Assistive Technology Resources

Assistive technology (AT) includes devices and software used by those with impairments of one type or another. This section lists sources for assistive technology as well as agencies that help set the standards for evaluation of AT, agencies that are helping to bring AT to a wider audience, and information about AT in general. User information and discussion groups may also be found here.

Don Johnston develops assistive technologies that help students with print or learning disabilities read and write. This tutorial is for the Read: OutLoud 6 product.

A state-by-state listing of reading services. Many podcasts also feature podcasts or downloadable archives. Some sites require registration.

Source: International Association of Audio Information Services

The access technology staff at the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind of the NFB Jernigan Institute has now compiled some valuable information about low-tech and high-tech equipment of interest to many seniors.

Source: National Federation of the Blind

The 20 regional service centers in Texas serve the state's school districts through innovative projects and services. Region 10's website includes this 3-credit course, "Assistive Technology for Students with Visual Impairments," an overview of assistive technology assessment. Specific to the Texas curriculum, but useful for all parents and teachers.

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped provides resources for seniors and their families, with a particular focus on low vision issues. It highlights organizations as well as other resources. 

Source: The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Many articles on a wide range of topics, including communication methods, advocacy, and assistive devices.

Source: The Interpreter's Friend

Section 508 requires that electronic and information technology used by federal agencies be accessible to people with disabilities. This website has tutorials, a guide to understanding the law, advice for managers, a marketplace for buying and selling IT equipment, find training, and more.

This document explains how to mount toys for students who do not have use of their hands or arms. (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Source: Special Education Service Agency (SESA)

The podcast of Serotek, is the primary discussion and review program dedicated to the accessible digital lifestyle.

John Ross shares his thoughts on physical education programs for students who are blind; Dr. Jim Mastro offers a list of hints for physical education and recreation teachers. From Future Reflections,14(1), (1995)

Source: National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

Click on the Vision - Tech Tutorial, then browse through this list of resources offered by SET-BC, a program of the Canadian Ministry of Education. Their list includes a few unique resources on French language features of Windows and JAWS.

Source: Special Education Technology British Columbia

CWU supports video tutorials to assist instructors and users on assistive technology and augmentative communication. This material is focused on K-22 special education students.

Future Reflections, the publication of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, produced this special issue in 2012, dedicated to access technology for users who are blind.

Source: Future Reflections, 2012

In this 26-page PDF document, the Coalition sets out the basic standards for audio description, with adaptations for description of live events, video, and museums and exhibits.

Source: Audio Descriptions Coalition

For topics and technology specific to low vision, explore this area of the Paths to Literacy website.  Optical aids, magnification, CCTV, are discussed here. 

Source: Paths to Literacy

Information on switch technology, multimedia/multimodal learning, programmable keyboards and Smart Boards can be found here, as well as links to academic papers on deafblindness and multiple disabilities including visual impairment.

Source: Paths to Literacy

User manual and support documentation for the iPhone talking calculator app, V 6.0.  Video tutorials can be downloaded from, here.

Source: Adam Croser

This incredibly neat app was shown to me by a very excited student last week. It actually gives an accurate description of the object which is photographed after the iPad takes about 15 seconds to evaluate it. Amazing!!!  I can imagine using this application as we talk about light and the visible spectrum and color discrimination, artificial intelligence, etc. 

The following description is from the Tap Tap See website:

About TapTapSee

  • TapTapSee is a mobile camera application designed specifically for the blind and visually impaired iOS users. The app utilizes the iDevice’s camera and VoiceOver functions to photograph objects and identify them out loud for the user.
  • TapTapSee enables the user to double tap on the device’s screen to photograph any two or three dimensional object at any angle, have it accurately analyzed, and defined within seconds. The iDevice’s VoiceOver then speaks the identification audibly to the user.
  • Moreover, TapTapSee includes the following additional features: Repetition of the last image’s identification, ability to upload images from the camera roll, share identification via Twitter, Facebook, text or email, rotor reader, flash toggle, and the ability to save the identified image to the camera roll with the attached tag.

Best Picture Taking Practices

  • The camera on the iDevice is located in the top right corner behind the front facing screen of the phone when the device is in the upright position.
  • It is advised to hold the iDevice 8-12 inches (20-30 centimeters) away from the object being photographed. This method will help ensure that the object is in the scope of the camera.
  • TapTapSee has an autofocus notification to let the user know when the photographed object is in focus. For best practice, wait until the app beeps before taking a picture. The autofocus notification can be turned ON and OFF in the About menu.
  • For best results, pictures snapped with TapTapSee should be taken in a well lit environment. The app also features an automatic flash, which can be turned ON and OFF in the About menu.
  • The barcode on canned goods is almost always located to the left of the seam of the can where the two label ends meet and overlap. Other written information, such as brand, product name and info is usually across from the seam on the opposite side of the can. To get the best results when taking a picture of the label, be sure to keep the camera 8-12 inches (20-30 centimeters) away from the can.

First Time User Overview

  • Before you begin using the application, you must first turn VoiceOver ON in your device. To turn VoiceOver ON go to Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver. Then switch to ON.
  • When you first open TapTapSee a Privacy Notice pops up that needs to be accepted for app use. Once it's accepted you're taken into the app, which consists of a camera and four buttons at the top of the screen - Repeat, Library, Share and About.
  • To take a picture, double-tap on the screen and wait approximately seven to 10 seconds to receive an identification. The wait time may fluctuate depending on your network connection. The image is sent to the server where it is identified and sent back to the user. The VoiceOver in the device then speaks the identification to the user. Up to three images at a time can be identified.
  • TapTapSee gives users a general identification of any picture taken. However, if, for example, the user takes a picture of a can of soup and wants to know the name of the brand, the application will be able to read the label and return the identification with the brand name. Nevertheless, keep in mind that TapTapSee will only be able to recognize the object that is within the camera's scope and in focus. Lighting conditions are also important for the quality of the identification.
  • TapTapSee includes an autofocus alert that can be turned ON and OFF in the About menu. Once an object comes into focus, the app makes a sound to notify the user that it's in the optimal position to take a picture.

Toolbar Buttons

  • Repeat Button
Hear the last identification spoken aloud in case it was missed the first time.
  • Library Button
Access the device's Camera Roll in order to send images to TapTapSee for identification. To access this feature simply click on the Library button and proceed to select an image that you want to have identified from the Camera Roll (Note: If access to the Camera Roll is denied then you must change the privacy setting. Go to Settings > Privacy > Photos > TapTapSee. Toggle the TapTapSee switch ON.
  • Share Button
Share the image via Twitter, Facebook, Email, or Text. The Share button also includes the option for the user to save the image to the device's Camera Roll. The saved image will include the tag that was provided by TapTapSee.

A 51 page manual from 2000 full of tips for adapting science experiments for students who are blind or visually impaired. Written by Matthew Dion, Karen Hoffman, and Amy Matter from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. It includes sections on Teaching the Blind and Visually Impaired, General Guidelines for Making Adaptations, Laboratory Adaptations, Specific Experiments, and a Resource List.

Source: Perkins eLearning, Perkins School for the Blind

Nathalie de Wit, of Perkins School for the Blind, addresses using assistive technology devices both low tech and high tech to teach basic communication to students who are blind or have low vision with significant multiple disabilities.

Source: Perkins eLearning Webinars