Today was long as usual. I had planned to work on my lab report but didn't get to it because the computer in the chemical engineering lounge does not as of yet work. Slightly annoying considering I had slotted out two hours to work on it. We finished the lab in record time of 3 hours and got awesome results. I'm starting to really appreciate the standard deviation. I know I know, I'm a very big freak and I must get a clue, but that won't happen any time soon.
I wasn't able to do any work last night because I developed and wasn't able to fight off that migraine I was talking about yesterday. I had to take this demerol / anti nausea pill which totally knocked me out for classes today but I made it through, thank goodness.
Now for statics, he's still a pain but ...
I got an email from him wanting me to answer a few questions about the class and how we could work things. Yesterday's meeting, we kept repeating and repeating and repeating over and over again what I and others had told him before in previous meetings. So he sent me an email asking me questions,a nd I, feeling creative and ready to write, wrote him back with answers and much more. A cc to the chancellor's office might help spur things along a bit :). Here it is.
To: Statics guy
Subject: re: learning resources
To those who read this,
I appologize for writing such a long message. Please scroll down through the message because I've responded through your message to points you make.
My answers to your questions are below in the message. I have planned to write you earlier but as my tr days are a bit on the busy side, I ahven't had time until now.
I do appologize if I seemed difficult or hard to understand o if I was unusually hard to deal with yesterday. Like you, I am very frustrated with this class and how to get the materials best to me. This isn't healthy for me or yo, as I know you mean the best. It is not that I do not think you are not trying as I know you are, it is just that we need to modify just a few things and I will understand the subject fully. For example,
(1) reading things to me in words rather than descriptively through pointing.
(2) Making sure that I am or we are clear, how I am to be evaluated through the course.
With any disability, and any class I have undertaken, I've only been able to do it with modification. That means sometimes changing the rules of the class or the way it is evaluated slightly to meet my needs or make it more of a level playing field for me. This doesn't mean taht I want you just to give me a grade. Quite the contrary. I want to learn.
Since a very early age, I have had an overwhelming need to have knowledge. What makes me frustrated is when I am so close to learning but am missing a crucial bit of information so that I can learn.
That said, I will endeavour to answer your questions.
(1) Do you have Brailled copy of the MEEG 2003 Assignments sheet and the Course Information (About the Course), which I handed out to students during the first meeting of the course?
I think this sheet was supposed to be brailled. It has been sent to the textlab (the place that makes my textbooks and class learning materials and tests) and should be done shortly. I sent this very early on in the semester, I will check on it.
(2) The "Checklists" for all the 31 class meetings (or sessions) of the course have been posted on the web on my Home Page (http://intra.engr.uark.edu/~icj/). I have asked the students in the class to download a copy for their use. Have you asked the "disabilities center" to Braille them for you? If so, do you now have the "Checklists"?
We may have to get someone to either type this up or convert it in some way. If it is the way that I understand it, these checklists are in handwritten form and in an imaged pff file. Blind people can not read these images especially if they are hand written. It will take time for someone to hand type in all these images. If it were already typed in, as I do not think they are, then it would be an easy task to do them. It might be a good idea for you to convert your texts for example, the checklists, into a text machine readable form anyway as some people read that form much easier. It would still e in a pdf form, but would be typed rather than hand written. It would help not only me but I am sure many others later on in your classes to come.
(3) College students need to read and study the texts in the assigned sections. Have all the texts in the assigned sections in the textbook been Brailled for you?
The texts in the book have all been brailled (translated into a ttext form that I can read). THis means that all texts, i.e. problems, etc. have been translated in their entirety. Without the diagrams however, I am unable to get the complete "picture" of what's going on in the mechanical situations demonstrated. (see question 5).
(4) Developmental exercises are learning exercises for students. You should do the developmental exercises in the assigned sections. Have all the Developmental Exercises in the assigned sections in the textbook been Brailled and made accessible to you?
The developmental exercises in the text are a good practicing exercise to doing the examples and learning the different laws and principles in the text and in statics. I have those, as I said in question 3, as part of the text, however see question 5.
(5) In the assigned sections of the textbook, there are many pertinent figures. How many of those ( 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional) figures have been modeled or made accessible to you?
The diagrams have not as of yet been translated. We need to pick some diagrams to demonstrate key things in the book. This means to demostrate certain key topics in the book. What I mean here is that I need to be able to see whats going on in a problem for example, but with the shear volume of diagrams that are in your book, it would be difficult if not impossible to do them all. Having a book professionally produced in braille is also very expensive. The last book I had done with all kinds of diagrams in it, cost over $75000 to do, meaning many hundreds of man hours were spent transcribing it. The state does not have the funding to do this and the university does not have the people to do all of these diagrams. However, if we pick and choose, make a modification, some of the key diagrams that would help me understand the material, we would be way ahead of the game. Sometimes it just takes a few diagrams for me to "get" a certain topic.
I have volunteered to offer half an hour or so each MWF afternoon to give you one-to-one personal assistance in your learning of the subject. Like other full-time faculty members, I am very busy with my work. Presently, I may not be able to offer still additional extra efforts to this challenging project of teaching Statics to a visually handicapped student.
By Law however, you must try and try you are which I do appreciate.
Unlike physics, Statics is an engineering subject dealing with the mechanics of mechanical and structural systems. The figures in the assigned sections of the textbook are very important. You definitely need to have them made accessible to you.
I agree but we need to choose which diagrams we need to have made accessible to me.
You have discontinued attending the Statics classes. You feel a need to have tutorial assistance.
I have discontinued attending classes because there is no help given to me while in class to understand the material. For me to go to class, I get even more confused than I alrady am, and this is not good. Because of your teaching style in class, I am undable to learn. I attend every class in other classes because I learn in classes. However, when I attend a class which I do not get anything out of due to its inaccessible nature, it is not fair to you or me for me to attend for I will most surely do badly if I continue my current course of going to class. I don't want this held against me, it is just how it is due to the teaching style in the class and the material presented within the classroom setting.
To be a well educated engineer, you somehow need to learn to develop an ability to read a technical subject like other normal college students.
I ***am*** a normal college student. I go to classes, do all assigned work, and read all technical data in those classes. I have withstood 5 years of college including two semesters of organic chemistry, 5 lab classes, and many other engineering subjects. I usually achieve over and above in those classes because I care to succeed. Just because I am blind doesn't make the fact that I have to perform and perform on the level of my sighted peers any different.
You need to be prepared to ask me anything in the (Brailled) text or any concept that is not clear to you. When you do that, my afternoon sessions with you will be productive sessions.
I agree, and when we figure out a way that I can be taught that naterial, when we figure out that I can and am ready to learn statics but in a different way, I will be most happy to receive your questions and ask you anything that I might have. However, I still think some things will have to change, and we are working on that. I think working with someone such as a graduate student one on one to describe key concepts will be much more productive, coupled with working with you on the mwf sessions.
I wish a had a good quote or a nice story to close with but I don't. I just know that these are the cold hard facts.
1. I am blind
2. I want to try to do well in your class
3. we will find a way for me to learn the material in your class.
and finally 4. I CAN figure out anything if I try hard enough.
With yours and others help, we will find a way to make it work.
All the Best
The thing that annoyed me most is that he called me not normal. Though I learn differently and am not technically classed as normal, I have tried very very hard to fit in and to be as normal as I can. So hopefully my message will strike a chord not only with him but with the others that met with us. The director of the CSD was not happy at all and plans to seek University Council whatever that means, so at least I've got lots of people that are going for me. The department head I contacted a long time ago and he seems willing to help out. We'll see what happens tomorrow when I get back a response from him.
I have a statics 30 minute section with my professor, I hope it goes well with him tomorrow.
Helen's coming over in a bit for more stimulating analytical chemistry. Should be awesome, or something.
I have pictures of my baby niece, and will, after analytical stuff, post it so that not only you the reader of this journal or the people on my friends page can see, but so that the rest of the fam can see them as well :). Apparently she is cute, but you will have to be the judge of that one. All teh best and more later.