Revised Questions: Oral Histories Regarding Braille

I am sincerely grateful for all of the feedback I received (in various channels) about my last post. Below I list the questions I ended up asking during the first three interviews I conducted. Keep in mind that the interviews were much more like conversations than this somewhat sterile list of questions might imply.

A hand reading braille.

  1. Please tell us a little about yourself.
  2. What is your experience today with using braille in everyday life?
  3. What do you remember about when you first started learning braille?
  4. What was the hardest thing about learning braille?
  5. Looking back now, what’s your opinion of the way you were taught braille?
  6. Today, when you read for pleasure, what kind of material do you read and how do you read it? (audio? braille?)
  7. Some say that listening to a book is not an example of literacy and that only by reading through braille is a person literate. What’s your opinion?
  8. With new technologies making it so easy to listen to books and other kinds of writing, is there a good reason to preserve braille and keep teaching people how to use it?
  9. Do braille readers have any advantages over sighted readers?
  10. Let’s turn now from reading to writing. How do you compose your writing? What tools do you use? How do you edit? Do you use a brailler?
  11. When you were a child, did you have any adult role models who were visually impaired or blind?
  12. Do you think it’s important for young people who are visually impaired or blind to have adult role models who are, too?
  13. As far as you know, are you a role model to any young people?

[Photo by Flickr user antonioxalonso. Licensed under Creative Commons.]

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Collecting Oral Histories Regarding Braille

As part of a project involving USC Upstate’s Special Education – Visual Impairment program and the University of South Carolina Center for Digital Humanities, I’ll be helping to gather oral histories from individuals all over the state covering their experiences with braille: teachers, students, adults, children, parents, friends…

One of the undergraduate student assistants on the project, Rashad Morgan, generated the following questions, which I think are good ones. However, we’d appreciate feedback from anyone who has some experience with oral histories. For one thing, I suspect that we currently have too many questions.

Any and all feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Ice Breakers

  1. In one minute or less, tell me about you?
  2. What are some of your hobbies or things you enjoy doing?
  3. Who is your favorite person in the world to be with?
  4. How long have you known them?
  5. Are you nervous or worried about being interviewed? (If they are, then try to comfort them.)

Questions for Older Individuals

  1. What are your feelings about braille and how do you use braille in your daily life?
  2. What is one of your favorite memories about learning braille?
  3. How long did it take for you to learn to read braille?
  4. What advice would you give to other people who are learning braille?
  5. What was the most difficult thing about learning braille and why?
  6. Looking back, what, if anything, could have been done to make your experience learning braille easier or go more smoothly?
  7. How do you feel about reading braille either in conjunction or instead of print?
  8. Does it ever make you feel awkward or different from everybody else?
  9. Does reading and writing in braille make life more challenging? If so, what are some of the challenges?

Questions for Younger Individuals

  1. What are your feelings about braille and how do you use braille in your daily life?
  2. What are some of the fun things about learning and using braille?
  3. Do you have braille books that you enjoy reading?
  4. If so, what are your favorites?
  5. What is one of your favorite memories about learning braille?
  6. What was the most difficult thing about learning braille and why?
  7. What advice would you give to other people who are learning braille?
  8. How do you feel in the classroom when you read braille and others use print?
  9. Do other students and/or others treat you differently because you are different from them or because you read braille?
  10. Do you have friends that read braille too?
  11. What are your favorite things to do together?
  12. Do you have older friends or family members who read braille?
  13. Do you feel comfortable asking them for help? Why or why not?
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How I teach rhetorical analysis in first-year writing

After the jump you’ll find several links to materials I use for teaching rhetorical analysis as well as explanations of how we go through these different steps. I’m not going to argue that the way I do it is perfect, and I’d be glad to get your feedback if you have some suggestions for improvement.

It takes about 3 or 4 weeks to get from start (introducing the concepts) to finish (gathering up all of the completed essays). Roughly speaking, this is how things happened this semester, when I’m teaching a TTh schedule; if I were to do this in a MWF schedule, I would break things down differently.

If any of the links don’t work, please let me know. You’re free to use any or all of this material, if you choose to.

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Announcing screengrab (2009-09-13_1053)

We had a good launch last week for, the website that Jason B. Jones and I dreamed up this summer and then created with a superhero team of great writers, thinkers, and hackers!

ProfHacker delivers tips, tutorials, and commentary on pedagogy, productivity, and technology in higher education, Monday through Friday.

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Request for feedback: Development of the Graphic Novel


This semester, I’m working on a proposal for a new course: “Development of the Graphic Novel.” It’s a variation of one of our existing genre courses called “Development of the Novel,” which I’ve taught once here and twice at another school. If it’s approved, I probably won’t be teaching this new course for at least another year, which gives me a good chunk of time to prepare.


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