Teachers Advice

Teachers advice by Phillip Chalker

Teaching with a Challenge - Phillip Chalker
Written by Phillip Chalker

Why do some music teachers with sight find it hard to work with someone who is blind or vision impaired but it is not hard for a blind or Vision impaired music teacher to work with someone who is sighted?

What are sighted teachers scared of could they be concern that he or she may not able to see what I’m showing them or could they be concerned about whether or not I have provided the material in the correct format to help them?

When I started teaching the  Ukulele for the first time as a vision impaired Ukulele teacher or leader.

I was concerned about telling them about my eyesight worried about what people would think about having lessons with me.

What  encourage me to overcome these concerns were comments from workshop participants such as comments like this “its sort of bean two  way learning, he’s got to learn to teach us while we’re learning from him”  and comments from a leader  who taught me said that I don’t need to   be concerned what people think because it should not matter if they want to learn the ukulele.

The types of strategies I would use in a workshop or private lessons    when teaching students to communicate with me is not to use visual cues by nodding their head to let me know if they are understanding or not they must tell me yes or no to let me know whether or not if they understand me and if they don’t I  would then  repeat the last step again or have them repeat back to me what I have just shown them.

I would also provide what I have taught  my students in a document format  or a format of their choice such as Text message, As an attachment in an email or in the body of the email, Audio file  so they can also go away and learn it as well in case they forgot what was taught in our lessons.

These types of formats are good to offer your students because they can print it out and read it like that or in the body of the email is good to incase the student is blind or vision impaired then they can use their screen reader to read it or text message is also good for blind or vision impaired people and sighted people as well.

As a sighted teacher if you are working with people who are blind or vision impaired and is providing them with a document file as an attachment one thing to consider is after creating a document file never put it under a scanner and then send it as an attachment because this type of file then turns into an Image file which cannot be read by screen readers.

If you are going to send a blind or vision impaired a person a document make sure it is the original file which you have just written that way a screen reader can read it fine.

Screen readers can also read PDF but again depending on how it’s been created as for the information above if its saved as a PDF directly from the document which you have just written then that’s fine but if it’s a pdf that you wrote then placed under a scanner this will not read.

Other good formats to use are RTF which is plain text files which can be used on a Daisy player which is a small device that reads text files.

The other type of strategies I would use when passing around documents for people to learn in my workshops are spread them out on the table and have people grab them themselves or pass a bunch around and then they can keep passing it around to each other like that.

Not everyone can read chord charts so in this situation I would write out the chord charts in text instead of image example when teaching a finger position I would right C-major: put your third finger on the third fret of the A string and i have found this method to work really good for also with people who are blind or vision impaired because if they have adaptive technology such as a screen reader will read out to them what they are viewing this is a great way to help them because screen readers can not read Chord charts  which is in images and there are lots of music books which are not accessible for screen readers.

If you are a guitar teacher or Ukulele teacher and you want to teach people chords and lyrics the best book I have come across so far is named 250+ ukulele songbook. See the example of song lyrics and chords in accessible formats at my resource page or another accessible format is explaining Chords like this click to listen to Ukulele MP3.

I would like to talk a bit about the experience I had when I was studying at TAFF  certificate III in music back in 2010  a teacher was showing me how to do guitar cords but the way he was showing me he must have thought that I could see his fingers or I knew what the chord sounds like but not everyone has the ear for music but they can still teach the teacher     was saying can you see my fingers instead of explaining where his fingers are and what position and strings his fingers are on so I felt this was a waste of time.

There was one time I wanted to study a Unit which was also part of the course named Sound Editing instead of letting me do that unit and trying other methods the teacher automatically assumed that the screen reader would not work with sound editing software instead of trying it they did not allow me to do this unit so I was unable to complete some units in this course. I went away a few years later before i contacted another campus to complete these units after researching some software which would allow me to complete this unit at home the software I researched was garage band when buying myself a Mac computer with a built-in screen reader from Apple that works fine but the funniest thing was the computer that they were using at the time was also a Mac computer so that just shows that the teacher did not have enough knowledge on what software works with what software.

For me to get to where I was today I have to face society head on but while doing this I thought of different methods that work best for me as a vision in paired ukulele teacher to teach my students to you never stop learning a new skill may arise at any time. If you are a music mental and would like to talk more about accessible formats for your students you are welcome to either contact me or send me an email and I would gladly speak with you.

I teach ukulele  Private, online or group workshops for more info please visit my website.

Author: Phillip Chalker

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