The Sound of Learning: Albano Berberi | Edutopia
Edutopia on Facebook
Edutopia on Twitter
Edutopia on Google+
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

The Sound of Learning: Albano Berberi

Assistive technology helps a blind computer science student and devoted gamer pursue his passions. More to this story.
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share

The Sound of Learning: Albano Berberi (Transcript)

Albano Berberi: Music is pretty much everything. I've been with music pretty much ever since I was born. I started out with a keyboard. I was playing the keyboard ever since I was around 5. They say by one year I was able to play the demo pieces of the keyboards perfectly. And then I started the violin.

And there goes a door. The screen output is minimal at best. Most of the game is played by sound alone. Now I'm just running through a passage. Whew!

Basically I just encountered this mad scientist that goes around stealing my things.

Student: Come on, Albano.

Albano Berberi: If you have like sound orientation skills, you can do it.

Teacher: Let's go to page 275 in our books real quick just so we can review that and then we'll have some people come up to the board.

C minor seven diminish six.

Albano Berberi: Six of two.

Teacher: And the last one is in E major and that's seven diminish six five of four major. So Albano, what did you get for this one?

Albano Berberi: B flat, D flat, and G?

Teacher: B flat from the key signature, D flat and G. Good.

Richard Jackson: This sounds a little strange but in 2008 this is a wonderful time to be blind. Digital documents allow content to be displayed in multiple ways like hearing it, feeling it with braille. Students who couldn't see a computer screen or see a text book page can now listen to the textbook or feel the textbook in a braille version. Students that haven't been able to use their hands for writing papers can now speak to computers and have their speech recognized and converted into print.

Student: Answer, air pressure prevents this from happening. Source-

Richard Jackson: The beauty of universal design is when accessibility features are built into the environment or into an educational system these features are usable by everybody.

Gerald Bilodeau: We're going to go back and review the grid world because the grid world is a big piece of the AP Exam which we have two weeks to get ready for. So today we're going to make a dancing bug.

Albano Berberi: We call it Dancing Bug Runner when it should be Dance Bug Runner maybe?

Teacher: Okay, yeah, you're right.

Terry Maggiore: When he first came here he couldn't speak any English. He spoke Greek only. In a year he learned to speak English. He learned to read and write braille, devoured anything I could give him that had to do with computers. He just has blossomed with that and it allowed him to be able to compete and to just be a part of high school.

Albano Berberi: Wait, should it be in the code or in the folder?

Gerald Bilodeau: One of the things Albano has here on his computer is a program called Jaws which reads to him what's on his screen and he's able to do 90 percent of the work here in computer science using that Jaws program.

Gerald Bilodeau: And in fact I think it actually helps him in doing programming because it walks through the program sequentially. It reads each and every line to him.

Albano Berberi: [Inaudible] backslash, where did they put it? Oh there we go.

Gerald Bilodeau: Doing computer programming is by sequential logic and so where other students tend to get hop around and look for quick solutions, Albano works through it line by line. The other students in class here they get confused a bit by having so many options on the screen whereas if they got through the program step by step sequentially as Jaws reads it for Albano, I think they could benefit greatly from that. It would force them to go through the program line by line which is one thing the students don't want to do and I'd love to have them do it.

Albano Berberi: Oh I set to "H".

Gerald Bilodeau: It's set to "H", yeah.

So what we're going to do first is we're going to share the limericks.

Albano Berberi: The assignment was to write a limerick but I was kind of inspired so I wrote five verses and then I went home and wrote the keyboard line for it.

This is called "Albano's Tale". It's a rather self-ridiculing limerick. I hope you like it because it was fun writing it.

[Singing] "Oh there once was a lad named Albano. It was said he played the piano. So he sat and [inaiudible] and started to clean it 'Let's spin us a tune' said Albano. So Albano [inaudible] and instead started trying to sway, as he tripped and fell flat and his spare [inaudible] went blatt, was a sad and horrible thing."

Teacher: I want you to negotiate by yourself that little curve that goes around the rotary. There you go.

Now just put the map in your head, Albano. We crossed Huntington and we walked on Mass. Ave. Now we've crossed Westland and we took a left turn so what's behind you.

Albano Berberi: So probably it would be actually Mass. Ave.

Teacher: Excellent.

It's like a spiral. It goes all the way around.

Albano Berberi: Oh my god. Ah!

Teacher: It's funny.

Albano Berberi: I'm trapped.

This is almost a fully capable computer. You can type in notes. You can go online.

I'm pretty much signed on to AOL Instant Messenger as soon as I get home.

Computer: Message transmitted.

Albano Berberi: And let's see if he actually says anything back.

There's this game called WarPath. Dinosaurs from Jurassic Park fighting in a fighting arena.

The sound in the game is detailed enough so that I know when I'm the one being hit. The movement is like only backward and forward so there' no way I can stray off a field or something like that.

Oh no you don't.

He is just about dead.

Narrator: For more information on what works in public education, go to

Get Video
Embed Code Embed Help

You are welcome to embed this video, download it for personal use, or use it in a presentation for a conference, class, workshop, or free online course, so long as a prominent credit or link back to Edutopia is included. If you'd like more detailed information about Edutopia's allowed usages, please see the Licenses section of our Terms of Use.


Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Coordinating Producer:

  • Amy Erin Borovoy


  • Christa Collins

Camera Crew:

  • Rob Weller
  • Rob Maerz
  • Ken Ellis

Read a transcript of this video here.

Comments (4)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Debbie Kamm's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I realize the transcript of this short film is available below the film but shouldn't a film on universal design be captioned!?

A separate transcript does not give the same access to the visual input of the film as would a captioned version of the film. Viewers who are deaf/hard-of-hearing have to access this film via a "ramp"/transcript. I would encourage you to go just one more short step and caption the film.

Thom Lohman's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Debbie Kamm nailed it when she said "a separate transcript does not give the same would a captioned version..."

I agree that the film's producers should have this captioned immediately. Incidentally, I work for the U.S. Dept. of Education-funded Described and Captioned Media Program that provides free-loan accessible (described and captioned) educational video to teachers and families of K-12 students with hearing or vision loss, and we're quite familiar with the importance of making educational content accessible.

I would disagree with Debbie that this video needs accessibility more than any of the other videos featured on this site (or on the web) "just because" it's about universal design. ALL films need to be accessible, especially those intended to teach (or assist in teaching).

If the video's producers would like, I would be happy to caption and describe it (open captions and open description for ease of use) for no charge--I volunteer such work in my spare time @ home. If interested, I can be reached at thomaslohman (at) gmail (dot) com.

Ray Hill's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

You're both absolutely right. We've been wanting to close caption all of our videos for quite some time now, but haven't had the resources to do so yet with all the other projects we're juggling.

We've recently started exploring the possibility of crowd-sourcing the production of the close captions, so our community can help us stay up to date. Thom, I'll email you off-list to pick your brain on your experience with this.


Ray Hill Product Manager

Larry Goldberg's picture

Hi Ray and Thom,
Commenting many months later to ask this question:

If you believe crowd-sourcing is a solution for adding captions (as well as video descriptions for blind students), why not crowd-source the video too? After all, if resources are limited, why bother putting so much effort into making the video in the first place?

Obviously a bit too much sarcasm is inherent in my comment - but many web sites, including most of PBS's, have discovered the benefits of properly written, spelled and researched captions, for accessibility as well as search - I would think that Edutopia would have discovered the same. Care and attention to full inclusion deserves equal commitment, not a wish and a hope that someone else will take care of it.

Discussion All Kids Can Code: 4 Factors for Success

Last comment 1 day 27 min ago in Coding in the Classroom

blog The Era of the Teacherpreneur

Last comment 1 hour 25 min ago in Technology Integration

blog 3 Edtech Myths

Last comment 1 week 3 days ago in Technology Integration

Discussion Star Trek: Next Generation - Technology as an Accelerator

Last comment 1 week 3 days ago in Classroom Technology

article New Teachers: Technology-Integration Basics

Last comment 2 weeks 5 days ago in New Teachers

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.