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Internet resources for educators working with visually impaired students

by Kelly Walsh on August 3, 2009

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3rd post in a series examining web based resources for educators that work with Special Needs students

Just as with my recent posts focused on ADD & ADHD, and Autism and PDD, it is not difficult to find resources focused on this week’s special needs category – Visual Impairments. What I’ve focused on in this posting is finding resources intended for educators that work with the visually impaired, looking them over, and gathering together a useful and concise set of them. Inevitably, some of these listing are link lists, some of which may in turn lead to other link lists, which can be frustrating, but I tried to avoid duplicate listings, and to produce a set of resources that is informative and in depth. If you are a teacher or educational administrator (or parent!) looking for information and tools to help you succeed in your work with the visually impaired, I am confident that you will find some of these resources very worthwhile.

Tools (software, other Assistive Technologies)
The links below focus specifically on tools to assist the visually impaired student. In the section that follows, “Documentation-based Resources”, I provide a number of links to online sources of documentation designed to help educators working with these students, but some of these also contain further information about tools and assistive technologies.   

This page from Arizona State Schools provides a nice overview (by way of a list of examples) of the types of Assistive Technology available for the visually impaired student.

The Assistive Technology page on the web site for the Texas School for the Blind: This educational institution provides extensive information on line, and there are many useful links on this page, grouped into 17 categories, followed by a table of annotated links to over a hundred resources. (The TSBVI web site is referenced again below, as it rose to the top as the most thorough and useful site I came across - most link lists about teaching visually impaired students refer to pages on this site).

Magnification Programs for the Computer Screen (for partial site visual impairments): This web page explains various approaches to screen magnification, and includes a link to this page, which provides access to overviews of 14 screen magnification products.

In this video, a teacher demonstrates various devices for helping visually impaired students.

Documentation-based Resources

The Instructional Resources page from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired: This is the most extensive, and most referenced, site that I came across in my research. In addition to the information and links on this site, TSBVI was publishing a quarterly newsletter, but it appears that this may have stopped. There are nearly 10 years worth of archived newsletters online in PDF format.

V.I. Guide: This site is another rich resource of extensive links, organized into 14 different categories.

e-ADVISOR’s Teacher Pagee-ADVISOR is a collaborative project of eleven agencies that serve children with visual impairments. The information is presented in non-technical language, and is designed to facilitate communication between parents, teachers and doctors of visually impaired children.

The Teacher’s section of the AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) site lists a handful of texts that deal with the subject of educating visually impaired children from birth through adulthood.

Position Papers from Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Visual Impairments: Professional practice, curriculum, and adaptations for students with visual impairments.

Next Week
Next week we will examine web based resources for educators working with hearing impaired students, after which we will wrap up this series with a look at resources for educators working with students with physical disabilities. I hope you’ll join us. As always, reader comments are welcomed – if you have any related observations or thoughts you would like to share, please do!

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Class Workshop in a Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

mshaq February 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Great articles with useful resources! I am a high school educator and every year I come across students with various needs. This year I have a student who has a severe visual impairment in my math class. Formulas, word problem, math symbols are hard to recognize with an impairment like his. He has preferential seating and has to have most of his materials enlarged. For obvious reasons he does not like to have these materials enlarged because he is embarrassed, but he is working on this. I have provided some of these resources http://www.afb.org/Section.aspSectionID=4&TopicID=31&DocumentID=1387) to his mentor and it has helped quite a bit so thank you! I am glad that these resources are available for students like him to it makes it much easier for him to learn!

K. Walsh August 20, 2009 at 7:05 am

I don’t usually comment on my own posts (unless I am replying to someone else’s comment), but I wanted to get mention of this beta program that I just came across up here. The AccessText program (website: http://www.accesstext.org) is working to make alternative texts available to students with print related disabilities. Worth knowing about if you work with these types of students.

K. Walsh August 4, 2009 at 7:28 am

Thom -

Thanks for mentioning DCMP – this is a great resource to be aware of! I’ll also include a mention of your organization in next week’s post on resources for educators working with hearing impaired students.

Thom Lohman August 3, 2009 at 3:15 pm

I work for an organization that should definitely be added to this list: the Described and Captioned Media Program (not sure if this comment form accepts HTML, but the URL is http://www.dcmp.org). We’re a U.S. Dept. of Education-funded nonprofit that provides a library of captioned and described (http://dcmp.org/description) educational videos for free-loan to teachers, parents, and others working with K-12 students with vision or hearing loss. Truth be told, we’re kind of like Netflix (but have been around longer), except our collection ONLY includes educational material, we charge no fees of any kind (including postage), and you must meet the eligibility criteria (above) to sign up for a borrowing membership. Our material is available on DVD or, in most cases, can be streamed instantly from our website. If anyone has any questions about the DCMP, please e-mail us (info@dcmp.org), check us out on facebook (http://facebook.com/the.dcmp), or follow us on twitter (http://twitter.com/dcmp_tweets).

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