was updated with a quick turnaround anticipated. The product is slated for production in September 2013.

Work planned for FY 2014

After availability of the initial package of Bold-Line Tactile Graph Sheets, the project leader will monitor the need for additional packages that replicate graph configurations already offered in separate bold-line, embossed, and/or low-relief styles.

Common Core Math Kits

(Continued)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Jeanette Wicker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Derrick Smith, Consultant

Lisa Wright, Consultant

Rosemary Dawson, Consultant

Alexis Moore, Consultant

Lorette Nuzzo, Consultant

Miriam Schaper, Consultant

Deborah Squire, Consultant

Kim Wilson, Consultant

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Bryan Rodgers, Manufacturing Specialist

Denise Snow, Research Assistant

Background

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

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

Preliminary Research

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

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

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

Work during FY 2013

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

Work planned for FY 2014

Project staff will develop prototypes of Math Kits for grades 4-5, and field testing will begin. The website will be monitored and updated as new math products become available from APH.

Consumable Hundreds Chart

(Continued)

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

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Anthony Slowinski, Graphic Designer

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant

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

In FY 2012, the product submission was evaluated by the project leader and submitted to the Product Evaluation Team and Product Advisory and Review Committee for approval. A Product Development Committee meeting was held to obtain input from 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 during FY 2013

Using feedback from elementary teachers, the project leader determined the best design would be to include both types of the prototypes for the Consumable Hundreds Chart. Each kit will have five charts with highlighting and five without highlighting. A print/braille prototype was developed, and a Teacher's Guidebook was developed. A Product Specification Meeting was held in June of 2013, and a production date of September 2013 was scheduled.

Work planned for FY 2014

Project staff will complete scheduled production of the Consumable Hundreds Chart.

Expanded Beginner's Abacus

(Completed)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Sandi Baker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

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 needed 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 hook and loop material added to each EBA so that two or more abaci can be joined together to teach computation skills that go beyond the hundreds place.

In 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 the vendor for constructing the abacus and proceeded with production.

Work during FY 2013

The product was completed and made available for sale (Catalog #1-03181-00) in March 2013.

EZeeCOUNT Abacus

(Completed)

Purpose

cid:image002.png@01CE2F85.838FAC70To 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.



Alt Tag: Image of the 10 x 10 bead arrangement of the EZeeCOUNT Abacus shown beside the accompanying instruction booklet

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader/Author

Zeenat Durrani, Product Originator/Vendor

Mustapha Debbabi, Materials Department Manager

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Anthony Slowinski, Guidebook Layout/Design

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

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 resale 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 regarding 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 illustrating 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 2011 issue of 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 "frequently" with their students, and another 47% reported using abacuses "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 13-21 (19%). Only 2% were 2 years of age; 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% were in preschool or kindergarten, 30% were grades 1-3, 27% were in grades 4-8, 14% were in high school, and 5% were 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 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 the advantages:

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

 

Number of evaluators who rated item*

 

 

Average Rating

 

Counting by single units

 

n = 15

 

4.3

 

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

 

n = 12

 

3.9

 

Addition

 

n = 13

 

4.3

 

Number combinations

 

n = 11

 

4.1

 

Subtraction

 

n = 12

 

4.5

 

Multiplication

 

n = 10

 

3.7

 

Division

 

n = 9

 

3.6

 

Fractions/Percentages/Decimals

 

n = 9

 

3.2

 

Patterns

 

n = 11

 

4.2

 

Graphs

 

n = 8

 

2.9

 

Perimeter/Area

 

n = 7

 

3.1

 

Place value

 

n = 9

 

3.7

 

Transitioning to Beginner's Abacus and/or Cranmer Abacus

 

n = 10

 

3.4

 

Games

 

n = 10

 

3.6

 

*Evaluators not rating an item listed above reported not using the EZeeCOUNT Abacus to introduce that specific skill/concept to their student(s) and indicated "not applicable."

Evaluators were requested to report student performance outcomes during field testing by reporting each student's proficiency level of each skill/concept before using and EZeeCOUNT Abacus and after using the EZeeCOUNT Abacus according to the following rating scale: 3 = proficient, 2 = somewhat proficient, and 1 = not at all proficient. If the skill or concept was not taught or demonstrated using the EZeeCOUNT Abacus, an "N/A" indication was recorded. The table below provides the results of this evaluative task:

EZeeCOUNT ABACUS

Student Performance Outcomes

 

Key:

P = Student was proficient in skill/concept before using the EZeeCOUNT Abacus.

I= Student improved one level in proficiency after using the EZeeCOUNT Abacus.

I I = Student improved two levels in proficiency after using the EZeeCOUNT Abacus.

U = Student's proficiency remained unchanged after using the EZeeCOUNT Abacus.

L = Student's proficiency decreased after using the EZeeCOUNT Abacus.

N/A or NA-# = Not applicable or N/A before using the EZeeCOUNT Abacus with subsequent rating after using the EZeeCOUNT.

 

 

Student #

 

Counting by Single Units

Counting by Groups

 

Addition

 

Number Combinations

 

Subtraction

 

Multiplication

 

Division

 

Fractions/
Percentages/
Decimals

 

Patterns

 

Graphs

 

Perimeter/
Area

 

Place Value

 

1

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

NA-1

 

I

 

I

 

U

 

I

 

2

 

I

 

U

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

U

 

U

 

NA

 

I

 

3

 

P

 

P

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

P

 

I

 

I

 

U

 

4

 

I

 

U

 

I

 

U

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

U

 

U

 

NA

 

I

 

5

 

I

 

I

 

U

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

I

 

NA

 

NA

 

I

 

6

 

P

 

P

 

P

 

P

 

P

 

I

 

U

 

U

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

7

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

U

 

I

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

U

 

I

 

NA

 

I

 

8

 

U

 

U

 

I

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

I

 

U

 

NA

 

I

 

9

 

P

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

U

 

U

 

U

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

10

 

P

 

I

 

P

 

P

 

P

 

I

 

U

 

U

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

U

 

11

 

P

 

I I

 

P

 

P

 

P

 

I

 

I

 

I I

 

I

 

I

 

I

 

I I

 

12

 

P

 

P

 

P

 

P

 

P

 

P

 

P

 

I

 

P

 

P

 

I

 

I

 

13

 

I I

 

I I

 

I I

 

I

 

I

 

U

 

U

 

U

 

I

 

I

 

U

 

I

 

14

 

I

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

15

 

U

 

I

 

I

 

NA

 

I

 

I

 

NA

 

U

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

16

 

U

 

NA

 

I

 

NA

 

I

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

17

 

U

 

I

 

U

 

NA

 

U

 

I I

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

18

 

I

 

NA

 

I

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

I

 

I

 

NA

 

NA

 

19

 

U

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

I

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

20

 

U

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

U

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

21

 

U

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

U

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

22

 

I

 

NA

 

I

 

NA

 

I

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

I

 

NA

 

NA

 

NA

 

23

 

I

 

NA

 

I I

 

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Based upon reported student performance outcomes illustrated above, the following conclusions can be made:

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 (PDC) meeting in late April 2011, the project leader detailed needed structural improvements:

These design enhancements were outlined for the vendor in an e-mail sent in early May 2011, 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 concerning 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 awaited the vendor's submission of the latest prototype of the EZeeCOUNT Abacus built to APH's specifications.

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 2012, the new prototype was delivered to APH. The project leader reconvened the PDC 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 were planned: a) EZeeCOUNT Abacus with a large print guidebook and b) the braille version of the guidebook. Three raw material items would be stocked: a) EZeeCOUNT Abacus, b) large print guidebook [as a replacement part], and c) braille parts list.

In August 2012, the project leader's time was devoted to writing and finalizing the content of the accompanying instruction booklet. Supported by many illustrations, the instruction booklet showcases the varied uses of the EZeeCOUNT Abacus as tested during field evaluation. By the end of September, several proofs of the print layout were generated for review and editing. Graphic layout efforts encompassed designing the typography of the product's name, cover art design (for the both the print and braille versions), and the layout of the full-color, highly-illustrated saddle-stitched print booklet.

Work during FY 2013

In mid-October, Quota approval was requested and received from the Educational Products Advisory Committee for the EZeeCOUNT Abacus at APH's Annual Meeting. The remainder of the first quarter of the fiscal year was characterized by the following activities: finalization and approval of the layout of the print instruction booklet, translation of the braille version of the instruction booklet, final vendor negotiations related to shipping and packaging arrangements, review of the preliminary product specifications, and release of the purchase order for 1,000 units.

The calendar year began with the formal presentation of the Product Specifications to Production staff on January 8, 2013. Anticipating a lengthy lead time for the shipment of the first batch of EZeeCOUNT abacuses, the completion of the full production run was scheduled for April 2013.

As anticipated, 1,000 units were received from the vendor in mid-March. The project leader personally checked each and every abacus for any defects (e.g., loose or detached corner brackets, uneven roll spacing, etc.); only 30 units were rejected. Units rejected during the quality control process were returned to, repaired, and resupplied by the vendor within a short timeframe.

The final product was released and posted on APH's online shopping site on April 2, 2013. The introductory prices assigned included the following for each available component:

1-03185-00

 

EZeeCOUNT Abacus

 

$56.00

 

5-03185-00

 

EZeeCOUNT Braille Guidebook

The .brf file is also available for free-download at www.aph.org/manuals/index.html

 

$15.00

 

61-078-022

(Replacement Part)

 

EZeeCOUNT Abacus Guidebook in LP

 

$9.00

 

Following the introduction of the EZeeCOUNT Abacus, unsolicited feedback was received by teachers who found the new math tool very useful. One such comment was received as a voice mail message from a kindergarten teacher at The New York Institute for Special Education:

"Karen, I just wanted to compliment you and your team for the new EZeeCOUNT Abacus. I absolutely love it! It is so wonderful. It works great for everything and even for older students. Our staff is very excited about it. It's perfect for kindergarteners and perfect for any age; we can take it to all levels. It's done brilliantly!"

Work planned for FY 2014

Aside from the project leader's demonstration of the EZeeCOUNT Abacus at future workshops, conferences, and in-house training sessions, no additional work is expected on this product. However, the project staff will continue to monitor the quality of new shipments of the abacuses. The EZeeCOUNT Abacus will be presented as one of the completed, high-priority STEM projects at APH's 145th Annual Meeting.

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 (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Jeanette Wicker, Core Curriculum Consultant

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Cathy Senft-Graves, Research Assistant

Denise Snow, Research Assistant

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

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 chosen. 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 it to the research assistant for review and edit. In FY 2012, the content of the instructions booklet was finalized and turned over to Terri Gilmore for design.

Work during FY 2013

No further work was completed on this project during FY 2013.

Work planned for FY 2014

Prototypes will be developed, and the product will be field tested.

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 (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Jeanette Wicker, Core Curriculum Consultant

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Aniceta Skowron, Author and Consultant

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Rod Dixon, Manufacturing Specialist

Anthony Slowinski, Graphic Designer

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

InGrid Design, Graphic Design

Denise Snow, Research Assistant

Background

The submission for this product came from the previous project leader, who was the project leader for the Geometro tiles that APH has sold since 2010. The tiles 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 them for use with braille readers. The adapted books would function as instructional guides to teach geometric concepts using the Geometro tiles. 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 tiles. The graphics on the tactile worksheets would help students better understand how to use the Geometro tiles as well as to better understand the basic concepts of geometry. While intended to be used with Geometro tiles, 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 tiles), 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 at APH. 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 a file hosting service. 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. In FY 2012, it was determined that another component would be added to this product. A Teacher's Guide, to provide step-by-step instructions for the student activities, would be included and placed in the 3-ring binder with the tactile pages. The Teacher's Guide and tactile pages, along with the magnetic pages, would make up the Student Workbook. The content of the Teacher's Guide, 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 test results began.

Work during for FY 2013

Analysis of field testing was completed. Thirteen field reviewers used the Student Workbook for Geometro with 29 students, ages 5 to 16 years. One hundred percent of teachers who previously used Geometro with their students (5) said they found these materials make instruction more meaningful; and 100% of teachers said that based on their training and experience as a teacher, the product is an effective teaching tool. One hundred percent of teachers recommended that APH produce the Geometro Teacher's Manual and Student Workbook with manipulatives.

As a result of comments about problems experienced by students when using the manipulative materials, an additional survey was sent to all 13 field reviewers. Analysis of field testing results and responses to the additional survey resulted in the following changes to the product: 1) revision of the rod model construction to permit smoother movement of the thinner rod within the thicker rod; 2) the addition of a roll of APH's Graphic Art Tape for labeling the rods, as deemed necessary by teacher; 3) replacement of the four magnetic pages with one magnetic board, as well as an APH 11.5" x 11" Braille Pocket Folder for use with the magnetic tiles; 4) a change in the labeling system for photographs in the Teacher's Manual; and 5) polygon names at the top of the tactile pages presented in contracted braille vs. uncontracted braille.

The rod models were revised and field reviewed with seven of the original field testers. Seven field reviewers used the new rod models with 13 students. Eighty-six percent said the construction of the revised rod models is acceptable for their intended use, 91% said they feel their students benefited from using the Student Workbook and manipulatives, and 86% said based on their training and experience as a teacher that the rod models are now an effective teaching tool.

Edits and revisions to the Teacher's Guide and Teacher's Manual, including taking all new photos, have taken place.

Work planned for FY 2014

Production will begin, and the product will become available for purchase.

Graphic Aid for Mathematics, Revision

(Continued)

Purpose

To revise the Graphic Aid for Mathematics by altering and adding components to make the product easier to use and read

Project Staff

Fred Otto, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Li Zhou, Core Curriculum Project Leader

Tom Poppe, Model Maker

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Background

At the advice of teachers who use the APH kit or their own 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 used 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 evaluation 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 design revisions. An instructional insert was written, and a product logo and box label were designed. The project leader started work with Technical Research staff on production specifications.

Work during FY 2013

The project remained in queue for Technical Research to write specifications. Meanwhile, a variety of different revisions were suggested by the new Core Curriculum Project Leader Li Zhou based on his experience teaching math to students who are visually impaired. It was decided to place the project back into active development to evaluate whether the proposed changes would be beneficial and practical to produce.

A proposed re-envisioning of the graphing board would change the medium from rubber to low-profile hook fabric with grid lines represented by narrow gaps in the material. Also envisioned are a variety of pre-made geometric shapes, raised dots to represent points, and print/braille labels with letters and numerals, all backed with loop material to stick to the board. Students and teachers would use these to make math diagrams, along with lengths of nylon cord to make curves and shapes of different sizes.

Project co-leaders obtained numerous samples of low-profile hook fabric and many kinds of cords, string, laces, and rope to try out. At length, a combination of a particular hook material in black and a 1/8" nylon cord in white proved to offer good adhesion, tactual readability, and visual contrast. The model maker produced a few sample board layouts and geometric shapes to aid in the in-house evaluation.

Work planned for FY 2014

The main goal of all the revisions proposed for the kit is to make a tool that is easier, more informative, and more flexible for classroom use at all levels of math. This will be the standard by which all the changes in material and presentation are measured. To this end, project staff will construct a number of prototypes with the proposed materials and conduct another field evaluation.

Reviewers will be asked specific questions to assess whether the rubber board or the hook-material board is preferable, both overall and in particular applications. An increased focus will also be given to the kinds of mathematical lessons, and the frequency of their instruction, for which the board is used in the classroom. This will help determine what accessory items may be needed for the kit.

Math Robot

(New)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Bryan Enders, Project Leader

Background

As APH moves its technological focus to portable devices such as iOS® and AndroidTM platform, it responds to teachers and students who requested a version of Math Flash for iOS®. (See tech.aph.org/mf_info.htm.) Math Flash provides drill, practice, and tests for simple, configurable math problems with speech and braille feedback.

Work during FY 2013

The following project-related tasks were completed:

Work planned for FY 2014

Project staff will work to complete the following tasks:

MathBuilders

(Continued)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Jeanette Wicker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Li Zhou, Core Curriculum Project Leader

Derrick Smith, Project Consultant

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Ann Travis, Research Assistant

Background

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work during FY 2013

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

Work planned for FY 2014

Project staff will complete the writing of the last three units. The development of the manipulatives and worksheets will also be completed. Prototypes will be developed for field testing of all three remaining units.

Nemeth Tutorial

(Continued)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Michael McDonald, Project Leader

Gaylan Kapperman, Project Leader (Consultant)

Shannon Pruit, Consultant

Background

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

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

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

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

In 2012, NIU staff and APH proposed creating a Web-based learning environment that could work on a variety of devices and would look good to a sighted teacher.

Staff began investigating what interfaces could be used to work with Windows®, OSX, iOS®, and AndroidTM that would both be visually appealing and show proper braille content on a refreshable braille display connected to a device running a screen reader on one of those platforms. Taking advantage of the screen reader's braille interface meant the user could run the tutorial without the requirement of installing any software, but getting proper Nemeth code braille to show up for each screen reader became a challenge.

Work during FY 2013

Project staff worked to complete the following:

Work planned for FY 2014

Project staff will work to complete the following:

Tactile Tangrams

(Completed)

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, Model/Pattern Maker

Tom Poppe, Model/Pattern Maker

Bryan Rodgers, Manufacturing Specialist

Bisig Impact Group, Guidebook/Cover Layout

InGrid Design, HTML Conversion

Rodger Smith, Programmer



Alt Tag: Front cover art of Tactile Tangrams

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, and so forth. 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 (PDC) 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% were in residential schools; 11% were in resource settings; and 5% were 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 PDC 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.

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 2011, 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 2012. 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.

Momentum to gear up for the pilot run of Tactile Tangrams was evidenced throughout August and September. Production proofs and samples of related components (e.g., guidebook, binder art, vendor-received parts) were approved by the project leader and the screen printing of the puzzle frames was initiated.

Work during FY 2013

The pilot run work that was initiated in August 2012 continued into the first month of FY 2013. Although most components of the new kit came together as expected, brisk problem-solving and retooling was needed during the pilot run to address a few unforeseen issues. Trouble-shooting tasks encompassed the following:

Tactile Tangrams became available to APH customers on November 20, 2013. The introductory components included the following:

1-08439-00

 

Tactile Tangrams Kit

 

6-08439-00

 

Tactile Tangrams Activity Booklet (Braille Edition)

 

8-08439-00

 

Tactile Tangrams Activity Booklet (Large Print Edition)

 

Replacement parts:

 

61-249-012

 

Foam Puzzle Pieces, 2mm Magnetic Backed

 

61-249-013

 

Foam Puzzle Piece Set

 

61-249-014

 

Translucent Puzzle Piece Set

 

61-249-016

 

Tactile/Print Grid Sheets (Set of 5)

 

61-249-017

 

Solution Pages (Set of 26)

 

Post-production activities included preparing content for the product brochure and demonstrating the product at workshops/training sessions.

Product Image - click to enlarge



Alt Tag: Photo of kit components included in Tactile Tangrams-final product

Work planned for FY 2014

Given the current availability of Tactile Tangrams, no additional work is needed on this project. However, the project leader will continue to monitor requests for additional puzzle frames to complement the kit.

Talking Protractor

(Discontinued)

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

Jeanette Wicker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Sandi Baker, Core Curriculum Consultant

Samir Azer, Project Consultant

Robert Williams-Neal, Project Consultant

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Mike McDonald, Programmer

David McGee, Manufacturing Specialist

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Ken Perry, Programmer

Larry Skutchan, Technology Project Leader

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 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. The 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 Bluetooth®, 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 APH to add speech to one of their protractors. APH 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. Staff and consultants 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, the 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.

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

Work during FY 2013

The vendor provided a prototype that was shared with staff at APH and also teachers at the Kentucky School for the Blind. A request was made for a change in the mechanical design that would allow the unit to remain level when placed on a flat surface. The prototype rocked when placed on paper, which made it difficult to get an accurate reading. The vendor sent a summary of the cost for the redesign as well as purchasing requirements with quantities needed to justify the adaptations. It was determined by staff at APH that the quantity desired by the vendor greatly exceeded the expected sales of the product. The project was removed from development by the Product Advisory and Review Committee in June 2013.

Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator

(New/Completed)

TI-84-Plus_graph_buttons

Alt tag: The Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator

Purpose

To develop an accessible graphing calculator based on a top commercial calculator for use in STEM studies, careers, and high stakes testing

Project Staff

Ken Perry, Project Leader

Jeanette Wicker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Venkatesh Chari, Consultant

Susan Osterhaus, Consultant

Sina Barham, Consultant

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

Anthony Slowinski, Graphic Designer

Denise Snow, Research Assistant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant

Background

The educational value of using calculators in the classroom is well established, and Texas InstrumentsTM (TI) calculators are the most widely used. However, it has been difficult for blind students to fully participate in calculator-based classroom activities and impossible to use existing tools on high-stakes tests.

TI calculators set the standard for educational uses and functionality for students and professionals studying or working in the STEM fields. Until now, blind students used software-based tools to visualize graphs, explore concepts, and understand complex expressions. There was no handheld method to perform these tasks.

In 2012, Orbit Research, APH, and TI formed a partnership that proposed to add accessibility software and hardware to the standard TI-84 Plus graphing calculator. This product would provide complete accessibility to the existing functions through speech feedback of keystrokes and screen content, haptic feedback to indicate conditions or states, and the sonification of graphs.

Using the most popular calculator in education lets blind students take advantage of existing classes, textbooks, and online learning sites geared toward this device, and lets blind students use the same tools as their sighted classmates.

Product Design and Development

Today millions of graphing calculators are used in secondary and post-secondary math and science classes, and are an integral part of the high-school math curriculum. The most widely adopted graphing calculators are from the TI-8x family. The TI-84 is accepted on many standardized tests. Students who are blind and visually impaired have not had access to a similar tool allowing them immediate access to the same activities and problems that are used in a regular education classroom.

In April 2012, Venkatesch Chari, from Orbit Research met with staff at APH and math consultant, Susan Osterhaus, to begin the work of designing and developing an accessible graphing calculator. A prior agreement with TI allowed the use of the TI-84 as the basis for the work. Staff began the task to identify the features and functions that would be needed in order to make the existing calculator accessible for student with visual impairments. This initial work session continued through e-mail and phone conferences over several months as features were determined and software was developed. During this phase of development, the design changed from mono to stereo output for better audio output of graphs.

 

Work during FY 2013

First Field Evaluation - Alpha Testing

The first field test began in December 2012. These first prototypes had a very different design than the final prototype used in the second round of field testing. The box prototypes connected a TI-84 calculator to an edigi box and then to a computer. The calculators did not provide the students and evaluators mobility but were designed primarily to test the feasibility of the software, the hardware design, and the button layout. These prototypes were sent to two experts in the field and three teachers of the visually impaired (TVI). The evaluators were from Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington. One prototype remained at APH.

During this phase of field testing, there were eight software upgrades. The participants, along with their students provided feedback and helped to determine the button layout, the button interface, and the software synthesis.

Orbit Research provided seven hardware designs for review. The five reviewers as well as a group of students at the Kentucky School for the Blind chose the design that was the easiest to learn, the best in appearance, and provided the most ergonomically form fitting design.

Second Field Evaluation - Beta Testing

Based on the first field evaluation, a beta version with an internal battery was developed that looked and worked as the finished product would. The internals of these units were not the exact hardware circuit board and had pre-production plastics. This provided Orbit Research and APH the ability to redesign if necessary.

In March 2013, a request for field evaluators was sent to Ex Officio Trustees. APH received over 100 applications to be a field test site. Applications were reviewed for geographic location, the age of the student, and the math class in which the student was enrolled. Special attention was given to dual applications from a team consisting of a TVI and a regular education math teacher. Field testing began in April and continued through the end of the school year. Most participants finished by the end of May, but a few students used the calculators until mid June.

1.   Field Evaluators and Expert Reviewers

The Orion TI-84 was sent to 17 sites. Four were sent to experts in the field of blindness and math education. The four expert reviewers were from Alabama, Illinois, North Carolina, and Texas. One expert reviewer reported 6-10 years experience, one reported 11-15 years experience, one reported 16-20 years experience, and one reported 21+ years of experience. Three of the expert reviewers are male; one is female. One is a braille reader, and three are print readers. All listed their race as White.

Thirteen units were sent to teachers for evaluation with students. Five of the units were sent to schools for the blind, and eight units were sent to itinerant teachers in mainstream classrooms. One student in an itinerant setting was not able to successfully complete the evaluation, and no data from the site is included in this report.

Of the seven itinerant sites that were able to successfully complete the evaluation, three sites consisted of a team of teachers that included the TVI and the regular education math teacher.

The 15 teachers are from 12 states. The teams of the TVI and the math teacher were from Nevada, Ohio, and South Carolina. The remaining sites were Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington.

The teachers have varying levels of experience. Two teachers reported having 0-5 years of experience, six teachers have 6-10 years, three have 11-15 years, three have 16-20 years, and one has 21+ years of experience. Ten of the teachers are female; five are male. Thirteen teachers list their race as White, one reported race as "two or more," and one teacher did not report race. Fourteen teachers are print readers, and one teacher is a braille reader. Seven of the evaluators had used a TI-84 before the field test, and eight had never used a TI-84. Eight of the evaluators had used an accessible graphing calculator before the field test, and seven had not.

2.   Students

Twenty students used the Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator in the field test. Fifteen of the students are braille readers, four are print readers, and one uses a combination of print and braille. Six of the participants are female; 14 are male. Of the 20 students, 13 are White, three are Hispanic, two are Black/African American, one is an American Indian, and one was reported as two or more races. Eleven students receive services in a residential setting, eight receive services from an itinerant teacher, and one student was dual enrolled in a college level math class. One student was enrolled in 8th grade, two were enrolled in 9th grade, three were enrolled in 10th grade, six were enrolled in 11th grade, seven were enrolled in 12th grade, and one student was enrolled in a college class.

The calculator was used in a variety of math classes including Algebra I, Algebra II, Integrated Algebra, College Algebra, Geometry, Honors Geometry, Statistics, AP Statistics, Honors Trigonometry, Discreet Math, and HSAP (High School Assessment Program).

Students used the calculator for classroom assessments, End of Course Exams, State Assessments, AP Exams, and College Placement Exams. Seventy-two percent of the students used the calculator 2-3 times a week, and 38% used the calculator daily.

3.   Evaluations

A electronic mailing list was developed for all participants so that questions and concerns could be addressed quickly during the evaluation period. One hundred percent of the field evaluators noted that APH and Orbit Research technology were responsive to input by providing timely updates that corrected noted problems.

The Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator has many different functions. Not all functions are used in every class. Therefore, expert reviewers and field evaluators were only asked to rate the functions that they used. There are not always the same numbers of responses for each function. Reviewers were asked to rate the function as "Good," "Adequate," or "Needs Improvement."

Graphing Function

 

   

Good

 

Adequate

 

Needs Improvement

 

Field Evaluators

 

8

 

0

 

1

 

Expert Reviewers

 

1

 

3

 

0

 

Matrices

 

   

Good

 

Adequate

 

Needs Improvement

 

Field Evaluators

 

3

 

3

 

1

 

Expert Reviewers

 

2

 

2

 

0

 

 

Statistics

 

   

Good

 

Adequate

 

Needs Improvement

 

Field Evaluators

 

4

 

0

 

0

 

Expert Reviewers

 

2

 

0

 

0

 

 

Basic Math Functions

 

   

Good

 

Adequate

 

Needs Improvement

 

Field Evaluators

 

13

 

0

 

0

 

Expert Reviewers

 

4

 

0

 

0

 

 

 

Help Key/Describer Function

 

   

Good

 

Adequate

 

Needs Improvement

 

Field Evaluators

 

9

 

1

 

2

 

Expert Reviewers

 

2

 

1

 

0

 

 

Screen Review

 

   

Good

 

Adequate

 

Needs Improvement

 

Field Evaluators

 

7

 

2

 

0

 

Expert Reviewers

 

3

 

0

 

0

 

 

Scientific

 

   

Good

 

Adequate

 

Needs Improvement

 

Field Evaluators

 

8

 

0

 

0

 

Expert Reviewers

 

3

 

1

 

0

 

Embossing

   

Good

 

Adequate

 

Needs Improvement

 

Field Evaluators

 

1

 

1

 

0

 

Expert Reviewers

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

Updating Process

   

Good

 

Adequate

 

Needs Improvement

 

Field Evaluators

 

11

 

1

 

0

 

Expert Reviewers

 

2

 

1

 

0

 

Overall Rating

   

Good

 

Adequate

 

Needs Improvement

 

Field Evaluators

 

11

 

1

 

1

 

One hundred percent of the teachers reported that they did not have to modify classroom instruction for the students using the Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator.

Teachers reported that the calculator met the need of the class for 19 (95%) of the students. One (5%) reported that the calculator "sometimes" met the needs of the student. (The student was enrolled in a statistics class.)

It must be noted that when the prototypes were returned to APH that not all units had updated software. Some participants were still using the initial software, and the end-user did not benefit from any of the upgrades.

4.   Final Recommendation

Would you purchase/recommend the TI-84?

   

Yes

 

No

 

Maybe

 

Field Evaluators

 

13

 

0

 

0

 

Expert Reviewers

 

4

 

0

 

0

 

In an open ended question, field evaluators were asked what they considered the main benefits of the Orion TI-84.

Responses included the following:

Same tool as sighted peers - 6 responses

Independence and better understanding

Graphing - could view and emboss

Widely accepted on state testing

Graphing and Trace function

Leveled the playing field

Equation solver - HSPA score went up 26 points

Portable and accessible

In an open ended question, field evaluators were asked to identify the major areas of needed improvement. Responses included the following:

It works for me/I'm happy - None (no areas need improvement) - 2 responses

Most areas addressed in updates

Speech, including a clearer voice - 5 responses

Describing matrices

Use with multiple graphs

Ability to read tables

Not sure

No response - blank

 

Field evaluators and expert reviewers were offered an opportunity to add comments. Some of the most notable are listed here:

"My student is very grateful that he was able to use this product in his math class. He is retaking this class due to the difficulties he had last year. When he compares the last quarter of the class with last year, he felt it was much easier with the use the Orion TI 84 calculator. My student commented that the release of the calculator is 'Two years too late.' He is anxious to purchase this calculator for use in postsecondary settings.

"My students love this calculator (even those who did not get to use it as part of the field test). The student who did use it has asked me repeatedly if these calculators will be available for the next school year."

"I honestly feel that I would not have been able to complete the last month of Honors Geometry without the aid of the Orion TI84+. Before receiving this unit, I did not have any type of scientific calculator. This calculator was invaluable in sections introducing trig. The ability to scroll back through the history to find previous answers, or typos in calculations was very useful. The Orion TI84+ is very nice to use and I look forward to using it for years to come in math and science classes."

"Devices such as this have the potential to positively impact systemic access to STEM for blind and low-vision students."

"This product is truly a 'game-changer' for students with visual impairments in STEM courses. The lack of a high-quality graphing calculator has been a major problem for the field for years. The fact that APH was able to partner with Orbit and Texas Instruments to provide an accessible calculator that is one of the most commonly used graphing calculators is wonderful."

5.   Changes/upgrades made based on field evaluation and expert reviewers' comments

Changes/updates during field evaluation

Changes made after field testing (Version 1.0.4, August 2013; Version 1.0.2, July 2013)

Project staff also worked to complete the following during FY 2013:

Work planned for FY 2014

Initial production is complete. Future enhancements will be driven by feedback from the field. Known enhancements are the following:

Venn Diagram Templates

(Completed)

Purpose

To provide consumable, inexpensive tactile Venn diagram circles for student, teacher, or transcriber use in a variety of applications

Project Staff

Fred Otto, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Rod Dixon, Manufacturing Specialist

Background

The product idea was submitted by Sheila Amato, who specified that circles were needed that were large enough to accommodate braille labels in all the overlapping sections. As the idea fit well with the existing line of APH consumable math diagrams, the project was approved for development.

Work during FY 2013

The project leader drew up two-circle and three-circle designs and tested them with in-house staff for size and readability. Technical Research suggested using thermography (i.e., Green Machine) for production to achieve visual and tactile accessibility in a single process. After testing to ensure the diagrams would hold up after use in a braillewriter, the process was approved.

Specifications for production were written, and a production run was completed. The product, which includes 15 sheets each of two-circle and three-circle diagrams, was stocked and made available.

Work planned for FY 2014

No further work on this project is planned.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION / HEALTH

Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box

(Continued)

IMG_4534 IMG_4527

Alt tag: 1) Two preschoolers run on a guide bar. 2) A girl balances 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

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 file, 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.

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 tests (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 running guide bar; the project leader took photographs.

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. Available from 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

Work during FY 2013

The beep-t-balls were played with by students from the Kentucky School for the Blind and several adults with blindness at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, KY. Manufacturing specialist Andrew Dakin researched a better fastener (than glue) for the tactile covering on the running guide bar. Terri Gilmore drew an artist rendition of the Motivator Switch that will be used for the manufacturing bid package.

Work planned for FY 2014

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

Everybody Plays!

(Completed)

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

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Alt tag: The book's front cover is designed to look like a corkboard. There are various photos attached to the corkboard with pushpins. The photos show teenagers playing goalball and tennis, swimming, riding a tandem bike, and competing in the long jump.



Alt tag: The Listen Up! page lists the Paralympic sports and identifies the 14 that are open to athletes with visual impairment and blindness. The photographs on the page show individuals swimming and kicking a soccer ball.

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 files).

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 DocsTM program). 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 8½ x 11" paper and the story pages on 11½ 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® Screen Reading Software (27%) and NonVisual 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..................... 1.......................... 50%....................... 6%

............................... 2.......................... 39%..................... 33%

............................... 3............................ 6%..................... 33%

............................... 4............................ 6%..................... 17%

............................... 5............................ 0%....................... 6%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Athletics................... 1.......................... 44%....................... 0%

............................... 2.......................... 39%..................... 17%

............................... 3.......................... 17%..................... 44%

............................... 4............................ 0%..................... 28%

............................... 5............................ 0%....................... 6%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Beep Baseball............ 1.......................... 50%....................... 0%

............................... 2.......................... 11%..................... 22%

............................... 3.......................... 22%..................... 39%

............................... 4.......................... 17%..................... 22%

............................... 5............................ 0%..................... 11%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Cycling..................... 1.......................... 33%....................... 0%

............................... 2.......................... 22%....................... 6%

............................... 3.......................... 28%..................... 56%

............................... 4.......................... 17%..................... 22%

............................... 5............................ 0%..................... 11%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Dancing.................... 1.......................... 17%....................... 0%

............................... 2.......................... 33%....................... 0%

............................... 3.......................... 22%..................... 50%

............................... 4............................ 6%..................... 22%

............................... 5.......................... 22%..................... 22%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Fishing..................... 1.......................... 33%....................... 0%

............................... 2.......................... 28%..................... 22%

............................... 3.......................... 11%..................... 39%

............................... 4.......................... 11%..................... 22%

............................... 5.......................... 17%..................... 11%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Goalball.................... 1.......................... 67%....................... 0%

............................... 2............................ 0%..................... 11%

............................... 3.......................... 17%..................... 39%

............................... 4.......................... 17%..................... 39%

............................... 5............................ 0%....................... 6%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Gymnastics............... 1.......................... 28%....................... 0%

............................... 2.......................... 39%..................... 28%

............................... 3.......................... 22%..................... 50%

............................... 4............................ 0%....................... 6%

............................... 5............................ 6%..................... 11%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Hiking...................... 1.......................... 17%....................... 0%

............................... 2.......................... 39%..................... 11%

............................... 3.......................... 39%..................... 56%

............................... 4............................ 6%..................... 17%

............................... 5............................ 0%..................... 11%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Horseback Riding....... 1.......................... 17%....................... 0%

............................... 2.......................... 44%..................... 11%

............................... 3............................ 6%..................... 44%

............................... 4.......................... 28%..................... 28%

............................... 5............................ 6%..................... 11%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Judo......................... 1.......................... 83%....................... 0%

............................... 2.......................... 11%..................... 39%

............................... 3............................ 6%..................... 39%

............................... 4............................ 0%..................... 17%

............................... 5............................ 0%....................... 0%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Jumping Rope............ 1.......................... 22%....................... 6%

............................... 2.......................... 11%..................... 11%

............................... 3.......................... 28%..................... 28%

............................... 4.......................... 17%..................... 17%

............................... 5.......................... 22%..................... 33%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Kayaking................... 1.......................... 61%....................... 6%

............................... 2.......................... 22%..................... 22%

............................... 3............................ 6%..................... 44%

............................... 4.......................... 11%..................... 11%

............................... 5............................ 0%..................... 11%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Obstacle Course......... 1.......................... 17%....................... 0%

............................... 2.......................... 33%....................... 0%

............................... 3.......................... 22%..................... 44%

............................... 4............................ 6%..................... 22%

............................... 5.......................... 22%..................... 28%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Rock Climbing............ 1.......................... 39%....................... 6%

............................... 2.......................... 44%..................... 17%

............................... 3............................ 0%..................... 33%

............................... 4.......................... 17%..................... 33%

............................... 5............................ 0%....................... 6%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Roller Lading............ 1 ......................... 39%....................... 6%

............................... 2.......................... 33%..................... 17%

............................... 3.......................... 22%..................... 44%

............................... 4............................ 6%..................... 22%

............................... 5............................ 0%....................... 6%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Showdown................. 1.......................... 94%..................... 11%

............................... 2............................ 0%..................... 28%

............................... 3............................ 6%..................... 33%

............................... 4............................ 0%..................... 17%

............................... 5............................ 0%....................... 6%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Soccer...................... 1.......................... 17%....................... 0%

............................... 2.......................... 22%..................... 11%

............................... 3.......................... 39%..................... 44%

............................... 4.......................... 11%..................... 17%

............................... 5.......................... 11%..................... 22%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Swimming................. 1.......................... 11%....................... 6%

............................... 2.......................... 17%....................... 6%

............................... 3.......................... 39%..................... 39%

............................... 4.......................... 17%..................... 11%

............................... 5.......................... 17%..................... 33%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Twister..................... 1.......................... 56%....................... 6%

............................... 2.......................... 11%..................... 28%

............................... 3.......................... 11%..................... 28%

............................... 4............................ 6%....................... 6%

............................... 5.......................... 17%..................... 28%

Sport/Activity             Rating                   Prior                       After

Virtual Tennis............ 1.......................... 94%..................... 17%

............................... 2............................ 6%..................... 22%

............................... 3............................ 0%..................... 33%

............................... 4............................ 0%..................... 17%

............................... 5............................ 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 during FY 2013

Everybody Plays! became available for sale in February 2013.

Gross Motor Development Study and Curriculum

(Continued)

IMG_4129IMG_4157

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

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 file, 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. In 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 during FY 2013

Initial editing of the video was complete. Development of the project was on hold pending completion of other products. The authors wrote and submitted the article, "Gross Motor Skill Performance in Children With and Without Visual Impairments-Research to Practice" to Research in Developmental Disabilities. It was accepted for publication on June 21, 2013. A second article had been accepted by PALAESTRA, and a third article is being written.

Work planned for FY 2014

Development of the product will resume. The design and layout of the curriculum will take place, along with video editing, descriptive narration, and subtitling.

MyPlate

(Continued)

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

Denise Snow, Research Assistant

Anthony Slowinski, Illustrator

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.

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 during FY 2013

To meet the immediate needs of students who would be required to identify and use MyPlate on state testing, the project leader worked with the APH Tactile Graphics Image Library (TGIL) to produce nine drawings for download use. A survey is underway to determine if the drawings in the TGIL meet the needs of tactile learners or if additional products are needed to teach the MyPlate curriculum.

Work planned for FY 2014

Continuation of this product will be determined by the results of the survey.

 

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

Denise Snow, Research Assistant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant

Malcolm Turner, APH Website Coordinator

Marla Runyan, Consultant

Amanda Tepfer, Consultant

Terry Kelly, Consultant

Camper and Coaches, Camp Abilities (participants)

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 PE Web site:www.aph.org/pe/index.html

Work during FY 2013

The PE Web site was given a complete review and updated. In January, project staff posted the 2013 sport camps and introduced a new video Feature about spending a week at a sport camp. The musical video was created by Marla Runyan with photos by Amanda Tepfer and music and lyrics by Terry Kelly. In March, the site launched a new collection of YouTubeTM videos that feature individuals who have visual impairment or blindness demonstrating a variety of sports. In April, the APH Physical Education Web site provided links to help teachers and parents understand the recent federal guidelines to provide athletic opportunities for students with disabilities, including visual impairment. Visit the PE Advocacy Page (www.aph.org/pe/advocacy) to learn more.

Work planned for FY 2014

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

Physical Education and Health Special Projects and Needs

(Ongoing)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Tristan Pierce, Physical Education Project Leader

Denise Snow, Research Assistant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant

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.

Work during FY 2013

The project leader continued to maintain the PE Web site and to work on Motor Development Curriculum and Count Me In: Motor Development in a Box. Everybody Plays! became available for sale.

Work planned for FY 2014

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

 

 

SPORTS COURTS

(New)

Purpose

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

Alt tag: Tentative logo for product

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Tom Poppe, Model/Pattern Maker

Background

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

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

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

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


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


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





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


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

Respondents were asked to indicate the overall need for SPORTS COURTS on a scale from 5 = extremely needed to 0 = not needed. Collectively, the respondents gave an average rating of 3.98. Nearly half (47%) of the respondents thought the product was extremely needed, 31% gave it a "4" rating, and 28% gave it a "3" rating. Only two of the respondents thought it was unneeded.


Work during FY 2013

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

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

Appropriate target populations for SPORTS COURTS will encompass the following:

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

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

Work planned for FY 2014

The pace of prototype development will increase in FY 2014 with the project staff focusing on the expected final design of the product and related components. Consultant assistance on the accompanying guidebook will be utilized. Necessary in-house development meetings will be conducted to plan the construction of multiple prototypes for field test purposes. Field testing could potentially begin next summer and carry over into the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

 

READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS

All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express

Formerly Magnetic Dolch Word Wall

(Continued)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Laura Zierer, Research Assistant

Tom Poppe, Model/Pattern Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Anthony Slowinski, Graphic Designer (of Binder Art)

Background

Note to reader: The original product title, Magnetic Dolch Word Wall, is retained for the Background, FY 2012, and FY 2013 sections of this report. The newly-assigned, final product name, All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express, is used in the FY 2014 section of this report. In July 2013, copyright/trademark issues necessitated a change to the product name prior to production.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SortingDividers 017003SortingDividers 011



Alt tag: Photo of Noun-Verb-Noun chart using magnetic strips; Photo of "Opposites" setup using magnetic strips; Photo of writing guide setup using magnetic strips

Work during FY 2013

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

Browder, D. M., & Lalli, J. S. (1991). Review of research on sight word instruction. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 12, 203-228.

Browder, D. M., & Xin, Y. P. (1998). A meta-analysis and review of sight word research and its implications for teaching functional reading to individuals with moderate and severe disabilities. The Journal of Special Education, 32, 130-153.

Day, J. N., McDonnell, A. P., & O'Neill, R. (2008). Teaching beginning braille reading using an alphabet or uncontracted braille approach. Journal of Behavioral Education, 17, 253-277.

Dolch, E. W. (1948). Problems in reading. Champaign, IL: The Garrard Press.

Koenig, A. J., & Farrenkopf, C. (1997). Essential experiences to undergrid the early development of literacy. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 91, 14-24.

Sauer, L., & Risko, V. (1979). Teaching reading to mainstreamed sensory impaired children. The Reading Teacher, 32, 921-925.

Wormsley, D. P., & D'Andrea, F. M. (1997). Instructional strategies for braille literacy. New York: AFB Press.

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

abcteach®: The educator's online resource: Dolch Word Cards

www.abcteach.com/directory/prek-early-childhood-abc-activities-dolch-word-cards-29-2-1

Apples4theteacher: Dolch Sight Words

www.apples4theteacher.com/languagearts/dolch-sight-words/

Dolch Kit

www.theschoolbell.com/Links/Dolch/Dolch.html

Expanded Learning: Dolch Words

www.enchantedlearning.com/dolch/

K12Reader: Reading Instruction Resources for Teachers & Parents: Dolch Word List Worksheets and Activities

www.k12reader.com/dolch-word-list/

Mrs. Perkins' Dolch Words: Helping Your Children Read

www.mrsperkins.com/dolch.htm

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

Alt Tag: Photo of field test prototype of Magnetic Dolch Word Wall

The field test opportunity for the Magnetic Dolch Word Wall was posted in the December 2012 online issue of APH News(www.aph.org/advisory/2012adv12.html).

The announcement, as repeated below, clearly described the product (with accompanying photo), field test expectations, and the criteria for field test selection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sixteen of the 17 participating field reviewers returned their evaluation forms by the end of June 2013. Although the return date was indicated as May 15, 2013, a few teachers needed and requested additional time to complete their evaluations; this extra time was allowed.



Product evaluations were completed by 16 teachers representing the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri (2), Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia.

The evaluation sites represented a variety of instructional settings as detailed in the following table:

Type of Instructional Setting

 

Percentage of Evaluation Sites

 

Residential

 

31%

 

Resource

 

19%

 

Itinerant

 

38%

 

Itinerant/Resource

 

6%

 

Day School/Mainstreamed

 

6%

 

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

Additionally, evaluators varied in their knowledge of braille-from the novice to the expert with NLS Certification in Literary Braille. The evaluators' levels of braille proficiency are shown in the following table; in some cases, an evaluator's knowledge of braille fell within multiple categories/descriptions:

Level of Braille Knowledge

 

% of Evaluators

(n = 16)

 

NLS Certification in Literary Braille

 

12%

 

NLS Certification in Nemeth Braille

 

0%

 

NLS Certification in Textbook Formatting

 

0%

 

Completed university coursework in Literary Braille

 

69%

 

Completed university coursework in Nemeth Braille

 

50%

 

Read contracted braille fluently without use of a reference guide

 

25%

 

Read contracted braille fluently with occasional use of a reference guide

 

38%

 

Read contracted braille with frequent use of a reference guide

 

19%

 

Read uncontracted "letter-for-letter" braille without use of a reference guide

 

44%

 

Read uncontracted "letter-for-letter" braille with use of a reference guide

 

0%

 

I cannot read braille-contracted or uncontracted

 

6%

 

Level of braille knowledge not reported

 

6%

 

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


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



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



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



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

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

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

Overall Design of Magnetic Dolch Word Wall

Rating Scale: 5 = Excellent to 1 = Poor (or Unneeded)

 

Product Feature

 

Number of Evaluators

 

Average Rating

 

5

 

4

 

3

 

2

 

1

 

Overall design/presentation of the product

 

n = 16

 

4.19

 

6

 

7

 

3

 
   

Instruction booklet

 

n = 16

 

4.69

 

12

 

3

 

1

 
   

Print/braille Dolch labels

 

n = 16

 

4.44

 

12

 
 

3

 

1

 
 

Contracted braille set

(black text on yellow background with diagonal orientation cut)

 

n = 15

 

4.73

 

13

 
 

2

 
   

Uncontracted braille set

(black text on white background with rounded orientation cut)

 

n = 15

 

4.60

 

13

 
 

1

 
 

1

 

Magnetic divider pages

 

n = 16

 

3.88

 

6

 

5

 

3

 

1

 

1

 

Magnetic sorting strips

 

n = 16

 

4.38

 

11

 

3

 
 

1

 

1

 

Clear-view storage pouches

 

n = 16

 

4.25

 

10

 

3

 
 

3

 
 

Binder (for storage purposes)

 

n = 16

 

4.25

 

8

 

5

 

2

 

1

 
 

Assessment checklist

 

n = 16

 

4.88

 

14

 

2

 
     

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

Skills/Activities Reinforced or Facilitated

Rating Sale: 5 = Very Well to 0 = Not at All

 

Skill/Activity

 

Number of Evaluators

 

Average Rating

 

5

 

4

 

3

 

2

 

1

 

0

 

Word wall display of new words to learn, identify, and read

 

n = 16

 

4.56

 

11

 

3

 

2

 
     

Interactive reading activities

 

n = 16

 

4.00

 

6

 

5

 

4

 

1

 
   

Review of various parts of speech

 

n = 16

 

3.63

 

5

 

7

 

1

 

1

 
 

2

 

Sentence building or sentence completion activities

 

n = 16

 

3.25

 

5

 

3

 

4

 

1

 

1

 

2

 

Alphabetization of words

 

n = 16

 

4.63

 

12

 

3

 
 

1

 
   

Sorting activities (e.g., nouns vs. verbs)

 

n = 15

 

3.87

 

7

 

4

 

2

 
 

1

 

1

 

Comparison of contracted and uncontracted braille

 

n = 14

 

4.43

 

10

 

2

 

1

 
 

1

 
 

Review of braille contractions

 

n = 14

 

4.79

 

11

 

3

 
       

Interactive games

 

n = 16

 

4.25

 

8

 

4

 

4

 
     

Independent learning/reading

 

n = 15

 

3.67

 

5

 

3

 

4

 

3

 
   

Shared reading activities with sighted peers in a classroom setting

 

n = 12

 

3.17

 

5

 

1

 

2

 

1

 

1

 

2

 

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

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

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

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

Target Population

 

Percentage of evaluators (n = 16) indicating suitability of product for target population

 

Tactile readers in preschool

 

56%

 

Low vision students in preschool

 

69%

 

Tactile readers in grades 1-3

 

94%

 

Low vision students in grades 1-3

 

88%

 

Older students/adults learning to read braille

 

81%

 

Sighted peers

 

63%

 

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

STUDENT PERFORMANCE OUTCOMES

 

Assessment Conditions/Results

 

 

 

Dolch Word Level

 

Pre-Primer

 

Primer

 

First Grade

 

Second Grade

 

Third Grade

 

Nouns

 

Student knew complete list of words prior to using prototype

 

n = 5

 

n = 3

 

n = 3

 

n = 4

 

n = 2

 

n = 2

 

One trial completed with less than 100% of words recognized

 

n = 1

 

n = 1

 

n = 1

 

n = 1

 

n = 0

 

n = 0

 

Multiple trials completed (2 or 3)

 

n = 17

 

n = 15

 

n = 18

 

n = 10

 

n = 11

 

n = 14

 

No trials completed

 

n = 25

 

n = 29

 

n = 26

 

n = 33

 

n = 35

 

n = 32

 

Improvement of word recognition after multiple trials

 

n = 17

100%

 

n = 14

93%

 

n = 17

94%

 

n = 9

90%

 

n = 8

73%

 

n = 14

100%

 

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

With regard to the last reported strength, at least half of the field evaluators expected to use the Magnetic Dolch Word Wall in combination with the following APH products:

All-In-One Board (50%), Student Model All-in-One Board (50%), Braille Contraction Cards (69%), Building on Patterns (69%), Expanded Dolch Word Cards (63%), Word PlayHouse (56%), Braillable Labels and Sheets (69%), and Feel 'n Peel Stickers (56%).

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

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

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

Work planned for FY 2014

In mid-October, Quota approval for All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express will be requested from the Educational Products Advisory Committee during APH's 145th Annual Meeting.

The bulk of product tooling efforts will continue into FY 2014. The project leader will be responsible for finalizing content for the accompanying instruction guide, working with the graphic designer on the final layout/design of the guidebook, approving final production tooling for the magnetic word labels, and furnishing vendor contact information (for magnetic strips, magnetic divider pages, and new magnetic board).

The project staff will monitor the quality of produced and vendor-received parts during the pilot and initial production run. The availability of All Aboard! The Sight Word Activity Express will likely occur in late FY 2014 or early FY 2015. The project leader will participate in post-production activities such as readying the product brochure content and demonstrating the product at workshops/training sessions.

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

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

Members of the work group included the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Work during FY 2013

Three books from the various collections have gone out of print. Project staff reviewed other books from the various publishers to replace the books. Books were selected, and modifications to the kits and the website were completed.

Work planned for FY 2014

Project staff will continue to monitor the existing kits for books that go out of print. Replacement books will be identified and integrated into the existing kits. The website will be updated to address these changes. The website will also be updated to include the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) level of each existing book.

Editing Kits

(New)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Jeanette Wicker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Anna Swenson, Consultant

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

Background

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

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

Preliminary Research

Work during FY 2013

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

Work planned for FY 2014

Project staff will complete a prototype of the editing kits and prepare materials for field evaluation.

This is Katie

(New)

Purpose

To provide teachers with a tool to assist primary students in understanding the similarities and differences between students who are sighted and those who are blind or visually impaired

Project Staff

Sandi Baker, Project Leader (Core Curriculum Consultant)

Jeanettte Wicker, Core Curriculum Consultant

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Background

In 2009, the product submission form for this book was submitted by a braille transcriber who was working with the student who inspired the story. In the manuscript that the author submitted, Katie, a student who is blind, is a second grade student who is friends with Emma, who is sighted. The story is written from Emma's perspective. Emma presents the reader with all the ways she and her best friend Katie are alike before she discusses the ways in which they are different, including revealing that Katie is blind. Emma talks about what it means to be blind-from the perspective of an 8-year-old-and what she thinks it means for Katie. She talks about the different tools Katie uses in school to do the same activities she herself does in school, and about the different "teachers" Katie has. The author stated her intent is for teachers to use the book as a teaching tool to help students gain understanding and insight into what it means to be blind, or to have a friend who is blind or has other special needs, and to simply discuss the differences in all of us.

In late 2011, the product was turned over to the current project leader and presented to the Product Evaluation Team. Communication began with author of the book to obtain the rights for large print and braille versions. Rights were obtained.

Work during FY 2013

A Product Development Committee meeting was held in May 2013. It was suggested that the book be an 11" x 11.5" print book with braille overlay pages. It was felt the manuscript text, as submitted, was at a higher reading level than second grade. Discussion centered around the following: researching the text reading level and changing the ages and grade level of the students in the story accordingly, the addition of a glossary of terms used in the book, alignment with social competency skills and Common Core State Standards, and the addition of a website link with the aforementioned information. The project leader began to research the reading level of the current manuscript and edit the manuscript.

Work planned for FY 2014

The project leader will continue to edit and revise the manuscript. An illustrator will be identified and illustrations completed. Field reviewers will be identified, and field evaluation will take place. The product will be turned over to production.

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, Project Consultant

Mary McCarthy, Project Consultant

Justine Carlone Rines, Project Consultant

Rosalind Rowley, Project Consultant

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

Rod Dixon, Manufacturing Specialist

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

InGrid Design, Graphic Designer

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Anthony Slowinski, 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 School for the Blind, Arizona School for the Blind, and North Carolina Schools for the Blind have reported good results.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In FY 2012, 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 Council for Exceptional Children Conference in Colorado. The data showed positive results and reading gains for braille readers using the Wilson Reading System.

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

Work during FY 2013

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

Work planned for FY 2014

Project staff will complete the written specifications, a product specification meeting will be held, and a production date established.

SCIENCE

4-Box Tactile Punnett Square

(Completed)

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 allows 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 currently used by biologists and since the early 1900s to determine 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 students who are braille readers 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 supported product development. Online field testing in the spring of 2012 indicated a preferred design of two embossed and printed 4-box Punnett Squares on each 8.5" x 11" page of braille paper. Page margins must be left clear, and enough space must remain between Punnett Squares for brailling the details of each genetic cross. Each embossed Punnett Square must be outlined with bold black lines with exact registration.

Work during FY 2013

Tooling commenced in the fall of 2012 with the preparation of bold line 4-box Punnett Square artwork and a corresponding embossing plate. Initial sample worksheets were embossed and printed on 80 pound 8.5" x 11" braille paper. This paper weight was deemed too thin, producing an inadequate tactile image; a second sample on 90 pound braille paper was produced. This paper weight rendered a better tactile representation and sturdier worksheet. Ninety pound 8.5" x 11" braille paper was incorporated into the final specifications of the product. A 12" x 12" re-sealable envelope was selected for packaging 25 printed and embossed sheets per pack.

Work planned for FY 2014

The 4-Box Tactile Punnett Square was released as an official product on March 27, 2013, and is available for purchase with Quota funds. The product consists of 25 sheets, each with two printed and embossed 4-box Punnett Squares, packaged in a re-sealable large envelope. No further work on this product is planned.

16-Box Tactile Punnett Square

(Completed)

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 classes such as Advanced Placement Biology. This version of the Punnett Square allows 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). It is 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. 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 a 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. Each embossed Punnett Square must be outlined with bold black lines with exact registration.

Work during FY 2013

Tooling commenced in the fall of 2012 with the preparation of bold-line 16-box Punnett Square artwork and a corresponding embossing plate. Initial sample worksheets were embossed and printed on 80 pound 11.5" x 11" braille paper. This paper weight was deemed too thin, producing an inadequate tactile image; a second sample on 90 pound braille paper was produced. This paper weight rendered a better tactile representation and a sturdier worksheet. Ninety pound 11.5" x 11" braille paper was incorporated into the final specifications of the product. A 12" x 12" re-sealable envelope was selected for packaging 25 printed and embossed sheets per pack.

Work planned for FY 2014

The 16-Box Tactile Punnett Square was released as an official product on March 27, 2013, and is available for purchase with Quota funds. The product consists of 25 sheets each with one printed and embossed 16-box Punnett Square, packaged in a re-sealable large envelope. No further work on this product is planned.

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

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

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. Since then, these educational materials have been 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 will consist of a booklet and DVD that describes and demonstrates, respectively, the following 16 items and their use: 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) large print tactile histogram board; 12) funnel stand; 13) two tray inserts of the APH Multi-Section Tray; 14) talking Fahrenheit/Celsius thermometer; 15) one pack of APH's Genetic Code Large Print Braille; and 16) APH's Adapting Science for Students With Visual Impairments (ASSVI). A tactile/braille 1.5-meter tape from CareTec International (Vienna, Austria) was eliminated because testing revealed that it does not comply with CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) standards.

Most of the items in the ASMK available from Delta Education® have been field tested and used successfully by students with visual impairments and TVIs for over three decades. These include the balance, set of 100 one-gram pieces, set of 35 mass pieces, 100-ml tripour beaker, 1000-ml tripour beaker, 50-ml graduated cylinders, 100-ml graduated cylinders, 50-ml syringe with stop, 50-ml syringe modified with notches, and the funnel stand.

Other items are established APH products: The talking Fahrenheit and Celsius thermometer from ThermoWorks, Inc., is available for separate purchase in the APH catalog. ASSVI has been available from APH since 2006 and details the adaptation of science measurement devices for students who are visually impaired. Two inserts of the APH Multi-Section Tray replace the sorting tray originally made for LHS by Marshall Montgomery. Genetic Code Large Print Braille was released as a separate product in March 2013.

The large print tactile histogram board and the 100-ml and 1000-ml tripour beakers will be custom made at APH. Katherine Corcoran is responsible for the tooling of these items. These efforts will replicate items in the original SAVI materials from LHS.

The remaining items including the large print braille meter tape and the 50-ml and 100-ml graduated cylinder floats and scales will be custom made by Marshall Montgomery. These efforts will replicate items in the original SAVI materials from LHS.

ASMK will be produced without additional field testing.

Work during FY 2013

Most of the work during FY 2013 centered on establishing materials sources for custom kit items and tooling for modified items.

Katherine Corcoran began the tooling for the large print tactile histogram board at APH; this is an item originally manufactured by Marshall Montgomery. Katherine Corcoran completed the tooling for modification of the 100-ml and 1000-ml tripour beakers.

Several types of plastic for the 50-ml and 100-ml braille scales and floats (to be packaged with the corresponding graduated cylinders) and the large print braille meter tape were sent to Marshall Montgomery for testing with his thermoform equipment.

The project leader sought and found a 1.5-meter tactile/braille measuring tape. However, this item was tested and found non-compliant with CPSIA standards in the spring of 2013; it is now eliminated from the kit.

Work planned for FY 2014

Tooling for the thermoformed/printed histogram chart by Katherine Corcoran at APH will continue. Identification of CPSIA acceptable materials for production of the large print braille meter tape and the 50-ml and 100-ml graduated cylinder floats and scales will be completed. Marshall Montgomery will produce a new thermoform mold for a 100-ml graduated cylinder float scale, as well as make prototypes of the meter tape and the 50-ml and 100-ml floats and scales using acceptable plastic materials provided by APH.

Delta Education® will provide certification that all items purchased from them for inclusion in this kit comply with CPSIA standards (balance, set of 100 one-gram pieces, set of 35 mass pieces, 100-ml tripour beaker, 1000-ml tripour beaker, 50-ml graduated cylinders, 100-ml graduated cylinders, 50-ml syringe with stop, 50-ml syringe modified with notches, and funnel stand).

The project leader will consider preparing a DVD to demonstrate the use of each item in the kit in addition to writing an accessible booklet to describe all items in the kit and their use.

DNA Twist

(Completed)

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. 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 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 final product development.

Andrew Dakin constructed prototypes for field testing 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. After 3-D CAD (computer-aided design) drawings for injection molds for the rungs were completed, a manufacturer for these parts was identified. A thermoformed stand that allows the model to remain upright in its twisted configuration was designed by Andrew Dakin and will be produced in-house. The product will also include an instruction booklet, printed in-house.

Work during FY 2013

Tooling for this product was completed. Three of the four textures of the rungs from the first set of samples received from the manufacturer were acceptable. The project leader requested modification of the "rough" texture; an acceptable "rough" textured rung was provided in the second set of samples. A thermoform mold and the die needed for in-house production of the stand were ordered and received. Initial problems because of webbing during the thermoform process were resolved. Graphic designers incorporated photographs of the final product into a short instruction booklet that provides information about DNA and demonstrates use of the model. The instruction booklet was transcribed into braille and embossed.

Work planned for FY 2014

The DNA Twist was released for sale on August 5, 2013. No further work is anticipated. The DNA Twist includes the model, the stand, a large print instruction booklet, braille instruction booklet, and a non-slip adhesive backing for the stand. The DNA Twist is available for purchase with Quota funds.

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 interactive DNA and RNA models suitable for students with blindness or low vision. The project leader and model maker 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 the 2010 APH 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.

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 during FY 2013

Tooling for this product began in the fall of 2012. The entire product will be manufactured in-house. A production die to cut the foam nucleotide subunits was designed and purchased. Production molds for vacuum-forming the laminate were prepared at APH. Photography and layout for the large print DNA-RNA Kit Guidebook were completed. The guidebook was translated to braille and an HTML version was prepared; an accessible BRF and HTML file will be available for free download once the product is released. A pizza-style carry box to package the DNA-RNA Kit was selected; a label with product art was designed.. The kit will consist of 32 DNA subunits, 32 RNA subunits, and the guidebook.

Materials for the model subunits were ordered for the first production run. The final version of the guidebook awaits approval.

Work planned for FY 2014

When the guidebook is approved, tooling will be complete. The first production run is anticipated in November 2013. After the model subunits are produced and the guidebook printed, the product will be packaged and released for sale. The DNA-RNA Kit will be available with Quota funds.

Earth Science Tactile Graphics (ESTG)

(New)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Denise Snow, Research Assistant

Background

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

Work during FY 2013

A product input session during Annual Meeting 2012 provided a platform to gather ideas and interest levels for color and tactile presentation of Earth Science diagrams. Responses from attendees indicated a clear need for such a product and provided direction. The project leader worked to select images for tactile rendering using Earth Science textbooks, the Next Generation Science Standards, and online educational sources.

Work planned for FY 2014

A preliminary field test of two-dimensional images is planned for spring 2014. Feedback regarding image selection and scope will be solicited from TVIs and classroom teachers in the field. Pending responses from TVIs, thermoform molds of selected images will commence.

Genetic Code Large Print Braille

(Completed)

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 2013

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.

Tooling for this product began in the fall of 2012 with the preparation of four embossing plates (one for each letter: A, C, U, and G), and corresponding large print files and table art. Initial sample pages were embossed and printed on 80 pound 11.5" x 11" braille paper. This paper weight was deemed too thin, producing poorly rendered braille. A second sample on 90 pound braille paper produced a more durable product, and 90 pound 11.5" x 11" braille paper was incorporated into the final specifications. A plastic expandable envelope with a hook and loop closure was selected for packaging 10 sets of the four-page genetic code table, each set separated by a blank blue sheet. Finally, the name of the product was changed from "Large Print Braille Genetic Code" to the current formulation in order to best accommodate Web searches for "genetic code."

Work planned for FY 2014

The Genetic Code Large Print Braille was released as an official product on April 29, 2013. It is available for purchase with Quota funds. No further work on this product is planned.

Protein Synthesis Kit (PSK)

(New)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Rosanne Hoffmann, STEM Project Leader

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Andrew Dakin, Model Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

Denise Snow, Research Assistant

Background

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

Work during FY 2013

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

Work planned for FY 2014

After field testing, appropriate changes in the model and guidebook will be made. Cutting dies and thermoform molds that reflect these changes will be designed and made. Materials will be ordered for a first run of the product. The final rendering of the model subunits will be turned over to the graphic designers for photography. The final guidebook text will be submitted to the graphic designers for layout and insertion of photographs. The project leader will determine appropriate subunit quantities for replacement parts.

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 Projects Manager

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 an output box. Detected changes in light intensity because of 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, as a solid precipitates within a solution, 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 (using sensors other than a light-detecting probe, such as pressure, temperature, acceleration, etc.). A July 2011 update to the proposal added modification of the SALS 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 and final prototype cost ($14.00 per unit), it is appropriate given the benefits.

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 and 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.

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

Work during FY 2013

In October 2012, the SALS device schematic and layout were completed and an order for printed circuit boards and electrical components was placed for construction of the first prototype. The device housing design was modified to add several function buttons to the bottom side. This allows direct access to functionality rather than via menu navigation. In November 2012, mechanical and electrical design of the device was completed. Hardware testing and software development took place in the first part of 2013. The first prototype was assembled in the spring of 2013, and hardware functionality was demonstrated in late July. The following functionalities have been verified: power supply, digital core with debug interface, USB flash drive communication, analog to digital and switch input, tone and speech generation, lithium ion recharge, Speex (patent-free audio compression format) speech compression, and headphone/speaker selection.

Work planned for FY 2014

Work on the first prototype will continue. Goals to be completed include corrective actions for hardware errors, housing machining, application software development, and sensor construction. When all details of the first prototype are complete, four more prototypes will be assembled. 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.

 

Touch, Label, and Learn Poster: Human Skeleton (Anterior View)

Formerly Tactile Science Posters/Puzzles

(Continued)

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, Model/Pattern Maker

Tom Poppe, Model/Pattern Maker

Anthony Slowinski, Graphic Designer

Lemuel Mason, Production Operator of Roland® UV Printer

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

Laura Zierer, Research Assistant


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

Background

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

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

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

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

The project leader located one particular anatomy poster to serve as a starting place for adapting an existing, commercially-available science product. The goal was to prepare a tactile overlay to affix to the printed poster of the anterior view of the human skeleton and to supply a 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.

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

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

Work during FY 2013

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Prototype Components

 

Quantity

 

Human Skeleton Poster

 

1

 

3-D Skeleton Model

 

1

 

Print/Braille Labels

 

2 sets of 17 labels

 

VELTEX® Brand Storage Panel

 

1

 

Print/Braille Answer Key

 

1

 

Print Instructions Sheet

 

1

 

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


The field evaluation form allowed teachers to rate each and every feature of the prototype. Although high ratings were received for all of the design elements, evaluators were particularly pleased with the usefulness of the moveable print/braille labels, the overall size of the poster, and the appropriateness for use with sighted peers. The following table reflects the evaluators' average ratings for each assessed feature of the poster:

Skeleton Poster Feature

 

Number of Evaluators

 

x

 

% for each rating

5= Excellent to 1 = Poor

 

5

 

4.5

 

4

 

3

 

2

 

1

 

Overall visual presentation

 

n = 19

 

4.66

 

63%

 

5%

 

32%

 
     

Overall tactile presentation

 

n = 17

 

4.47

 

47%

 
 

53%

 
     

Types and numbers of bones identified on poster

 

n = 17

 

4.41

 

47%

 
 

47%

 

6%

 
   

Position of numbers (and associated lead lines) within the graphic

 

n = 17

 

4.12

 

29%

 
 

59%

 

6%

 

6%

 
 

Location of key/legend within the poster

 

n = 17

 

4.47

 

76%

 
 

12%

 
 

6%

 

6%

 

Usefulness of movable print/braille labels

 

n = 17

 

4.94

 

94%

 
 

6%

 
     

Overall size of poster

 

n = 17

 

4.82

 

82%

 
 

18%

 
     

Durability of poster

 

n = 18

 

4.39

 

56%

 
 

28%

 

11%

 

5%

 
 

Ease of hanging poster (if desired)

 

n = 16

 

4.69

 

75%

 
 

19%

 

6%

 
   

Appropriateness within an inclusive classroom setting with sighted peers

 

n = 16

 

4.75

 

88%

 
 

6%

 
 

6%

 
 


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

TARGET POPULATION

 

Percentage of evaluators (n = 18) who indicated that the Skeleton Poster was suitable for

target population

 

Tactile readers in grades 4-8

 

94%

 

Low vision readers in grades 4-8

 

89%

 

Tactile readers in high school

 

83%

 

Low vision readers in high school

 

78%

 

Sighted peers

 

61%

 

"Other" populations identified

 
  • Older students with developmental delays 
  • Lower functioning students 
  • Students below 4th grade level 
  • College students 
 

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

Skill/activity

facilitated by use of poster

 

# of

Evaluators

 

 

% for each rating

5 = Excellent to 0 = Not at all

 

5

 

4.5

 

4

 

3.5

 

3

 

2.5

 

2

 

1

 

0

 

Independent study and review of main skeletal bones

 

n = 18

 

4.42

 

50%

 
 

39%

 

5%

 

5%

 
       

Understanding of names and locations of main skeletal bones

 

n = 19

 

4.55

 

63%

 
 

26%

 

5%

 

5%

 
       

Interpretation of a tactile display

 

n = 19

 

4.34

 

58%

 
 

26%

 
 

5%

 

5%

 

5%

 
   

Transition from a 3-D model to a 2-D graphic

 

n = 19

 

4.08

 

42%

 
 

37%

 

5%

 
 

5%

 

11%

 
   

Shared learning experiences with sighted peers

 

n = 14

 

3.99

 

50%

 
 

43%

 
       

7%

 
 

Increased interest in learning more about the human skeleton

 

n = 19

 

3.74

 

47%

 

5%

 

16%

 
 

16%

 

5%

 

5%

 

5%

 
 

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

Trial 1: Ask the student to identify the bones of the skeleton using only the 3-D model.

Trial 2: Ask the student to identify the skeleton bones using the tactile poster after a brief overview of the poster-that is, a general overview of the graphic layout, key location, and direction on how to apply the word labels to the poster.

Trial 3: Ask the student to identify the skeleton bones after extended instruction and familiarity with the poster layout.


The following graph reveals that during the first trial, more than 80% of the students were able to identify the skull (cranium), ribs, hand bones, and foot bones using the 3-D model. Upon introduction of the tactile/print skeleton poster, noticeable increases in students' correct identification other human bones, including the clavicle, scapula, sternum, humerus, ulna, radius, pelvis, femur, patella, tibia, and fibula were noted. After thorough instruction of the human skeleton using the tactile/print poster, significant strides were made in the students' identification of the clavicle, scapula, sternum, humerus, vertebrae, ulna, radius, pelvis, femur, patella, tibia, and fibula. The skull, ribs, hand bones, and foot bones continued to be easily identified across Trial 2 and Trial 3. As the following graph illuminates, more students improved in their identification of the skeletal bones between Trial 2 and Trial 3; while only 45% of the students improved between Trial 1 and Trial 2, 77% of the students improved between Trial 2 and Trial 3.


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

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

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

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

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

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

In late April, after the field test data was compiled and revisions determined, the project leader assembled the Product Development Committee to review the expected components and production methods/materials for manufacturing the final kit. To alleviate the burden of applying so many hook tabs to the back of the name labels by either the customer or APH Production staff, the project leader devised a way to apply a minimum number (5 total) of hook strips to the back of the screen printed/vacuum-formed name labels. Hook strips can be strategically applied to overlap just the ends of each label (and the middle of longer labels), thus avoiding full-coverage that would make it difficult for students to remove the labels from the poster and possibly damage the poster as a result. The project leader rendered a die-cut layout that was minimally adjusted by Technical Research staff prior to production.

An unexpected product name change occurred after field testing due to copyright issues related to both "Label & Learn" and "Learn & Label" options. An extended series title-Touch, Label, and Learn Posters-was available for use. The final name of this product will be Touch, Label, and Learn Poster: Human Skeleton (Anterior View).

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

Work planned for FY 2014

In mid-October, Quota approval for Touch, Label, & Learn Poster: Human Skeleton (Anterior View) will be requested from the Educational Products Advisory Committee during APH's 145th Annual Meeting. Remaining tooling activities will conclude. The project leader will finalize content for the accompanying instruction booklet; braille translation of this piece will be readied as well. Likely, product specifications will be formally presented to Production staff in Spring 2014, with product availability targeted for the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. Depending upon the popularity of this science poster, the project leader will initiate development of additional tactile/print posters targeting concepts (e.g., structure of the eye, brain, heart, etc.) as suggested by field evaluators.

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

Laura Zierer, Research Assistant

Robert Forbes, Project Consultant/University Liaison

Matt Smith, Cartographer

Carie Ernst, Cartographer

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

Bryan Rogers, Manufacturing Specialist

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. 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 wrote their units, APH staff continued to edit, find photos, request permissions, do layouts, refine maps, and prepare Section 2 for expert review.

Field testing took place and content was refined based upon field test data. 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 2 was completed. Maps were edited and redrawn. A new Symbol Guide was developed. Clean files were generated for braille translation.

Work during FY 2013

Braille translation took place in late 2012 and was completed in February 2013. Clean files were generated from the braille transcription and used to develop the HTML file. The HTML file was completed in July 2013 as were the content checks of all chapters and map books. Address: Earth, Section 2, is in the production queue. Production will begin as soon as it reaches the front of the queue.

Project staff also began work on Section 3. First drafts of chapters and sidebars were developed. Some photos were acquired.

Work planned for FY 2014

Section 2 will become available for sale. Editing and layout of the chapters in Section 3 will continue, starting with the South America text. Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean (Meso-America) will follow.

Interactive US Map with Talking Tactile Pen

(New)

Purpose

To provide an interactive color/tactile map of the United States in combination with cutting-edge Talking Tactile Pen (TTP) technology that is usable by students with visual impairments and blindness in both residential schools for the blind and inclusive educational settings

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Steven Landau, Consultant/Vendor

Background

In August 2012, the project leader was asked to submit a review of the STEM Binder: Audio-Tactile Apps for the Talking Tactile Pen (Version 2.00) produced by Touch Graphics, Inc., and The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute. The developers of the product, Steve Landau and Joshua Miele, were impressed with the project leader's critique of the product. The project leader's assessment of the product consisting of color/tactile graphics with audio feedback documented the strengths and possible drawbacks to the presentation; the strengths far outweighed the negatives.

 

Advantages:

 

Disadvantages:

Work during FY 2013

In late January 2013, Steven Landau visited APH and met directly with staff from Educational Research, Technical Research, Production, and Marketing areas, as well as Executive level staff, to explore collaborative projects; Joshua Miele was part of these discussions via multiple conference calls.

Consideration was initially given to applying the Talking Tactile Pen (TTP) technology (i.e., a modification to a popular commercially-available smartpen www.smartpen-livescribe.com) to a PARC-approved project-Detailed State Map Overlays. After much discussion, the generation of 50 individual pieces of tactile/print artwork and related programming of the penlet seemed a bit daunting for an unexplored process between the vendors and APH; delineation of tasks (e.g., printing, vacuum-forming, etc.) was uncertain and yet to be determined. As a result, the potential collaborative effort was scaled back considerably to the generation of a single, full-color, and tactile interactive map of the United States. The accompanying penlet would house recordable layers of information (e.g., capital, surrounding areas, points of interests, major cities, etc.) for each state. The mere tap of the pen to any state on the map would provide a wealth of information for a student's independent exploration and learning. The content area of the product seemed applicable and far reaching to many grade levels, thus ensuring high volume sales to accommodate an affordable product. The project leader provided early guidance regarding ideal map size, recordable "state" layers, and tactile presentation.

In February 2013, a prototype purchase agreement with the vendor was finalized. A total of 20 workable prototypes of the Interactive US Map with Talking Tactile Pen will be fabricated for field test purposes. The map will be dot-printed for TTP functionality[1] and vacuum-formed on a rigid vinyl substrate. The final design of the map will reflect mutual effort by the vendor and APH with respective logos visible on the final product.

On April 1, 2013, the product submission, more generally titled, "Talking Tactile Classroom Maps w/Talking Tactile Pen" (with anticipation of future maps), was approved by both the Product Evaluation Team and Product Advisory and Review Committee.

Throughout May, the project leader and Steve Landau made decisions about the best visual presentation of the map. Details related to color assignment, thickness of state boundary lines, font style for the state abbreviations, discernible print symbols for the national capitol and state capitals, positions of inset boxes for Hawaii and Alaska, and menu icons were carefully scrutinized and chosen. By the end of the month, drafts of the tactile counterpart to the print map had been generated by the vendor and edited and approved by the project leader. Again, specific features were addressed such as tactile point symbols, tactile lead line styles, and elevation of land area. The refinement of both the print and tactile features was guided by input from large print and braille readers at APH.

In late June, the consultant visited APH and worked directly with the project leader on the map's design with actual tactile masters "at hand" for verifying chosen elements. Improvements were determined including a plateau effect to the land mass to set it apart in elevation from surrounding oceans and lakes, as well as more distinct tactile symbols for the state capitals that would ensure accurate pen contact and activation.

The project leader and consultant also focused on determining needed state layers of information; they worked with APH's Resource Department to identify public domain sites for obtaining state fact information without copyright concerns. By the end of the month, the consultant was beginning to populate the spreadsheet with the content for the penlet.

In July, new tactile samples of the right half of the foldable map arrived from Spain (where the final prototypes will be fabricated). These samples reflected a variety of state capital symbols in three different shapes (i.e., cone, dome, and flat disk) in varying elevations. Guided again by feedback from tactile readers, an ideal shape was selected. Also incorporated was a new STOP icon for the user to conveniently interrupt speech.

By the end of the fiscal year, multiple prototypes of the map had been generated for field test purposes.

Work planned for FY 2014

The project leader will guide the product through the field test stage by preparing evaluation materials, locating field test sites, and preparing any accompanying print and braille instructions. Revisions to the prototype will be greatly influenced by both student and teacher feedback. Pending success of the prototype, efforts toward final production of the Interactive US Map with Talking Tactile Pen will be undertaken by APH and the outside consultant.

Tactile World Globe

(Continued)

Purpose

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

Project Staff

Karen J. Poppe, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Tom Poppe, Model/Pattern Maker

 

Alt Tag: APH Globe: Tactile and Visual


 

Background

APH has a long history of designing and producing excellent tactile world globes for use by students and adults with blindness and visual impairments. Past models are showcased in the APH Museum. Among the most fondly remembered of these tactile globes is the 30" Floor Pedestal Globe that was first introduced in 1955. According to APH's Museum collection database, the globe is described in the 1956 edition of the APH product catalog like so:

30-inch diameter, overall height of 51 inches; hollow-plastic construction; painted in contrasting blue and yellow to highlight land and sea areas; with brown stippling for mountainous areas; raised latitude and longitude lines; sturdy metal base

Cost: $225.00

The February 13, 1955, issue of The Courier-Journal Magazine, commemorating APH's 100th anniversary, described this globe as "the first 'accurately-exaggerated' relief globe in the United States. The altitudes are exaggerated 30 times to the flat surface. With such a globe, the world will be at the fingertips of the blind student."

Alt Tag: APH 30-inch Relief Globe

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: APH Geophysical Globe

In 1959, APH introduced two 12-inch plastic relief globes-the Panoramic Model Globe and the Geo-Physical Model Globe. These globes were painstakingly hand-painted by APH production staff; they featured topographical detail, and their visual simplicity was ideal for low vision students. Only slight differences distinguished the two globes-type of base (cup-shaped versus tripod), equator design (indented versus a thin lip), and degree of elevation in comparison with horizontal distances (32 to 1 versus 50 to 1). In later years, only the Geophysical Globe was offered, and its base had been updated to a permanent metal stand (as shown in the photograph).


The painting effort required to produce the Geophysical Globe eventually proved too laborious and expensive in the midst of an ever-increasing number of new educational products manufactured in-house during the 1990s. At the sluggish production rate of two painted globes per day, and complicated by the extra step of epoxy reinforcement and limited floor space for drying, an alternative manufacturing approach was needed.

In 1993, the current project 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 on the market, globe design discussions surfaced periodically throughout the years. Although tactile adaptations of commercial talking globes were considered in 2003 and proposed in a formal product submission to the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee (PARC), the discontinuation of such globes alerted APH that creating extensive production tooling for a potentially scrapped commercial product was a risky undertaking. In addition, talking globes have the disadvantage of presenting too many sight-dependent tasks, such as asking questions about very specific locations/landmarks; the detail required to perform the tasks cannot be adequately captured in a tactile counterpart.

In June 2012, the project leader visited PARC and proposed active development on the tactile globe. Her idea involved re-introducing the popular topographical relief style encountered in the Geophysical Globe and marrying it with the current print globe; inclusion of braille labels for continents, oceans, and latitude/longitude lines was planned. 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 during FY 2013

Significant progress was made on the design and development of the new Tactile World Globe throughout the fiscal year. Guided by early feedback garnered during a Product Input Session at APH's Annual Meeting in October, the project leader and model/pattern maker made numerous decisions about various globe features including the type of tactile latitude and longitude lines, braille label positions for all continents and oceans, and topography enhancements to replace the less-desired "pebbled" texture of the existing globe. The staff also located a desirable non-glare vinyl to use for the prototype model.

By the end of March 2013, the model/pattern maker had completed sculpting the Northern Hemisphere. The decision was made to field test only the Northern Hemisphere to verify that the presentation was ideal for student use before significant tooling effort was undertaken for the production of the entire globe. A fiberglass master for eventual vacuum-forming of the Northern Hemisphere was built and tested. The first attempt to form a part proved successful; the registration of the tactile part to the print globe was ideal, and proper fit was verified. By the end of April, 20 complete prototypes were assembled, each with the transparent, tactile hemisphere applied permanently to the commercial globe.

Anticipating that sufficient time was still available to field test in the spring, the project leader posted a field test announcement in the April issue of APH News. The announcement was also e-mailed to those in Research's field tester database who had expressed interest in evaluating social studies products. Although approximately a dozen teachers responded to request, it was decided to postpone the field test activity until the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year to give teachers a lengthier and more convenient timeframe for evaluating the product. The same teachers who expressed interest in field testing agreed to the updated schedule.

Work planned for FY 2014

The final design of the Tactile World Globe will be guided by evaluator and student 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 2015.

U.S. & Canada Tactile/Print Atlas

(Continued)

Purpose

To produce new volumes of high-quality tactile thematic maps by adapting designs originally made by The Princeton Braillists

Project Staff

Fred Otto, Tactile Graphics Project Leader

Katherine Corcoran, Model Maker

Terri Gilmore, Graphic Designer

Rod Dixon, Manufacturing Specialist

Shannon Winston, Braille Transcriber

Background

An earlier collaboration with Nancy Amick and 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 in the way 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-limits the methods by which print can 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:

a)   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.

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

c)   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. Nancy Amick gave her approval for the APH project to continue, but requested a name change to distinguish it from the map volumes that may continue to be produced by The Princeton Braillists. The revised name became U.S. & Canada Tactile/Print Atlas, with a credit given to The Princeton Braillists for initial map design.

Work during FY 2013

The graphic designer and manufacturing specialist coordinated with Production on the layouts needed for the print maps and key files after the braille translation was finished. Specifications were put in place. At the end of the summer, a pilot run was scheduled.

Work planned for FY 2014

The complete map volume will be produced and promoted. The project leader will follow sales and responses to the maps to judge whether similar volumes should be done in this format.

TECHNOLOGY AND MEDIA

For FY 2013, 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

In the spring of 2010, APH began to develop terms of a partnership with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library (DPIL) and their publisher, Penguin Group USA, to increase the number of accessible books available to children from birth to age 6. 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 the program. Local sponsors and school systems raise funds to bring the program to their community and register eligible children. The Dollywood Foundation manages the selection of books and the database necessary for mailing. It is a unique effort that has now mailed more than 45 million books to children. 

The partnership allows APH to record and make available DPIL books in audio format and offers APH the ability to purchase, at low cost, print books to produce in print/braille format. A website for the APH/DPIL Partnership was developed and became operational in September 2011. The site houses encrypted audio book files 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 for parents, and contact information for other providers of print/braille and tactile books. The APH/DPIL Partnership Web site may be accessed at www.aph.org/dpil.

APH initially received agreement from Penguin USA and DPIL to purchase 200 copies of five titles to produce as print/braille books. The books feature clear, adhesive-backed braille labels applied to the original book. Gary Mudd, APH Vice President of Public Affairs, sought funding in order to provide the books free of charge to eligible families. The Emergent Literacy Project Leader evaluated the 2012 DPIL books and involved other staff in selecting five titles most suitable to be produced as print/braille books. Specifications for the first title, Old Bear and His Cub, were completed. Working together with a variety of in-house staff members, the procedures for purchasing, producing, and shipping the books were agreed upon and responsibilities assigned. The Emergent Literacy Project Leader identified the functions of a database needed to manage enrollment; she and Kristin Binkowski, Director of APH's Planned Giving Department, oversaw the development and implementation of an online form to feed a database management system. Procedures to enroll families in the program, handle their data, publicize the program, and provide initial exclusive access to DPIL members planned and carried out by various staff at APH, were coordinated by the Emergent Literacy Project Leader.

 

In late summer 2012, the Partners Print/Braille Book Program was opened and parents were able to begin enrolling to receive free print/braille books. Jan Carroll and other APH staff coordinated production of the first two titles through the Kentucky Correctional Institute. The first two titles, Old Bear and His Cub and Mudpie for Mother, were shipped to families.

Work during FY 2013

The remaining three titles from 2012 DPIL booklist (My Lucky Day, Read to Tiger, Llama Llama Misses Mama) were produced and shipped to families enrolled in the Partners Print/Braille Book Program. By late fall 2012, the program had quickly reached full enrollment. In early 2013, DPIL and Penguin USA agreed to give APH the ability to enroll additional families (up to 400) and expanded to six the number of titles APH can purchase and produce each year. The project leader and other APH staff selected Llama Llama Nighty Night, All of Baby Nose to Toes, Corduroy Goes to the Doctor, Llama Llama Home with Mama, Grandfather Buffalo, and The Little Pink Pup from the 2013 booklist; production and shipment of those books has begun. As of August 2013, 380 families across 47 states were enrolled to receive books.

APH has continued to record suitable books from the 2013 DPIL books and post them as free downloads. The project leader received and evaluated each month's books, eliminating those that were too picture-based or featured highly visual concepts as a central topic. She added limited verbal descriptions of essential pictures. The APH Studio recorded the books and picture descriptions. Seventy-seven encrypted audio book files are currently available from the APH/DPIL Accessible Books Web site. Audio book files remain available for one year before being replaced with more current selections.

The project leader maintained communication with DPIL staff and other APH staff about other aspects of the partnership. APH is cooperating to expand book accessibility by sharing the audio files with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. The model we have developed may be considered for replication in the United Kingdom by the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

Work planned for FY 2014

The Emergent Literacy Project Leader will continue to maintain ties with DPIL staff; intake, organize, and describe each month's books; and provide these to the Studio for recording and posting at the APH/DPIL Web site as free downloads. She will evaluate the 2014 DPIL books and oversee the selection of six new titles for production in print/braille, working with Technical Research and Jan Carroll to write specifications and produce and ship these titles.

Enrollment APH/DPIL Partners Print/Braille Program (7/3/2013)

362 - Total # of children

47 - States

Year of Birth - (# of children)

2013 - (2) 2008 - (81)

2012 - (30) 2007 - (39)

2011 - (67) 2006 - (2)

2010 - (62) 2005 - (3)

2009 - (75) 2004 - (1)

Children by State

 

State

 

Number

 

AK

 

2

 

AR

 

5

 

AS

 

1

 

AZ

 

9

 

CA

 

26

 

CO

 

13

 

CT

 

3

 

FL

 

13

 

GA

 

13

 

HI

 

3

 

IA

 

3

 

ID

 

7

 

IL

 

7

 

IN

 

5

 

KS

 

4

 

KY

 

8

 

LA

 

10

 

MA

 

10

 

MD

 

12

 

ME

 

1

 

MI

 

11

 

MN

 

10

 

MO

 

14

 

MS

 

1

 

MT

 

1

 

NC

 

16

 

ND

 

2

 

NE

 

6

 

NH

 

2

 

NJ

 

10

 

NM

 

3

 

NY

 

11

 

OH

 

13

 

OK

 

6

 

OR

 

6

 

PA

 

8

 

RI

 

1

 

SC

 

5

 

SD

 

2

 

TN

 

20

 

TX

 

21

 

UT

 

1

 

VA

 

12

 

WA

 

10

 

WI

 

9

 

WV

 

2

 

WY

 

4

 


Alt tag: Pie chart shows the percentage of program enrollment based on the child's year of birth. Year of birth - 2005 (1%), 2006 (1%), 2007 (11%), 2008 (22%), 2009 (21%), 2010 (17%), 2011 (18%), 2012 (8%), 2013 (1%)

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 iGenTM 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 printers are reluctant to use it, Production asked that the print tooling for the books be 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 iGenTM 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 iGenTM 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 iGenTM equipment. Some files were modified 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 2013

Because of work on higher-priority projects, work on the art digitizing/modernization of the On the Way to Literacy series was delayed in FY 2013. A spreadsheet was developed that specifies steps in the redesign and testing process that must be accomplished for each of the 18 titles. Target dates and date accomplished will be noted on the spreadsheet, and it will be used among the project participants to track progress.

Work planned for FY 2014

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 Rêvent (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; LDQR's experience in this regard can be helpful.

Beginnings [Modernization]

(Continued)

Purpose

To revise and modernize Beginnings, which is a practical guide for parents of infants and toddlers with visual impairments. This product provides valuable information to parents and service providers about various issues and developmental areas involved in working with infants and toddlers. Some of the areas include The Way Things Are, Off to a Good Start, Your Baby's 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

Sharon Bensinger, Author/Project Consultant

Suzette Wright, Author/Emergent Literacy Project Leader

Rebecca Davis, Project Consultant

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 language in the book is either out-of-date or no longer relevant. In addition, some activities recommended for use 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 asked 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 and the Development Director/Parent Advisor of VIPS-Bloomington, was asked to recommend revisions from a parent's perspective.

In FY 2012, the project leader met with Bensinger and Wright to develop a work plan to modernize Beginnings. The group identified areas in the book to revise. APH contracted with Davis, and she began her work to recommend revisions and write a new foreword. Discussions were conducted about pictures and/or graphics to include in the book; staff decided that photos will be used rather than illustrations.

Work during FY 2013

In FY 2013, project staff worked on the revisions of Beginnings. Davis submitted a book foreword and suggested revisions (based on a parent's perspective) for Chapter 1. Wright also completed revisions to Chapter 1. Project staff convened in January 2013; during this meeting, they decided on the preferred book format (e.g., prefer book to be perfect bound) and identified additional topics to include (e.g., children with multiple disabilities). Work began to acquire copyright permissions for two out-of-print storybooks (Get a Wiggle On and Move It!!!) that would complement the Beginnings product. These children's books are short guides about helping children with visual impairments to grow. Efforts are ongoing to obtain permission to adapt and/or reprint these two books.

The project leader and assistant met with Kay Ferrell in February 2013; during this meeting, Ferrell provided insight on manuscript content and format. Staff agreed on the new title of the book: Beginnings: A Practical Guide for Parents of Infants and Toddlers With Visual Impairment. New photos for the book were procured from various sources. Further work was delayed because of Wright's other APH projects. In addition, Bensinger resigned as an author on the project. A new consultant/author is being sought.

Based on the extensive revisions necessary for modernization of Beginnings, the Product Advisory and Review Committee voted to assign a grant allocation to this project. This occurred in August 2013.

Work planned for FY 2014

Project staff will work on the following tasks:

FirstTouch Books

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop read-aloud, tactile illustrated books with interactive features that support the development of emergent literacy skills for students birth to 3 years

Project Staff

Suzette Wright, Emergent Literacy Project Leader

Wendy Sapp, Consultant

Dana Fox, 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 years as a high need. This need was also noted by focus groups.

The objectives for books for this target audience were defined in detail. The project leader examined current offerings of braille producers to determine what was already available in print/braille for children from birth to age 3. She searched commercially-available print books to identify titles that might be adapted, seeking books with high quality language that would lend themselves to the addition of simple tactile, interactive, or other multisensory components. Hundreds of books found through a wide variety of sources were considered. In addition, designs for a variety of kinds of tactile interactive components were considered and reviewed by in-house staff regarding their feasibility for mass production.

This information was submitted to two consultants with combined experience in teaching and in research regarding emergent literacy for children with visual impairments. The resulting recommendation was that APH develop both types of books for students ages birth to 3 years: adaptations of high-quality, commercially-available books with tactile components added by APH, and APH-created books with simple texts written to support meaningful tactile, interactive components.

The combined efforts of the project leader and consultants to locate a print book that would be excellent, once adapted, for children birth to 3 years were not initially successful. The project leader continues to monitor commercially-available print books for the birth-to-3 age group that could be adapted.

For books in the FirstTouch series, it was proposed that books be developed one at a time. The series will eventually include adaptations of commercially-available books, as suitable ones are discovered, as well as original books. The proposed project received the approval of the Product Evaluation Team and the Product Advisory and Review Committee and was removed from the "PARCing Lot" in late spring of 2009. In June, the first Product Development Committee brainstorming meeting was held. A number of good ideas regarding book construction were received. Individuals, including both parents and teachers, were encouraged to submit ideas and original drafts. As a result, four promising drafts and sketches or descriptions of accompanying tactile, interactive components were obtained.

These were submitted to the project consultant for a detailed review, including a rating of each draft and ranking of their suitability for the target audience. Two drafts were rated "excellent" as candidates for further development. The draft ranked first, Holy Moly!, was roughly laid out in electronic form by the project leader, including dimensions, materials, and tactile as well as visual illustrations. This file was sent to several current and past consultants for a preliminary, informal review and was examined by in-house staff regarding production methods that might be used.

Various production methods for board books were examined and priced. Methods and materials for all of the book's tactile interactive components were determined and priced; relevant safety standards were investigated to ensure compliance. The text and all tactile interactive components for the book were finalized. The braille tooling for the book has been completed. The project leader provided the graphic designer with the files and information needed to work on the book's art.

 

The book was given out for bids, and a vendor was selected. The vendor agreed to provide the prototypes for the field evaluation. The graphic designer was given what was needed to produce print art files.

Work during FY 2013

The graphic designer continued to work on completion of print art files.

Work planned for FY 2014

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. Final specifications will be written.

Getting in Step With Little Feet

(Continued)

Purpose

To develop a product that is 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, Author/Consultant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant

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 there are some "how-to" booklets available 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 specialist and TVI 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 concise background information blended with fun, "hands-on" activities to be used by family members, early childhood educators, childcare 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.

In FY 2012, the author worked on guidebook content. She and the project leader also discussed 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 wants to include a CD with this product. The CD would contain musical rhymes and songs related to movement and travel for young children.

Work during FY 2013

Because of other projects and work responsibilities, the author was unable to devote time to this project during FY 2013.

Work planned for FY 2014

The author intends to resume work on this project in March 2014. Once the guidebook 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 in FY 2015. Project staff will use the expertise of Research staff to gather feedback as the product development progresses.

Lap Time and Lullabies

Formerly Focus on Fingers Kit

(Continued)

Purpose

Based on current literature and research in emergent literacy, Lap Time 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, Author/Consultant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project Assistant

Frank Hayden, Technical Research Manager

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. Lap Time 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, Lap Time 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. Lap Time and Lullabies additionally reflects a shift from traditional thinking about emergent braille literacy as 'learning ABCs' to a broader, research-based viewpoint that acknowledges the importance of a variety of early experiences that subsequently may contribute to competent, motivated braille readers and writers." Lap Time and Lullabies has the potential to make a significant difference for young blind or visually impaired children learning braille literacy.

The key is enjoyment! Young learners should have fun as they learn. Functional activities and literacy experiences that are developmentally-appropriate and highly-engaging best describe this product.

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 Lap Time and Lullabies, and an initial timeline to complete the product was developed. In September 2011, the project staff met to discuss the product. They established more definite timelines and a work plan for the completion of the product.

During FY 2012, the author renamed her product "Lap Time and Lullabies." The new title better reflects the interactive nature of preparing infants, toddlers, and preschoolers for tactile learning and literacy. The author and project leader worked to have the product meet early childhood standards, braille literacy standards, and APH standards. The author submitted six initial storybook prototypes to APH staff and sought feedback on tactile and literacy components. In August 2012, the author presented the product to the Early Childhood Focus Group at APH. 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 during FY 2013

The author completed extensive background research and worked on the handbook content and preliminary prototypes of the storybooks (to be placed inside "family book bags"). The storybooks in the family book bags will have visual graphics, tactile graphics, large print, and braille. The author visited APH in mid-August. During the meeting, project staff decided that the product will be released in two phases. The initial product release will contain the handbook, two family book bags (Itsy-Bitsy Spider and Butterflies), and three activity cards (bedtime, bath time, and playtime). The follow-up release will contain additional family book bags and activity cards. Discussions are ongoing with Technical Research about the best means of production for each family book bag; production methods will likely include cutting dies, vacuum-forms, and silkscreens.

Work planned for FY 2014

The author will complete the handbook content and prototypes of the family book bags and activity cards. She plans to submit the components for the first product kit in December 2013. 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 are possible in final production. APH will fabricate prototypes. Field testing of the initial product kit will occur. The author will continue work on the follow-up product kit.

Little Breath of Wind

(Completed)

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 Rêvent (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 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 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.

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. 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.

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. 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 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 during FY 2013

Additional safety testing required by California was completed. Five hundred copies of Little Breath of Wind cleared U.S. Customs and were delivered to APH's docks in February and March of 2013, labeled, shrink-wrapped, and ready to ship to customers. The books were priced and are available.

The project leader maintained communication with LDQR on several topics. The first, regarding research and associated application sponsored by a group of early interventionists, TVIs, and scholars that they have helped to form: Blind Infants and Toddlers Tactile Illustrated Books. The group has written a series of tactile books for very young children based on daily routines. The project leader located two U.S. teachers interested in using the most recent book and providing feedback to LDQR. The project leader helped distribute the Call for Papers for the 4th issue of Terra Haptica, a journal published by LDQR on topics related to blindness and accessibility. 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.

On a related, though separate topic, APH's sponsorship of U.S. involvement in the 2011 Typhlo & Tactus (T&T) tactile book competition was repeated in 2013. The project leader worked with Public Relations staff to publicize the contest and correspond with entrants. She organized the judging of U.S. entries sent to APH and the selection of five books to send to Helsinki for the international level of the competition to be held in November 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.

Work planned for FY 2014

The project leader will monitor sales of Little Breath of Wind and use opportunities to show photos and samples of other books available from LDQR in order to gather input regarding which books APH might contract to purchase next. She will maintain correspondence with LDQR on topics related to tactile books, young children, blindness, and tactile learning. Other possible collaborations have been discussed.

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, Consultant/Author

Mila Truan, Consultant

Josephine Stratton, 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 Vision graphics was selected for three books.

Multiple prototypes of each of the four books were hand-produced. Accompanying storyboards (featuring symbols from the story mounted to attachable pieces) were created to enable students to create their own tactile displays. A Reader's Guide including information about introducing the child to the book's tactile graphics and briefly discussing emergent literacy skills and development of tactual learning skills was written to accompany each book.

Seven teacher-evaluators at seven sites participated in an expert review and conducted the field evaluation of the books/storyboards with 23 students ranging in age from 4.5 to 11 years of age, spanning an 8 to 10 week period. Without dissension, teachers indicated texts and tactile graphics for all four books were interesting and appropriate for kindergarten and first grade students; a majority also extended the books' value upward to second grade students. Teachers reported 94-100% of the students, in their opinion, benefited from using the books during the evaluation period and would benefit from using the books for a longer period of time. Reasons given included the following: "increased motivation to read and exposure to braille and tactile exploration," "allowed student to experience tactile graphics with a purpose," "tactile graphics made the books more fun and motivated him to use his hands to explore and draw in information," and "helped tracking skills." The tactile graphics were also credited with enhancing understanding of the stories for 90% of the students. Accompanying storyboards were strongly endorsed by the teachers, who stated that their use improved comprehension, offered students an important opportunity to create their own graphics, and were highly motivating. A majority of teachers commented favorably on the Tactile Vision graphics. All evaluators rated the visual graphics in the books as a "very important" component of the books, promoting shared reading with typically sighted peers and adults and supplementing tactual information for the many braille readers with usable vision. The three project consultants also reviewed prototype books, provided favorable reviews, and suggested changes to specific tactile illustrations.

The four Moving Ahead storybooks and accompanying components received approval for sale on Quota. It was decided that each of the four books be produced separately to assist flow through the pre-production/tooling and production phases. Goin' On a Bear Hunt was produced first and is available.

In order to produce the second storybook (Splish the Fish), sample tests were run to ensure compatibility of the paper stock, the outside vendor's inks, and the Tactile Vision process; several problems with paper were encountered and resolved. It was necessary to design and add a special switch and tray to the Tactile Vision machine to accommodate the book's page size. An initial pilot run of 100 books revealed some inconsistency in registration. A debriefing addressed possible sources. Subsequent runs of the book have been problem-free.

All final tooling for the third book in this series (The Boy and the Wolf) and the accompanying Reader's Guide was completed, and the book produced. This book is similar in format to Splish, utilizing a combination of full-color visual graphics, Tactile Vision 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 project leader. Final art and specifications were written and given to Production in March 2011. The project leader participated in proofing the book's components as they were produced. Turtle and Rabbit became available for purchase in November of 2011.

Work during FY 2013

The project leader, independently and through communication with the tactile books workshop Les Doigts Qui Rêvent (LDQR), identified several commercially-available children's book suited to development as the next Moving Ahead book. Please refer to the report for Little Breath of Wind for additional information about LDQR. The project leader reviewed a highly textured, interactive version of Goin' On a Bear Hunt developed at LDQR and made suggestions regarding LDQR's addition of textures and interactive elements to this book and Splish the Fish.

Work planned for FY 2014

The project leader, working with a consultant and with possible input from and collaboration with (LDQR), will select a commercially available children's book to adapt as the next Moving Ahead Tactile Graphic storybook.

Parents and Their 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, Author/Consultant

Gail Calvello, Author/Consultant

Monica Vaught-Compton, Project 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: 

a)   Identification of visual impairments in infants

b)  The art of home visiting

c)   Getting ready for school

  1. Chen commenced updates and revisions to the following: 

a)   Introduction to product materials

b)   Overview of "how to" papers on assessment

c)   Parent assessment of needs

d)   Functional hearing screening

e)   Parent observation protocol

f)    Assessing infant communication

g)   Assessing interaction with objects

h)   Developmental assessment section

i)    Learning together

During FY 2012, the co-authors completed their revision of the product content and submitted the files to the project leader. The project files were assigned to a research assistant for compilation and proofing; however, higher-priority projects prevented additional progress on this project. The product was renamed to reflect person-first language.

Work during FY 2013

In FY 2013, the project assistant completed extensive revisions to the two PAIVI manuscripts (i.e., the main PAIVI book and the Learning Together booklet). All revisions were shared with co-author Deborah Chen. She and the project assistant collaborated throughout the revision process. The project assistant recommended a name change to the product, which was approved by Chen. The new name of the product is PAIVI: Parents and Their Infants With Visual Impairments. In addition, the project leader and assistant worked with the APH graphic designer to enhance the illustrations for this product. Prototypes of the PAIVI manuscripts were developed and sent out for expert review; the prototypes included one sample illustration.

The PAIVI manuscript and the Leaning Together booklet were reviewed by seven experts in the field of visual impairment and blindness. Evaluation data were gathered using a survey designed on the Google DriveTM online storage service. In addition, reviewers marked necessary revisions directly to the electronic version of both PAIVI documents. Reviewers are experienced professionals who work in the field of visual impairment and blindness with marked expertise in the area of early childhood. All seven reviewers hold doctoral degrees. Four reviewers (57%) have worked in the field for more than 21 years, one (14%) for 16-20 years, and two (29%) for 11-15 years. Six of the reviewers have ongoing direct contact with children with visual impairments and blindness.

One hundred percent of the expert reviewers reported that the PAIVI documents reflect current research and evidence-based practices in early intervention services with families and their very young children (birth to 36 months) with visual impairments. Further, reviewers provided qualitative feedback about specific areas (including exact page numbers and sentences) that are helpful to practitioners and those that need clarification or improvement. Six reviewers recommended that APH produce PAIVI and the Learning Together Booklet and make each available for purchase on Federal Quota. One reviewer was uncertain about this decision; comments by the reviewer indicated that the prototypes lacked graphical/artwork components and revisions to writing style and format were needed. The reviewer's concerns will be addressed prior to production. Specifically, InGrid Design will complete a graphical layout of the product, and an in-house artist is modernizing illustrations for use in the manuscripts. Further, the documents will be reviewed for writing style consistency and format errors.

Work planned for FY 2014

Input from the expert review will be shared with the product authors, who will address content changes and writing style revisions. Project staff will complete revisions to the manuscripts. InGrid Design will complete the graphical layout of the PAIVI manuscript and the Learning Together Booklet. Illustrations for use in the product will be finalized. The product will be made fully accessible to the population for whom it is intended. Production specifications will be written, and the product will become available for sale.

Reach for the Stars

(Completed)


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

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.

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. Staff determined that the CD included in the guidebook should contain an HMTL of the entire guidebook as well as a PDF of the guidebook appendix. 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 maps/forms be transcribed into tactile graphics. All project files were turned over to the Braille Department for transcription, which was completed in September 2012.

Work during FY 2013

In October 2012, InGrid Design completed the following product files: HTML, Appendix PDF, and Braille Guidebook cover. The manufacturing specialist finalized product tooling and specifications, and a product specifications meeting was held in November 2012. The CD master was completed in-house by Rodger Smith in December 2012.

Reach for the Stars became available for sale on May 6, 2013. Product components are as follows: Large Type Guidebook with CD (Catalog # 7-08412-00) and Braille Guidebook (Catalog # 5-08412-00). Subsequent to reviewing the product CD, the project assistant requested some minor revisions to be included in the next production run. In-house programmer Rodger Smith completed these revisions and posted a new CD master to the production server in late May 2013. A product brochure was created by the Communications Department with input from the project leader and assistant.

In July 2013, Reach for the Stars was featured on the B2K SolutionsSM Ltd. Web site: www.b2kcentral.com. Reach for the Stars Map 3, "What Does and Does Not Work for Me," was made available as a free, one-time download with permission of APH. The B2K SolutionsSM Web site states, "Authors, Diane Haynes and Jennifer Grisham-Brown have masterfully blended the ideas of person-centered planning, family-centered practices, and tiered instruction into a series of maps that serve as a guide to help families of young children plan and transition during critical periods."

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, Consultant

Dana Fox, Consultant

Jane Barabash, 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, loop material pages, and colorful polyblend pages. Labeling material will be included in the basic kit, as will "tools" such glue dots, adhesive-backed hook material 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 of 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. 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 2013

Technical drawings were made of the kit's custom binders, pocket pages, and Ziploc® pages. These were given to vendors for price quotes and input regarding design. Designs were approved and sample prototypes were delivered by the vendors to be used in field evaluation. The project leader and Technical Research and Model Shop staff have located and gathered most of the materials needed for collation into prototype kits. The Tactile Book Builder Kit Manual and Guide to Designing Tactile Illustrations for Children's Books were merged into one document. The resulting manual is being reviewed by Christine Moe, a doctoral student at Northern Colorado State University.

Work planned for FY 2014

The kit will be prototyped, field evaluations forms designed, and teachers contacted to serve as field evaluators. The merged, reviewed manual will be sent to field evaluators. Results of the field evaluation will be compiled and indicated revisions made. Final specifications will be written.

Tactile Treasures [Modernization]

(Completed)

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, Model/Pattern Maker

Andrew Moulton, Manufacturing Specialist

InGrid Design, Guidebook Layout

 

Alt Tag: Photo of the updated Tactile Treasures guidebook cover


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 continued to be a useful product for more than a decade, 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 2011, 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 grades 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 could be addressed in the revision of the product by doubling the thickness of the tactile sheets. The addition of color to each sheet, as requested by the largest number of survey respondents, was also planned.

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.

The first quarter of FY 2012 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 masters were readied-all executed by the model/pattern 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 2012 and then formally presented to the Production staff in August; the production timeline was updated.

Work during FY 2013

The quality of the pilot and initial production runs of the updated version of Tactile Treasures was carefully monitored by the project staff. As with many products that the project leader undertakes, unique production challenges are sometimes encountered because the production methods and/or materials are often not ones previously used by APH. "Growing pains" are often experienced, but once outgrown, the new methods and materials introduced frequently prove useful for the production of future products. In this particular case, the properties of a new type of vinyl proved critical to accurate registration of high-relief, vacuum-formed tactile images paired with silkscreened art. During the pilot run, an undetectable deviation in the formula of the vinyl supplied by the outside vendor led to unwanted webbing and unexpected melting of areas that had been printed black (e.g., separation bars on many of the pages). The scrap rate during the pilot run was excessive and certainly not within the parameters of what is normally allowed. Formed and rejected samples were swiftly returned to the plastics vendor to ascertain a quantifiable difference between the recent vinyl shipment and the vinyl type previously tested and selected for production.

In February 2013, a second, smaller shipment of a vinyl with the desired machine-directional shrinkage was received from the vendor and tested in smaller production increments. The vinyl formed as planned. The scrap rate after a trial run of 200 sheets was only .5%. The essential properties and characteristics of the vinyl type needed for this product were documented. A larger shipment of the approved vinyl was then procured and used successfully for both the pilot and initial production runs.

After a few months of grappling with the problems surrounding the vinyl sheets, the modernized version of Tactile Treasures: Tactile/Color Edition (1-08842-01) was formally introduced to APH customers on April 29, 2013. The product continues to be available with Quota funds. Replacement parts include a print guidebook (61-151-312) and a braille guidebook (61-151-313); the latter is not included in the kit, but is available on a make-to-order basis. It is also available for download free of charge (www.aph.org/manuals/index.html).

The project leader's efforts on the update of this long-established kit concluded with the preparation of the brochure content. The product had come full circle-from the first edition previously authored and tooled by the current project leader and model/pattern maker in 1997 to the introduction of the much improved edition with added color and increased durability.

https://shop.aph.org/wcsstore/APHConsumerDirect/images/catalog/products_large/1-08842-01-Tactile-Treasures-Kit_ColorEd.jpg



Alt Tag: Photo of new tactile/color edition of Tactile Treasures

Work planned for FY 2014

Given the current availability of the modernized Tactile Treasures, and the now seamless, error-free production runs, no additional work by the project leader or other Research staff is expected. The product's enhancements will be highlighted at future workshops and training sessions.

Teaching Puzzles for the Light Box

(Discontinued)

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 suggested that more products 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 planned to develop more puzzles for the Light Box with manipulatives. The puzzles would teach a variety of concepts, and include several categories: farm animals, body parts, foods, fruits, shapes, etc. The puzzles would have color discrimination, and activities would be written for each puzzle to teach about the theme (farm animals, fruits, shapes, body parts, etc.).

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: 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). Each animal would have several pieces allowing the children to put them together to form an animal. The project leader began to write a story about each of the eight animals, including the babies.

Work during FY 2013

On June 13, 2013, the Product Advisory and Review Committee voted to abandon this project from active development. This decision was based on lack of need due to available new technology.

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, a