BLENNZ: Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ

Te Kotuituinga Mātauranga Pura o Aotearoa

Assistive Technology

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Assistive technology provides vital tools that support learning, and helps fulfil the expectation that all learners have full access to the curriculum. Examples of assistive technology include:

• sloping desktops for learners with low vision
• laptops with braille access for learners who are blind
• switch-activated toys for children with vision impairment and other disabilities
• monoculars to help learners access written material on the board and keep up with their peers
• laptop computers with large print displays, which enable learners with low vision to take notes in class and complete assignments at home in the same time frame as their peers.

Assessing assistive technology options

Before any aids or technologies are chosen for a learner, a thorough process must be in place to guide the selection of learning and literacy materials, including developmental, curriculum-based assessments. This helps ensure the most appropriate learning and literacy materials are selected. Ongoing assessment must determine whether learners’ immediate and future assistive technology needs are being adequately met. Learners should be given and taught new assistive technology tools before they need them.

A comprehensive assessment report will contain information from a range of perspectives, including:
• ophthalmic information
• functional-vision assessment
• learner’s current skills and needs
• ability to use a computer, with or without assistive technology
• environmental considerations
• health and safety.
• SETT-Student Characteristics, Environmental influencers, Tasks the student is to complete every day and possible Tools

Technology Solutions

Low Technology solutions

• Dark pencils and felt-tipped pens
• Dark-line pads, exercise books, and graph papers
• Writing and reading guides
• Slope boards and desks
• Adjustable stands for notebook computers
• Large print keyboard overlays
• Adjustable copy holders with line markers
• Angle-poise lamps
• Magnifiers
• Monoculars
• Perkin braillers
• Abacus

High Technology Solutions

• CCTV- Closed circuit TV
• Image capturing devices- such as digital cameras, MLS
• Laptops
• Switches
• Manignification software
• Screen readers
• Electronic braillers
• Braille notetakers
• Braille Display
• Scanners
• MP3
• Cell phones
• Voice- recognition
• Daisy
• Talking Calculators

montage of assistive tech users

Students exploring new technology solutions

Ministry Of Education Assistive Technology Application

Assistive Technology allows students to hear, to see and to access and participate in the environment they learn in. It can create independence that allows students to expand their worlds and release hitherto hidden beliefs and abilities.

In the New Zealand educational context, Assistive Technology is any technology that enhances performance of students with special education needs by overcoming specific barriers in three areas: Presence, Participation (engagement) and Learning3.

The Ministry of Education, Special Education Assistive Technology service is not simply a mechanism for accessing resources and equipment. It is essentially an assessment and problem solving process designed to overcome barriers to students’ learning and participation.²

Assistive Technology Guidelines are here.

References:

Curzon, J., Selby, L., & Ryba, K. (2000). Realising the power within: Partnerships and information and communication technology. In D. Fraser, R. Moltzen, & K. Ryba (Eds.), Learners with special needs in Aotearoa New Zealand (pp. 181–207). Palmerston North, New Zealand: Dunmore Press.

Ministry of Education About Assisstive Technology

Access Technology for students with vision impairments

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