Accessible Assistive Technology Resources Bridges Blog Educational Resources Series: Jumping Into January 2023

Technology and Tools Available for Free at APH!

Jumping Into January, Part 3

2022 is over, and it’s time to jump into 2023! Join us as we explore revamped and new resources to help you on your Transition journey – through school and beyond!

  • January 3: The Bridges Helpdesk Returns and is Growing!
  • January 10: JAWS Screen Reading Software Offers Even More in 2023!
  • January 17: Resources from the Maryland Library for the Blind!
  • January 24: Technology and Tools Available for Free at APH!
  • January 31: Changes to AIRA’s On-Demand Visual Interpretation Services

In this third installment of our “Jumping Into January” series, we highlight some of the great resources available from the Maryland Library for the Blind and Print Disabled (LBPD)!

What makes these things free?

These materials are free to your school district through Federal Quota funds. Federal Quota is a program to which Congress makes an annual allocation of funds to support blind and low vision students. These funds are distributed through each state, and each state has one or more officials in charge of purchasing materials for eligible students.

The Federal Quota program is great, but it is limited. Quota funds may only be spent at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). Quota funds are also somewhat limited, especially given the expenses of textbooks, tools, and technology available these days.

Quota funds are limited, but they are still quite useful. They can be a helpful means of encouraging school officials, including regular education teachers, to be more open to incorporating accessible materials in their classrooms. Also, for items that are more specific to one grade level, school districts can borrow materials from each other or from the state.

Am I limited to Federal Quota funds?

No. APH accepts non-Quota funds, and anyone can self-pay for APH items. The Federal Quota program is an extra source of funding for blind/low vision students.

The key to obtaining tools or technology (from anywhere) is to demonstrate your need for these items. This need could be curriculum-related (sighted students have pictures, you deserve high-quality tactile graphics), materials to help build spatial concepts using tactile materials, and access-related (accessible textbooks and accessible manipulatives). Additionally, APH offers disability-related tools including:

Please note that these materials are NOT limited to use at school. In fact, it may be entirely appropriate to have some materials, like a braille embosser, at one’s home. The key is to identify what you need, why you need it, and then advocate effectively for it.

Reach out to us at the Bridges Helpdesk anytime, and we’ll be happy to help you identify tools that you need for access and success. We’re also eager to help you make a plan to request and, if needed, advocate for these vital materials.

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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