Work Smarter Not Harder

I had the privilege of presenting at the DC/MD AER conference recently.  There were so many wonderful topics covered at the conference including transition, independent living skills, and technology.  Below, I have included excerpts from my presentation on how to “Work Smarter and not Harder”.  As TVIs, O&Ms, Rehab counselors etc., we tend to have a busy schedule which could include travel between various locations and working with various students or clients.  With that, the need to simplify and/or streamline our work can be of great benefit!

How Technology Influences our lives

  • Many of us use technology every day

  • Technology can be in the form of using a digital clock, a microwave, at T.V., etc.

  • At this time in our lives, we are unable to escape it (unless you live off the grid).

  • Many of us here use mobile technology such as Smartphones, tablets, smart watches, GPS devices, etc.

  • Many modern day devices allow us to complete tasks quicker and more efficiently.

Imagine having to wash clothes by hand or having to rely on the kindness of strangers to help you get to your destination when you are lost and late for an event!

Although the nostalgia of simpler times are gems to reflect on, with today’s hectic pace of life, we rely on technology to get the job done!

Staying Organized Using Digital Apps

Helps in the following ways:

  • Less paper used (Saves Trees) *Note:  There are Reusable Notebooks and OCR apps available.
  • Less papers to keep up with and manage
  • Digital documents are easier to find using the device’s search feature
  • Digital documents and other information is easier to share (i.e. signed documents sent via Dropbox’s signature feature, etc.)
  • Everything on one, or synced across multiple devices

Apps for Personal Use

The top 5 apps that I use every day

  1. Bible app (Scriptures and Daily Inspiration)
  2. Banking app (Wells Fargo)
  3. Youtube (I don’t have cable)
  4. Ebay (To monitor my sales)
  5. Words With Friends (I am not good at it)

Leave a comment below and share the top 5 apps that you personally use each day.

Apps for Work

The top 5 apps that I use daily as a TVI/O&M

  1. Email (on iOS):  To keep in contact with staff, students, and parents
  2. Calendar (on iOS):  To enter and keep up with daily tasks, appointments, etc.  Schedule appointments with staff and students about VI/O&M sessions, etc.
  3. Notes (on iOS):  To record progress notes.  Airdrop notes and checklists to students.  To collaborate and share checklists and notes with staff.
  4. Google/Google Maps (on iOS): To look up information for research purposes, eye terminology, addresses, phone numbers and directions, etc.
  5. TextFree (on iOS):  To communicate with staff and parents via text and phone calls.

Leave a comment below and share the top 5 apps that you personally use each day.

Apps for Students (TVIs)

The top five apps that my VI students use daily (for academic purposes):

  1. Email (iOS):  To turn in and receive assignments digitally
  2. Notes (iOS):  To draft and turn in assignments
  3. Read2Go (iOS)/Go Read (Android):  To access text books, novels, leisure reading
  4. Google Classroom and Google Drive (iOS):  To access school assignments and to export attachments for editing, work completion
  5. Voice Dream:  To import PDFs, Word Docs, digital Books, audio files, etc. 

Leave a comment below and share the top 5 apps that you personally use each day. If you are a student, please tell us what apps you like to use daily to get your work done in school.

Apps for Students (O&M)

  1. Google/Google Maps/Google Street View (iOS):  To look up addresses, directions, plan routes, get a preview of location and nearby landmarks, get bus and train schedules
  2. Notes app (iOS):  To access checklists, to jot down notes about locations traveling to, etc.
  3. Weather app (iOS):  To check the weather during route planning and on the day of travel
  4. Transit App (iOS):  To plan routes and to use while on public transportation
  5. Seeing AI (iOS):  To check currency, product codes in stores

Comment below and share the top 5 apps that your students use for O&M daily. If you are a student, please tell us what apps you like to use for O&M.

Bonus Apps

Collaboration with staff and Students

  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Google Keep


  • Camera
  • Alarm
  • Photo
  • Clock
  • Compass
  • Public Library
  • BlindSquare

Accessible Apps (iOS)

Apps for Accessibility

Apps that Work with VoiceOver (iOS)

Popular Apps with VoiceOver

Accessible Apps (Android)

For App Suggestions and Reviews

Tips and Tricks

Once you get the hang of using apps, it is good to familiarize yourself and your students with the ways that apps interact with other programs and applications.

For example:

  • Importing and Exporting documents
  • Creating shared documents
  • Connecting Bluetooth devices (i.e. QWERTY keyboards, Refreshable Braille devices, etc.)
  • Using Voiceover (iOS) or TalkBack (Android), Voiceover/TalkBack Gestures
  • Sending and Receiving links, documents, pictures, etc.

Bonus Content

Here are a few more apps that were shared by the attendees of the presentation:


  • Facebook Messenger
  • Kindle
  • Gmail
  • Calendar
  • Waze
  • Calculator
  • News
  • Verizon hum


  • TapTap See
  • Vision Sim
  • Cam Scanner
  • Prizmo
  • Go Talk


  • Fluidity
  • Office Lens
  • Brainpop
  • Big Bang
  • Dolphin Easy Reader
  • Notability
  • Next Bus
  • KNFB Reader
  • Notability


  • DC metro





Posted by Diane BraunerMar 21, 2018

Here are a couple more of my daily favorites! (or other screen sharing app) for low vision students to access the board

Noteability, Adobe Fill & Sign, Smart Forms (or other Annotation app) for low vision students to write on worksheet, etc.

Google Forms (teacher created accessible homework/quiz/test app)

iBooks (accessible books with quiz capabilities)

iBooks Author (Mac app to create iBooks) and/or Book Creator (or other iPad apps to create accessible books)

BlindSquare (or other GPS/navigation apps) for O&M purposes

Audio Memos (create quick voice memos - use during O&M lessons to record routes, information, etc.)


Posted by Diane BraunerMar 29, 2018

Thanks for sharing about NaturalReader. I have not heard of this app and it sounds like it would be beneficial for many students with visual impairments!

Read more about: Assistive Technology