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|From E-Learning V|
Fig.1. Perforated Eardrum – before and after surgery
This has lasted a week. It’s barely been bad enough to send me to my bed, but the drops and painkillers have knocked me out while the ear-thing has sent me all lopsided. I appreciate entirely that there are people with and who have significant and lasting disabilities here, so I don’t mean to diminish by any means what they go through or need to overcome, it has simply made me realise all kinds of things that never struck me while doing the MAODE module on accessibility.
We’re aware of those suits people can wear to get a feel for what it is like to be heavily pregnant – who do they use it on? teenagers? Is there value though in the able-bodied getting some sense of what it is like to have an impairment by, for example, blocking their ears for a number of hours, wearing a blindfold and restricting their day to a wheelchair, even typing while wearing gloves. In swimming we get swimmers to try swimming with their fists closed in order for them to appreciate the importance of the correctly shaped hand.
Everything, particularly to do with sound, is different.
If someone calls my name I struggle to know where they are – upstairs, downstairs or behind the door. When I shave it sounds as if I have my ear pressed against the wooden floor while it is attacked with a rotary sander. I feel unbalanced, and totter a bit when getting up and have tripped too as if I can’t quite place my left leg.
I did the idiot thing of putting the phone to the ‘wrong ear’ and wondered why the person had stopped talking. If I sleep on my right side the silence would be pleasing except for the constant ‘sandy’ electronic interference like sound in my left ear.
When you have a problem to solve it helps to do something completely different, either to take a break, or bring someone in who has nothing to do with a project. This blocked ear thing is temporarily skewing or tipping so much, as if one end of the shelf has collapsed and all the books have fallen off.
Trusting it won’t last because for now if at any time it looks as if I am my sunny self it’s something I’m putting on. It could well be perforated in which case I ought not be using ear-drops. if it is perforated then there needs to be surgery. I suspect that it is and I remember how. I pushed a piece of cold, stiff silicon into my ear and then wore headphones over these when trying to block out the sound of a fire alarm in a B&B, not because there was a fire, but because the alert to say the battery was flat was ringing every two minutes all night long.
It was earwax. A jet of warm water into my ear and it was gone. Like three wet cornflakes squashed together. How did they det in there?
Effective preparation for teaching a deaf or hard of hearing student centres around good communication.
- Provide printed or electronic copies of teaching material in advance, so the student and their support worker can prepare by familiarising themselves with the content and vocabulary. Lecture outlines, reading lists, instructions for practical work, glossaries and new vocabulary lists are all helpful
- Ensure that subtitles or transcripts are available for any audio–visual material you intend to use
- Repeat any questions from other students so a deaf student is fully aware of the content
- Learn how to support deaf students who are lip-reading in lectures and in group situations
- Develop your confidence to manage teaching sessions where a sign language interpreter or lipspeaker is present
- Clarity of communication
- Speed of delivery
- Turning your back
- Questions from the floor
- Quality of handouts
- Eye contact
- Hearing loops
- Air con or building works
‘Excluding people who are already at a disadvantage by providing small, hard–to–use, inflexible interfaces to devices and apps that create more problems than they solve’. (Jellinek and Abraham 2012:06)
This applies to older people too, indeed anyone on a spectrum that we might draw between full functionality and diminishing senses. Personally, with four immediate relatives in their 80s it is remarkable to find how quickly they respond to the text size options of a Kindle, even having text read out loud, the back-lit screen of the iPad and in particular galleries of thousands of photographs which are their memories too (in the later case invaluable to someone who has suffered a couple of severe strokes).
Reasons to think about accessibility:
My observation here is that Many programmes are now deliberately ’app like’ to meet expectations and because they are used in smartphones and tablets not just desk and lap tops. Where there is such a demand for app-like activities or for them to migrate seamlessly to smartphones and tablets (touch screen versions) we need stats on how many people would be so engaged – though smartphone growth is significant, as a learning platform tablets are still a minority tool.
The users who can miss out are the blind or partially sighted or deaf. Blind people need audio to describe what others can see and guide them through functions while deaf people and those with hearing impairments need captions where there is a lot of audio.
It is worth pointing out that there is ‘no such thing as full accessibility for everyone’. Jellinek and Abrahams (2012:07)
But on the other hand, ‘we mustn’t exclude disabled people from activities that the rest of us take for granted’. Jellinek and Abrahams (2012:07)
There is less homogeneity in a learner population than we may like to think
Jellinek, D and Abrahams, P (2012) Moving together: mobile apps for inclusion and accessibility. (Accessed 25/082012) http://www.onevoiceict.org/news/moving-together-mobile-apps-inclusion-and-assistance