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A comparison of braille and compressed speech as learning modes for legally blind adults Public Deposited

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  • The primary purpose of this research study was to determine whether significant differences occurred in the amount of knowledge achieved as a result of using Braille or compressed speech as learning modes. Biographic/demographic characteristics such as present age, highest educational level achieved, age at loss of vision, age at initial use of Braille and of talking books were analyzed to investigate which characteristics were able to predict success for Braille or compressed speech. Procedure Thirty legally blind adults residing in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, comprised the study population. All were Braille, grade two, readers. The adults in this group were randomly assigned either Brailled material or compressed speech material on diabetes as the experimental study treatment. Instruments chosen to assess knowledge achievement of the health education material on diabetes were developed and field tested, during the research pilot study. Both the group using Braille, grade two, and the group using compressed speech material were pre- and post-tested using the field tested multiple-choice instrument. A personal data questionnaire was given to collect biographic/demographic data, which were then statistically analyzed for a predictive model of successful correlates when using Braille or compressed speech. The one way analysis of covariance test was employed for the statistical inquiry of the data for hypothesis I, using the F statistic. A t-test was utilized to investigate the means of each group; pre-test scores were used as the covariate. Statistical inquiry into the second hypothesis used a multiple discriminant analysis procedure which determined whether the biographic/demographic characteristics could be distinguished from each other in their assessment of each variable category. Variables were analyzed and ranked according to mean scores to illustrate the degree of relative importance placed on each variable or biographic/demographic characteristic. This hypothesis was also resolved with the use of a stepwise multiple-regression analysis, which also yields a correlation coefficient. Scores for each variable were used to measure variable relationships. Findings The findings of this study indicated the following: 1. No significant differences were noted in achievement scores when using Braille or compressed speech as learning modes; and 2. Analysis of the biographic/demographic variables were not predictive of a success characteristic for using Braille or compressed speech. Based on these findings, it was concluded that legally blind adults who read Braille, grade two, may use either Braille or compressed speech with success. The use of either Braille or compressed speech becomes the choice of the user and depends upon the material studied. It is notable that the participants in this study were highly educated. Eighty percent had at least some college background; twentyseven percent hadamaster's or a doctoral degree. The study participants' level of income attainment and job securement did not match their respective educational levels achieved. The majority of the population were between the ages of 20 and 35 years; 40 percent were adventitiously blind and 60 percent were congenitally blind. One implication, based on this study's findings, suggests researching whether Braille should be considered a second written language structure. Braille is a learned tactual skill, but the imagery of Braille contractions and alphabet letter analogs make it suspect as does the fact that only five to ten percent of all visually impaired invididuals read Braille. Further, it should be researched why the other 90 to 95 percent do not read Braille in any form. Statistical significance is different from practical importance and the respondents' open -ended answers to questions asked on the personal data questionnaire revealed concern that: 1. Braille is being phased out of private and public school programs with "mainstreaming situations"; 2. Not all technology is suitable for all visually impaired persons; 3. An individual still needs to know and use Braille for such advanced technology as the "paperless Braille" machines; 4. The need remains for retaining Braille in self-communication; 5. Spelling, punctuation and composition are learned with Braille usage while syntax and grammar may be acquired through aural means (compressed speech, talking book cassettes, and discs); 6. Compressed speech becomes valuable in reducing time spent in listening to taped material, lectures, etc., and is especially helpful to speed up a slow speaker; 7. The speed of reading Braille needs further research; and 8. The use of either Braille or compressed speech is individualized; however, both could be used as complementary learning techniques. Recommendations for further study include using sensory-integration research to measure tactile and aural learning pathways as well as to predict success for the blind learner with either tactile or aural integration preference. This research should also include investigation into such questions as: 1. How does blindness effect motor outputs and perceptual skills, thus how does a visual impairment affect learning? 2. Of the primary sensory inputs, do the congenitally or adventitiously blind have a greater or lesser functional ability with one specific sensory modality? Studies considering personality characteristics of successful Braille or compressed speech users should be investigated. It is also recommended that this research include independence and dependence traits with respect to success with tactual or aural preference. It also appears appropriate to investigate the inconsistency of educational levels and paucity of job equivalency or opportunities. Research regarding the use of Braille and compressed speech in job related tasks might be informative data to gather.
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