OVERVIEW OF ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
By: Carmen Willings
Updated November 22, 2015
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. Categories of assistive technology include: academic and learning aids; aids for daily living; assistive listening devices and environmental aids; augmentative communication; computer access and instruction; environmental control; mobility aids; pre-vocational and vocational and vocational aids, recreation and leisure aids, seating and positioning, and visual aids. The following are just examples of AT devices that may be considered.
Activities of Daily Living
Adapted eating utensils; adapted drinking devices; adaptive dressing devices; specially designed toilet seats; restroom modifications; aids for grooming; robotic and electronic feeders; adapted cooking tools; or universal cuff to hold items. Learn more about adaptations and strategies for Independent Living Skills.
Hearing aids; sound cancelling headphones; classroom amplification; personal FM system; captioning; signaling device; TDD/TTY; screen flash on computer; or phone amplification.
Communication boards and wallets with pictures, words or letters; eye gaze board; simple voice output device; electronic communication devices; speech synthesizers for typing; communication enhancement software; or computer based communication system.
Keyboard with built in accessibility options on standard computer; key guard; arm support; track ball/track pad; joystick with onscreen keyboard; alternate keyboard; mouth stick/head pointer; head mouse/head master, tracker; touch screen; voice recognition software; switch and Morse code; switch with scanning; screen reader; or word prediction/abbreviated expansion.
Computer with Access to Technology
Due to shortage of funds, many schools are using outdated equipment. Although it is understandable that schools are "tightening their purse strings," administrators need to understand that the majority of the special software programs and technology needed by students with visual impairments will not operate functionally on old or outdated equipment. When funds are tight it may require looking to alternative sources for funding.
Switch interfaces for appliances; adapted on/off switches; remote control switch access; switch latch timers; switch interface for battery operated devices; or task lighting.
Learner & Studying
Picture/print schedules; low tech aids; highlighted text; highlighters; voice output reminder; electronic organizer; low or mid tech timer; software for organizing ideas; or software for concept development.
Walkers; grab rails; manual or powered wheelchairs; powered recreational vehicles; building modifications and adaptations; white canes; electronic image sensors; and telescopic aids.
Physical Education, Leisure, and Play
Adapted toys and games; adapted puzzles; switch activations with battery interrupter; adapted sporting equipment; universal cuff to hold crayons, markers; modified stampers and scissors; beeping balls; arm support for drawing; graphic design software; or adaptive computer games.
Change in text size, spacing, color, background color; use of pictures with text; adapted page turning; book stands; talking electronic dictionary; scanner with talking word processor; electronic text books; highlighted text; recorded material; multimedia presentation formats; books on tape, CD, or MP3; optical character reader; braille books; electronic magnifier (CCTV); or screen reader/text reader.
Seating and Positioning
These types of AT may allow access to the educational activities: non-slip surface on chair; blocks for feet; bolster or rolled towel for positioning; adapted or alternate chair; side-lying frames; standing frame; floor sitter; chair insert; wheelchairs; custom fitted wheelchair; straps; head supports; trays; adapted desk/table; book stand; or bean bag chairs.
Increased contrast; enlarged images; use of tactile and auditory materials; books on tape; eye glasses; magnifier; large print books; low vision aids; screen magnifier; screen magnification software; electronic magnifier (sometimes called a CCTV); screen reader; braille keyboard or notetaker; braille translator software; braille printer/embosser; brailled materials; scanners; optical character readers; or reading machine.
Pencil with adaptive grip; adapted paper; slant board; typewriter; portable word processor; talking word processing; computer with word processing; word processing with spell/grammar checking; word prediction; electronic dictionary/thesaurus/spell checker; word cards/word book/word wall; voice recognition software; braille keyboard or notetaker; or braille printer.
Assistive technology device means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of that device." -IDEA, 2004, Part A, Definitions, 300.5
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TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC: An Activities Based Curriculum for Teaching Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired
Written specifically for fellow itinerant Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI’s), this book consists of over 400 activities and topic areas of discussion for instructing students in the Expanded Core Curriculum. The activities are age-neutral and multi-sensory and therefore can meet the needs of the broad range of students served on an itinerant caseload serving. The activities can be individualized to the students various learning modalities and scaffold in order to challenge students but ensure success. Select those activities that align with the student’s learning objects based on the student’s unique visual needs and academic and developmental level.
The core activities listed in the Activity section can be adapted to each thematic unit. These include:
In addition to the core activity areas, each of the 32 Thematic Units incorporates additional unique ECC concepts and skills providing you with a years’ worth of activities. These units are cyclical and can be used repeatedly to help students build on prior knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of concepts. Each unit includes suggestions for activity adaptation associated with the unit. These include lists of objects, possible community based experiences, environmental print, poems, children & young reader books, children's songs, pop culture songs, movies, and websites.
Unique Concepts within the Units include:
Although the intended audience of this resource is fellow Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments, special education teachers may find these activities beneficial to the students in their classrooms as the activities are multisensory and include life skills and concepts needed by all students. This resource, however, is not intended to take the place of a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI). Readers are advised to consult their own TVI’s regarding instruction in the ECC and the unique visual needs of the student’s served in their programs.
Note: This curriculum is a digital pdf download. Once you make your purchase you will be directed to an order confirmation page where you will find the download link. This download will also be included on the receipt sent to the email address you provide. The pdf download can be found directly under the order number.
Each download is intended for single instructor use per copyright. Thank you for helping me preserve the content and not distributing copies to third parties.
Digital pdf download: 364 pages (11 pt font)
Publisher: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
Author: Carmen Willings
Visual Efficiency & Magnifier Fluency Grab & Go ECC Supplements
This workbook is a pdf download that can be printed on demand for use with students. It contains five different types of worksheets for developing visual motor skills and near magnifier fluency skills particularly with the use of a video magnifier. As a supplement to the TVI’s Guide to the ECC, the worksheets correspond to each of the 32 ECC Thematic units. The worksheets, along with a list of environmental print for each thematic unit, are designed to help students refine their visual motor skills while reinforcing ECC concepts presented in the thematic units.
Visual Efficiency & Near Magnifier Fluency Worksheet Details:
Digital pdf download: 210 pages
Publisher: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
Author: Carmen Willings