Volume III Number 1, March 1996

Feature Articles

New CSUF Braille Transcription Center Promotes Access to PostSecondary Instructional Materials for the California State University System

Daniel Hilton Chalfen, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
Jeffrey C. Senge, M.S., California State University, Fullerton
Jamie Dote-Kwan, Ph.D., California State University Los Angeles

College students with print impairments face a double challenge in pursuing a quality education. First, they must obtain instructional text materials in alternative formats, ranging from large print and audio tape to Braille and electronic text. This in itself can be no small hurdle. But, satisfying this personal, and legal requirement, is of little use if students do not receive the alternative format materials at the same time as their non-disabled peers. Thus, timeliness is the second, and frequently overlooked, challenge of providing equal access to academic information. A new project based at California State University, Fullerton, attempts to address both of these access challenges. The CSUF Braille Transcription Center (BTC) has recently been established with a $350,000 three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a "Model Demonstration Project to Improve the Delivery and Outcomes of Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Disabilities (CFDA 84.078C)." Co-directed by Dr. Jamie Dote-Kwan, California State University, Los Angeles, and Jeffrey C. Senge, CSUF, the BTC presents a multi-campus model of service delivery that will be eagerly followed by all those who are responsible for and concerned with providing equal access to information in postsecondary education.

A Brief Historical Overview of Tactile and Auditory Aids for Visually Impaired Mathematics Educators and Students

Evelyn Kubiak-Becker, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Thomas P. Dick, Associate Professor, Oregon State University

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Curriculum and Evaluation Standards advocates the use of graphing calculators. As a visual learning tool, the graphical calculator has stirred a good deal of excitement. Unfortunately, graphing calculators are not accessible to the student who is blind or visually-impaired. This article chronicles a portion of the history of mathematical and graphing aids for the blind and presents a glimpse of the future.

Research Note: The Braille 'N Speak as a Laboratory Tool for Blind Students

David Lunney, Margaret M. Gemperline, Angelo Sonnesso and David Wohlers
East Carolina University

Many instruments used today in educational science laboratories provide data in digital format. Frequently these instruments have an RS-232 serial port which allows digitized data to be easily transferred to a computer in ASCII format for automatic data logging. Many of these instruments can be externally controlled by sending ASCII commands entered on a keyboard or computer connected to the instrument's RS-232 port. The Braille 'n Speak, a "personal data assistant" (1) for blind people, manufactured by Blazie Engineering, can be used by blind students as a means of independent access to the instrumental data and as a means of controlling the instrument in such a case. This report details the success we have had in obtaining 2-way RS-232 communication between the Braille 'n Speak and many laboratory instruments.

Ease of Use and Maintenance: A Note on Software Design

Richard Plant
Northern General Hospital
Sheffield S5 7AU U.K.

Dr. Andrew Rostron
Department of Psychology, University of Hull
Hull HU6 7RX U.K.

Increasingly powerful hardware has prompted commercial software developers to concentrate not on highly efficient code but instead on usability. With much modern software sharing the same look and feel, a commercial edge can only be gained by increased usability leading to improved productivity. In the commercial world, usability ratings by NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) and similar institutions can affect sales significantly, in the same way that a poor review might prematurely end a play's run in the theatre.



National Library Service (NLS) Information on the Internet
Submitted by Judith Dixon, Ph.D.