By: Carmen Willings
Any adaptive device or service that increases participation, achievement or independence for a student with a disability may be considered assistive technology (AT). Assistive technology helps students who are visually impaired (with and without additional disabilities) increase their access to the general curriculum and improve their academic performance. It is important to thoughtfully consider what devices, tools and technologies will be appropriate to meet the student's individual and unique learning needs. AT devices should not give students an unfair advantage, but instead, should provide them with the independence to compete effectively with peers.
A range of assistive technology devices are available for students who are blind or visually impaired. Some are considered "low tech" and inexpensive while others are more "high tech" and can be more expensive. Assistive technology devices are available in a variety of categories to address functional capabilities of students with disabilities. This page provides an overview of AT related to visual impairments.
Consideration of Assistive Technology (AT) is required during the development of every IEP. This is to ensure the student receives a free and appropriate education. If the team determines that the student needs AT, the school district must provide the necessary devices and services.
Following a low vision evaluation, a student may be prescribed optical devices for near viewing that will allow them to access standard size print. This page provides a list of devices that may be used by a student for near viewing.
Following a low vision evaluation, a student may be prescribed optical devices for distance viewing that will allow them to access information and print at a distance. This page provides a list of devices that may be used by a student for distance viewing.
Video magnifiers (formerly called closed-circuit televisions or CCTVs) use a stand-mounted or handheld video camera to project an image onto a screen (ex. video monitor, television, computer monitor, iPad, etc.). This page provides information on the various video magnifiers that are available.
High tech braille devices are available for students who are blind or visually impaired to access and produce braille. This page discusses the different types of high tech braille equipment.
Some students will be able to access information by simply using the internal magnification built in to the computer. Other students will require additional amounts of magnification or screen reading software to access information. This page discusses options.
Students who are blind or visually impaired that use their tactual skills as a primary or secondary mode of learning will need tactual adaptations to materials in order for them to be accessible. There are a variety of low and medium technology devices that allow persons who are blind to access and produce braille, complete math activities and activities of daily living tactually. This page details some Low/Medium Tech devices for tactual learners.
There are a variety of non-optical devices will help persons with low vision to access print and complete activities visually. This page discusses different devices for accessing print.
This page discusses different devices for accessing auditory books as well as materials and software to access information in auditory format.
AbleData is a publicly funded organization through the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research of the U.S. Department of Education. It provides objective information on assistive technology and rehabilitation equipment available from domestic and international sources to consumers, organizations, professionals, and caregivers within the US.
AccessWorld is a branch of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) that offers comprehensive product evaluations, user-friendly explanations of current technology, practical tips on using technologies, news and reports from the field specific to technology. It also features interviews with industry leaders. All current and past issues and articles can be accessed online or through the AFB Access World app, AFBAW.
The American Foundation for the Bind (AFB) provides a comprehensive product database of assistive technology products used by persons who are blind or visually impaired. Users can browse products by category, manufacturer, or by task. You can also link to product reviews found on AccessWorld.
The majority of students who are blind or visually impaired will need some form of assistive technology in order access print on paper as well as electronic forms. Assistive technology (AT) also provides a means for producing written information. Each students unique visual and learning needs must be considered when selecting the appropriate technology. The purpose of the Assistive Technology Assessment is to determine which AT tools are appropriate for meeting the students current and future needs. This page provides information on the components of the Assistive Technology Assessment.
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