1 Introduction This guide is intended to help instructors at the École de langues who have students with visual impairments. The École de langues wishes to contribute to creating a university milieu that is inclusive. The information contained in this guide aims to sensitize instructors to the challenges that visually impaired students face, as well as introduce them to the resources available that can help better integrate these students into their language courses. Affirmation The following is an excerpt of article 44, adopted by the administrative counsel of UQAM. For more information, please visit: L'UQAM souscrit à la politique du gouvernement québécois en matière d'intégration sociale des personnes handicapées et fait sienne les recommandations de l'office des personnes handicapées du Québec. L'Université souscrit pleinement au principe que l'intégration scolaire, professionnelle et sociale des personnes handicapées demeure une responsabilité commune à tous les citoyens. L'UQAM entend contribuer au développement de l'autonomie des étudiantes, étudiants handicapés et fera tous les efforts raisonnables pour les consulter sur les enjeux ou les décisions qui les concernent. Par cette politique, l'uqam reconnaît, en toute égalité des chances, sans discrimination ni privilège, aux étudiantes, étudiants handicapés, le droit de bénéficier de l'ensemble des ressources du campus et de la communauté universitaires, notamment, les ressources pédagogiques, administratives et humaines afin d'assurer la réussite de leurs projets d'études, et ce, dans les meilleures des conditions possibles. L'exercice de ce droit est, par ailleurs, tributaire du cadre réglementaire qui régit l'ensemble des activités de l'uqam. Les étudiantes, étudiants handicapés ont, pour leur part, la responsabilité de rencontrer les intervenants (conseillères, conseillers à la vie étudiante du Service d'intégration des étudiants handicapés, professeurs, chargés de cours, direction de programme, associations étudiantes concernées, etc.) qui pourront faciliter leur intégration à la communauté universitaire ou les assister et les soutenir dans la résolution de problèmes particuliers en lien avec les limitations entraînées par leur déficience. Before the course begins It is the student s responsibility to inform the Services à la vie étudiante of their participation in the course. The student should inform the instructor of their specific needs. The student should contact the Service d'accueil et soutien aux étudiants en situation de handicap (ASÉSH), and register with this service in order to get assistance from it. These initial exchanges should take place as soon as possible before the course so that all parties involved have time to make the necessary preparations to facilitate the integration of the student into the classroom. Some facts about visual impairments While there are students who are completely 1
2 blind, most have limited vision, to a lesser or greater degree. Terminology: A person who has severe vision loss is considered to be "functionally blind"; a person who has a visual impairment but has some usable vision is considered to be "partially sighted". A blind person might have been so since birth or as the result of an accident or illness later in life. Only 10% of people with a visual impairment are functionally blind. Fortunately, with advances in medical science, few infants are born with a visual impairment nowadays. On the other hand, the epidemic of diabetes is contributing to a growing number of cases of visual impairment among adults today. There are many types of pathologies that can affect a person's vision: retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration are just two examples of diseases of the eye. Some people with limited vision are sensitive to light and their eyes are easily fatigued. Some challenges faced by visually impaired persons Each student faces their own special challenges. One challenge for a person who has been blind since birth is their lack of experience with the visual world. For example, they have no notion of colour. On the other hand, a person who became blind later in life would have memories of the visual world. As well, a person who is partially sighted would, in most cases, have experience with the visual modality. In the classroom, a student with a visual impairment must have access to the course materials (textbooks, class handouts, class activities etc.), and one must consider the time it takes for the student to adapt the course materials to their needs. The student must have all the material available ahead of time. The student must have the appropriate tools and/or assistance for note-taking. The student s participation in class activities requires special preparation, particularly those involving writing. For visually impaired students, the time to complete an assignment or exam will be longer than for a student without impairment. For example, a good reader with no visual impairment can read between words per minute, while a person reading Braille can only read between words per minute, and the norm is more towards the lower end of this range. Many students with a visual impairment have the use of a guide dog, which may require special considerations. For example, the student may have to go outside with the dog at the break. When a guide dog is present in the classroom, it is important to remind other students that the dog is a "professional", and they should avoid touching or talking to the animal while it is doing its important work. Potential challenges for instructors The overall challenge that an instructor will face having a visually impaired student is twofold: 1. On one hand, the instructor must strive to provide the student with the type of instruction 2
3 that will be equivalent to that given to the rest of the class. 2. On the other hand, keeping in mind the level and quality of the course as defined in the Plan de cours cadre the instructor must not move away from the class objectives and its minimal content. An instructor with a visually impaired student in the course group will therefore need to consider the following aspects when preparing a class: adjusting teaching methodology to accommodate the student s disability by eliminating instructions and activities involving charts, graphs, pictures, slides, and other visual material avoiding impromptu clarifications and explanations given during the class on the board making the written material accessible to the student by: making the material (that is typically handed out during class) available to the student well in advance adapting authentic material (newspaper clippings, recordings, texts written by classmates, etc.) allowing the student more time to complete class activities and evaluated activities, including exams Services available to facilitate the integration of visually impaired students into the classroom Le Service d accueil et soutien aux étudiants en situation de handicap (ASÉSH) provides many services to those with a visual impairment, and serves as a link between the student and the instructor. The resource person at the ASÉSH is: M. Gilles Ouellet, Conseiller Services à la vie étudiante Université du Québec à Montréal Pavillon Judith-Jasmin, J-M870 (514) poste 6953 Translating books and course notes There are several resources available for translating textbooks, course packs, and course notes. Translation services are available through le Service d accueil et soutien aux étudiants en situation de handicap. Any documents submitted to the translation service should be in Word format. It is important to realize that most software that permits voice synthesis also requires that the text be in Word format, so instructors must keep this in mind when giving files to the student. Here are the different possibilities available to translate text into an accessible format: e-text: This software translates a scanned document into Word format. A scanning service is offered by the Programme de location pour besoins particuliers (PABP) which is subsidized by the Ministère de l'éducation, du loisir et du sport du Québec (MELS). The person overseeing this service is Mr. Gilles Ouellet. OpenBook: This software translates "pdf" documents into Word. This software is available through the ASÉSH, although many students may have their own copy. 3
4 Braille: Services are available to translate textbooks and notes into Braille. There are two types of Braille: abridged and complete. The abridged form incorporates abbreviations and is available in French or English. The complete form presents the text letter by letter. The ASÉSH uses the complete form. Mixed Translations: It is possible to have translations that use both Braille and e-text. Publishers: In the United States, the law requires that publishers make their textbooks available in Word format. In Québec and in the rest of Canada, no such law exists. Therefore, it may be more difficult to get a Word version from Canadian publishers. As soon as the instructor is aware that there is a visually impaired student taking the course, either the instructor or the ASÉSH can contact the publisher. Certain publishers, e.g. NorthStar Pearson, require that the order be placed by the ASÉSH. It must also be noted that one must obtain copyright permissions, and the student must sign a form to assure the publisher that copyright will be respected. To make use of the services offered by the ASÉSH, the instructor must keep in mind the following time periods required: To have a text scanned and then translated by OpenBook, allow 48 hours. To have a text scanned and then translated by e-text, allow 2-3 weeks. To emboss a text in Braille also requires 2-3 weeks. For both e-text and Braille, sections of a text can be furnished according to a schedule. In all cases, it is crucial that a precise schedule be provided giving the date for when each section will be needed. Technology available to the visually impaired student in class Zoom Text: This software can be used by most partially-sighted students. It enlarges text and provides voice synthesis. This software is available in our multimedia laboratories. Victor Reader and Flipper: These devices may be borrowed from the ASÉSH. The Flipper enlarges text to allow the student to read from the board or overhead projector in the classroom. It comes with a rechargeable battery. The Victor Reader is equipped with an SD card. The SD card can be divided into sections to accommodate recordings, Word files, and Daisy Reader books (see below). Of course, in order to read from the board, the student must be sitting at the front of the class. Ideally, the student must be within feet from the board. It must be noted that reading is slow with this device, especially when reading from the board: since the point of focus is narrow, it can be difficult to follow along on the board, especially if the instructor does not write in a spatially structured manner. Audio Recorders: Many students have their own recorders. Daisy Reader: This is a computer language that encodes audio. It can be used with the Victor Reader. Jaws is a software package that synthesizes voice from a tactile Braille board, which is particularly useful for functionally blind students. Unfortunately, the computers at l'école de langues do not yet support this software. 4
5 The ASÉSH does not provide software to the student. Instead, the student is encouraged to contact the Centre de réadaptation at the INLB (francophones) or the Montréal Association for the Blind (MAB) (anglophones). The RAMQ subsidizes these organizations so they can loan software packages such as Zoom Text, Openbook, and Jaws as well as computers to visually impaired persons. Help available to the student in the classroom The student is admissible to the MELS special needs benefits program to pay for the services of a note-taker. The remuneration is $9/hour. The request must be approved by the ASÉSH. For academic help, for example, to accompany the student in the lab and help with Can-8, the rate is $15/hour. The ASÉSH allows for 45 hours of help for a 3- credit course. Anyone can be recruited to provide this help. The instructor may select a helper, and then contact the ASÉSH to draw up a contract. Exam procedures for a visually impaired student The ASÉSH has guidelines in place to accommodate students with a visual impairment. Form In the case where the services of the ASÉSH are required in order for a student to do an exam, the instructor must fill out a form (Formulaire de passation d'examen). This form can be either filled out electronically or on paper. In the latter case, the student must submit the form to the ASÉSH. The ASÉSH must receive the form 8 days before the exam. Additional time Visually-impaired students are allowed more time to take an exam than what is allotted for the class. The ASÉSH has its own guidelines for supplemental time allowed. In general, instructors can expect that visually impaired students will be allowed 1/3 longer (or more) to take an exam. Special equipment In the case where the student requires special equipment in order to take an exam, the instructor should discuss this with the ASÉSH as soon as possible in anticipation of an upcoming exam. It is possible that recourse to special equipment would require that the student take the exam in the laboratory at the ASÉSH. In such a case, the ASÉSH would assume the costs of surveillance. Surveillance If the exam is taken in the laboratory at the ASÉSH, the instructor must furnish explicit instructions, and if the student is allowed to use their portable computer, the instructor must give written authorization to this effect. The security of the exam is ensured, and an invigilator will ensure the integrity of the exam process. For example, if the student needs to use the restrooms, they will be accompanied. If a separate invigilator is required, the ASÉSH will assume the costs. Special arrangements Normally, the visually impaired student can take the exam with the rest of the class. However, if the instructor wishes to have the student take the exam elsewhere, it is the instructor s responsibility to reserve a room near l'école de langues. 5
6 If the student takes the exam in another location under the supervision of someone other than the instructor, it is recommended that the instructor provide their cell phone number so that they can respond to any questions that the student may have or to any problems that may arise. If cell phone use is not possible, the instructor should check in on the student from time to time during the exam. Exam adaptations If the ASÉSH is asked to adapt an exam, the following time should be allowed to prepare the document: If the student is to do the exam in the laboratory at the ASÉSH, the Word file should be sent to the ASÉSH 48 hours before the student is to take the exam. If the exam must be scanned and translated into Word with e-text or OpenBook, allow 1-3 weeks. If the exam is to be translated into Braille, allow even more time. Summary Integrating a student with a visual impairment into one's classroom requires some planning, communication, and ingenuity. However, UQÀM provides the means, through its services and equipment, to facilitate this integration, and to help make the experience an enriching one for both the student and the instructor. Contact Us If you have any questions, please consult the person indicated on our web page: This guide was conceived and written by Kathleen Brannen, Jaime Demperio, Martyna Kozlowska, and Jane Nicholls (École de langues) with the collaboration of Gilles Ouellet (Services à la vie étudiant), thanks to a subvention from the Comité de liaison locale. 6
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