Low-tech and high-tech accommodations can benefit both low-vision and legally blind students. At the K-12 level, students need to learn about accommodations suitable for their needs and ways to advocate for themselves, according to the Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD). At the postsecondary level, students with visual impairments become responsible for disclosing their disabilities and self-advocating for effective accommodations.
At the University of Washington, the DO-IT resource suggests numerous low-tech accommodations for low-vision and blind students. Scribes may read classroom materials aloud and provide auditory descriptions of visuals for students. Raised-line drawings for tactile input, recorded lectures and extended testing time may prove essential as well. Many low-vision students benefit from enlarged (16-18) font on reading materials, tabletop magnifiers and front row seating free from glare.
Students with low vision may use oversized monitors and screen enlargement software, such as ZoomText 9.1 and MAGic 11. Both products offer a variety of views, clear magnification up to 36 times, color contrast and tracking features. A magnifier within Windows 7 allows users to enlarge the screen up to 16 times, according to Microsoft. Low-vision users may also benefit from the simple zoom feature in Windows under the View tab.
Readers and Scanners
If instructors provide classroom materials in electronic format, screen readers can read documents aloud to students. Speech output versions of MAGic and ZoomText provide a variety of human-like voices in addition to screen enlargement. For documents unavailable electronically, Kurzweil products can scan text, provide speech output and allow students to highlight important information, according to AHEAD.
Braille Hardware and Software
Although some blind students rely on scanners and readers, others use Braille for reading, writing and note-taking. Traditional Braillers, both mechanical and electronic, allow students to input information directly. To convert electronic text to Braille, Duxbury Braille translation software can connect to an electronic embosser and produce Braille text, according to AHEAD.
Closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) allow students with low vision to enlarge pages in their textbooks or handouts, according to AHEAD. No scanning or copying is necessary. The instructor can wheel the CCTV next to the student, or students can transport their own CCTVs. Print can appear as black on white or white on black, depending upon the student's needs.
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