Congratulations to the graduates of the 2015 CBVH Pre-College Program!

The English professors and Technology instructors of Echoes Instructional Design, Inc. enjoyed hosting virtual classes for students at both Lemoyne and Manhattanville Colleges in New York State as part of the NYS Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped’s 2015 Pre-College Program.  Students experienced a complete college-immersion experience including dorm-living, classes, campus activities, and off-campus trips.

Our staff enjoyed getting to know the students in the online learning environment, using the latest conferencing and course management technologies. For many students, this was their first exposure to online learning. We are proud that with proper training and support, these students not only adjusted, but flourished. Many students demonstrated significant growth in their writing skills and in their proficiency with technology.  As colleges and universities continue shifting toward online and hybrid courses, we will continue to help our students develop these critical new learning skills.

We look forward to having these Pre-College Program alumni back next year to share tips and stories with the next generation of students!

Before you write your next paper, write an outline

If you read the subject of this post and thought “oh no, an outline! What a waste of time,” you’re probably not alone.
Many times, we just think it is easer to sit in front of our computers and let the words flow. But having an outline can really save a lot of time and frustration when you’re working on your next essay. An outline is a roadmap to your paper. When you’re sitting in front of the computer and you suddenly can’t figure out what to write next, take a look at your outline for a clue.
An article published at the popular Website Lifehacker advises that we remember to create full outlines. We tend to only create outlines based on topics or questions, but as the article suggests, including answers to your questions will make for a more pleasant writing experience.
Say, for example, we are writing an essay about Braille. One question or topic we might discuss is: how do you form the Braille alphabet. Instead of writing that in our outline and moving onto the next topic, we would first describe how the Braille alphabet is formed. That way, the details are al there, waiting to be worked into our paper.
Here’s the link to the Lifehacker article.

Proofread with Your Ears

Whether you’re writing an email to a professor or polishing that dreaded end-of-semester term-paper, proofreading should be an essential step before you finalize your work. Careful proofreading can help you locate grammar problems and give you an overall picture of the clarity and structure of your writing.
When you think of proofreading, you probably think of reading over your writing with a pen in your hand, or painstakingly going through your paper with your computer, or maybe embossing a copy in Braille and reading it line by line. While you should proofread your work carefully in these ways, there’s another way that involves more than reading. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your ears when proofreading your work:
1. Take your piece of writing and read it out loud. Imagine that it’s someone else’s work; that will help you check that it makes sense.
2. If you’re blind and have access to a Braille display, you can read it from there.
3. Focus on the sound of your voice. Are you noticing that you’re not pausing where there should be sentence breaks? Do you have too many pauses in your sentences? Are you hearing the same words used over and over again?
4. If you’re using a screen-reader, let it read your writing in its entirety first. After reviewing your paper as a whole, then go back and correct errors you may have heard along the way, and examine your paper in more detail.
5. Try changing the voice of your screen-reader. Sometimes, hearing text with a new voice will give you fresh perspective.
5. Create a sound-scheme for editing if your screen-reader allows. This can help clarify where you’ve used (or forgotten to use), different type set.
6. If you have a recorder, record yourself reading your work out loud. Play your work back the next day. Sleeping on your writing can give you fresh perspective, as well. After stepping away from your paper for a while, you might realize that your body paragraphs don’t relate very well to each other and your introduction.
7. Ask someone to read your work out loud. In addition to helping you spot errors, hearing your writing read back in someone else’s voice might cause a lightbulb to go off in your head. Perhaps that sentence really belongs in the previous paragraph…
While proofreading takes time, it might just help you make that A on your next paper, or help you express yourself more clearly when you’re writing an important message.

Echoes Instructional Joins the NYS CBVH Summer Pre-College Program

Echoes Instructional Design, Inc. is pleased to join the NYS Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped’s Sumer 2013 Pre- College Program!  In this four week residential program, participants will experience college life first hand as they develop research, writing, technology, and independent living skills.  Echoes Instructional Design’s Developmental Writing Seminar (DWS) has been incorporated into the program to provide challenging academic and technological instruction.

The DWS program uses the framework of a Freshman English class to  introduce writing techniques and new technologies via online learning with real-time discussion.   Our goal is to help students develop fluency with mainstream, accessible tools and applications to facilitate college academics. Our Writing Professors, Technology Specialists, and Distinguished Guests will work closely with participants to challenge, guide, and inspire.

Dates: Saturday July 13, 2013 through Friday, August 9, 2013

Where: Choice of two campuses

  1. LeMoyne College ( in Syracuse, NY, facilitated by Aurora of Central NY
  2. Manhattanville College ( in Purchase, NY, facilitated by Visions of NYC

Who: To be eligible, students must be NYS residents who are legally blind and going into their senior year of high school in the fall of 2013. The program is strongly recommended for students requesting CBVH college sponsorship.

Contact: Your NYS CBVH Counselor

Folders: Find Those Freshman Notes Your Senior Year

If you’re preparing for college, you’ve probably heard how important it is to stay organized. From writing down your assignments to time-management, staying organized comes into play in nearly every aspect of college life. And, when you enter the working world, it’s a skill you’ll be glad you have polished well. Here’s just one basic tip that can help you keep track of all of those critical class notes and papers-in-progress–it was very helpful for me.
Once you have your schedule all set, sit down at your computer. Create a folder with the name of the semester. For example, you might have a folder called “Fall 2012.” Then, within each folder, create folders for each of your classes. Remember to make the names of your folders clear and specific. That way, a year later, when you’re studying for that French final, and you want a quick reminder on how to form the negative, you can pull up your notes from Introduction to French as reference.
If you’re taking notes on your laptop in class, remember to save them in the correct folder and with a clear file name for later retrieval. To make your notes even more useful, consider using a service like Dropox for access from just about anywhere. If you’re working on a term project for one of your classes, consider giving that project its own folder. You’ll be able to find it easier, and put all of your research information as well as drafts in progress all in one place.
Most important, come up with an organizational system that works for you, and stick to it. Staying organized can save you a lot of agitation, So next time you’re looking for that paper you started last week, you’ll know exactly where to find it.