Module 4: Accommodations for Vision Impairments
Using a Computer
Many educators use computers to generate handouts, prepare lectures, and write reports. In addition, as discussed elsewhere, computer technology can assist with other tasks (e.g., electronic texts for reading). Using a computer involves being able to type or otherwise enter text, use a mouse or similar device, and read information from a computer screen.
However, educators with acuity problems may have difficulties with the legibility of text on the computer and information on the keyboard. Educators with visual field changes may have difficulty scanning the computer monitor and controlling the computer cursor.
Accommodation options may include:
More Significant Vision Loss or Blind
- Use a screen reading program to convert the information on the computer screen into speech.
Note that this software can only read text or graphical items that have been “tagged” with a text label. Thus, PDF files that were saved as an image rather than text, PowerPoint files, and school websites that were not designed to have these tags may not be compatible with screen reading technology.
atwiki article on screen reading.
assistivetech.net entries for screen reading software.
Braille, for the few people who are blind who are fluent in it, offers a means to review material one character at a time. This is particularly useful when an educator must review spelling, programming code or mathematical equations.
atwiki article on Braille and computers.
- Use a Braille keyboard.
Each key represents a dot and various finger combinations are used to type each letter.
- Use a refreshable Braille display.
Refreshable Braille displays consist retractable pins, grouped to form one or more rows of 8-dot Braille cells. The pins extend to form different Braille letters as the person reads though a document. This option provides immediate access to the information, but it is one of the more expensive computer access options for people who are blind
assistivetech.net entries for Braille displays.
- Use a Braille printer.
A Braille conversion program will also be needed to prepare text files to be printed. A variety of printers exist, including some which can print tactile representations of images.
assistivetech.net entries for Braille printers.
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