ALVIS Workshop

Venue
DG/019, De Grey Court York St John University Lord Mayors Walk York YO31 7EX
Event Time
8.30am - 5.00pm
Book

Category Language & Linguistics

ALVIS workshop, 30 June 2017

Accessible Linguistics for Visually Impaired Students

 

This international workshop brings together linguistics and languages lecturers, accessibility officers as well as charity and commercial services staff to talk about making Linguistics and Languages provision in Higher Education more accessible to visually impaired students.

The workshop will comprise a series of talks and discussions on topics ranging from teaching phonetics, integrating visually impaired students in mainstream group teaching, supporting learners of modern foreign languages, literacy practices and forms of multimodal communication, sharing accessible materials and production of accessible formats to accessible technology. These talks will be complemented by two keynote presentations on Before a blind child becomes a linguist and Tactile graphics in linguistics and beyond by Prof. Boguslaw (Bob) Marek from the Catholic University of Lublin (Poland). Prof. Marek is an international authority on teaching English to visually impaired students, member of the editorial board of the British Journal of Visual Impairment and holder of the Order of the British Empire for his work with blind children.

 

PROGRAMME:

Venue: DG/019

 

8:30-9:00              Coffee and registration

9:00-9:15              Workshop opening

KEYNOTE

9:15-10:00           Boguslaw Marek (Catholic University of Lublin)

Before a blind child becomes a linguist

LINGUISTICS

10:00-10:30         Anita Buczek-Zawila (Pedagogical University of Krakow)

Making do with what you have to make categories and classifications accessible to visually impaired and sighted students

10:30-11:00         Sarah Martin, Alice Pennington, Nikki Swift, Magdalena Sztencel, Kate Whisker-Taylor (York St John University, LIdIA)

Teaching phonetics to visually impaired students

RESOURCES AND ACCESSIBILITY

11:00-11:30         Katy Brickley (A2i Transcription Services)

Producing accessible linguistics – a transcription service perspective

11:30-12:00         Nic Streatfield & David Grey (York St John University)

From Incision to Inclusion. How York St John University responded to DSA cuts to establish inclusive practice.

12:00-1:00           Lunch

1:00-1:30              Jenny Anderton (Higher York Access Centre) & Alice Pennington (York St John University)

Accessible technology in Higher Education

LANGUAGES

1:30-2:00              Alison Hayes (York St John University, LIdIA)

Supporting a visually impaired learner of Spanish

2:00- 2.30             Beatriz Furtado Alencar Lima (Federal University of Ceara)

Literacies and discourses among visually impaired people in a city in the North East of Brazil

2:30-3:00              Monika Szczech (University of Birmingham, TYFLO Research Group, VICTAR) &

Graeme Douglas (University of Birmingham,  VICTAR)

Let's touch the sound - some reflections on teaching foreign language pronunciation to visually impaired learners of English

3:00-3:30              Coffee break

3:30-4:00              Malgorzata Jedynak (Wroclaw University, TYFLO Research Group) & Monika Szczech (University of Birmingham, TYFLO Research Group, VICTAR)

Teaching foreign language pronunciation to visually impaired learners and what can be done to improve the current practice

KEYNOTE

4:00-4:45              Boguslaw Marek (Catholic University of Lublin)

Tactile graphics in linguistics and beyond

4:45-5:00              Workshop closure

6:30                       Dinner (please note this is not included in the delegate fee and is an optional extra)

 

Abstracts

 

BOGUSŁAW MAREK (Catholic University of Lublin)

Before a blind child becomes a linguist

“What colour is the wind?” “If you can see me through a closed window why can’t you see me through a wall?”

Questions like these asked by blind children are a manifestation of gaps in the knowledge of the world. With 80% of information about the environment provided by eyesight understanding concepts based on visual experience and spatial relations must be particularly difficult. Yet, with the help of specially designed resources many of these concepts can be explained. But some ”gaps” may remain undiscovered, hidden in well formed grammatically correct sentences. Do these gaps affect communication? Are they a barrier to studying linguistics or is it perhaps that a person born blind may shed a new light on understanding some aspects of language? These are some of the questions which the presentation will address. A practically oriented component will also be added to acquaint participants with some of the educational tools which can be used to help congenitally blind learners make sense of the invisible world.

 

ANITA BUCZEK-ZAWIŁA (Pedagogical University of Krakow)

Making do with what you have to make categories and classifications accessible to visually impaired and sighted students

The talk will concentrate on practical solutions that can be applied to teach linguistic concepts and categories to visually impaired students. The solutions do not make use of professional teaching aids but rather are some impromptu ideas that proved successful when - suddenly - faced with the need to teach a VI person. The general idea is that these tricks are useful not only for the Visually Impaired student(s) but also work for the sighted ones. Thus they make it possible to integrate the VI person(s) more into the mainstream group teaching. This, in turn, is believed to be conducive to general achievement. The ideas presented in the talk were actually employed in the course of studies, yet no attempt at verifying the effectiveness of these will be made.

 

SARAH MARTIN, ALICE PENNINGTON, NIKKI SWIFT, MAGDALENA SZTENCEL, KATE WHISKER-TAYLOR (York St John University, LIdIA)

Teaching phonetic transcription to visually impaired students

Our current research seeks to address a number of questions about devising teaching and learning materials for visually impaired students in an introductory phonetics class. What phonetic conventions do you use for transcription? How do students manipulate the symbols when transcribing? What formats do you provide the teaching and learning materials in? How do you manage classroom activities to ensure inclusiveness? Our talk will offer an insight into preliminary findings of an ongoing project involving students and staff at York St John University.

 

KATY BRICKLEY (A2i Transcription Services)

Producing accessible linguistics - a transcription service perspective

This presentation gives an overview of a commercial transcription service, translating text to formats accessible by people who are print disabled - such as Braille, large print, audio and tactile diagrams. I outline practical aspects of the service, and what information we need from the client/end-user to produce the transcription. After giving a brief introduction to Braille, I highlight issues we have had in transcribing IPA in Braille, and possible solutions around them for discussion.

 

NIC STREATFIELD & DAVID GREY (York St John University)

From Incision to Inclusion. How York St John University responded to DSA cuts to establish inclusive practice. 

The government has cut the funding for the Disabled Students’ Allowances scheme over the last few years passing on the responsibility for this support to HEI’s by citing universities’ responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010. This presentation will detail how York St John University responded positively to this challenge and developed and embedded an Inclusive Learning Teaching & Assessment Framework into the institution for the benefit of all students, not just students with a disability. 

 

TBC: Talk on accessible technology in Higher Education

 

ALISON HAYES (York St John University, LIdIA)

Supporting a visually impaired learner of Spanish

In this talk I will describe the challenges we faced when a visually-impaired student enrolled on a language module. I will outline the changes we needed to make, the mistakes we made, the lessons we learned so that participants become more aware of the issues involved.

 

BEATRIZ FURTADO ALENCAR LIMA (Federal University of Ceara)

Literacies and discourses among visually impaired people in a city in the North East of Brazil

In this talk I will present a study that I carried out from 2011 to 2015 in Fortaleza in the North East of Brazil. The focus was on the literacy practices and forms of multimodal communication employed by ten visually impaired participants (mostly teachers and students). The research lay at the interface between socio-/applied linguistics and a social theory of disability. I will begin with a brief review of the orienting theories for the study. I will then go on to describe the design and conduct of the research. After this I will present selected findings, I will show how I undertook the data analysis and how this led to theory building around concepts such as ‘vision-centred order of discourse’. In all the analysed data, I identify what I mean by ‘vision-centred order of discourse’ and what are the implications of this for visually impaired people. By ‘vision-centred order of discourse’ I mean ways of representing, of being and of acting as well as ways to modulate, mediate and experience our discourses and practices centered basically on the vision.

 

MONIKA SZCZECH (University of Birmingham, TYFLO Research Group, VICTAR) & GRAEME DOUGLAS (University of Birmingham, VICTAR)

Let’s touch the sound – some reflections on teaching foreign language pronunciation to visually impaired learners of English

Acquiring pronunciation skills is recognised as important in learning a foreign language (FL). The value of mastering correct FL pronunciation may be perceived as especially important or even predominant for blind students for whom the application of effective communication techniques such as non-verbals may be hindered or even unavailable. Thus, the correct pronunciation itself may constitute a crucial element for a blind student to effective communication in a FL. However, to date there has been little research on the issue of the effective practise in the FL pronunciation teaching among blind learners.

Being a practitioner working in the special school for blind children I would like to throw some light on FL pronunciation teaching from the perspective of FL teacher. At the same time, as a researcher I would like to outline the core idea of my research project on teaching FL pronunciation to blind learners with particular emphasis on the modality of pedagogical input (i.e. ‘auditory-only input’ vs ‘auditory input enhanced by phonetic transcription’) so that the blind learner ‘can touch the sound with their mind’.

At this point, the problem of accessibility, effectiveness and ‘popularity’ of phonetic transcription for blind students arises. Improving the access to speech sounds representation among blind students might be perceived as a significant step into the full inclusion of blind learners into the foreign language classroom as well as linguistics departments. Thus, the presentation aims to draw out the issue of FL pronunciation teaching among blind learners with particular emphasis on the representation of speech sounds (e.g. IPA Braille) so as to reflect on current practise in the field and to offer new ideas.

 

MAŁGORZATA JEDYNAK (Wrocław University, TYFLO Research Group) & MONIKA SZCZECH (University of Birmingham, TYFLO Research Group, VICTAR)

Teaching foreign language pronunciation to visually impaired learners and what can be done to improve the current practice

Students who are blind may also be successful foreign language learners, similarly to their sighted counterparts. Numerous specialists in the field of tyflopedagogy and practitioners indicate that blind individuals managed to learn a foreign language at various ages and with various vision impairments (e.g., Marek, 2006; Araluce, 2005; Jedynak, 2011; Wyszyńska, 2013).

It is believed that blind learners have superior auditory perception skills, which makes them predisposed for production of foreign language sounds. For example, Hugdahl et al. have provided evidence that blind individuals show enhanced perceptual and attentional sensitivity for identification of speech sounds. Also, Smuds (2015) observed advantages in different aspects of the memory system amongst blind individuals e.g. phonological short-term memory amongst those who are early blind and recognition memory for both those who are early and late blind - so important to foreign language pronunciation acquisition.

Despite the blind people’s apparent great potential for FL pronunciation learning, one may notice that so few blind learners achieve success in mastering a native-like pronunciation. It may be put down to the lack of concern for affective factors (e.g. learners’ self-esteem, self-image, autonomy, motivation) which constitute a cornerstone of FL pronunciation success. In the talk various ways of enhancing affective factors in blind learners will be discussed.

 

BOGUSŁAW MAREK (Catholic University of Lublin)

Tactile graphics in linguistics and beyond

Tactile graphics belongs to one of the most difficult and far too often neglected areas of education of blind children and students. Although the situation has recently improved and several technologies are available for production of raised diagrams, availability of such resources does not mean accessibility. Drawings – two dimensional representations of three dimensional reality involve ‘sighted’ conventions which are particularly difficult to understand for someone born blind. It may therefore be interesting to look at the illustrations in language courses and linguistics course books for sighted students to see how challenging they are and whether or not their tactile adaptations are possible and how, if at all, they can help a blind student access various branches of linguistics. The question of skills which must be developed for a confident use of tactile graphics will also be addressed.

 

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