Most blind people have had some vision in their lives. Many go blind later in life. They’ve spent their lives learning through multiple senses. To great extent, the way people learn carries over from previous learning experiences. They need more than a series of keystrokes or an explanation of what is happening at the cursor. They need to know the environment in which they’re working.
Many blind people are visual learners. They need to know what the display looks like. They need to know the display layout. When they understand where ribbons, menus, and toolbars are, they have a more productive learning experience. They can visualize the display and how the screen reader and cursor fit into the overall picture.
Students who have been blind since birth also benefit from explanations of display layouts. It helps them put their computer interaction in perspective. In some cases, you may need to pull an analogy of out of your arsenal to explain the display with tactile references. This is one of the reasons I use a virtual ruler to explain typical display layouts. Everyone knows what a ruler is and can understand application layouts.
By insuring students understand application layouts, we set a foundation for a successful training experience. When students realize you understand the display they are more engaged in the training and have more successful outcomes.
In all ATI training materials, we teach students not only how to navigate and interact with applications but take special care to explain display layouts and what happens when actions are taken. This insures students who have the skills they need to succeed.