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Adapting Video for VI Learners

Making best use of unmodified materials

In other sections we deal with how to change materials, and what future technologies might offer. Right now though, teachers' problems centre on how to equalise opportunities for their pupils and students, and how to maximise access to common teaching resources. Most teachers' efforts will therefore be put into making best use of the existing wealth of materials, and making modifications to the teaching and learning environment to improve access. This section deals with those issues.

For teachers, perhaps our most important advice has to do with attitudes to diversity. VI students will present you with a number of different problems. Often, suggestions for dealing with these will raise contradictions - either with other needs for the same student, or with balancing one learner's needs with those of their classmates. Therefore, you should treat our advice file for what it is - a cookbook of suggestions, from which you mix solutions. The starting point is a review of three aspects:

  • your students' visual problems and any vision aids they currently use (together with any other learning difficulties they may have);
  • your course requirements and materials, and the visual demands they place on the student; and
  • the resources you have presently, or could hope to gain in time for the course.

Our suggestions folder discusses some of the questions to ask, highlighting when these might relate to particular VI problems. We have also gone a little beyond video issues, where these fit into more general planning and teaching.

Armed with this information, you and your student can plan how best to tackle the course material. We offer some thoughts on

  • Choosing the right TV and Video, and how to get the best out of them
  • Selecting and supplementing accessible material
  • Teaching and learning tactics: including material and personal preparation, allowing for students' needs, and supplementary and follow-up support
  • How to lay out and light the classroom
  • Training and awareness for staff and other students

What if this fails?

High technology consumer cultures like ours tend to promote the idea that solutions can be bought to meet every clearly stated problem. This just isn't true. Certainly, you'll come across problems which have clear answers which nevertheless can't be resourced: you can't afford the equipment; there isn't the time to prepare bespoke video material; or the classroom can't be modified in the optimal way. However, there are other combinations of disability, material, and course requirements for which there simply aren't technical solutions. Sometimes there is no easy way at all to improve video access, and you'll have to devise other procedural solutions - more use of human mentors, more time, course concessions or redesign.

In our experience, what matters here is honesty. Be clear about whether problems are technical, resources, or lack of information. Don't try to present a resource issue as a technical one - few students are fooled. Most vitally, don't put off dealing with a dead end once you have found one. It is a common experience for students to be well on their way into a course before problems are acknowledged, when alternative arrangements and resource seeking are too late. Use our advice file early: if it doesn't help, say so and start to negotiate alternatives to the video content of your course.

 
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