Many students who are blind or visually impaired will need instruction in strategies or the use of software to access a computer and navigate the computer without a mouse. Additionally, some students will need instruction in assistive technology devices that are specific to individuals who are blind or visually impaired including video magnifie and braille notetakers.
By: Carmen Willings
Electronic braille note-taking devices are small and portable devices that may be used by a student to take notes in class using either braille (featuring six large keys that correspond to the 6 dots in the braille cell), standard (QWERTY) keyboard, or both. Although each device offers different features, many can be used by braille learners to read books, write class assignments, find directions, record lectures, and listen to podcasts. Information can be readily transcribed in order to provide the student with a means to communicate with peers, teachers and others who do not read braille.
The note-taking devices generally are the size of a book and are easily carried and used by the student. The Braille Note and the Pac Mate are probably the two most common portable notetakers used by students. APH currently offers the Braille Plus 18 (the Refreshabraille 18 was discontinued December 2014) through quota funds. Obtaining devices through quota funds can make these an affordable option, however, quota funds may not be available due to spending freezes so these are not always options for students.
There are a variety of electronic note-taking devices available to students with visual impairments. With advances in technology, there are multiple ways students can take notes. Some students may elect to use their iPhone or iPad to take notes of lessons. The notes can be placed in Dropbox for later retrieval. If using a braille note-taking device, it is important to teach parts and functions as well as how to access the options menu of an Electronic Note-Taking Device. Once the student has learned how to use the device, it is important to continue to monitor the student to note the student’s skills and provide any troubleshooting support.
The student will need instruction in the following skills:
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