Design Document Overview



Learning American English

By Craig McKey and David Sampson

March, 2017

Overview of Design Document

Our design document is to give instructional design plans and solutions to ARISE Impact, an Indian not-for-profit organization that enables self-learning for the differently enabled. Specifically, our document will focus on visually impaired students from India who will be attending college in the United States. Our goal is to design learning tools that help visually impaired students speak and understand common American English phrases, slang terms, idioms, and acronyms.

According to Thomas Politzer, O.D. (2008), former President of the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA), vision is our most dominant sense.  As such, we will be required to compensate for our student’s impairment of this important sensory feedback by focusing on the other senses, primarily sound and touch.


Summary of Analysis

The learners:

  • The learners will be students that can utilize self-learning both inside and outside the classroom. We have highlighted two students for this document, Kartik, a freshman at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA and Sunjay, a freshman at the University of Colorado, Denver in Denver, CO (see appendix).
  • Though both Universities are in urban areas, our plan is that this instructional material will be useful to other students in both urban and rural colleges.

The problem:

Our students are visually impaired students who plan to move from India to the United States to attend college.  Their native language is Hindi, and although they typically have some basic knowledge of English, they will not have knowledge of common phrases, slang, idioms, and acronyms that they will encounter when they arrive in the U.S.  This learning solution is designed to help them avoid embarrassment and/or difficulties communicating in their new environment.


Figure 1: Example Learner Profile


Instructional Design Model

We will be using the ADDIE model. We chose this model because it is the model we’re most familiar with and have the most experience with. According to Khalil and Elkhider (2016), “To produce effective instruction, all instructional design models require the following phases: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation.”

  • Analysis:  Our analysis will include communication with ARISE Impact to ensure that our proposed learning solution and instructional objectives meet their expectations. We will discuss with ARISE Impact if they either have the option of printing the product in braille for students without computers, or if they have the capital to give lower income students an mp3 player with the course work preloaded on it. In addition, we will work with the learners identified above to develop solutions that will help them complete the course and are compatible with their impairments.  We will determine our assessment strategy based on each technology.
  • Design: We will design the learning solution to use the technologies that are available to the students, either a web based course, a printed braille packet, or a downloadable mp3 file depending on their situation (internet connections at home, etc.).  The modules will be designed to be independent so that the students can take them in any order.  As part of the design process, we will work with the ARISE Impact group to get continuous feedback from them.  Included will be an assessment strategy that is designed for the web based course (see the assessment section below).
  • Development:  The development will start with the web-based course with the intention of extracting the information and course materials to the other technologies (mp3, printed).  As much as possible, the modules will include examples from TV, the internet, and other popular sources in order to provide cultural references to the students.  We will establish two review sessions with ARISE Impact in order to get their feedback during the development process.  These review sessions will be at the midpoint of the development work, and at the end of the development work.  Website development will include a review by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) consulting services for overall compatibility with AFB design principles.
  • Implementation: Implementation of the learning solution will be done in two stages.  The first stage will be releasing the product to a test group of a limited size. Once the test group has completed the material and given us feedback on the product, we will make revisions as needed and then release the revised learning solution to the general public.
  • Evaluation: We will include two points of evaluation for the learning solution.  First, we will include an online evaluation questionnaire as part of the web based course.  We will also mention in the mp3 format that we would like evaluations from the students, and that they can submit an evaluation at the web site.  Second, we will communicate with ARISE Impact 3 months after the initial roll-out to the public and get feedback about the quality, usefulness, and usability of the learning solution.  If agreed upon, changes will be made to the learning solution.


Proposed Learning Solution

  • Our learning solution will be split into three modules based on the different needs of the students.  Each module will be independent of the other modules and can be taken in any order.  In addition, the modules will be presented in three different technologies so that the instruction will be accessible to the students even when they don’t have access to advanced technologies.
  • The three modules of the course will be:
    • Words/phrases/acronyms that they will encounter in casual conversations, jokes, etc.
    • Words/phrases/acronyms that they will encounter in their academic interactions, such as phrases common in research papers, proposals, etc.
    • Words/phrases/acronyms that they will encounter in their daily interactions in the community, such as shopping, renting apartments, etc.
  • Depending on resources, three technologies will be available to the students, including:
    • Online material that will use both auditory clips and text-to-speech material, with TTS readers available.
    • Podcast style MP3 files that can be downloaded to a student’s listening device and be transported as needed.
    • Printed braille packets.
  • Assessments will be part of the online course.  When students take the course online, the assessments will be integrated into the end of each module.  The assessment will be an online multiple choice quiz.  For the mp3 and braille solutions, the students will be encouraged to complete the assessments at a later date, earning a certificate if they complete the assessment.  To remind students to take the assessment, 3 weekly emails will be sent to them to remind the student to submit the assessment. Results of the assessments will be shared with ARISE Impact.


Instructional Objectives

The students will be able to:

  • Describe the difference between slang and literal terms for words.
  • Identify common acronyms in braille that they may encounter on exams, syllabi and other documents in class.
  • Identify the names of common places (power company, DMV, etc.) that they will need to visit in their community.
  • Recognize and speak the American names of common modes of transportation that they will use around town.
  • Correctly use the words and phrases in conversations with native speakers.


Evaluation Plan (placeholder for now)












Solution Mock-Up


Figure 2: Desktop and Tablet Mock-Up Example












Mobile view:

Figure 3: Mobile Mock-Up Example








  • Students will be able to complete the three modules in approximately one and a half months if they use our guidance.
  • The modules will take approximately six months to design and build and be ready for use by students.
  • Approximately three months after student use, we will have feedback from students to share with our client.
  • If changes are needed to our modules, we will make the adjustments and update the modules.




Figure 4: Schedule


With the language and vision barrier being an issue, this project will take approximately five and a half months to launch from phase one. ARISE Impact will be have to be integral communication partners with us to help us stay on our time estimated timeline. The development phase will be the longest part of our project so we can ensure accuracy in language translation. After the implementation phase and product launch, we will have feedback for our client approximately three months later. After enough viable feedback, we will be able to make changes to the product so that it is useful to the student’s needs.









Communication Plan

Our communication plan with ARISE Impact will include the following:

  • The technology we will use for our primary communication with ARISE Impact will be Slack. This service will allow two way video and voice calls, up to 5gb of sharable information and would be accessible from Windows, Mac OS or Android. If a larger video call would be needed, we would utilize Skype or WebEx.
  • Initial contact during the analysis phase.  We will gather information from them about their objectives, expected funding, and desired timeline.   We will also get contact information for students that we can work with during the design phase.
  • Provide an initial design proposal at the start of the design process in order to  get approval of the concept.  Solicit feedback and discuss any  questions or concerns.
  • Have daily or weekly contact with ARISE Impact staff as needed throughout the design process.
  • Provide a detailed design document at the end of the design process.  Solicit feedback and discuss concerns.  Get agreement on the concept prior to starting development.
  • Provide a status update mid-way through the development process and solicit feedback.  Inquire about any changes, modifications that may have occurred since the last communication.  Discuss issues about timelines, budgets, etc.
  • Schedule a final review prior to implementation. Get agreement on functionality. Discuss any further concerns.
  • Provide contact information for technical support.  ARISE Impact will be given access to the course site to gather assessment data.
  • After 3 months of usage, contact ARISE Impact for a formal review session.



Our design document outlined our learners, our desired content, design model and our assumptions of what will happen in our project. Our modules will be accessible three ways: web-based, mobile (audio) and written (braille). The project will require translation, so it will take almost six months to complete.


Communication with ARISE Impact is going to be key to this project’s success. We will have open communication with ARISE throughout our entire project design process and keep them up to date with our progress, timelines and any issues we may encounter.


Once the modules are complete, a student will work at their own pace to complete the modules. We estimate that a student should be able to complete the modules in 1-2 hours and if they continue to reuse the modules, they should have a mastery understanding of the words, phrases and acronyms they encounter in casual conversation, in an academic environment and in daily conversation they would encounter in the community, in 1-2 months.


At the end of each module, an assessment will be given that the students will be encouraged to take. Once we compile the results of the assessments, we will work with ARISE Impact to discuss any modification either we or ARISE feel need to be made within the modules and assess a timeline for those modifications, if any.



Politzer, Thomas (2008). Vision Is Our Dominant Sense. Retrieved from:

Khalil, M. K., & Elkhider, I. A. (2016). Applying learning theories and instructional design models for effective instruction. Advances in Physiology Education, 40(2), 147-156. doi:10.1152/advan.00138.2015



Learner Persona Profile #1



Kartik is an 18-year old, visually impaired student from India who has been accepted at Stanford University in the Computer Science program.  He lives in Lajpat Nagar, Delhi where his father owns a car accessory store and his mother is a homemaker.  He has a twin sister and older brother.  Although blind from birth, Kartik hasn’t let his impairment keep him from achieving his dream of becoming an engineer.

Kartik excelled in Science and Technology in school, but he discovered that blind students are prevented from pursuing science and technology courses after grade 10.  Not willing to take “no” for an answer, Kartik challenged the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to allow him to study Science and Technology in grade 11 and beyond.  The CBSE initially wasn’t convinced that he could successfully process the visual material (graphs, diagrams, and models) that are a required part of the program.  After writing more than two dozen letters to the CBSE requesting permission to continue his studies, he was finally allowed to proceed.  Fortunately, his secondary school – Delhi Public School, R K Purham – was willing to help him with the materials, and he successfully completed the program, scoring a 96 percent in his class 12 CBSE exam, a first for a blind person.

Although scoring 99 out of 100 in his Science and Technology test with the Score Foundation, he was denied the opportunity to take the entrance exams for the Indian Institutes of Technology (known as the Joint Entrance Exams – Advanced), the sole entrance exam to the 23 Indian Institutes of Technology.  Although disappointed that he couldn’t attend the schools that he wanted, he didn’t let this setback keep him from pursuing his dream.

With the help of an NGO, Kartik applied for, and received, a full scholarship at Stanford University.  Katik is preparing for his Freshman year in the Computer Science program. Although having some experience with English at his secondary school, Kartik will need more advanced English training in order to prepare for his time in the United States.

Katik is clearly a very dedicated and persistent student.  He is highly motivated to complete the degree.  Additional English language training will provide him with the skills necessary to be successful.


Act to Rise for Impact in Special Education is an organization dedicated to providing special education opportunities to the visually impaired in India.  As stated on their web site, “Through language fluency and conceptual learning, these Modules have helped transform their education, increase employability and thus boost their self-confidence dramatically.”  Kartik will face many challenges as a visually impaired student in a foreign environment. But our Special Education Model (SEM) on learning the English language will provide him with training that will help him in his transition to this difficult environment.

The SEM will be based on teaching English language skills needed as a Freshman entering college.  It will use technology to enhance the learning experience including computers, mobile phones, and other devices designed for the visually impaired.  The course will also use software that will enhance the learning experience including Braille translation software, speech access software, and scanned material access software.


Kartik is a highly-motivated student and will likely succeed at the course given the proper resources.  He will need resources to translate the lessons from Hindi, his native language, to English, and from English to Hindi. It is likely that he will need a tutor to assist him with items such as installing software and hardware, at least during the early stages.  The tutors should also be available to make sure that he gets started on the course and that he feels comfortable doing the lessons on his own.

Special consideration needs to be made for the location of the lessons since Kartik may or may not be able to travel.  We will need to design the course to provide an independence of location, such as mobile learning, or learning from home.  It will be important for Kartik to meet and interact with other students at Stanford University and the surrounding community.  We will include opportunities for him to make these connections before he leaves for the United States.

Kartik has some basic English skills that should help him advance quickly through the material.  Early stages of the instruction should focus on reinforcing and correcting his existing knowledge. Later stages should focus on introducing some of the advanced skills that will be necessary in the Computer Sciences program at Stanford.


We will need to build a SEM that recognizes the difficulty that visually impaired students have with English language lessons.  Many language courses use visuals to enhance the learning experience, but we will need to find a way to translate these images into spoken words that convey the same meaning. We will need to find ways to support him in his native language of Hindi when he has questions or problems that can’t be resolved in English.  It will also be beneficial to him if he can connect with other students from India who are enrolled in the same program, or similar programs.  Because of Kartik’s high motivation, a self-paced course will be an appropriate model for the course.

Learner Persona Profile #2



Sunjay is a 17-year-old visually impaired student that recently decided that he was going to attend CU Denver for college. Though he is visually impaired, he is not completely blind. He comes from a middle-class family in the Punjab region of India. His father is an engineer and his mother is a teacher at the local elementary school. He is the oldest of three children. He has family that has studied in the United States, but not at CU Denver, where he is going to attend.

Sunjay enjoys music, hanging out with his friends, and playing sports that visually impaired individuals can play such as bowling and swimming. He is attending CU Denver to study biology to hopefully attend Medical School at CU Denver Anschutz Medical School after he is done with his undergrad.

Sunjay is coming to the United States for the second time, but this will be his first time in Colorado. He is moving to Denver early to try to get a feel for things, a month before fall semester starts.



Sunjay is going to need help adjusting to life outside of India, and he is also going to need help taking on college courses. Though he was a good high school student, this new-found independence is going to be an adjustment for him. He is going to have to utilize ARISE Impact to help with self-learning, and to get techniques to help him in his classes.

ARISE Impact is a non-profit from his region in India that can help him succeed in this stage of his life. The content and methodologies that they have already created to assist children that have some type of disability should help Sunjay in his classes.

Our Special Education Model (SEM) is going to focus on learning and speaking the English language because this is going to be something Sunjay will need help with in his new environment. He speaks a little English, but not enough to feel comfortable in a new city. This SEM will utilize technology to help Sunjay learn these new skills including computers and mobile devices designed for those with visual impairments like Sunjay has.


Sunjay is going to have quite a few obstacles to deal with entering this new, foreign environment. He is going to want to do things other than school work as well. He is going to join clubs on campus, he is going to make new friends and have a social life outside of taking classes. Both Sunjay and ARISE are going to have to think of ways to stay connected to ensure that he is successful.

He will be living in dormitories his freshman year, so he’ll have internet readily available to him. He will need help getting connected to WiFi and to the network, which the University will provide someone to do this. He has utilized the internet for most of his life and this has been a way that he has researched and learned new things. Having a good amount of content for Sunjay to access through ARISE will be vital to help him to learn the English he needs to learn to succeed in his new environment.

Our SEM will focus on utilizing the English he already knows and how he can utilize this knowledge to help him immerse in the culture he is now in. The courses will gradually get more advanced and eventually he will start learning English that will be needed to succeed in a biology degree.


Our SEM is going to have to have content that Sunjay can access 24 hrs. a day, 7 days a week so he can learn English on his own time, and hopefully at a rapid pace. Having all this content easy to find online, should help Sunjay succeed. An advantage to having this SEM online is that even though Sunjay is halfway around the world, he can access this information at anytime from anywhere and he can reference this information whenever he needs to. The biggest disadvantage to this is that most of this technology is visual based, which is going to be tough to create a SEM that can help those like Sunjay who is visually impaired. Another resource for Sunjay would be to join an organization such as the Indian Student Association at CU Denver, which would connect him with other students who may be from India or have a family ancestry from India.

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