Amidst this school closure to help stop the spread of COVID-19, it is challenging for both the teacher and students to continue their learning, they had to make a paradigm shift to remote learning. But, what about those blind or visually-impaired students?
How are they learning remotely? Being a fully sighted individual, it’s hard to really for us to understand the struggle a visually impaired or blind student goes through while learning be it at school or home. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, each student’s vision needs are individual to them, which can be categorized as Myopia, Amblyopia, Hyperopia etc. and it’s important that these students have access to a Certified Teacher for the Visually Impaired (TVI) and/or a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) for consultation and professional input. But how can they be taught at home during this worldwide lock down? What tools can parents implement now for teaching their visually-impaired children?
Herein, we’ve compiled a list of tools, especially designed for these students.
SceneEye 500 is a portable desktop camera with exceptionally intuitive user interface specifically designed for use with touch screen tablets. This easy to connect device magnifies the image by up to 50X making it easy for a visually impaired student to see the blackboard or any classroom presentation. Contrast feature is also adjustable to make the image even easier to read. Visually impaired students can even record the images for later viewing in class or at home, giving them a permanent study aid in what is being taught in class. This assistive device only works with Windows 7 or Windows 8.
BRAILLE COMPASS –
Using Braille imposed tracing wheel, this compass from Howe Press help blind students to complete math tasks with no assistance. The point end works the same as on regular compasses, but the students are able to read the tracing wheel with their finger and make adjustments according to their needs.
With a large 7’’ display, the Olympia video magnifier is a portable device that enables visually impaired students to follow along in their textbooks and read and complete worksheets. Video magnifier features a range of magnification settings as well as a tilt screen for optimal viewing. It can be used in the classroom or at home and has no limitations in the type of text it is able to view.
Developed by Human Ware, Braille note apex note taker is a portable word processor that allows a blind or visually – impaired student to type notes in Braille and later convert them to an audio or print them out. BrailleNote offers an array of features including three USB ports and synchronization with your home computer.
The ViewPlus Max Embosser is the fastest and most versatile Desktop series braille printers. It allows the user to print anything from their home computer that has been translated into Braille. Having a versatile unit like this at home will make it easy for the parents of a blind student convert their schoolwork into readable materials.
VOICEOVER (in OS X & iOS)
VoiceOver is an in-built feature in iOS device that reads out everything on the screen of your phone — the icons, the menus, the features, the emails, the social media feed, as well as any Web pages loaded. It also assists users when using the keyboard so that they know exactly what they are typing. In addition, its ‘rotor’ function allows users to give a number of commands such as skim through Web pages or spellcheck documents. The built-in voice speaker can be accessed in 30 different languages, making it useful for students of any country.
Another iOS app Audible is the top favourite audio book app for the visually-impaired students. They could listen to new material or book through this app, also allow students to learn the correct phonetic sounds and pronunciation of words in the real-time. It is a great source to help students memorize material by listening and speaking along with the recorded voice .Not only this, the app remembers where you left off the last time and resumes the audio book from that point. And since it integrates with VoiceOver in iOS devices, navigating within the app is not difficult.
Besides these, parents can also take help from the following online resources:
The Blind Babies Foundations was established with a mission to provide family centered services to support children's optimal development and access to the world. Later, in the year 2014, the foundation became a program of Junior Blind. The website provides parent education and resources including a fact sheets on CVI (also available in Japanese), ROP, retinal diseases, optic nerve hypoplasia, and albinism.
The Blind Children's Center is a family centered organization supporting children with visual impairments. It offers a range of publications and resources including educational books, booklets and videos.
Dots for Families is designed for family members, teachers of kids with visual impairments, and others interested in promoting literacy opportunities for young children with visual impairments.
If you’re looking to help your child learn and succeed, even in this crisis, then do try these amazing tools; also as we are in an ever-changing space keep adding newer tools.