Auditory Access Devices
The majority of persons 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. These pages provide a list of types of Assistive Technology a person with a visual impairment may use.
By: Carmen Willings
Auditory devices are another means for a student who is blind or visually impaired to access print and information. These devices can help a student access information easily, but be aware that listening to books on tape is not the same as literacy. Keep in mind that auditory skills should be used in conjunction with print or braille instruction as listening is not a form of literacy.
Every student deserves the opportunity to be as literate as they are capable and it should not be limited to the access of personnel who are able to properly instruct the student. Auditory devices should be used in tandem with print or braille as it is essential for a student be as literate as their cognitive skills allow.
For younger students, or those with cognitive delays, they must be taught to move to sound sources to get what they want (ex. walk to the water fountain to get water, walk to the running water to wash their hands, or go to the lunch table when they enter the cafeteria). Encourage the student to turn their head, turn their body, and point to isolated sounds. Talk about the positions of sounds: in front, behind, beside, left, right, above.
A recording device allows a student to record an instructional lesson for studying, write assignments and for notetaking purposes. Some of the same devices that students use to listen to recorded texts such as tape recorders, CD players, MP3 players, iPads and iPhones. It is important to gain permission from the school prior to implementing this as many schools have strict policies against recording classroom instruction.
The Library of congress National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (talking Book program), Recording for the blind, and other organizations provide free library services to visually handicapped persons. They offer a wide variety of texts and leisure-reading materials for download, on disk, or cassettes.
Some machines, specifically designed for use with audio books, include variable speed components because the speeds at which special disks and cassettes are played differ from the speeds of commercially manufactured recordings. The National Library Service lends special Talking book and cassette-playback/record machines to eligible persons for this reason. More portable playback/record cassette equipment can be purchased from the American Printing House for the blind and various other companies, such as Humanware, throughout the United States.
In recent years, downloads or pdf's are the most common means of accessing electronic text. Registering your student for a Bookshare.org or a Reading Ally account is an excellent way to access recorded books.
Electronic Dictionary w/ Speech
An electronic dictionary with speech may be used by a student who cannot access a print dictionary. This dictionary, which may also include a thesaurus, is hand-held and battery operated. It uses a standard (QWERTY) keyboard on which the words are entered. Information is produced in both a spoken and large print format.
Audible Gym Equipment
Beeper balls, balls with bells, goal locators with sound, and other adapted gym equipment can make gym time more accessible to students with visual impairments.
This beeper box, emits a series of beeps and can be used to create your own beeper balls (or attach to any other object)! You can go hide the beeper somewhere, and have the student locate it - much like a game of Hide and Seek. And when kids get older and you're teaching them mobility skills, this beeper is very useful for audibly marking landmarks, street corners, etc.
Screen Reading Software
With this hardware and software, students who are blind are able to access print material on a computer screen. Students can use the internet, word processing programs, calculators and access other printed material without having to see the screen. The best option for students who are blind who will be required to take computer tests or complete other projects on the computer, is for the school to purchase a screen reading software program. Screen reading software, like JAWS, reads the information on the computer screen.
Speech Recognition Software
Speech recognition software turns your talk into text and can make virtually any computer task easier and faster. It lets you interact with your PC and control your digital world with your voice. Create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, send email, and search the Web just by talking.
Talking or Large Print Calculators
Talking or large print calculators are essential for students with visual impairments, particularly those in academic classes. Talking hand-held calculators are available from several manufacturers. They perform the function of speaking each entry and result and are capable of performing all the computations of a non-adapted electronic calculator. Earphones are available for many models.
Talking watches are important for students who are blind or visually impaired who are learning time management skills.
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