Assistive technology is any device, software or equipment used to remove barriers to learning and develop independence skills. Vision Support Service (VSS) advisory teachers will conduct technology assessments and make recommendations on the most effective solution.
The VSS can provide specialist equipment on a loan basis free of charge. There is an expectation that schools will provide basic kit such as laptops or tablet devices.
Near vision magnification
Access to printed material can be facilitated though the use of near vision magnification and photo capture, some devices will use optical character recognition (OCR) to convert print to speech.
Distance vision access
Room viewing cameras can give students access to incidental learning around the room, see the face of peers and teacher and copy from a white board. Video links, repeater screens or photos are used to give the student independent access to the class smart board. In some cases the student will be provided with electronic copies of presentations.
Reading and writing
Many students with low vision find it hard to read back their own handwriting or keep books organised. Many programmes available in keyboard familiarisation for early years and from year 2 VSS can offer formal keyboarding lessons. Specialised word processors can assist in reducing keystrokes by using predictive text and word banks. Speech to text technology can be appropriate for some students.
Alternate format electronic books are available from rnibbookshare and rnib reading services, they come in a variety of file formats including PDF, DAISY, ePub and audio. We can recommend specialised apps which will open these files and present them in a way so they will wrap around and not move off the edge of the screen when enlarged.
Braille / tactile devices
Most young children will start to learn braille on a manual brailler, then graduate to a electronic braille note taker with a refreshable braille display.
VSS can provide an embosser which prints out hard copy braille as well as a machine to produce raised tactile diagrams.
Low vision aids
Low tech magnifying glasses are a useful portable tool and can be provided free from an NHS low vision clinic.