Low vision-XP using HIGH CONTRAST options to see better

1. Turn on Computer
2. Hit your start key then C until you get to CONTROL PANEL and ENTER to open
3. Accessibility options is your first option, so enter to open
4. CTRL+TAB to display
5. ALT+U to select the option of high contrast
6. ALT+S to go to settings options
7. TAB to select—use shortcut-hit space bar to select
8. TAB to High Contrast appearance scheme
9. Keep hitting H until you jump to High contrast black #2 (extra large)
10. And enter to select and you will go back to the display option
11. Hit ALT+A to apply these choices and your screen will change
12. TAB to OK and close box
13. ALT+F4 to close control panel
14. The hot key to switch back and forth between regular screen and this option is: left ALT+LEFT-SHIFT + PRINT SCREEN –the print screen is all the way to the top right hand corner of your keyboard—on a laptop you will usually need to use the function or FN key and F11 to make this change—this varies depending on laptop layouts
15. Try another option-go back to accessibility
16. CTRL+TAB to display
17. ALT+S for setting and TAB to high contrast schemes and hit H until you jump to, High contrast #1 (extra large)
18. TAB to Ok, then hit ALT+A to apply
19. Open Word
20. ALT+V then hit z for zoom
21. Hit ALT+E for percent and type in 300% and enter
22. Begin typing—change the zoom size according to what you see best
23. Try other options–you can download this lesson from the Low Vision TAB above

Other lessons that help teach low vision skills

Low Vision Skills-Windows 7 Office 2010  
 Low Vision-XP-Office 2003


My fastest Braille readers are 2-handed readers, with butterfly motion.

So picture this: Both hands begin the braille line, and as they pass about the 3rd or 4th word on the line, the left hand goes back and down to the next line ready to begin reading as the right hand finishes the line. Smooth and seamless, floating down the page.

All fingers are down on the line, so the pinky fingers can tell when they are getting close to the end of a line, whether it ends in the middle of the page or at the end. If the child reads with the book on her lap, all those fingers support the book so it does not fall to the floor, giving the student the ability to easily read. This technique is especially helpful when they go into the elementary grades and read to younger students, impressing them with the beautiful flow and movement across those delightful dots. The sighted students come up on their knees to watch closer when they sit on the floor surrounding the braille reader, OH’s and AWES as they watch this wonderful braille butterfly movement. They truly believe it is magic to read those dots.

The students who read 300-400 words per minute, do their homework and pleasure read everyday and are always looking for their next novel.
The students who read 200-300 wpm, do their homework and pleasure read several times a week
The students who read 100-200 wpm, do their homework and maybe will pleasure read a couple times a week
The students who read 40-100 wpm, do their homework and rarely pleasure read during the week

To gain in speed, you need to use hard copy braille and the butterfly motion: Getting the flow and movement down on the page. On adapted laptops, you can use the book-reader and speed up the braille display to increase reading speed also. But the most important part of gaining speed…is to just READ!! And read a LOT.

Lessons and articles to help teach

First Steps in Great Braille Readers

Beginner Braille Reading

Braille Instruction begins at 3 years old

Braille Cheat Sheets

How to STOP scrubbing While reading Braille

Fast Braille Reading

Tricks to Learning Braille in your Teen Years or Later

Free Braille Books-Where to go to get Books

The Synchronicity of Braille & Technology

Braille Rap Song Lyrics

Rap Song to Learn Braille

It is that time of the year, where pumpkins abound and are ready to be picked, cleaned, cut, and eaten.

This is a great opportunity for blind children or any child for that matter, to help eat and decorate but also learn about math through counting pumpkin seeds and baking pumpkin pie, bread or cookies. But first, you need to go to a pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin. Really, all the way to a field. Blind children will not understand how things are grown, if they only get food from a store, so head to a pumpkin farm.

After you pick the perfect pumpkin, it is actually best for you to have your child help you bake the "good" pumpkin pie, cookies or bread first, so they taste the end result, before diving their hands into all the goo of string, mush and seeds. They eat and enjoy, then onto the pumpkin. They will be more likely to dive in if they know they get more "good" at the end.

As you help them cut open the top and scrape out the insides, have them separate the seeds from the goo. Then they will count out the seeds into parts of 10, 20, etc., depending on age. Then have them place the seeds in a baking dish and bake the seeds, having them count as they place the seeds on the baking dish. They will find out how many seeds will fit flat on the dish. Have them spray the seeds with some cooking spray, salt the seeds and put in the oven to bake.

While the seeds bake, cut the pumpkin up, put in another baking dish, and bake that until soft and ready for pie, bread or cookies…whatever is the favorite of the child.

The other pumpkins, you get to help your child decorate for Halloween. They will start gaining incredibly fond memories of this time of season if you do this every year.

I have taught blind children downhill skiing for many years.

The thing that served me the best, though I get great ribbing for it, is my tangerine snowsuit. Some call it bright pink. I suppose it does change colors depending on the light.

The reason it has served me so well is my low vision students, even almost totally blind students could pick me out on the hill. Picture that bright pink or tangerine color glistening against the white of the snow. It was like a ball of sun pointing the direction to the students.

For beginners, I would ski behind giving directions. Right turn, left turn and so on down the hill. When they became more advanced, I could ski in front of them if they had some vision and they would follow my bright suit down the hill.

I have had this ski suit for over 20 years…hmm; wonder what it is made out of? Anyway, I hope I have it until I die. I have incredible fond memories wrapped up in this suit.

So for all you parents, as winter approaches, get your kids out on the hills. If they can walk, then they are ready. Just Google skiing for the blind in your area and you will be able to pull up a group that puts on these activities now and all year around. Some groups cater to just the blind, others to all different abilities. This is a great way for your children to make friends and work on their strength, along with orientation and mobility. The cost is also very negligible.

Fun for the whole family but more than anything you will see your child blossom like never before.

Winning a Mountbatten brailler could be one of the greatest gifts for your child.

HumanWare 2011 Braille Literacy Scholarship Program-Continue to go to the site and see about each coming year's contest

2011 Braille Literacy Scholarship Program
5128 Oak Point Way, Fair Oaks, CA 95628
Contact: Sharon Spiker
Deadline for Entries: Dec 31, 2011

Contact Sharon for details: Any child between the ages of 3-8 years old can apply for this scholarship to win a complete Mountbatten Learning System and all associated software and accessories.

Where any of my students who had difficulties with little or weak fingers, the Mountbatten was the machine the enabled them to learn braille with ease. This could be the solution for your child also.

I have had several students graduate and have someone talked them into going Mac instead of PC with JAWS– RIGHT before a major life change. Then they start emailing me with their issues of not being able to access what they need on their new Mac. This really is more a matter of a lack of knowledge than an inability of the Mac. The most difficult part about the major switch of technology is they did it going into college or before a major event in their lives. They go from knowing how to operate a PC with JAWS with confidence to a brand new piece of hardware and software. If you are daring and can learn fast, that is fine. But if you have a learning curve, changing to a brand new product right before going to college, or in the middle of college or just getting a job, might not be the best move. There is always going to be a lull in your life, when this approach may fit better. However, nothing wrong with a bit of a challenge.

For all of those who took the step into a Mac with voice over, but would like a bit more help, here are a few basics to get you going or moving faster.

Voice over is built into the Mac OS X Lion
Command+F5 will turn on voice over quickly
Turn on voice over before attaching a supported Braille display. When you plug in a braille display, Voice over will detect it

This information is taken from the Mac manual: You enter VoiceOver commands by holding down the Control and Option keys together, along with one or more other keys. The Control and Option keys are called the “VoiceOver keys,” or “VO keys” for short. They are shown in commands as VO—for example, to use the command VO-F1, you press Control, Option, and F1. You can assign VoiceOver commands to numeric keypad keys, keyboard keys, braille display input keys, and trackpad gestures, so you can use the commands with fewer keystrokes.

The first time you start VoiceOver, I highly suggest you take the Quick Start tutorial, an interactive tour of VoiceOver navigation and interaction basics. When VoiceOver is on, you can start the tutorial at any time by pressing VO-Command-F8.–Remember, the VO key command is: control+option+F8 for the tutorial

Let's practice reading a document.
Open a document
To read an entire document from the top (called “Read All”) without interacting with the document, press VO-A.
When you’re interacting with a document, to read from the VoiceOver cursor to the bottom of the text area, press VO-A.
To read a line, press VO-L. To move to the next or previous line, press VO-Down Arrow or VO-Up Arrow.
To read a paragraph, press VO-P. To move to the next or previous paragraph, press VO-Shift-Page Down or VO-Shift-Page Up.
To read a sentence, press VO-S. To move to the next or previous sentence, press VO-Command-Page Down or VO-Command-Page Up.
To read a word, press VO-W. To hear the word spelled, press VO-W again. To hear it spelled phonetically, press VO-W again. To move to the next or previous word, press VO-Right Arrow or VO-Left Arrow.
To read a character, press VO-C. To hear the character spoken phonetically, press VO-C again. To move to the next or previous character, press VO-Shift-Right Arrow or VO-Shift-Left Arrow.

If you selected the “Use phonetics” checkbox in the Announcements pane of VoiceOver Utility, characters are automatically read phonetically. For example, VoiceOver reads “a alpha n november t tango.” (If you do not want this feature, go back to your Utilities and turn it off)

Lesson to help teach

Mac, Word and Voice Over, the basics

The way blind people can find information in books has changed dramatically.

Years ago, a blind child would sit in class with the multiple volumes of braille books in front of them, which is great if they actually got them. But if a teacher asks the class to open up to page 243 in the novel, "Of Mice and Men" it takes the blind students many minutes to thumb through the correct volume, then to find the correct page.

Today, that is no longer true. Students download electronic textbooks from the Internet and load them onto their note takers or laptop. When the teacher asks everyone to turn to page 243, or any page in any book, our students can do a Find command and jump to the passage faster than the sighted students jump in their print books. There is a trick to doing this flawlessly. Page numbers can vary in books depending on versions, so this is how you get around that. The blind student asks the teacher for the first 3 words of the paragraph she wants everyone to turn to. Then the blind student types those 3 words in the find command and enters, and immediately jumps to the text and is ready to read from their braille display along with the rest of the class.

Another advantage of this method is the teacher hands out questions to the story that is being read. The student can read the question, do a Find command within the book and jump to the major headings dealing with the question. They can copy and paste that information out of the book, jump back to the document where they will be typing the answers and paste in the content and answer the question quickly.

The FIND command is powerful. In WORD, it is CTRL+F, on many note takers, it is SPACE+F. Always search using more than one word, and you can find your information faster.

Lessons to help you

Braille Note Lessons to take you through the Basics to more advanced skills

Eight lessons on Bookshare.org and JAWS

JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

NVDA is an Australian company that was started by a young college blind man, and friend of mine. The young blind man could not afford $1000 for talking software but needed a way to use the computer. So he and his friend wrote the talking software program that has become known as NVDA.

NVDA has a very computerized voice, but is also now compatible with some SAPI download voices, which you may enjoy more. It has many of the exact same keystrokes commands as JAWS. It can also be downloaded directly to a thumb drive and taken anywhere to about 80% of computers. It works better in Firefox than Internet Explorer and you may just want to stick with Firefox for its use. It cannot be utilized in all programs yet, but other industries are working with this little company, so believe more compatibility is just down the road.

The most important programs, like Microsoft Office and the Internet can be accessed and used with NVDA. If you would like to try this product out and they have the latest updates

NV Access is pleased to announce that NVDA 2011.3 has been released.
This release has been declared stable, which means it is suitable for
production use and is recommended for most users.
Highlights of NVDA 2011.3 include automatic speech language switching
when reading documents with appropriate language information; support
for 64 bit Java Runtime Environments; reporting of text formatting in
browse mode in Mozilla applications; better handling of application
crashes and freezes; and initial fixes for Windows 8.
Changes from 2011.3rc1 to 2011.3:
•Updated documentation.
•Updated translations.

To go through the user guide for comparison to other talking software, click on NVDA user guide

HINT: The NVDA key is the insert key

If you would like additional voices, use Espeak– http://espeak.sourceforge.net/download.html

If you just do not have a $1000 laying around right now for other talking software, this just may be the thing for you. If you do download and use this product please think about making a donation to the company so it can survive for all those others out there, that cannot afford the more expensive versions of talking software.

I was talking with a father last night at a conference in another state who was explaining they had just purchased a Fabulous new APEX for their daughter. Their teacher was reading the manual to learn how to teach it. In the meantime, they would like her to use it. Father is a techy, so I knew I could explain a few things and he could actually contribute to some of the instruction and really get her daughter kick-started on the Braille Note.

I sat him in front of my computer and explained it like this. On the Braille Note, if you hit 1 2 3 4 5 6 +space, that is main menu which is like hitting the start key (also called windows key) on a computer-I hit the key for a visual. All the menus are now available. As you press the space bar on the Braille Note, it is like hitting the down arrow on the computer, taking you through your menus (the light bulb went on so bright over dad's head, it lit up the room). If you have renamed your programs on the computer, such as W for word, then after you hit the start key, and hit W, you open word. On the Braille Note, you hit W and go to the word processor.

When you are on the Main Menu display, as you hit the space bar on the Braille Note to move through the menus and listen or read the display, you will know that quick key to get to where you want to go: B is for Bookreader, S is for Scientific Calculator, F is for File Manager and so on. Then you can be on main menu and hit B and your bookreader will open. Go back to main menu and hit F and your file manager will open. If you ever get lost in the Braille Note, you hit 1 2 3 4 5 +space bar and you will go back to main menu and you can start over.

The basic commands that follow getting into the Word Processor are, create or open a Folder, then create or open a File….c is for create, o is for open. On the computer, you do these commands at the end when you save. So just know, you do these up front on a Braille Note. You can do a save command to change it to a Word document as anything you save on a Braille Note is a Key Word soft document with the extension .kwb. Only a Braille Note can open this type of document so if you want to also use it on the computer, you must translate the document. into a .doc. S+space goes into save, X+backspace takes you through all the options of saving, just go to save as word document, type in the same name you used for the document you just brailled and enter, go back to main menu and now you can pull out your thumb drive, take it to a computer, open and use it.

If you are not sure what to do as you are working anywhere in the Braille Note, H+ space is your help menu. When you want to exit somewhere, e+space will exit you out. If you ever get totally lost, go back to main menu with 1 2 3 4 5 6+space.

That simple, now go have some fun! 

Lessons to help you

Braille Note Lessons to take you through the Basics to more advanced skills

When your child is a baby, hold and cuddle them often. While you are walking around describe what you are seeing and when they are old enough or can reach out, have them feel what you are describing. Every time you have them touch something while you are describing, they are creating images in their mind about the world.

Vary your child's experiences. They need to help you clean the house, cook dinner, go shopping, go on trips, smell a cow yard, play in a garden, smell and eat at different restaurants, and so much more. By them grasping an item and you gently placing your hand over top, you can teach them how to stir, string beads, dig a hole and learn everything else there is to learn about their surroundings.

If you hold your child often, tickle, and massage his different body parts while playing with him, he will have a greater chance of not being tactile defensive, which is where a child does not like to be touched but also does not like to touch things. If you start young and continue, the child learns that touch can be wonderful and that is how he is going to learn about the world. He must touch, smell, and hear…that is how he sees. In the book, The Brain that Changes itself" by Norman Doidge, he explains that when you integrate all the senses, they take over the visual cortex and images are created in the brain. For any child that has even a small issue in learning they will learn faster if you integrate all the senses. For a regular child with just blindness, they will just learn faster in general.

If a child can become aware of his own body, then he can place himself within the environment he is sitting or walking. He will learn how far away to stand from someone, he will be able to tell when a wall is approaching as he walks with his cane, because you can feel matter. Matter is any solid surface. If you are sighted, close your eyes and just start talking and walking toward a wall. You can feel the wall approach, through the sound of your voice bouncing off the wall and the "feel" of the wall on your skin as you approach. We need to teach our blind children that matter has substance and as they walk with a cane, they will be able to steer around any object because they will feel themselves approach it. They can also use echolocation, which is sound bouncing off matter. Hard-soled shoes are a great way to get sound to bounce of walls without anyone being aware of what you are doing as you walk. You may notice some children clicking their tongues. They have figured echolocation out, but everyone around them think they are doing something odd. They are just using the sound to bounce off walls to figure out where to go.

If your child has any vision at all, use a light box and let them choose the light level. Then place objects and colors on top of the light box so they can get a better idea of what it looks like. Next, have them pull off the object, close their eyes and just feel it. When you take sight away, touch and hearing kick in and their focus in on what they are feeling, not what their poor vision is trying to incorrectly see. In this manner, of no sight when they touch, they put it together with what they saw and have a truer idea of fact versus something off of poor vision. In this way, their world becomes alive, but more importantly, if the child loses any more sight, he will have learned how to put a 1 dimensional brailled object on paper into a 3 dimensional world because of all the "vision games and practice" with the closing of the eyes and touching after. Learning his colors, numbers and letters, will also be accessible in his knowledge bank, because of these "games" early on.

There are many wonderful web sites out there that give even more activities to do with your child. The biggest thing, incorporate everything, describe the world as you walk and let them touch, smell and listen and you will have a well-developed child, understanding the world. Now, incorporate the academics and you will have a child that can achieve anything he desires.

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