Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Marking Answers In a Braille Answer Sheet

Your questions and suggestions help us update and build the content of Fred's Head. The following is one of the many questions we have received in our electronic mailbox:

Question: How do you have a blind student mark his/her answers on a braille answer sheet? I have had a 6th grade student place a sheet of coarse sandpaper under the page, and mark a line next to the choice with a pencil. In doing this, the teacher can see the selection, and the blind student can feel the choice selected. This is helpful if the class is going over their work together. It has worked well this year, but I have wondered if there are "real" techniques for marking answers, other than using a separate answer sheet in which the student brailles the letter of choice.

The Fred's Head Team forwarded the question to Eleanor Pestor, Research Scientist of the American Printing House for the Blind. Eleanor had tested the process of marking answers with different materials, and was able to give this teacher several suggestions.

Answer: Your way of marking the multiple-choice test seems like a good one and should be added to Fred's Head.

A "China Marker" (somewhat like a narrow crayon wrapped in paper with a string embedded), makes marking easier than using a pencil or a regular crayon. China markers are less waxy than crayons, but their marks can be tactually identified better than pencil's.

In place of the sandpaper, you may want to use the APH "Tactile Marking Mat" (catalog number: 1-03331-00). This mat has a plastic texture that feels better to the touch than the coarse edges of the sandpaper.

At APH we have recently tested several products to mark answer sheets. We first tried using little balls of Plasti-Tack, which is an adhesive somewhat like Silly Putty. This method works fine, except that the students need to be careful because the markings roll away too easily from its intended site.

Another method we tested utilized reusable cellophane with adhesive on only one half of a narrow strip. The problem with this method is that the cellophane is somehow difficult to find tactually and sometimes pulled off when it was not supposed to.

The third method involved making a small crease in the paper beside the item of choice.

For older students and adults, we concluded that they could just use scratch paper to note an item they might want to refer back to.

Keep in mind that it's always a good idea to have students practice before taking a standardized test. If you can find out what kind of standardized answer sheet they will be using, you may want to get some of them. The student can take practice tests on social studies, history or whichever class they need to test. Practicing will help them answer more efficiently when the time comes.

If time and funds permit, you may want to invest in APH's "Multiple-Choice, Multipurpose Answer Sheets" which come in braille (catalog number: 1-04051-00), or large type (catalog number: 1-04072-00). Next to each numbered item are the letters a through e, and the student can cross out his or her answer choice, and independently go back to find the one selected. As with most answer sheets, it is difficult to change the answer independently. Usually the test administrator is called on to assist with answer changes.

For more information and/or to purchase the APH products listed in this record, search the Louis Database of accessible materials: Click this link to go to the APH Quick Order Entry page:

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