When a child is asked to create a poster board or anything with paper and pencil and cutting out pictures, I direct them toward a PowerPoint presentation.

Blind children can easily create an elaborate or simple PP depending on their skill level. Last week, such an event came up with one of my newer students. Her skills are basic so we kept the PP basic. We went into the Internet and copied all the pictures out that she needed…yes she did this all by herself with just my verbal cues—she learned how to route her JAWS cursor to where it needed to be and use a special right click on a keyboard that brings up all those special options to do what you need to do–on a laptop as the commands are different on a desktop. There are many tricks in getting the perfect picture and she is on her way to learning these skills. When she saved all her pictures, she went back to her PP and inserted them where they needed to be. We did all the placement of the Title and pictures and over the weekend she did all the writing for each slide in the correct text box.

Any graphic information that she is unsure of, the assistant makes a 3-D item so she can feel—happened to be science –wikki sticks,pipe cleaners–and you can burn off different parts of the pipe cleaners to make a multitude of different textures (she created a peptide model), placed with braille labels ( braille label out with just as much blank space so you can bend the whole braille label around the pipe cleaner to stick it, which can be easily read by the blind student).

Lessons to help you teach:

PowerPoint, save pics from Internet and place in presentation-audio/visual lesson

PowerPoint Office 2003, taking you from Basics to Presentation with JAWS

PowerPoint Office 2010-taking you from the Basics to Presentation with JAWS


How many of our blind/low vision students are sitting in class now with an iPad, learning the new way of technology, but are not sure now to access what the teacher is demonstrating on her iTool or PC on the screen in the front of the room?

The Air Display APP has changed all that. By downloading Air Display onto your PC or Mac and iTool–which happens to be an iPad the majority of the time in the classroom, whatever the teacher is doing on her computer can be immediately projected on the student's iPad. If the teacher asks the students to demonstrate their skill in the front of the room, the blind student can sit at her desk and input the information right on their iPad and it will project on the teacher's computer and onto the front room screen. Technically, ALL the students can use this technique right from their desks. Our students just happen to be using Zoom effects—they still need to work on the Voice Over with Braille Display…there are still too many hiccups with this use.

If you would like more information on how to accomplish this task, go to and create that extra monitor that can be interactive or just viewed up close and personal.

In about a year Seneg with Apple will be putting a tool out there where you will be able to feel pictures and graphics on a flat screen iPad. Where schools are switching to using iBooks, this could mean the chance for blind/low vision children to interact with the graphics in the text book. If you would like to read more about this incredible upcoming tool, go to:

Rumor: New haptic feedback touchscreen bound for the iPad 3

and another View of the Retinal Display

This young lady posted on YouTube, started computer skills with talking software, early on, so by 3rd grade she could email her work to her teacher. She learned hundreds of keyboard commands to move quickly over the keyboard, doing anything she needed. Teachers today can grade work using TRACK CHANGES and send it back in email. This way, blind people can work independently, checking their own work and score

Lessons to help teach skills

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2003 and XP

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with JAWS

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with Window EYES

JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

This situation comes up more often than is good for the blind/low vision population. Having parents who want their child to graduate so badly, but do not really care if they learn along the way. Or, somehow they believe that when they get to that graduation stage all the things they did not learn will somehow miraculous appear through osmosis, escorted by a para of course because the child failed to learn how to walk around on their own. Along the way, the parents insisted a para do the work with minimal effort from the child and when the child went home, the parents pushed the lessons to completion, only to have her do poorly on tests. Parents getting angry because of the low scores, they have the student's work reduced even more. She does not learn the same content as her peers, which will harm her in the future.

The parents do not realize that all their efforts in getting the child's workload reduced and having a para glued to the child's side all day will have a very negative effect on the child's life, her confidence, self-esteem and how she views what or rather what  a blind person cannot do because she was never given the chance to prove herself. They essentially are telling the child: "You cannot do it on your own. You need help all the time. You will fail without help."

The solution–backup. Don't push through, but increase blind skills learning so the classes that are being taken, the student can do on their own. Instead of taking 5 general education classes, reduce that to 3 or 4 (depending on how low the child's skills are–maybe even think about a School for the Blind) and The Teacher of the Blind gives instruction on how to complete the assignments without help from a para or parent. The child's esteem grows as they realize they can do the work on their own, take a bus, go and do what they want.

Yes, this most likely will take longer than 4 years in High School. That is OK…they have a life time to now go out and achieve their goals with their own skills.

If you find you were one of those students…don't lose hope. There are great training centers for the blind around the country. One great one to check in to is Louisiana Training Center for the Blind

I will be giving a presentation on all the different types of technology that help blind/low vision students achieve success in school, on February 23-24. On the 23rd, I will speak on the what and when of technology at 1:30-2:45 and on the 24th will be speaking with a panel on the different types of technology used throughout schooling.

If you are in the area, please do come by and join the conversation of success in school.




How many out there are in school districts where a smart board or  Promethean board with flipcharts are used? These are graphic pictures that anyone with sight can easily see, but to a blind student, it is empty space. Many paraeducators have to take the pictures and turn them into text or braille for the blind student to read. There is the long way to do this, typing one character at a time ( as you cannot copy the images)  or a fast way.

Here is the fast way. You can download a personal  viewer from the company to load on your machine. Open the viewer then the flipchart, go to file, then to print. When the print box opens, you will see the "export as PDF" so save it as such. Place a folder on the desktop with these PDF files, so they are easy to find, especially if you are going to teach the blind student how to do this, and after all, that is what we want. Open Openbook or Kurzweil and go to open file. Go find the file on your desktop and have your OCR program open it. After it opens, go to launch it into Word and it opens in Word. All the great text is there. Now be aware, all those pictures will not translate…they will turn out as a list of letters and symbols, so just go through and delete out what was meant for a picture. Now, all that needs to be done is those pictures are created 3-D by the para to go with this work.

One huge advantage I have discovered is on test day, the students can use their notes. If the flipcharts are in text format, then the blind student can do a quick "find" command on their computer and jump to the theorem they need ….actually faster than a sighted student pouring through their notes visually. Once they have the theorem, they alt+tab back to the exam and continue on answering all the problems.

Now this is just 1 way, but where there is a will there is a way to make the world more accessible

Youtube video: Dr Robinson teaches-Making a Promethean Board flipcharts (smart board) accessible to blind students

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