Assistive Technology Assessment for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
Assistive technology refers to the variety of tools and devices that children with visual impairments can use to more effectively complete their school work and get access to various kinds of information in their environment. These devices may include:
- Tools for writing and producing braille
- Video magnifiers (also known as closed-circuit television systems or CCTVs), which enlarge print
- Speech systems, which “read” what is displayed on a computer screen by means of artificial speech
- Magnification programs that enlarge print on computer screens
- Electronic books
An assistive technology assessment is done to identify which devices your child would most benefit from using. Typically, this kind of assessment is not done with children until late elementary school or junior high. Several members of your child’s educational team may be involved in her assistive technology assessment, but the key people are the teacher of students with visual impairments and a technology specialist. The assessment may start with a checklist to find out how your child usually completes a variety of everyday educational tasks like reading and writing. It will also include hands-on practice with various assistive technology devices to see how well they work for her. Your child should have a chance to try more than one type of technology for any particular purpose. For example, if she has low vision and is able to use a screen enlargement software program which increases the size of print displayed on a computer’s screen, she may like the features of one program more than those of another. Your child is entitled to use the technology that fits her needs and shouldn’t have to change her preferences to fit the technology available at her school.