Computer Labs Case Study
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Imke and Computer Labs: A Case Study in Computer Access for Students who are Blind
My name is Imke and I am blind. As a graduate student in Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, I enrolled in a course on cloud dynamics. The homework assignments required students to plot and view radar observations of various storms using specialized computer software.
In order to answer the homework problems, I needed to find a way to obtain the relevant information from the graphical representations of radar observations.
I suggested that I might work on the homework assignments with another student in the class who could operate the necessary computer software and describe the relevant visual information to me. I discussed this suggestion with both the professor and the university's Disabled Student Services Office. The professor was very receptive to this idea, and Disabled Student Services hired a student who was also taking the class to assist me with these assignments.
This situation illustrates:
- A student who is blind can complete assignments that involve inaccessible computer graphics with the help of a sighted person. The student, faculty member, and Disabled Student Services Office worked together to find a solution that met Imke's immediate need to gain access to the course content.
- The instructor should explore ways in which the software (or a different product) could be re-designed so that it is fully accessible to students who are blind. Using electronic and information technology that is fully accessible to all students and instructors is the goal.