Using the Talking Tactile Tablet as a Testing Accommodation
RREFBVI Volume 38, Number 1, ISSN 0899-1510
Over the past decade, testing has become an important component of education reform efforts. Currently, 49 states have formal programs that annually test students in all public schools. Although the subject areas and grade levels tested vary widely across states, the most recent federal education legislation requires all states to administer annual mathematics and language arts tests to students in Grades 3-8. Federal legislation also requires that education agencies, including local schools and state departments of education, provide accommodations for students with special needs so that tests measure the capabilities of disabled applicants and not their impairments. For students who are blind or have visual impairments, several types of accommodations may be provided, including Braille or large-print versions of the test, assistive devices, and test administrators who read items and responses aloud to the test taker. Earlier research in special education indicates that these accommodations have mixed results on the performance of students. This article describes a device, the "Talking Tactile Tablet" (TTT) that attempts to deliver a multi-sensory presentation of standardized test items to students who are blind or visually impaired. The TTT is a peripheral device that allows the user to interact with the computer through textured plastic sheets placed on top of the device. These sheets can contain graphics, buttons for a calculator, maps, diagrams, or other types of images. As the user presses on an object or segment of an object, information is transmitted to the computer as x, y coordinates. These coordinates are then used to perform various prescribed functions, such as making a menu selection, verbally identifying a diagram or portion of a diagram, or selecting a multiple-choice response. In the study reported, it was found that, although the TTT had no effect on student performance, the findings suggested four advantages to its use: (1) It may allow studentsto complete tests more quickly without diminishing their performances; (2) It provides students with more independence when performing a test that involves graphic elements; (3) It eliminates the opportunity for a test administrator to assist students inadvertently during testing; and (4) It increases the standardization of test delivery by presenting items in the same format, allowing students access to the same tools, and eliminating the need for a human proctor to inadvertently influence test performance. (Contains 2 figures, 3 tables, and 1 endnote.)
Landau, S., Russell, M. & Erin, J.N. (2006). Using the Talking Tactile Tablet as a Testing Accommodation. RE:view: Rehabilitation Education for Blindness and Visual Impairment, 38(1), 7-21.