Bridges Resource Library Crossing Bridges Together: Secondary Transition In the Field, A Reading Room For Educators

Assessing and Meeting Accessible Assistive Technology Needs

Scenario: New students without requisite technology skills

A student has moved into your district from another state or country. This student has little to no experience with non-visual/low vision tools and techniques. The student needs these skills to meaningfully engage in all classroom and homework activities.

Strategies to combat lack of foundation in science-related activities

In addition to making materials accessible, your student will need intentional and explicit instruction in areas of skill deficits. When conducting assessments of this new student, please consider needs in each of the following areas:

  • Instruction in reading braille and/or enlarged print
  • Instruction in accessing digital text
  • Instruction in utilizing technology/accessible assistive technology
    • High-tech/Medium-tech
    • Low tech/No tech
    • Computer hardware and software
    • Non-visual/low vision writing/documentation tools
    • Non-visual/low vision measurement tools
    • Non-visual/low vision data collection
  • Instruction in reading tactile graphics
  • Instruction in listening comprehension
  • Instruction in utilizing audio description

Scenario: Student who cannot touch type but needs immediate access to screen reading/screen magnification software

The technology skills of blind/low vision students may lag behind their non-disabled peers due to lack of opportunity or even ability to use the mouse or keyboard. Given that many accessible tools in science rely on using Windows OS computers, our students need to be able to interact independently with computers.

Strategies to combat lack of touch typing skills in the short-term

In the short-term, providing the student with alternative tools like an iPad can allow the student to interact with accessible digital content using iOS gestures. This can be a valuable bridge for access to content, but keep in mind that iPads are typically not efficient tools for engaging in secondary science education materials, including spreadsheets and data tables.

Luckily, iPads are not the only solution for students who do not now (or cannot ever) touch type. Students can verbally operate Windows OS computers using screen reading and screen magnification software without using either a mouse or a keyboard by using Voice Assistant (built into both JAWS screen reading software and ZoomText screen magnification software. Please check out the following for more information

Check out assistive technology assessment principles in the Bridges Resource Library’s SETT Framework entry.

Contact the Bridges Helpdesk for More Information

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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