Disability awareness for Cub Scouts

Cubs experiencing how the blind use a screen readerI was asked to come talk to the Cub Scouts about how blind people use computers. Their monthly pack meeting had the theme: understanding and compassion. The leaders decided to give them some experiences related to disabilities, so they set up several learning stations including wheelchair courses, language understanding games, limb loss simulation, mobility restriction, and the challenges of blindness.

I brought a computer with a screen reader (software for the blind that reads everything on the screen). I also brought a blindfold. I created a simple quiz with three questions. After explaining, I blindfolded one boy and he had the challenge to take the quiz by navigating using the spoken text from the screen reader and answering the questions.

The boys all laughed at the mechanical voice of the screen reader. My first volunteer actually did quite well. He was 11. However younger boys did poorly, primarily because they had zero keyboarding skills. In the end it was just as interesting for them to move up and down in a simple document. More of them had turns that way as well. I guess I didn’t need to spend two hours coding up that quiz page. Oh well. The quiz is here, if you ever want to use it and modify it. Works best on IE with JAWS.

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