I recently attended the Assistive Technology Industry Association exhibit hall in Orlando, Florida. The products presented were designed to enhance the lives of persons with disabilities. There were many companies with technology for the visually impaired and blind, and a few were, in my opinion, game changers for education.
- EZ-form by American Thermoform - reproduces Braille text and create tactile graphics. Safe and easy to use, the machine makes permanent and inexpensive raised line drawings. The machine uses swell paper, which is printed with a an image on a regular ink jet printer. The paper is then fed into the EZ-Form and produces a raised lined image when the lines of the image swell. I personally made an image of a lady bug, and was absolutely blown away by its accuracy and implications for the classroom.
- Inside ONE by insidevision - The only Braille tablet running Windows 10 allowing access to all kinds of digital content. It uses tactile braille keys on the screen over a clear overlay, with a refreshable braille display attached. I have tried a similar product and was impressed with the simplicity and ease of this tablet. I currently use a braille display and iPad with my Braille students. I have not found, until this product, one that allows both the teacher and student joint management of the task.
- DCMP.org - Described and captioned media program hosts an on demand collection of over 6,000 educational titles that are captioned and described. Parents, teachers and service providers for students that are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired can sign up for a free account. There is a specific category of Blindness which had videos on a varied of topics dealing with the world of blindness. The videos can be viewed through streaming or on DVD.
- Code Jumper by APH -Developed by Microsoft and distributed by APH. Code Jumper technology bridges the gap and opens up the world of coding to all students, regardless of visual ability. This amazing product will be available on quota funds in March.
These products, along with many others at the ATIA exhibit hall, are changing the way we teach the visually impaired, and definitely the way they are able to access the world.