The quality of brailled instructional materials produced in Texas public schools



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This study investigated the quality of braille transcription in public schools in Texas. In the first phase, an electronic survey of 94 school personnel across the state found that instructional materials are often transcribed by a variety of personnel not certified by the Library of Congress. In addition, the majority of survey respondents felt that their initial training had not adequately prepared them. Not surprisingly, transcribers and braillists reported that they spent more time each week transcribing materials than did teachers of the visually impaired. In the second phase, 40 transcriptions prepared by school personnel were examined. The quality of the transcriptions varied greatly. More than 30% (n=13) of the transcriptions contained four or less errors. The other transcriptions (n=27) contained a variety of contraction errors, misspelled words, misformed characters, omission of letters or words, insertion of additional letters, detectable erasures, and formatting errors. Perception of quality by the person transcribing often did not reflect the actual quality of the transcription. The data in this study indicated that neither years of experience nor certification status have a decisive effect on quality. On the other hand, the salient characteristic in predicting the quality of braille produced by the participants was time spent each week transcribing materials, which, in turn, was associated with the job role of the participant. In the third phase, members of a focus group assessed a representative subset of the transcriptions. The findings of the focus group revealed that errors would prevent legibility for some students, and that errors in transcribing negatively affect the academic performance of braille readers. The data in all three phases supported the need for developing a formal definition of quality in braille transcribing and providing ongoing, standardized training for school personnel. Perhaps most importantly, the data gained from this study supported the hypothesis that braille readers receive instructional materials that are not equal in quality to those received by other students.