Main content

Alert message

Computer Programming Camp for TVIs

For the fourth year now, the Washington State School for the Blind will host a workshop on teaching computer science to students with visual impairments called the "Experience Programming in Quorum Workshop" (aka EPIQ Workshop). The workshop will be held on July 17-23, 2014 As part of the workshop, you will learn programming basics in a Java-based programming language called Quorum. The inventor of the language, Dr. Andy Stefik, will lead the workshop and teach you how to use Quorum to create dynamic websites with your students. The platform, developed by Dr. Stefik, is 100% accessible to all students, including those with visual impairments and blindness. The language is currently being taught at the Alabama School for the Blind, the Washington State School for the Blind, and the Maryland School for the Blind along with many smaller sites around the country to students with visual impairments. The language and the curriculum...
Continue reading
3699 Hits
0 Comments

Assistive Technology Needs for a Student with a Visual Impairment

Just in case you are having trouble figuring out what technology is out there for a student with a visual impairment, here is a resource that could help you out while making your supervisor (or the one who has the money) nervous. It was compiled by the good folks at the California School for the Blind:  Jerry Kuns, James Carreon and Adrian Amandi.  It is quite an extensive list. The file is a downloadable Word document and is listed as one of the links labeled "What's Available in Assistive Technology for Students with Visual Impairment-March 2011".   It has been updated to include iOS and Mac accessibility.  Of course, your student(s) may not need "everything" but this is a good reference for what type of technology is available.  Besides this resource document, included on the web page are various assistive technology topics.  It is quite a wealth of information. http://www.csb-cde.ca.gov/technology.htm Happy reading. Patrick Van Geem, TVI Assistive...
Continue reading
3380 Hits
0 Comments

Change Reaction Mac OS X Game for the Blind

ChangeReaction, Draconis Entertainment's classic audio  puzzle game for the blind and visually impaired comes to  OS X with new audio, three entirely different modes of  game play, a host of new features, and a cheaper price  tag! Primarily intended for blind and visually impaired gamers,  ChangeReaction is played via the keyboard and your  ears. Navigate the game board with the arrow keys,  dropping coins on the stacks to create chains of  explosions and rack up higher and higher scores! Match  three coins of the same denomination vertically or  horizontally to trigger a chain reaction that blows up all  adjacent coins of the same value! This game has no visual  element. Use your fingers, ears, and wits to rack up the  highest scores possible! Find the game on the Mac App Store. 
3107 Hits
0 Comments

Spellgate Accessible iOS game

Three University of North Carolina computer science students created a beginning spelling game app that is totally accessible! Spellgate, a free app, is now in the app store. Zoom and VoiceOver work well with the game. They also added an option in settings so that when you use the Refresh-able Braille Device (RBD), you can turn off the picture labeling if desired so that the RBD does not spell out the picture label. (Spelling out the picture label provides the answer!) You can also mute VO and the student will have to rely on reading the RBD letters. The students will continue to work on the game next semester, so please provide your input! They plan to do some fine tuning and hope to add letter recognition (matching letters) and a way for teachers to add their own words. Click on the link for more information: http://www.ifreeware.net/download-spellgate.html In the app store, you can...
Continue reading
3039 Hits
0 Comments

Online "Hark the Sound" Game

Hark the Sound, an educational game for blind students that uses the ARROW KEYS is now available online for free.  One of their new games for young blind students is called “Save the Animals”.  The game requires the student to identify the first letter of the animal they hear then press the correct braille letter on the keyboard.  The home row keys  FDS and JKL are used to type in the braille letters.  To access the online application and game, Go to:  http://www.harkthesound.org Click on “Browse the games now” Press your right or left arrow keys until you hear “braille games”.   Press your up arrow key once.  Continue to use your right or left arrow keys until you hear “Save the animals” then press the up arrow. A wonderful way to reinforce braille with a new student.
4156 Hits
0 Comments

iPad Curriculum for Students with Visual Impairments

Robert Miller of the Oklahoma School for the Blind Assistive Technology Lab has written an in-depth curriculum for using the iPad with VoiceOver, Zoom and Refreshable Braille Displays. The curriculum will guide you and your student step by step through setting the accessibility features up to teaching specific gestures and commands needed to use the iPad with VoiceOver and Zoom.  As with any shared curriculum, please give credit to the author or authors when distributing the curriculum.  Robert asks for any feedback to help him improve his curriculum. Three versions of the curriculum can be found on the Oklahoma School for the Blind website.  
4492 Hits
0 Comments

Using Audacity with JAWS

Audacity is a free, easy-to-use and multilingual audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. You can use Audacity to: Record live audio. Convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs. Edit Ogg Vorbis, MP3, WAV or AIFF sound files. Cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together. Change the speed or pitch of a recording. Many teachers are using Audacity to create audio files for students to use in the classroom yet there are very few students creating audio files themselves. The students can now create their own audio files using a website with detailed instructions on how to create audio files using Audacity with JAWS. The instructions were written by David Bailes and can be found on the  Jaws Guides page of the VIP Software Guides website.
6200 Hits
0 Comments

Word 2010 with Windows 7

Tactile graphic production using MS Word presents several speed bumps along the way since Word 2000.  The latest one involves Windows 7 and Word 2010.  Here’s the scoop.  In Word 2010, the Select tool in the Edit category on the Home tab is used to select several objects for grouping by dragging with the tool across the objects to group.  This feature tool works just fine using Word 2010 with Windows XP. Now try using Word 2010 with Windows 7, the same process produces different results.  The select arrow does nothing.  After pulling hair out for a couple of days and reading several listings from groups, the solution finally appeared. When using Word 2010 with Windows 7, you first save the document as a .doc NOT .docx, which is the default save and the default document type before saving. By doing this the process described above produces the expected results. What a...
Continue reading
3269 Hits
0 Comments

Braille Production with MacOS

Many school districts are switching to MacOS for various reasons, particularly around the issue of virus protection.  The problem for us in the field of visual impairments is that much of the accessibility software is PC (Windows OS) based, especially when it comes to embossing and braille production.  There is an emulation software called VMware Fusion which is now in its 4th edition so it can work with MacOS 10.7 (Lion). Emulating software (according to Wikipedia)  duplicates (or emulates) the functions of a first computer system in a different second computer system, so that the behavior of the second system closely resembles the behavior of the first system.  In this case, the MacOS can now run Windows XP or 7  as a separate application.  Windows-based applications are now able to almost run in the same way as they do on a PC computer.  The emphasis is on “almost”.  There are some...
Continue reading
4214 Hits
0 Comments

OATS (Open Source Assistive Technology Software)

There is a website called OATS which stands for Open Source Assistive Technology Software.  The address: Oats Software (http://www.oatsoft.org/Software/browse/Repository/Function) will take you directly to their software repository.  This page contains a list of open source software categories that are all related to assistive technology applications.  There are a few applications geared towards persons with visual impairments.  Although these applications were extensively tested, be sure to run a virus protection scan as they are open-source software. Pat Van Geem Assistive Technology Consultant TSBVI Outreach Department
4296 Hits
0 Comments

Two Useful Assistive Technology Websites

Found some websites that might be of interest to all of us in the field of visual impairment using assistive technology.  Thought I might share them.   Google Products Accessibility Features Google has an accessibility web page that explains some of their products’ accessibility features for users with visual impairments.  Some of the Google applications are: Chrome, Android, Gmail, Docs, Calendar, eBooks and Google Voice.   The accessibility features these applications offer are: low vision settings, shortcut key commands, syncing with Outlook, and screen reading.  Included also are accessibility features for users with hearing impairments. Google Accessibility (http://www.google.com/accessibility/products/#blind-low-vision)   Tech Vision Blog There is a blog called Tech Vision by a Denise Robinson, Ph.D., TVI, that contains a wide range of assistive technology information.  It is a remarkable source for all type topics ranging from Duxbury to IPads.  Please take a gander at the listed (according to months and years) on the left sidebar. ...
Continue reading
3103 Hits
0 Comments

The Accessibility of Four Types of Electronic Documents

Accessibility of electronic files as supplements for online courses or lessons is an important issue for students with disabilities.  General education teachers, who actually do most of the electronic production for students, do not seem to understand the accessibility issues of these documents.  If a document is not made accessible, the user with disabilities can experience difficulties in: document navigation, clarity of content, searching for specific information, and user fatigue due to the complex document layout.  There are four major types of electronic files that are used for online or off line lessons. The Four Types of Electronic Documents Electronic documents are used for various reasons, such as: activities, reference material, supplemental information, worksheets, and other assignments.  Students get the documents through email, by downloading them from learning management systems or through a file sharing system. Depending on the author, accessibility of these files can vary greatly.  The electronic documents...
Continue reading
8057 Hits
0 Comments

PDF Conversion to Braille Ready Files

A greater percentage of the worksheets that teachers need for translation into braille and tactile graphics are being sent to the braille production staff via email or other file sharing method such as Dropbox, Box.net or a local ISD file sharing portal.  This is a good thing because the files are getting to the production staff at a much quicker rate which ultimately means that the materials will be under the fingers of students sooner. Files sent to the production staff usually come as Word documents, PDF documents or spreadsheets.  All these types of files require editing preparations before they are ready for braille translation.  PDF documents are a special case. PDF documents sent for reproduction in Braille documents are received from teachers in one of two ways, bitmap or text tag.  Bitmap is a fancy word for picture or image file like jpeg, tiff, gif, or pic. A text...
Continue reading
7255 Hits
0 Comments

iPad Apps to Investigate

Dropbox - Free online storage. Get documents from any internet ready device. (computer, iOS device, Android device). Can pay for more storage monthly. Evernote - Free note taking app; also free online storage. Can add Webpages, pictures, text. When webpage added, links still work from the evernote document. Can pay for more storage monthly. Quickoffice Pro HD - Create, edit and share Microsoft® Word, Excel and PowerPoint files; access and manage email attachments with the most popular file formats; get to your files remotely via cloud storage services (MobileMe, Dropbox, Google® Docs, Box.net, Huddle, SugarSync, Evernote, and Catch); file support-ms office (97-2008) DOC, DOCX, TXT. Moe's Notepad - $0.99. A notes app. Audio - trim, change volume, strip silence, reverse, change speed; visual - organize any number of images and/or videos; image - crop, resize, change brightness; drawing - rectangular box or freehand; video - trim, create thumbnail, grab frames; text...
Continue reading
3551 Hits
0 Comments

Teaching Business Software Applications

A few years ago one credit of the required 21 credits needed for graduation from high school in the state of Texas is Technology Applications. Included in this curriculum are three choices that meet the State Board of Education standards. The choices are: Computer Science (geek stuff for writing computer scripts), Multimedia Production (video editing, animation, and graphic design), and Business Computer Information Systems (business computer applications). By imposing this, schools were trying to make sure students have some computer technology skills by graduation. It is no longer a required credit for graduation. This means school districts are on their own. Some districts still have it as a “local” requirement for graduation. For us as vision teachers this may be a relief, however, this can be a problem. One of the choices, Business Computer Information Systems (BCIS) give students a basic knowledge (exposure) to spreadsheets, word processing, databases, desktop publishing, and...
Continue reading
3898 Hits
0 Comments

Braille Music Resources

Lately there has been a resurgence in braille music, however teachers have very little opportunity for learning the code themselves.  The most commonly used resources come from Dancing Dots, located here and the Internet: www.dancingdots.com. Look for the resources page and you will find several books available for learning braille music. However the Royal National Institute for the Blind in England have created a resource for teachers to learn the music braille code. Americans will need to change the names of the note values, as we use different vocabulary. An example would be quavers in America are labeled eight notes. I have downloaded the lessons in MS Word format and braille format and performed a search and replace to allow me to use American vocabulary. If you want to do the same go here: http://tinyurl.com/2u4mekz. I had to shorten the web address, as it was extremely long. Look on the page...
Continue reading
4113 Hits
0 Comments

Free Software for Students

Many of our students have full access to screen reading software in their school, but they do not have access to their computer at home. Does this scenario sound familiar? Now your students can have their own screen reading software at home on a USB drive. One of the software programs is open-source, which to some people means free, when in fact that is not how it is defined. "Open source software is the shared intellectual property of all developers and users and, thanks to the collaboration, achieves a higher level of quality than software produced using conventional means. " (http://www.directimaging.com/). The opensource screen reader is NVDA, which stands for NonVisual Display Access. Being opensource, the speech engine available for use is not as advanced as commercial screen reading software, but that is also improving with each revision. Download NVDA here: www.nvda-project.org. The next screen reading software available for free is...
Continue reading
3351 Hits
0 Comments