Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tech For The Visually Impaired Student

If you read my previous post on the NWEA testing, you understand there are other uses in the computer lab for the basic classes. The issue I was confronted with a few years ago, was how to make the NWEA tests accessible to a visually impaired student.

The first thing I'll make clear here is that I'm not an expert at this by any means. I worked with the visual impairment specialist who was working with the student, in order to get this procedure down.

The other thing to keep in mind is that this will not work on every student with visual impairment, adjustments may need to be made based upon the needs of the student and the requests of the v.i. specialist.

This is what I did for this student:

First, change the display so that everything is enlarged.

Go to the System Preferences by clicking on the apple in the upper left corner. Once there, go to Display.

When inside the Display, choose 640 X 480. If this cuts off too much of the NWEA screen for you, choose 800 X 600.

Click on the Show All button at the top of the box to go to the main menu. Then click on the Universal Access.

This is the area of the computer that allows for additional settings to be made for individuals with disabilities.

For testing you generally cannot use the VoiceOver feature, however it can be turned on and used for assignments.

You can turn on the Zoom. This will allow further magnification for the words, however it will cut off the rest of the text on the screen and the zoom will follow the cursor. Use of this for the student will need to be practiced before they try it for a test.

Display setting changes from a white background to a black background with white text may or may not help the student.

If you are going to be changing these settings frequently, there is a button at the bottom of this panel that will add the Universal Access icon to the top menu bar on the computer screen. This will save you a few steps in getting back to this panel.

Also note the option to add assistive devices. Use this if you are going to hook up a braille reader.

If you look just above the VoiceOver, you'll see some tab buttons. Seeing should be in blue, as that is the panel you are on. If you click to Mouse or Mouse & Trackpad (depending on whether you are using a laptop or desktop computer), you'll find at the bottom a slide bar for the Cursor Size.

Slide the Cursor Size indicator all the way to the right. You'll see the cursor you are using enlarge.

These were the settings we used for this student.

Here are a few other things we used with this student:

We put their NWEA Map Test on a laptop and hooked it up to a SmartBoard® with a projector. This worked great technically, however the student needed to stand so close to the words that they sometimes blocked the projection. They were also tripping over the extended feet on it. My recommendation on this, if you're going to use this for the student's testing and other computerized work, is to get a display that is backlit or LCD.

Something, perhaps, along these lines:

SmartBoard® 8070i

For other work in following text, the teacher can use a document camera to help magnify books and other items in the classroom to help the student be able to see.

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