The Perkins eLearning to Go podcasts cover a wide-range of topics related to working with students who are visually impaired. The current series, College Success, provides powerful information about the skills that students need before transitioning to college. Leslie Thatcher and Kate Katulak share their unique perspectives; Leslie comes from a background of college admissions and Kate is a TVI who is visually impaired herself. They are the director and associate director of the Perkins College Success program.
This dynamic podcast takes a realistic look at the critical skills that need to be mastered in high school before transitioning to college. One determining factor is that students should be on or above grade level in reading – in their preferred reading medium, which may include auditory. Leslie shares that the average college student is required to read 150-200 pages of college-level materials per week. The podcast goes into details about what is expected in college and ideas on how to develop these expected skills by or in high school. In summary, Leslie and Kate state that “. . . a college-bound student, by 11th grade, they should be able to read that quantity (150-200 pages a week), take notes independently, take the same exact multiple choice test/essay test that every single one of their peers is taking in that class with appropriate accommodation, such as extended time.”
Listen to College Success Part 1 podcast here.
Technology skills is critical to college success; Leslie and Kate dedicated a whole podcast to technology skills and stated that they could talk for days about technology skills! Every single college course requires technology skills. So, when should students be taught technology? The earlier the better! Students should be intentionally taught technology and should master a variety of devices. Students should have different tech tools for different activities, including students with low vision. While a K-12 student is successful using an electronic video magnifer, is that same student able to use that magnifier to read the 150-200 pages of college-level materials per week? In order for that student to have the option of listening to those pages, he/she should be introduced to auditory reading at a young age – not while struggling with his/her college course work. Who is responsible for teaching the 100+ JAWS commands and other pieces of technology? Leslie and Kate discussed traditional TVI job discription and shared information about new CATIS certification (Certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist, a highly trained expert who specializes in working with individuals who are blind or visually impaired).
Listen to College Success Part 2 here.
I strongly encourage TVIs/educators, students, and parents to listen to and discuss these College Success podcasts. What skills has the college-bound student currently mastered and what skills need to be worked on? Create a concrete plan to develop the pre-requisite skills now. Is the student realistic about his/her skill levels and does he/she buy into the need to develop and fine tune any necessary skills? Are the expectations of teachers and parents aligned with college success? Does the student have opportunities to regularly practice and build college readiness skills?
By Diane Brauner