Welcome to part two of this series, dedicated to sharing instructional and professional development resources that focus on teaching assistive technology.
In the first installment, we looked at various resources offered by Perkins Trainings and Access Technology Institute. In this second installment, we are going to take a b-y-t-e out of some Apple resources (sorry, couldn't resist)...
AppleVis is an excellent resource designed for blind or visually impaired users of Apple products. It is independently run by volunteers, though donations are appreciated to help keep the site running. Otherwise, access to all of the site’s content is free of charge. Nifty, right?
One really nice thing about AppleVis is that the site is very organized. For example, there are searchable directories specifically for iOS, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. Additionally, there is a specific section dedicated to apps that were developed specifically for blind and low vision users.
Each entry in these directories contains the name of the app, a short description, a note on whether the app is free or paid, a link to the App Store, and a description of how well the app works with VoiceOver.
For those just getting started with Apple products, there are links on the homepage for new Mac users, new iOS users, and new Apple Watch users. Each link takes you to a page that includes helpful forum posts, podcasts, articles, and guides designed for individuals new to Apple or for those making the switch from Windows to Mac. These pages offer a great place to find resources for beginning students and to help you as an instructor keep ahead of your students.
Probably my favorite feature of this site are the “Golden Apple Awards”. These are the best of the best in terms of accessibility and innovation. Members of the AppleVis community vote on nominations in the categories of best iOS app, best iOS game, best Mac app, and the developer of the year. Here is the link to the 2017 Golden Apple Award Winners.
Who Can Benefit?
AppleVis is a HUGE time saver for vision professionals who either need to know whether an app is accessible or are looking for a type of app to fill a specific need for a particular student.
It is also very useful for individuals who have the skills and initiative to find resources to help them expand their knowledge. Resources are also very easy to find both with the search feature and by just scanning through the directories.
More experienced users of Apple products can create accounts and share their knowledge by submitting content to the site. An account is also required to post in forums on the site.
This site is free to all who wish to access, though as mentioned above, they accept donations.
Mac for the Blind
Another interesting and very helpful source of information is Mac for the Blind. The site is owned and operated by a blind Mac user who is also an Apple Certified Support Professional.
Mac for the Blind offers audio tutorials for both mac and iOS. The Mac tutorials are broken up into 29 separate lessons, each focusing on a different aspect of the Mac or iOS experience. Lessons can be purchased individually for between $35 and $45 each or as a bundle for $836. The iOS tutorials are broken up into 15 lessons and range in price from $30 to $45.
For those needing shorter and more digestible lesson topics, Apple Slices Series is an excellent option. While the audio tutorials are more of a “start to finish” format covering all aspects of the device from start to finish, Apple Slices are short five to seven minute audio snippets are focused on frequently asked questions and have a narrow focus. Each lesson costs $5 as of the time of this writing Topics include “Folders and Files in Finder”, “Creating an Event in Calendar”, and “3D Touch in iOS”.
Lastly, Mac for the Blind offers one on one training for an hourly fee via telephone, Skype, Facetime, or various other mediums. This is especially helpful for individuals who don’t have the necessary skills to find the necessary information independently. Please click here for further information.
Who Can Benefit?
Mac for the Blind offers a variety of resources, some free and others not. Those that are free of charge are mostly downloadable text files or information and can be read directly off of the web page. So those who are adept at surfing the web benefit most from those resources.
The audio tutorials available for purchase from this website are probably best for learners who need to hear a lesson while at the same time practicing on their Mac or iDevice.
Aside from the audio lessons listed above, Mac for the Blind also has several free resources. Some examples include their How To page and their links page, which includes links to several podcasts, blogs, email lists, and other items that may be of interest.
The final installment in this series will feature two more resources that are valuable for both professional growth and personal learning. What will they be? I guess you’ll have to keep an eye out for Part Three in this series. Until then, happy learning!