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The page suggests abilities or skills that students should be working on at various grade levels. 


  • alphabet knowledge (pre-braille skills)
  • motor planning development
  • fine motor development - hand concepts, strength
  • social skills
  • ability to ask questions
  • orientation - directionality
  • safe movement
  • visual skill development
  • eye-hand coordination skills
  • listening skills
  • cause and effect

First through third grade:

  • learning to read (braille) 
    • focus on tactile Braille reading not Braille in - auditory out!!
  • learning to write (braille)
  • using a braille writer
  • more motor planning
  • more fine motor development
  • method of getting more immediate feedback from print or braille materials
  • method of producing print
  • expanded orientation; safe movement around several rooms

  • beginning use of low vision aids (magnifiers, telescopes), continuing throughout school
  • Minimize amount of use and time of auditory letter recognition
  • tracking skills
  • correlation between mobility skills and ability to navigate on the screen
  • Exploration of keyboard - Arrow keys, return, on/off, pieces parts. Home row, #, beginning touch typing
  • Low vision students - mouse, video magnifier
  • Care and Feeding - proper behavior around technology, care for the equipment


Fourth through Sixth grades

  • completion of Braille to print conversion for immediate feedback
  • touch typing continues
  • slate and stylus use
  • continued writing on a Braille writer
  • more print production
  • portable note taking or assignment writing system
  • electronic Braille production
  • better orientation and mobility skills
  • introduction to hand printing or cursive writing (for Braille students)
  • exploration of and introduction to the types of computers used in the junior high school computer literacy course
  • use of tape player/recorder for textbooks, leisure reading, and note-taking. sources, RFB&D, TSL etc.
  • on going tech assessment
  • begin trouble shooting computer/equipment problems
  • care and feeding, maintenance of technology/Aids/prosthesis (Eye care - personal hygiene)
  • Personal control of environmental adaptations
  • Aware of their own visual condition - no concept of how others see, how much you can see, need to communicate the information to the teacher and/or others, and how it relates to using technology
  • begin telecommunications, e-mail, research/library skills
  • CD-ROM, Multimedia
  • Scanner - introduction
  • Access system instruction
  • Tape books/disks use, 

Seventh and Eighth grade:

  • independent electronic print production, including cable interfacing
  • signature writing
  • note taking in an organized fashion
  • access to the computer literacy course
  • introduction to speech and/or large print access system for the type of computer systems used by the high school
  • ordering necessary large print, Braille, or audio books

  • expand telecommunication skills


  • Scanner - Mastery
  • Contact Technical Support for various devices, software
  • Information sources for new Technology - informed consumerism
  • Exposed to new technology
  • Independent learning
  • Leisure Activities
    • games
    • drawing
    • Internet

Ninth through Twelfth grades:

  • efficient, independent note taking using various methods,
  • assignment generation to print for teachers
  • efficient and independent production of student created print/Braille materials for proofreading purposes
  • learning a speech and/or large print access system for homework production
  • learning of a word processing program with the access system.
  • identify the courses the student wishes to take that requires a computer and determine if the speech and/or large print access program will meet the need, or will new features need to be learned. Such as spreadsheet or database programs.
  • required computer courses for graduation from high school
  • knowledge of the variety of access available, and sources of information
  • advanced telecommunication skills
  • Information inquiry system
  • Personal skills, interacting with others, assertiveness skills
  • Develop research skills
  • Reader (people) skills, selecting, managing
  • Piece work/free lance - marketable job skills
  • Rehab - should not assume they need to straight to rehabilitation center from school, they need to take responsibility for their life and future

by Jim Allan and Jay Stiteley


What is Reading? gathering information, decoding


  • Books/magazines
  • Worksheets
  • Blackboard
  • Overhead
  • Maps
  • Computer screen

What affects reading Visually ?

  • Lighting
  • Contrast
  • Cistance
  • Color
  • Visual functioning

No Tech Solutions

Lo Tech Solutions

Hi Tech Solutions

Map/Graphic Solutions

  • Tactile Math Graphics
  • Creation Tools
    • Stereo Copier
    • PIAF
    • Reprotronics-Tactile Image Enhancer
  • Swell Paper
  • APH Tactile Diagram Kit
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Tracing Wheel
  • Elmer's Glue
  • Hot Glue 
  • Puff Paint
  • Wikki Sticks


Definition - creating or producing information


  • Handwriting-original, workbook, copying (notetaking)
  • Computer based-typing, keyboarding
  • Braille writing

No Tech Solutions

  • Change size, color, contrast between paper and writing instrument (felt-tip pen/marker)
  • Black line paper
  • Writing instrument 
  • Positioning
  • Computer 
    • Change font type, font size, foreground/background color
    • Use High Contrast Mode
    • Change resolution
    • Glare shields
    • Change monitor angle
    • Change mouse pointer, slow down mouse speed, mouse trails

Lo Tech Solutions

  • larger monitor
  • Large Print Key caps for keyboard
  • color filters
  • slate and stylus
  • braille writer

Hi Tech Solutions

  • Screen Magnification
  • Screen Reader
  • Portable Braille Notetakers
  • Electronic Braille Writer (Mountbatten)
  • Braille translator (also for Macintosh)
  • Braille Embosser
  • Language Master 


Definition - reading, writing, and computing numeric information

No Tech Solution

Lo Tech Solutions

Hi Tech Solutions

  • LP Graphic Calculator
  • Talking Scientific Calculator
  • Blazie Graph-it
  • Triangle
  • MathML on the web
  • Scientific Notebook



  • Household information-clothing, food, medicine, labels
  • Appliance information-manuals, controls
  • Mail
  • Check writing
  • Traveling
  • Games
  • Sports

No Tech Solutions

  • Structure, planning ahead
  • Rubber bands, buttons,

Lo Tech Solutions

  • Large print/talking everything
  • Braille tags, labels
  • Beep balls
  • Cane
  • Check writing guide
  • Signature guide

Hi Tech Solutions

  • Internet - banking, shopping, news, entertainment, schedules, etc.
    • Internet Explorer, WebSpeak, Home Page Reader
    • Eudora, Simply Mail
  • Color Talker
  • Bar Code reader
  • Guide dog

Legal Definitions:

Assistive Technology Device: any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the self, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. (PL 100-407, PL 101-476) (may include: low vision aids, bold line paper, braille writers, screen readers, braille printers, communication devices)

Assistive Technology Service: any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device. Such services include:

  1. the evaluation of the needs of an individual with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the individual in the individual's customary environment;
  2. purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by individuals with disabilities;
  3. selection, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing of assistive technology devices;
  4. coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs;
  5. training or technical assistance for an individual with disabilities, or, where appropriate, the family of an individual with disabilities; and
  6. training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of individuals with disabilities.

34 CFR §300.346(a)(2)(v) "IEP team also shall…consider whether a child requires assistive technology and services."

34 CFR §300.308 if IEP team determined that child needs assistive technology to receive FAPE the child may take assistive technology home

General Principles

  1. Assistive technology can only enhance basic skills, it cannot replace them. (Assistive technology should be used as part of the educational process, and can be used to teach basic skills.) 
  2. Assistive technology for students with visual impairments is more than an educational tool, it is a fundamental work tool – it is equivalent to pencil and paper for non-disabled students. 
  3. Students use assistive technology to access and use standard tools, complete educational tasks, and participate on an equal basis with non-disabled peers in the regular electronic educational environment. 
  4. Use of Assistive technology does not automatically make educational and commercial software/tools accessible or usable. 
  5. Appropriate technology at the appropriate time. ("We will use no technology before its time" (when it is appropriate for the student)) 

Assistive Technology Evaluation Principles

  1. An assistive technology evaluation conducted by a professional, knowledgeable in regular and assistive technology, is needed to determine whether a child requires assistive technology devices and services and should be delineated in the IEP. 
  2. Assistive technology evaluation is an extension of the Learning Media Assessment. You need basic (print and/or braille) reading and writing functioning found in the LMA, FVE, LVE, etc. to determine and evaluate appropriate assistive technology requirements. 
  3. Assistive technology evaluation must address the alternative and augmentative communication needs (ability to communicate needs and change the environment) for students with multiple impairments. 
  4. To be effective, an assistive technology evaluation should be ongoing and looking 3 years in the future. 

Student Guidelines

  1. Every student’s assistive technology needs are unique. Student needs should be matched with necessary technology rather than matching available equipment to student needs. 
  2. Functional use of assistive technology may require a combination of large print, speech, or braille. A student may require redundant sensory feedback in addition to their primary learning media (e.g. low vision student using speech output or a totally blind students using speech and braille in combination). 
  3. The goal is to maximize the functional print and/or braille reading, writing, and/or communication rate. 
  4. Reading paper materials (print or braille) may be different from reading electronically (using a computer monitor, CCTV, speech output, audio tape, or refreshable braille). 
  5. Ergonomics is important for all students at all grades with all equipment and materials. This includes keyboard location, monitor placement, feet flat on floor, book placement, assistive technology location, etc. 
  6. Learning and using assistive technology is a developmental process. If a student’s communicative or sensory functioning, i.e. hearing, vision, and/or tactual skills, change, a new technology evaluation is needed. Time and instruction is needed for learning new sensory, learning media, and assistive technology/communication skills. 
  7. Every student needs a personal communication (reading and writing) system to communicate with themselves and others. 
  8. Recreation, leisure, entertainment and other socialization activities are valid uses of assistive technology. 

Teacher Guidelines

  1. Teach needed technology skills before they are required. Thus, the student can then focus on regular classroom instruction rather than simultaneously learning the curriculum and the new assistive technology skills. 
  2. Technology training for teachers make students better users and maximizes the impact of monies expended. Keep teacher skills up to date. Training includes allowing teachers to spend scheduled time with a manual and equipment to develop skills and lessons. 
  3. Teachers need access to a phone (long distance) near the assistive technology for tech support calls. 
  4. Collaboration between vision/assistive technology teacher, computer teacher, and computer maintenance professionals helps ensure a functional/seamless assistive/regular technology environment. 


  1. Ensure assistive technology is compatible with existing equipment or newly installed/upgraded application software. Purchase software maintenance agreement for assistive technology software when available.
  2. Technology changes as a student moves to different schools at different grades. Planning is essential to fit assistive technology into the next technological environment (hardware, software, operating system, network, etc.). 
  3. Keep assistive technology (software and hardware) current. 

Assistive Technology Definitions

Screen reader - software program that works in conjunction with a speech synthesizer to provide verbalization of everything on the screen including menus, text, and punctuation. 

Screen magnification - software that focuses on a single portion (1/4, 1/9, 1/16, etc.) of the screen and enlarges it to fill the screen. 

Refreshable braille display - provide tactile output of information presented on the computer screen. Unlike conventional braille, which is permanently embossed onto paper, refreshable braille displays are mechanical in nature and lift small, rounded plastic pins as need to form braille characters. The displays contain 20, 40, or 80 braille cells, after the line is read, the user can "refresh" the display to read the next line. 

Braille translation software - translate text and formatting into appropriate braille characters and formatting. 

Braille writing equipment - used for creation of paper braille materials. Can be manual or electronic devices.  

Video Magnifier - magnify a printed page through the used of a special television camera with a zoom lens and displays the image on a monitor. 

Portable notetaker – small portable units that employ either a braille or standard keyboard to allow the user to enter information. Text is stored in files that cam be read and edited using the built-in speech synthesizer or braille display. File may be sent to a printer or braille embosser, or transferred to a computer. 

Braille embosser - a braille printer that embosses computer-generated text as braille on paper. 

Scanners - a device that converts an image from a printed page to a computer file. Optical-character-recognition (OCR) software makes the resulting computer file capable of being edited. 

Adaptive keyboard - offer a variety of ways to provide input into a computer through various options in size, layout (i.e. alphabetical order), and complexity.

Augmentative communication device - provide speech for people who are not able to communicate verbally. Device may talk, user indicates communication through the use of tactile symbols, auditory scanning, large print symbols, etc. 


Other Important information

  • Touch typing is an important life-long skill for all students who are able. (suggested typing speeds by 8th grade 30 wpm. And 50 wpm. by high school graduation) 
  • Teach keyboard commands for applications. (Be proud to be mouse free!)
  • Limit use of keyboard enhancements (large print or braille keycaps) to ensure generalization of keyboarding skills.
  • Academically able students need a portable note-taking option (not restricted to a lap-top).

Developed by Jim Allan, Statewide Technical Support Specialist Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and Jay Stiteley, Field Representative The Seeing Eye, Inc.

Large Print Access

Screen Magnification Software

ZoomText- a family of products (ZoomText, ZoomText Plus, and ZoomText Xtra!); magnifies text and graphics programs. Magnify the full screen, a portion of the screen or a single line at a time. Three built-in fonts provide smooth-edged characters at any magnification. Simple pop-up menus give you instant access to all of ZoomText's features. Magnification levels from 2x to 16x ; three smooth-edged fonts available in all powers; zoom by full-screen, single line, partial-screen or moving lens; scroll, move, size and view the magnified window; track on cursor, mouse and menu bar activity; edge, center and full-window justifications; review mode smoothly pans in all directions at adjustable speeds; wrap lines of text within a zoom window; magnified pop-up menus and hotkey user interface; Configuration files for saving user preference. ZoomText Xtra! Consists of Level 1, which is the most advanced screen magnifier on the market! Level 2 offers a fully integrated magnifier and screen reader designed specifically for the low-vision computer user. Level 3, which is still under development, will add scanning, OCR, form-filling and printing. ZoomText Xtra! incorporates your windows sound card to utilize the speech functions.

InLARGE- (tm) is a screen magnification software package for low vision and learning disabled Macintosh users. The program features the ability to enlarge any portion of the screen from 2 to 16 times, automatic scanning, a crosshairs option for easy cursor location, the ability to invert the screen to white on black, horizontal and vertical image stretching, and a control panel interface. InLARGE is available for all Macintosh and Power Macintosh computers. This program enlarges areas of the screen, full screen, or user created areas of the screen. It will also invert the colors on screen; utilizes a scanning, panning, tracking, hotkeys and advanced options.

Lunar - Lunar is the world's leading screen magnification program for visually impaired computer users.  It has a number of advanced features to help you manage the enlarged screen more efficiently. Magnification from 2x to 32x with five different viewing modes. Image smoothing for clear text and graphics at any size.  Change screen colors with easy to use TV-style sliders. Hooked areas enable you to keep a particular area of the screen permanently displayed. This allows you to keep an eye on important on-screen information, such as the page number in a word processor, or the current cell coordinates in a spreadsheet.

CCTV and Magnification Scanning Systems

CCTV- "A closed-circuit television (CCTV) system uses a stand-mounted or hand-held video camera to project a magnified image onto a video monitor or a television (TV) screen" (from AFB information sheet). A CCTV includes the following basic features: video camera with zoom lens (hand-held or stand); monitor or television (attached camera or external); provide enlarged image of material under camera; magnification range of 2X to 60X+; switchable polarity (black text/white background or white text/black background); controls for focus, magnification, brightness, contrast; X-Y viewing table for easy material movement; variety of monitor sizes (5 inches to 20+ inches); black and white camera with color monitor (allows user selectable foreground and background colors); color camera with color monitor (view full color enlarged images); controls for foreground and background color, split image, color or b/w presentation; line markers or windowing (horizontal and/or vertical screen masking that provides a user selectable viewing window for reading); motorized viewing table

Types of CCTVs

  • hand-held camera connected to a monitor or TV
    • Elite - Achrontech
    • MagniCam - Innovations
    • OVAC 200 & 210 portable
    • MousCam - Vision Technology
    • Big Picture - APH
    • OVAC Vision-Aide electronic magnifier - information, specifications, pricing, pictures of desktop that use a standard television as a monitor.
  • self-contained portables
    • Passport - Optelec
    • TravelX - Achrontech
  • stand-alone units
    • Humanware Low Vision Products - homepage for the ClearView family of CCTVs
    • Optelec, CCTV - information about Spectrum, 20/20, and Passport CCTVs
    • Pulse Data ViewPoint
    • Pulse Data SmartView
    • Outlook - desktop CCTV from Xerox
  • camera units which share a computer's monitor
    • ViewPoint VGA - HumanWare
    • Clearview VGA - HumanWare
    • Spectrum SVGA - Optelec
  • computer/scanner based text magnification
    • Omni 3000 - scanner based reading system, that can also magnify text.
    • JBliss Imaging Systems - the Versatile Image Processor, computer based scanning solution for text magnification. Can also read the information back to you.
    • VisAbility - from AI Squared, scanner based text magnification

Speech Access

Talking Word Processors

Intellitalk- Talking word processing program. Allows student to hear the letter, word, sentence or phrase as it is entered into the computer. Available for both the Macintosh and Windows 3.1, 95 computer operating system. The Pull down menus also has speech output. Student can choose background and font colors.

Write: OUTLOUD- similar to Intellitalk. Allows the student to set background and font colors, and then save the configuration (will look the same overtime).

Speech synthesizers

Hardware versions- can be internal card devices or external serial devices; allow specialized software programs to integrate speech output. Depending on the software program used to read the screen, the synthesizers can work in the DOS, Win 3.x, or Win 95 environment. (Very rarely ever used).

  • Artic SynPhonix
  • Accent PC, SA
  • Sounding Board
  • DECtalk
  • DoubleTalk
  • Keynote GOLD

Software versions- works in the Windows 95/98 environment with a SoundBlaster compatible sound card. If the sound card is used with a screen reading software program, WAV files will not play.

  • AT&T Natural Voices
  • DECaccess 32
  • Eloquence
  • Microsoft SDK

Screen Review Software

JAWS- stands for Job Access with Speech. JAWS for Windows offers all the features that made JAWS for DOS so popular, plus many more. JFW incorporates such features as Smart Screen Technology; the helpful Wizards; a bitmap recognizer; logical, easy-to-use speech pad; various braille displays support. Smart Screen is the hands-off screen reading technology that allows JFW to speak any program automatically. It intelligently looks at the screen and determines what to speak so unfamiliar applications can be used immediately. Menus, dialog boxes and HELP files are spoken without the need for user setup. JFW announces each time a new window is opened or closed, and whenever it gets the focus. JFW uses two cursors. The PC cursor tells you where you are typing on the screen, menu item selected, etc. The JFW cursor acts like the Mouse cursor. It roams around the screen like a person’s eyes, going and seeing where the PC cursor cannot go.

WindowEyes- Window-Eyes was designed to add voice access to Windows 95/98. Window-Eyes is a stand-alone Windows application which gives you total control over what you hear, when you hear it, and how you hear it. Since Window-Eyes is a stand-alone Windows screen reader, it does not require a particular DOS screen reader. This means you can continue to use your existing DOS screen reader while executing DOS programs and Window-Eyes while executing Windows programs. However, Vocal-Eyes users will appreciate the consistent design used throughout Window-Eyes. Many of the familiar and powerful features of Vocal-Eyes can be found in Window-Eyes. There is no longer a need for a hardware synthesizer, as Window-Eyes uses the Microsoft SDK.

Braille Access

Braille Translation Software

More and more people want an ever-greater variety of materials in braille. In North America, Grade 2 braille is the standard. It includes many contracted or abbreviated words. To produce Grade 2 braille, a translation and formatting program must be used in conjunction with most braille embossers (braille printers).

Braille2000 - Braille editing tool that handles all kinds of direct entry Braille tasks with automated page layouts to aid the production of literary, textbook, and music Braille.

Duxbury- is Grade 2 braille editing and translation software. It is available in versions for DOS, Windows and Macintosh computers. Duxbury is easy to use and is compatible with speech and braille output. It supports dozens of word processors through highly accurate ASCII and WordPerfect import bridges. It also supports a number of foreign languages.

Megadots- is a flexible and intuitive MS DOS word processor with software magic that liberates you from the complexities of braille and computers. MegaDots allows you to create, edit and format text and to perform all the basic functions of a standard word processor. The MegaDots style system lets you give one simple command to format each different kind of paragraph for print and Grade 2 braille. It is compatible with speech and braille output.

NFB-Trans- freeware translation program available from NFB. Program and program support can be found on their website at DOS based.

Braille Embossers

simply a printer whose output is braille instead of print. Can be used with any computer using a braille translation software program. What follows is an alphabetical list of all the tested embossers and what they did. The "CPS" acronym stands for "characters per second" and "IBTC" stands for the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind."

  • Braille Blazer
  • Braillo
  • Everest
  • Index Basic
  • Juliet
  • Marathon
  • Romeo RB-40
  • Thomas
  • ViewPlus

Braille Displays

Braille readers can use Braille Terminals to navigate through Windows 3.x and 95, Windows NT, MS-DOS, IBM OS/2 and UNIX. These braille terminals can be used with a desktop PC or a laptop. They utilize what is called refreshable braille cells to allow the computer screen to be read line by line in braille.

  • Braille Wave
  • Braille Connedt
  • Brilliant
  • Focus
  • Braillex

Portable Devices

  • PacMate BNS or VoiceNote BT- has a braille keyboard layout and speech output.
  • BrailleNote BT or PacMate BX - has a braille keyboard, speech output and refreshable braille.
  • Braille Wave - braille keyboard, refershable braille.
  • PaceMate TNS or VoiceNote QT - have a Qwerty keyboard and speech output.
  • PaceMate QX or BrailleNote QT - has a Qwerty keyboard layout, speech output, and refreshable braille..
  • Mountbatten- braille keyboard; speech, and paper braille output.

All of the above- you can write, review and edit data, keep a virtual address book, and store many pages of Braille or print. Files stored in flash memory can be read but not changed, although you can move files back and forth between the two types of memory if you wish. Access information like time, date and appointments throughout the day as you please. Switch between two different languages at the touch of a key. Use it as the speech synthesizer for your computer. Create output in Braille or print. With a modem, go on-line to send and receive e-mail, and surf the Internet. A regular ink-printer will produce typewritten output when you use the built-in Braille-to-print translation feature (with Braille 'n Speak, Braille Lite, Braille Companion, or Aria).

  • ErgoBraille- has a braille keyboard, some function keys, and speech output.
  • BrailleDesk- has a braille keyboard, all function keys, numeric keypad, and speech output.
  • SQWERT- has a Qwerty keyboard, some function keys, and speech output.
  • TransType- has a Qwerty keyboard, all function keys, numeric keypad, and speech output.

All of the above- Use as a Synthesizer & a Notetaker simultaneously without switching modes. Grade-2 Back Translator & computer braille mode. Standard RS-232 with DB-9 connector uses standard PC cables. PC-File Transfer software is built into the Notetaker, serial cable included. Internal 2" full range mylar speaker. Clean sounding audio amplifier with software controlled Tone and Volume. CALCULATOR. DateBook Reminder Alarms (with Auto Power-Up). Talking Clock with 10 Alarms that Auto Power-up and Speak Your Messages. Ultimate accuracy in Stopwatch / Timer. Rechargeable NiCad Battery (Optional Removable Pack with Quick Charge Pod). RESPONSIVE, ACCURATE & HIGH SPEED Artic Speech (our Trademark) Two Power-Up modes: RESUME (Last Task) or EXPRESS (to Editor) Powerful Editor with familiar computer style features. Automatic file sizing as you work. Instant text insert at cursor. Search & Replace, etc. Menus and Hot Keys. High Quality Keyboard. 1 Mega Byte Flash ROM for system programs and Power Safe files storage. Over 700,000 bytes of Flash File Storage (Safe for 10+ years without power). Save a large number of files (1 - 2,000 depending upon average size). Your data is packed back to back without any wasted blocks of memory! 256K System area can be user updated from a PC,.

Privacy and Anti-theft features (Owner ID can be branded into ROM).

Scanned Material Access

Open Book - Open Book uses a scanner to take a picture of the page, which it sends it to your PC, translates the picture into understandable text, and then speaks the text aloud or outputs to Braille. You can scan and read a page in less than a minute: in English or in more than a dozen other languages. An Open Book gives you flexible, easy scanning. If your page is on the scanner sideways or upside down -- Open Book can read it anyway. Open Book is ideal for scanning books, magazines, and business mail. Or, you can partner your flatbed scanner with an automatic document feeder to read multiple pages quickly and easily. Open Book's flexible interface and detailed on-line Help makes it easy to start reading, using just one key.

Expert Reader- The new, powerful, and easy-to-use stand-alone reading machine from Xerox. Expert Reader combines state-of-the-art reading machine technology, the simplicity of an integrated appliance, and revolutionary price performance. Expert Reader, the newest addition to the Xerox Adaptive Products line of fully integrated reading machines, offers improved levels of speed, accuracy, and ease of use.

Kurzweil 1000- software that works on your personal computer and a scanner to convert the printed word into speech. It has the ability to find key words or phrases within a document, editing of scanned text, magnification of scanned documents to accommodate users with visual impairments, and the ability to specify unlimited bookmarks within a document. Other unique features include: a 175,000 word talking dictionary; the ability to insert a scanned page within a document, and the added convenience of background scanning which allows users to scan while working within another application. Additional features include highly accurate optical character recognition (OCR), the clearest sounding synthetic speech available, and the ability to decipher multi-column text accurately.

page author: Sharon Nichols -

When Thinking about using assistive technology in the school setting there are several environmental factors which need to be considered before placing the technology in the students hands. The following outline should help guide your thinking about the environment in which the student will use assistive technology. Please send comments/suggestions to Jim Allan ().

  1. What is the environment?
    1. The classroom the student is in for his/her classes
    2. The resource room the student may use
    3. The Content mastery location
    4. Any other room the student uses for classes or studying (e.g. LRC)
  2. What aspects of the environment are important, for the low vision student?
    1. Lighting
      1. too much light and/or glare
      2. not enough light
      3. is it the correct kind of light for the task
        1. florescent
        2. incandescent
        3. window lighting
      4. Can the ambient overhead and window lighting be controlled by shields around the monitor (top and sides)?
    2. Space
      1. Is there enough room for the recommended equipment?
      2. Are the tables at an appropriate height for the student's size?
      3. Do the student's feet rest solidly on the floor?
      4. Is the computer/CCTV monitor at the appropriate height for viewing?
    3. Positioning
      1. Where is the student positioned in relation to overhead lights, under or between?
      2. Where is the student positioned in relation to the windows, blackboard, and/or overhead projector?
      3. What color and kind of paint is on the wall the student is next to?
    4. Electricity
      1. Is there electricity available near the student?
      2. Is the equipment on a surge protector?
    5. Portability
      1. Can the student physically carry the portable device?
      2. Portability does not eliminate the need for electricity
      3. Portable devices need more space then regular student desks of the middle and high school variety
      4. Lighting considerations are just as important if not more so with portable devices.
    6. Accessibility
      1. How many different and where are printers available for printing in-class assignments?
      2. Are there stairs in the school, if a cart is being considered as a means of creating "portability"?
      3. How good are the student's mobility skills?
  3. What aspects of the environment are important for the totally blind student?
    1. Sound issues
      1. How disruptive will the noise made by a talking computer/notetaker? 
      2. How disruptive will the noise made by a Braille writer?
      3. How disruptive will the noise made by a Braille printer?
      4. Is there somewhere else where the printer can be kept for printing purposes?
      5. Is there some type of noise reduction equipment available?
        1. headphones for computer
        2. carpeting square under the Braille writer
        3. quietizer for Braille printer
        4. short, sound absorption partitions
    2. Space
      1. Is there enough room for the recommended equipment?
      2. Are the tables at an appropriate height for the student's size?
      3. Do the student's feet rest solidly on the floor?
      4. Is the table at an appropriate height for brailling and typing?
    3. Positioning
      1. Where is the student positioned in relation to his/her Braille books?
      2. Where is the student positioned in relation to the teacher for hearing instructions?
      3. How is the room laid out, rows, desk clusters, orderly grid pattern or large open areas, etc.?
    4. Electricity
      1. Is there electricity available near the student?
      2. Is the equipment on a surge protector?
    5. Portability
      1. Can the student physically carry the portable device?
      2. Portability does not eliminate the need for electricity
      3. Portable devices need more space then regular student desks of the middle and high school variety
    6. Accessibility
      1. How many and where are different printers available for printing in-class assignments?
      2. Are there stairs in the school, if a cart is being considered as a means of creating "portability"?
      3. How good are the student's mobility skills?

page author: Jim Allan


Computer Resources for People with Disabilities Access
Alliance for Technology Access
2175 East Francisco Blvd, Suite L
San Rafael, CA 94901
Phone: 800.266.5592

American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, KY 40206-0085
Phone: 800-223-1839, FAX: 502-899-2274


Ann Morris Enterprises, Inc.
890 Fams Court
East Meadow, NY 11554-5101
Phone: 800-454-3175, FAX: 516-292-2522

Independent Living Aids, Inc.
27 East Mall
Plainview, NY 11803
Phone: 800-537-2118, FAX: 516-752-3135


LS&S Group, Inc.
P.O. Box 673
Northbrook, IL 60065
Phone: 800-468-4789, FAX: 847-498-1482

The Lighthouse Inc.
111 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022-1202
Phone: 800-829-0500, FAX: 718-786-5620

Tack-Tiles Braille Systems
P.O. Box 475
Plaistow, NH 03865-0475
Phone: 800-822-5845, FAX: 603-382-1748

Maxi Aids & Appliances for Independent Living
42 Executive Blvd.
P.O. Box 3209
Farmingdale, NY 11735
Phone: 800-522-6294, FAX 516-752-0689

A few Web Resources

  • RJ Cooper- This site is run by Mr. RJ Cooper and offers a variety of switch software demos for the Macintosh and Windows environment. The site also features SAM (Switch-Adapted Mouse devices/interfaces - page 15) and Intellikeys (alternative keyboard). Don’t miss out on the Biggy Cursor for Mac and Windows.
  • Don Johnston Inc.- to receive demos for Write Outloud, Co-Writer, and Clicker Plus you will need to contact the company directly. Write Outloud is a talking word processor, Co-Writer is a word prediction software, and Clicker Plus is a talking on-screen keyboard for writing and communication. It also lets students type text, enter keyboard commands and speak phrases from the screen.
    800.999.4660- USA & CANADA
    847.526.2682- USA & GLOBAL
    847.526.4177- USA, FAX
    E-mail to:
    America Online:
    Web Site:
    Don Johnston Inc.
    1000 N Rand Rd, Bldg 115
    PO Box 639
    Wauconda IL 60084-0639
  • Intellitools- this company manufactures the alternative keyboard, Intellikeys. It also has a Windows or Macintosh Access Pak, which includes Overlay Maker, Clickit, Intellipics and Intellitalk (a talking word processor). This site also has a plethora of already created activities and overlays.
  • Aisquared- this site is home to Zoomtext Xtra! Although you can download a demo from the Screen Magnifiers Page, this is where the most up to date version will reside. Once the page is loaded, you will need to click the trial version button. This site requires you to fill out a form before you can download the demo.
  • Henter Joyce Inc.- this site is home to MAGIC screen enlargement software. Yes, this is the same company that makes JAWS, but they also supply a demo for MAGIC.
  • Dolphin Systems Inc.- this site is home to LUNAR, a screen magnifier. It also is home to HAL, a screen review software, and a variety of other products. You will need to click the PRODUCTS button to see all software demos.
  • ALVA Access Group- this company provides demos of inLARGE for the Mac and outSPOKEN for Mac and Windows.
  • GW Micro Inc.- this company offers a demo of WindowEyes, a screen review software. You will need to have a speech synthesizer to make it work. You will need to click on You can load the DecTalk demo first and choose this when asked for a speech synthesizer.
  • Fonix Inc.- this site has a DecTalk speech synthersizer software demo. You can use this software synthesizer with your WindowEyes demo. Versions available for Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000, Windows CE, and Linux . Follow the instructions on using the demo.

page author: Sharon Nichols -