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Ashleigh's Design Narrative - Teaching Support Workers to Convert Print to Alternative Formats

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Ashleigh Brownsmith
25 March 2013


Teaching Support Workers to Convert Print to Alternative Formats


I facilitated the session.


Training sessions are scheduled on an ad-hoc basis throughout the year, as required.  Sessions are offered to Educational Support Workers (recruited solely to work with disabled students) and to members of staff throughout the institution. Training sessions take place in a small computer room within the library.  There are 8 PC’s, arranged in 2 rows, and one for the facilitator, which is attached to a projector.  Each PC has a book scanner.  The room has height adjustable desks, and additional resources, such as a Braille printer and CCTV (  is available.  The room is usually used as an open access lab for students with disabilities.

There were a total of 5 people in the session, myself, 3 support workers and a student with whom one of the trainee’s would be working.  For this session the student would assess/provide authentic feedback for all learners.


The objective of the session was for the support workers to be able to convert inaccessible printed or electronic materials into an alternative format so students could access it effectively.  In this session this was Braille. 


  1. Contacted all participants with information about date, time, venue, etc
  2. Welcome
  3. Introduction – interactive session asking what is Braille.  Examples provided.
  4. Alphabet exercise. Braille alphabet provided, along with a brief message in Braille      to decipher.
  5. Introduction (cont) - What we are trying to achieve and why
  6. Demonstration of process
  7. Materials to be converted handed out
  8. Tutor guided activity – conversion of materials
  9. Students try to convert further materials – supported by tutor
  10. Results checked by visually impaired student
  11. Feedback provided to learners
  12. Further attempts of conversion, some with inappropriate (diagrams/photographs/etc)      and electronic texts – introduction to advanced features if required
  13. Further feedback.
  14. Summary/conclusions
  15. Provision of supporting materials


By then end of the session the learners could take printed text and inaccessible electronic texts and convert to Braille.  In addition, they learned why this is necessary, and why in some cases it would not be appropriate/desirable to do this in all situations.  As the conversion is a two step process they could also convert to electronic text (where necessary).  Students also learned why this was necessary, and what other formats could be created from electronic texts (though not how to do so).  Having a student there meant that they were able to receive authentic feedback, and see how results could be improved in real time.  This meant that, once completed students were offered high quality support, which is noted in responses to our annual student survey.


The best part of this session is the feedback provided by the student, without this it loses much of its authenticity, and believability.  Learners seem to be able to better understand the difficulties when they can see them for themselves, rather than having them explained by a trainer. 

The hands on approach also seems to be popular with learners, as this is a practical task and the experience of doing it seems to keep everyone engaged.  Working in small groups allows the support workers to discuss problems/progress with one another (especially as the same student evaluates all work so can compare), which keeps the session light-hearted.

Additional Resources

I have also created a CompendiumLD jpeg illustrating this activity, and a word document from PPC (PPC file itself is available below) Conversion CompendiumLD.jpg Conversion Excercise.doc


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