Using a computer as a handicap compensating aid! Louis Barr syndrome.
In May 1989,I met Maria, in a public school 4 th grade.There were few pupils in the class and Maria was happy there. Unfortunately, she had to transfer to a new school because her handicap, Louis Barr syndrome, made it difficult for her to receive normal education.
Maria is an intelligent girl, with her own opinions. She has a strong character. She wants to make her own choices and decisions wherever possible.
Maria`s balance was injured and her eyesight was poor. Using her hands for writing was not
possible. She now sat in a wheelchair.
We introduced a computer to Maria, but she refused to use it. Gradually, we tried to convince her to co-operate with us so that we could discover what could and could not be used.
In searching for what was best for Maria, we could exclude the usual writing systems because the letters were too small and the background colour on the monitor screen was not sharp enough. Bigger letters and ciphers were tried, but these were still not effective enough. Even portable computers did not meet our demands at that time as they were too heavy and the quality was inferior. Neither could the available printers
solve our specific problem.
We then decided to make our own system using a databoard where letter size can be specially defined. Here one must use the hand to point out, what is required on the monitor screen.
Maria did not have the strength in her hand to press on the board.
Once again! Checkmate!!!!
I attended a working group for teachers, where we exchanged our experiences on the subject using E.D.P. in handicap education. It was confirmed by the group that what I had been doing so far was correct, but that my material was too poor for my purpose.
I returned. At school,Maria was now given a quick computer with a good monitor having different colours and well-shaded background in the graphics. We also bought a newly made programme named Papyrus.That was the beginning of a new era for Maria. The graphics, letters and ciphers were both taller and larger than seen before. Maria was able to see from a normal writing distance. Using the programme was no problem, but learning how to press the keyboard probably gave some problems. Keyboards are now, luckily,very easy to use, because a large degree of strengh is no longer required.
Given a course in using the computer in her programme with the facilities available plus
the new ways we invented for her, Maria is able
to write her language exercices in Danish, English and German. Mathematic programmes have also progressed in large printing both, at the monitor and the printer.
Maria is doing all her writing on her computers. She has one at school and one at her home. She can now do her homework just as her sisters and brothers. She can play different games with classmates or friends. She also has penfriends and she is able to write like anyone else. Here, the success story could stop.
Maria's diagnosis is Louis Barr's syndrome.
Her prognosis is poor. She will gradually become weaker. Her work on the computer is not at normal speed. The exercices must be adapted
especially for her. We must plan our educational schedule carefully so that Maria can achieve optimal progress using computers which adapt to her need for communication according to her handicaps.
We must continually review and revise our pro-
grammes in order for Maria to use her abilities
to the fullest. Her progress will indicate
future methods. The computer may be suggested
for future needs, which we do not as yet know.
It is our hope and belief, that Maria will
help us and tell us how.
Discipline, subject : mathématiques
Public : cycle d'orientation
Sek I, BWK
lower high school
Larsen, Inge Lis
Undervisningscentret for Sonderjyllands
amt., Ladegaardsvej 5-7
Tel : 72624852
Fax : 72624924
Pédagogie, pedagogy : Using computers in handicap compensating education is a challenge to both teacherand pupils. First, you must find out if it is relevant to compensate a pen or a pencil with a computer. After reaching that decission, can the computer be used relevantly in all subjects or must we work alternatively? Finally, does the specified pupil want to work in the way suggested by the teacher or could the pupil, teacher and relatives agree and co-operate in using the computer as a pen ?
Apprentissage, learning : The pupil can suddenly express herself in a far more legible way than previously. Because of her handicap, her handwriting is shaky and not redeable. Now, the computer is her pencil.
Enseignement, teaching : As teacher to a Louis Barr syndrome girl, one must invent and prepare programs which can be used without too much effort, as the pupil tires easily.
Société, society : Being able to write and express opinions in print gives normal social communication with other pupils, teachers and penfriends in other countries. What others can normally do is not possible for Maria without a computer.
Institution : "Undervisningscentret" is a school which has pupils from kindergarten to 10 th grade. All are handicapped: speech, autistic, spastic, near sighted and other handicaps, including wheelchair pupils.
Logistique : HARDWARE
I.B.M. compatible computers. V.G.A. monitors with good graphics. Printers with different possibilities for producing text in many sizes.
Papyrus III printing with possibility of using different print types, very large or normal. The system can work with both English and German alphabet. The system can be supplemented by oral speech which one can both hear and control.
Remarques, remarks :