If you’re a teacher or parent of a visually impaired student, there’s no doubt that you’ve struggled to provide them with the resources and support they need to succeed.
Perhaps you’ve encountered difficulty gathering the best tools for their needs, from choosing appropriate learning tools to creating meaningful accessibility strategies to complete assignments and exams.
Fortunately, incredible resources are available for those with vision impairment disabilities. This article will dive into what these helpful tools look like so that educators and students can benefit from accessible education strategies.
Resources for Visually Impaired Students
Many resources are available to help them gain access to education and other life experiences. Here are a few noteworthy examples.
Tools for Reading
A screen reader is a software program that reads text on a screen. A visually impaired user can utilize it to access the web, word-processing documents, and emails. The Apple VoiceOver is a popular screen reader. NVDA and ChromeVox are also great options.
For mobile users, apps like KNFB Reader are a great choice. It lets users take a photo of any text, then read it out loud or turn it into Braille. Its refreshable display gives a quick insight into documents — from package labels and receipts to longer books or ebooks.
Braille is a writing system that uses a series of raised dots representing each alphabet letter. This code, made of six dot patterns (braille cells) and arranged with two columns and three rows, helps visually-impaired learners read with their fingertips.
The Refreshable Braille Displays tool processes computer screen information, then electronically raises or lowers pins in braille cells. It provides an almost real-time text translation into a tactile language that continually updates based on cursor movement.
These tools greatly help those with low vision. It allows for activities like reading print or appreciating presentations on any sized screen.
MAGic is a screen magnification software that does more than just magnify text. It also provides several features to make working with documents easier, such as changing color schemes, cursor tracking and tracking mode, and text and background enhancements.
Accessibility Tools for Viewing
Aside from the tools mentioned above, other aids for visually impaired students include:3
- Voice recognition. Software that processes commands through verbal and audio input, allowing users to navigate web pages and other platforms
- Audio descriptions. A feature that narrates an insider’s view of what goes on in videos, providing vital details about what’s onscreen for those with low vision or blindness.
- Visual, tactile, and auditory notifications. Assistive technology prompts users in numerous ways, giving the user an engaging experience
- Voice Browser. Opens the door to a more accessible digital experience by allowing users to utilize voice commands instead of visual navigation when browsing content online.
- Color and font customizations. They allow users to personalize their viewing experience by adjusting the spacing, fonts, text size, and color contrast or even select larger icons to make them stand out more.
- Intuitive interfaces. Focuses on valuable content while keeping distractions to a minimum, ensuring that only the most relevant information is presented in each instance
Tools for Learning About Braille and Literacy
The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled recommends the following tools and resources to learn more about braille, literacy, and other topics.4
- National Braille Press
- MarvelSoft Enterprises, Inc.
- Math Window
- Paths to Literacy
- Braille Bug
- Braille Institute Braille Special Collection
- Braille Bookstore
- College Bound: A Guide for Students with Visual Impairments, 2nd Edition
- Braille Challenge
- Expanded Core Curriculum
- Hadley Learn
- Braille Connection, Mentoring Manual: A Braille Reading and Writing Program for Former Print Users
- Learning Braille as a Mature Adult
- Demystifying Braille
- American Council of the Blind
- American Foundation for the Blind
- Family Connect
- Foundation Fighting Blindness
- National Federation of the Blind
- Vision Aware
- American Printing House for the Blind, Inc
- Audio Bibles for the Blind
- Learning Ally
- Learning Sight & Sound
- National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
- Start Seeing CVI
- Prevent Blindness
- Choice Magazine Listening
- Independent Living Aids
- LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired
- Blindskills, Inc.
Resources for Teachers of Visually Impaired Students
Educators, parents, and guardians can access a wealth of resources for teaching visually impaired students here:4,5
- Accessible Tests Resource Center
- APH Downloadable Product Manuals
- Assessment of Braille Literacy Skills (ABLS): UEB and EBAE
- Beginning with Braille: First Hand Experiences with a Balanced Approach to Literacy, 2nd Edition
- Braille Guidelines for the Classroom Practitioner
- Braille Literacy: A Functional Approach
- Braille Music Resources Updated to UEB
- Braille Requisite Skills Inventory: Assessment and Planning Tool
- Foundations of Education, Third Edition: History and Theory of Teaching Children and Youths with Visual Impairments
- Guidelines and Games for Teaching Efficient Braille Reading
- I-M-ABLE: Individualized Meaning-Centered Approach to Braille Literacy Education
- Integrating Print and Braille: A Recipe for Literacy
- Resources for Teachers of Braille
- Sustaining Braille Proficiency
- When You Have a Visually Impaired Student in Your Classroom: A Guide for Teachers
- Paths to Literacy
- Perkins School for the Blind — Paths to Technology
- American Printing House for the Blind
- Teaching Students with Visual Impairments
- Expanded Core Curriculum Subjects and Skills
- Strategies for General Education Teachers
How to Aid Students With Visual Disability in Learning
Whatever their individual needs, every student with a visual disability can find specialized support to help them succeed. Help them engage in the learning process by assisting them in different areas, such as:
- Traveling on campus or in unfamiliar environments
- Finding and organizing materials
- Taking notes from board presentations, especially in dimly lit rooms
- Partaking in practical activities such as fieldwork or lab assignments
- Navigating areas of low or inflexible lighting
What is Visual Impairment?
Vision impairment is an inability to see objects as clearly or with a wide range of vision. Contact lenses and glasses cannot fix this condition.1
There are two causes of visual impairment:
- Reduced visual acuity: The eye has difficulty focusing on details
- Decreased visual field: A person cannot reach the full vision range without turning their head or neck
Visual impairment comes in two forms:2
- Partial sight: Partially sighted people have moderate vision loss
- Blindness: Those registered as blind experience severe impairments, rendering tasks that require eyesight impossible
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