Assistive Technology for the visually impaired isn’t just necessary for reading assignments. Assistive technology can be used throughout the school day to make most classes more accessible. You may be surprised at the variety of devices available, and for what subjects they can be used. Adapting reading assignments is one of the top uses of technology, but you can also find uses for math and writing.
Assistive Technology For Reading
Enlarged text is a good choice for people who have low vision. Sometimes acquiring large text is as easy as ordering the “large print” edition of a book or textbook. When that’s not an option, pages can be enlarged on a copying machine, or printouts can be adjusted through your computer’s word processing program. Enlarged text can be used efficiently up to about 24 point. After that, other magnification options should be explored.
Magnifiers are another thing to try. When you don’t have time to enlarge the text ahead of time, hand magnifiers are a quick way of making print bigger. Some magnifiers magnify sections of the page, while others magnify the full page.
Finding books written in braille is a modification for those who are blind. The National Library Service provides free braille books and will deliver them postage-free. If necessary, instruction sheets, class notes, and other customized information texts can be created on a Brailler. Bookshare, a Global Literacy initiative of the nonprofit technology company, Benetech, has the largest collection of accessible titles. Bookshare books can be read in a variety of different ways, and membership is free to United States students and schools. Other organizations can receive books for a minimal fee.
Audiobooks are also an option for many text books and classic literature. Audiobook delivery is another free program offered by the National Library Service. Audiobooks can be delivered in hard copy format or instantly downloaded. Audiobooks can be played on devices such as the Plextalk Digital Talking Book Player, which accepts books on CD as well as other digital formats.
Assistive Technology For Math
One of the first ways children with low vision can learn the concept of counting is by using an abacus. It’s a low-tech way to teach the concept of numbers and operations. The abacus eliminates the need for pencil and paper and stands in well for a calculator in the early grades.
Tactile manipulatives are good for any age. 3D shapes and unit cubes can be used to teach basic math concepts. Games, such as dominoes, bingo, cards, or Rummikub are fun ways to improve fluency and cement knowledge. These games can be found in brailled or large print versions. Older students may need more advanced math tools, like a Geometric Set, marked in braille.
Talking calculators have high contrast, tactile keys that assist with location of the numbers and operations. They speak both the entries and results and often include a plug-in for earbuds or headphones. This facilitates privacy in class or while doing homework at home. Talking calculators can range in function from basic calculators up to sophisticated graphing scientific calculators.
And braille writers aren’t just for writing and reading assignments. These braillers can be used to work out math problems. While that may seem time-consuming, it’s a good tool for helping students understand and express all the steps involved in their higher math computations.
Assistive Technology For Writing
The type of assistive technology you want to use for writing depends on the purpose of the writing. For taking personal notes, digital recorders are a great option. Their use is much quicker and easier than attempting to handwrite or type out notes during class.
Adaptive paper can be purchased or made depending on what your personal needs are. Lines can be raised or embossed to provide a tactile guide. They can also be darkened, thickened, or marked in different colors to enhance visibility for those with low vision. And to make your own writing easier to read on the paper, you can use a bold line pen or a bold line pencil.
Video magnification can be used to examine your own handwriting for proper technique or to just re-read handwritten notes at a later date. Video magnification provides high definition viewing which is free from distortion.
And if you want a quick way to compose a note, email, or paper to a sighted teacher or friend, voice-to-text software can make the process of writing longer pieces less laborious.
Applications For Other Classes
Since most classes incorporate some element of reading, writing, or math, all of these pieces of assistive technology can be used and applied outside of the subjects that were mentioned here. And there are non-academic items, such as padlocks for your school locker, that may be necessary to buy in an adaptive form. Whatever is on your class supply list, If you are getting ready to go back to school, Independent Living Aids has you covered.
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