Last Friday our 8 year old daughter Sarah and I spent an extraordinary hour and a half with Lisa Tomberlin – the Vision Specialist for the Monona Grove School District where we live. During this time Lisa showed us some of the tools used by and with students with vision loss and we explored together how the Livescribe smartpen might be used to complement these.
At one point I showed Lisa a Livescribe-enabled Talking Test and she came up with a brilliant idea. She wondered if it might be possible to add a bump to each of the “talking dots” on the Livescribe paper using a tool from the APH Tactile Graphics Kit (which I knew nothing about). With just a little experimentation both Lisa and I were very excited to learn that “YES!” you could easily use the Tong Tool E-point Symbol to do this. Further experimentation showed that the “bumps” could be created either before or after adding audio.
The following 5 minute video demonstrates how the Tactile Talking Test works and then shows how to use the APH E-point Symbol to add “Talking bumps” to Livescribe paper.
One thing I didn’t mention in the video is that students with vision loss can listen to test questions privately if desired using Livescribe earbuds and that they can also control the playback speed and volume if these controls are also made tactile/bumpy.
Earlier today I asked our daughter Sarah to close her eyes (since she doesn’t have vision loss) to try out the “bumpy” paper test and to see if she could locate particular talking bumps. What was neat was how she showed me how she could use her left hand to feel the bump and then just tap, tap, tap close to it with the Livescribe smartpen, that she was holding in her right hand, until she heard the audio begin playing. This made me realize that it might be wise to replace the inking Livescribe tip with the non-inking tip so that students with vision loss won’t add extra ink to audio bumps. If a Tactile Talking Test is used frequently the bumps might need refreshing or new bumps can be added with fresh audio.
We also explored how the Sewell raised line drawing kit could be used with the Livescribe smartpen which was something I had read about in Dr. Andy Van Schaack’s research paper and read about online. Look for more posts about this and related ideas as we co-develop them.