Quarterly Connections: News from the NRTC
Linking Blindness and Low Vision Research to Practice
Current RRTC Research Highlights: Accessibility in the Modern Workplace
One of the barriers to employment for blind and visually impaired people is the accessibility of standard office equipment such as copiers and phone systems. In the past, copiers and phone systems had simple interfaces which were easily modified to accommodate people with visual impairments. However, with the advancement of technology and the introduction of multifunctional document centers (MDCs) and voice over internet phones (VoIPs) the interfaces have become increasingly complex and the digital displays small and intricate. This poses a significant accessibility problem for people with blindness or low vision. Many major companies have begun making their MDCs and VoIP systems accessible but have used different product design architecture to do so. This study will evaluate these different products and accessibility technologies to determine their effectiveness.
The overall objective of this project is to increase knowledge about the accessibility of MDCs and VoIP systems for people who are blind or visually impaired. The project is broken into two subprojects: the first involves evaluating MDCs and the second involves evaluating VoIPs. Currently, the project is in the MDC evaluation phase. The first component to this subproject involved evaluating MDCs through surveying visually impaired and blind consumers who use these products to elucidate the nature and extent of the problem people with vision loss experience with MDCs.
The survey was completed by 26 blind and 34 low vision users of MDCs. The key findings from the survey included: most blind and low vision participants used an MDC at home for personal use, and about two-thirds used it for work; of the MDC's functions, printing is the most important to participants, followed by scanning and copying; and the most important techniques that participants would prefer MDCs to have available in order to make controls and displays more accessible are higher contrast, larger characters, speech output, and tactile controls. The results from the MDC users' survey were recently published in the July 2012 edition of AccessWorld, which is available online at http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw130710.
The second phase of the subproject was to identify MDC market leaders and the accessibility solutions available and conduct a heuristic analysis on the top six machines. The six MDCs identified for use in the heuristic analysis were products manufactured by Canon, Lexmark, Xerox, and Ricoh. One or more representative device from each of these companies was selected, including desktop and full-sized models. The analyses of these machines are currently underway.
Once the heuristic analyses are completed the top three most accessible machines will be used in the third phase of the subproject. This third phase will involve a usability study with 10 individuals who are blind or visually impaired who will assess the machines and evaluate each for the quality of its accessibility. The second of the two subprojects aims to evaluate VoIP systems in the same manner that the MDCs were evaluated. The VoIP survey, the first phase of the second subproject, is scheduled to be completed in January 2013.
After the barriers to accessibility and the most accessible machine in each technology category are identified, training materials will be developed focusing on vocational rehabilitation personnel, employers, service providers, and consumers who are blind or visually impaired on the best practices in accessibility with the machines. Ultimately, the goal of these training materials will be to provide knowledge and resources to increase employability for individuals who are blind and visually impaired.
In the Works: Training and TA
Registration Fees for the Annual NRTC Mississippi Teachers' Workshop Waived
Upcoming Training Activities in Maine and D.C.
Traumatic Brain Injury Webinar Series
Other NRTC News:
Research & Training Utilization Award
Update on the Employment Mentoring Project
The Employment Mentoring Project kicked off its second cohort in August. Students in this cohort are graduating between January 2013 and July 2013 and have a variety of career interests. The first cohort has been involved in the project since last January and will continue participating through January 2013. The next cohort will begin in April and students eligible for this group must be graduating between August 2013 and March 2014. Recruitment for the mentoring project will continue through December 2013.
The NRTC Facebook Page Reaches More than 100 Fans!
Here's an example of a recent post:
August 17, 2012: Happy Friday! How about a heartwarming story about a blind golden retriever who finds a guide and pal in another dog? Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVDC_vQV1NM&feature=player_embedded
AER Celebration a Success
In Remembrance of Barry Stephens
Publications, Presentations, and Miscellanies
Publications Recently Archived for Download from Our Website:
Moore, J.E., Crudden, A., & Giesen, J.M. (1994). The 1994 Survey of Direct Labor Workers Who Are Blind and Employed by NIB Affiliated Industries for the Blind. Mississippi State, Mississippi: Mississippi State University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision.
Recent Publications/Publications in Press:
Giesen, J. M. & Cavenaugh, B. S. (2012). Transition-age youth who are blind in vocational rehabilitation: A new look at competitive outcomes and services. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 106(8), 475-487.
McDonnall, M. C., & Giesen, J. M. (2012). Project H.I.R.E.: An online employment preparation program for college students who are blind or visually impaired. Insight: Research and Practice in Visual Impairment and Blindness, 5(2), 111-122.
Cavenaugh, B., & Giesen, J.M. (2012). A systematic review of transition interventions affecting the employability of youths with visual impairments. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 106(7), 400-413.
Crudden, A. (2012). Transition to employment: Components for success. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 106(7), 389-399.
McDonnall, M. C., Cavenaugh, B. S., & Giesen, J. M. (2012). The relationship between parental involvement and achievement for students with visual impairments. Journal of Special Education, 45(4), 204-215.
Giesen, J. M., Cavenaugh, B. S., & McDonnall, M. C. (2012). Academic supports, cognitive disability, and mathematics achievement for visually impaired youth: A multilevel modeling approach. International Journal of Special Education, 27(1), 17-26.
LeJeune, B.J. (2012, September). An Historical Moment from the Piney Woods Country Life School in Mississippi: The Legacy of Laurence C. Jones, PhD, and Ms. Martha Louise Morrow Foxx. AER International Conference. Seattle, WA.
McDonnall, M. C. (Panel Member) (2012, November). CSAVR's Partners – Connecting Research to Practice. Presentation at the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation Meeting, San Diego, CA.
For Additional NRTC News and Activities:
Visit our website at http://www.blind.msstate.edu/.
This newsletter was supported in part by grant #H133B10022 from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Newsletter contents do not represent policies of NIDRR or the Department of Education and viewers should not assume endorsement by the federal government. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to interested parties.
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