Date: Fri Aug 25 1995 - 06:00:17 PDT

Hi Jim,

I'll give you a brief overview of what I did through college (undergraduate )
in India and graduate school here in the US (Cornell).

1) Note taking: I did not rely on note-takers at all.
Back in India, the only "technology" that I used was a Braille slate, and
yes, my notes were far better than anyone else's in class:-)
I continued to use the Braille slate all through taking classes at Cornell as
In general the only two things that I have done to enable such note-taking is:

a) Sit in front of the class so the instructor does not forget my presence
b) Insist (gently) that instructors speak out everything that
they write on the blackboard.

Bottom line: the more you make your presence in class felt by being an active
participant, the better time you'll have at making sure that nothing passes
you by.
(could be said for any student, not just for someone who is blind)

I never did use an abacus.

b) Back in India, in addition to Braille notes that I wrote in class, I also would have
readers come in and record books for me; I would then paraphrase these in
Braille and recycle the tapes.

Here in the US, things are better because organizations like the RFB do have a
large number of mathematical texts on tape; so you should use that resource.
After coming to the US, I still found preparing my own Braille notes based on
the RFB tapes very helpful.
The advantage being that rather than having to listen to a tape that is six
hours long, you can skim through the Braille notes at your own pace.

You'll need readers to an extent, becuase you may not always find the material
you want available from the RFB.

A few tips:

In general, even if you do not find the particular edition of the text book
that the instructor recommends on tape, you are likely to find say a previous
edition or a similar text by a different author on tape from RFB.
You should go ahead and use what is available, and supplement what is lacking
with readers, i.e.,
if you can find edition I of a book on tape and the class is using edition
III, get edition I on tape from RFB; use it, and use your readers to read the
material that is missing on what you have on tape.

Do not fall into the trap of giving up because the particular book the class
is using is not available on tape.

Finally, you should of course use the advantages provided by computer
(I'm a mathematician turned computer scientist).

I'd recommend the following:

a) If you're not already familiar with using computers for writing your papers
etc. start getting used to it; it's an asset that you will not regret having.

What to use?

Personally, I'd recommend you use TeX/LaTeX for writing your mathematics. The
advantage is that it is a fairly simple notation to start with (gets hairier
as the math gets hairier) but at the end of the day, you'll produce reliable,
beautiful visual output for your teachers to look at. This is important; I'd
urge you to do all you can to produce output that your teachers can work with,
rather than follow the route of hoping that teachers
will prove "lenient". In general, a "lenient" teacher is a detriment to your
getting the best of any class you take.

Incidentally, at Cornell I even submitted a few take home exams by writing the
solutions in TeX and typesetting the output; I ended up with answer sheets
that looked a lot cleaner than what everyone else turned in.
(This did prove a disadvantage for homework assignments though:-<smile> the
teaching assistants could spot my mistakes far easier than they could in
assignments that had been scribbled out by hand).

Anyway, I'll stop for now; if you have further questions or feel that I can
help you in anyway, please do not hesitate to write.



Best Regards, ____________________________________________________________________________ --raman

Digital Equipment Corporation CRL: 617/692-7637 DTN: 259-7637 Cambridge Research Lab FAX: 617/692-7650 DTN: 259-7650 One Kendall Square, Bldg 700 INET: Cambridge, MA 02139 PROJS: AUDIO-WWW, Multimedia Research (Digital Internal) (Digital External) (Cornell)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are my own and in no way should be taken as representative of my employer Digital Equipment Corporation. ____________________________________________________________________________

From: ab392@rgfn.epcc.Edu (Jim A Portillo) To: Multiple recipients of list <> Subject: Math/science Date: Thu, 24 Aug 1995 19:52:40 -0700

Greetings, My name is Jim and I'm new to this list. I have a couple of questions which maybe the people in this group could help me with dealing with Math and Science classes at the college level. I'll be taking college Algebra this semester (which is next week). I'd like any tips or suggestions on taking the class and being able to fully participate in it. In High school, I had my materials in braille and very lenient teachers who only counted tests. In college, I won't have anything in braille and I'm not sure how lenient professors will be. What kind of equipment would be best for me to use in my Algebra class. Will I have to rely solely on readers and note takers to get me through the class, or will I also be able to take notes? Actually, what were some of the note taking methods anyone used for taking Math notes (braille, tape, etc)? How much can a slate and an abacus help? My other question is very similar except that it deals with a Biology class and a lab. I have no idea how lab classes work or what I will be able to do in the class. What can a blind person do in the lab? I know interpretation of pictures and diagrams is out, right? What expectations can I put on myself and what can teachers expect so that I can be successful in these classes? What alternative techniques will help me besides Braille? Any suggestions, stories, methods, etc will be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot. Jim 

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