Since our state has moved to remote learning while all public schools are closed for a minimum of three weeks because of the Coronavirus, students have had to learn to access materials remotely using a variety of platforms. Each district is using different tools, such as Google Meets, Google Hangouts, Google Classroom, Zoom, paper packets, teleconference, or a combination of the above. For many of our students who may not be familiar with these platforms or have the prerequisite technology skills, simply accessing these remote learning tools can be a huge learning curve for them.
Since one district is not allowing video conferencing, my middle school student with low vision is accessing remote vision services via Google Drive and teleconference. Nemeth materials were prepared and left on the student’s porch. For our first day of remote learning, my student and his parent participated in a teleconference via speaker phone. The student paired his QBraille to his iPad to access digital materials I had shared with him in a shared Google Folder. I was able to follow along in real time as my student read sentences that included contractions he is reviewing, as well as wrote sentences that included these contractions in a shared Google Doc. I was able to ask the student to read back what he wrote to look for errors and confirm he used contracted instead of uncontracted braille. The student also visually previewed digital materials that will to be used to practice writing simple and mixed fractions in Nemeth. Example problems in both linear and spatial arrangement that were left off for him will be reviewed together via teleconference. A model recipe including fractions in Nemeth was also provided so he could write a recipe I provided using the same format. The student will take a picture of his Nemeth assignments and share them with me so I can correct them.
My academic high school student who is a nonvisual learner, has been accessing all her materials this school year via Google Drive and embossed materials. Since this is the first time the student is remotely participating in instruction via Google Hangouts and Zoom, she was introduced to these tools last week. The student is proficient using IOS devices, including an iPad and iPhone (her primary device) when not using her Polaris or a laptop. The student independently downloaded both apps on her iPhone, as they could not be downloaded on the iPad because of the school’s remote management system. With minimal support from her TVI, the student used Google Hangouts to participate in a group discussion with her classmates. Since no time was provided for the student to obtain the school’s windows laptop that was at school before the school closing was announced, she is using her parent’s personal MacBook for remote AT instruction via Zoom. The student is learning to use Voiceover on a MacBook, thus she needs assistance to access remote learning software as accessing the internet is something she just started learning with the Mac.
I trialed the Zoom app, as well as had the student log into a Zoom meeting using the MacBook prior to beginning instruction. The student independently accessed a link to a Zoom meeting on her iPhone. While logged into the meeting, I reviewed the layout of the buttons in the app with the student. She practiced muting/unmuting audio as well as turning the video on and off. While the video was on, she held up her phone so I could see her laptop screen to make sure she was on the correct webpage. Unfortunately, it was too difficult for me to see her screen to know that she was on a different screen than I was to log into Zoom from the internet. Via audio, I could hear Voiceover on her Mac, but had difficulty helping her navigate to “join a meeting” because she was on a different screen. To troubleshoot, I sent her mother a link to a Zoom meeting for the student to directly log into. Unfortunately, it would not directly let the student log into the Zoom meeting using the MacBook with the direct link. With support from myself and the parent, the student copied the link from a Word document and pasted it into the address bar of Safari. She followed auditory instructions to complete the following actions: join with computer audio, start video, and screen sharing. Once her screen was shared, I was able to see everything the student was doing on her MacBook. The student independently opened Microsoft Word, selected a blank document, wrote in the document, and used editing commands to cut, copy, and paste text. She also accessed a familiar webpage while sharing her screen. By having visual as well as auditory access to her MacBook, I was able to more easily provide instruction because I knew where the focus of her cursor was.
To sign into the Zoom meeting, the student practiced using all prior taught skills which included: navigating to the desktop, opening a document, selecting, copying, and pasting text, closing an active window, using Spotlight to open Safari, as well as navigating different applications by interacting with different parts of the screen. She used a combination of keyboard commands, as well as arrow keys with Quick Nav on to interact with different elements of the screen, activate buttons, and navigate.
As part of remote instruction, I have created short audio tutorials to log into a MacBook, log into a Zoom meeting, and access email. These audio clips will be shared with both the student and parent to refer to as needed. They include verbal instructions, as well as let the student hear Voiceover. I am excited to use Zoom for remote instruction with my student to read sample resumes, improve her resume, and access materials for her classes by exploring Google Classroom, email, and flashcard applications on the MacBook.
Providing remote learning is new for me as a TVI, but I am excited to do this in different ways to meet each of my student’s needs while continuing to address their IEP goals to the best of my ability.
By R Saladino