Screen Magnification & Readers
By: Carmen Willings
Some students who are blind or visually impaired 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.
You can make simple modifications to the computer display by accessing the “Accessibility Options” in the Control Panel. The pointer can be enlarged, the blink rate can be slowed down, the curser can be enlarged and the icons can be made larger. Also, the computer monitor can often be tilted to reduce visual glare. If this is not possible, a shield can be constructed and placed at the top of the monitor to reduce glare.
These simple computer modifications, however, do not meet the needs of all students with visual impairments. The accessibility features do not modify programs, games and the internet, but only modify information within a word document and on the start up page. For students with low vision, you may consider purchasing a screen magnification program. Other students will need a screen reader program or one that has both features. The TVI or assistive technology specialist can help you locate and obtain an appropriate program for the student.
Computer Screen Magnifiers
A screen magnifiers can be purchased to fit on your current monitor. They can magnify up to 1.5X the original source. This is OK for students who only need minimal screen enlargement. Be cautious as some overlays can create a warped look to the edges of the computer screen. For students who need more magnification, screen enlargement software would be a more appropriate choice.
Screen Enlargement & Screen Reading Software
Screen enlargement software allow for the magnification of the computer screen so the screen can be easily read and allow the student to see whatever is on the monitor. For those who have very poor eyesight, talking software is available that can read the text on the page. 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.
Students who will use screen readers need to be instructed in how to: load software; turn voice on/off; make adjustments (speed, pitch, volume); navigate within a document; read (by characters, words, lines, sentences and paragraphs); and access the help file/manual to troubleshoot.
Screen Magnification & Screen Readers Resources...
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Resources to Support You in Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
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Selecting the Right AT for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired Recorded Presentation
Are you overwhelmed by the process of selecting assistive technology for your students? This presentation will encompass the process and steps of selecting the right assistive technology for students who are blind or visually impaired using the SETT framework. Key points covered in this presentation include identification of the current problem; consideration of current skills; understanding unique visual and learning needs; awareness of AT for VI; AT equipment considerations; the process of building a toolkit; instructional strategies; and next steps.
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