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Tips and guides

Categories of Assistive Technology

Categories of assistive technology for users with visual impairments, including screenreaders, braille notetakers, and embossers

This entry is part 12 of 21 in the series Dots for Families
Series Navigation<< Previous: Technology for Children who are Visually ImpairedNext: Selecting Computer Software >>

Broadly speaking, there are 4 categories of assistive technology for individuals who are braille readers.  The links on this page will connect you to the manufacturers for the products listed.  Many manufacturers have demonstration materials that can be downloaded and information packets that can be requested.

Large Print Access:

Computer programs are available that allow one to increase the size of material on the computer screen.  Magnification can range from 1X to 32X.  Programs commonly used in the schools include Zoomtext and MAGic.  There are some guidelines to consider in selecting computer games for children with low vision.

Screen Reading Access:

Computer programs are available that read the information on the computer screen to the user.  Programs  commonly used in the schools include JAWS and WindowEyes.

Braille Translation Software / Embossers:

There are computer programs that allow a person to take print (e.g., a word processed file, a scanned document) and translate it into braille and emboss (print).  Alternatively, a person may use the computer keyboard to input braille and then emboss it.  Programs  commonly used in schools include Duxbury and Braille2000.  In order to use the software to produce braille one needs an embosser – a special braille printer.  Freedom Scientific and Humanware are are two of many companies that manufacturer embossers.

Portable Note Taking Devices:

Portable note taking devices can be thought of as mini-computers, similar to a PDA (personal digital assistant).  They have a variety of features that can include a calendar, address book, calculator, word processing program and much more.  Data from the portable note taking device can be embossed, printed, saved to a computer, etc.  The Braille Note  and the Pac Mate  are two portable note takers used in schools by students.

An extensive reference list of manufacturers of technology is available from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

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