There is a very sophisticated calculator already built in to every PC. Start your students with learning the basics of adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplying, % and square root calculations on a PC. Both desktop and laptop commands are used in this audio/visual lesson for those who want to see and hear the example of all keystrokes.


Standard Calculator on a PC with talking software-audio/visual lesson

As sighted students go about making fancy graphics for their Food Chain, Food Pyramid, Family Tree, or other diagrams, clicking away with their mouse, adding graphics and colors, our blind students can join in using their talking software. They just need to learn a few tricks.

No longer do our blind students have to sit aside and have a sighted person doing most of the work on a graphic or worse, the student doing something entirely different and then their lack of understanding deepens. If our students do not learn how to do the same things, gain the same skills, whether they can see it or not, how are they going to compete for jobs and the highest honors? Our students can do the same–their knowledge base just needs to grow.

The reminder came up as a distressed student asked me, "How am I going to do this?" Within minutes the student was enjoying the same features to create an elaborate diagram, using the talking software to guide her. She could use shortcut keys to immediately implement a design or change a configuration to finish the assignment on time. As soon as she was done, she emailed it off to her teacher. The teacher used track changes to correct the work and email it back, in which her talking software read all the remarks. A beautiful A to go with the beautiful diagram.

Audio/Visual lessons are now available to help teach your students:

Food Chain-make a creative graphic using talking software and word-audio/visual

Family Tree using talking software, graphics in Word-audio/visual lesson

Create a Food Pyramid with talking software and Word-audio/visual lesson

When I was young, my dad would always point out the sunsets every night with such joy. Every morning I would watch the sunrise as I drove the tractor around the fields and would think “How beautiful” but not fully realizing the meaning of it all. As a typical teen, I was caught up in what I THOUGHT was important—how I looked and what I had.

For the last decade I know what my father was trying to show us—it IS the simple things in life that make the difference. The simple incredible beauty of each morning as I hike with my dog and watch the sunrise; during the summer, the stars are so close and large, gazing down at us, almost as if I could reach out and grab one; or during the harvest moon, so voluminous and glowing that it swallows up the dark. It startles me and brings me to tears many times, as I see the wonder of God. During the day, I get to hear the simple laughter of a child, a friendly hello, receive and give a warm hug. The time I sit out on my porch with my husband and we watch the animals play in the grass, leaping at bugs and floating dust and twirling in circles to see how many things they can attack; The loving wet kiss of our dog over the cat’s head, then the cat coming up for more kisses from us—slobber and all. Children playing water games, spraying each other in the heat of the summer as the animals chase them.

It is the simple things that make us so happy. You buy an expensive item and it makes you happy for the time of the purchase then miserable as you make the payments on it; it is temporary.

It is not the stuff that makes us happy…it is the simple things: the sunrises and sunsets, the smiles, the warm hug from a child or from an animal- wets kisses and all, good friends, being thankful and grateful. Put energy into the things that will have a lasting effect and make a difference!

BB lite app offers a wonderful program to help sighted and low vision children a fun way to learn how to read and spell. Watch YouTube video: iPad app games for young children

For children who need help in learning how to speak, Tap to Talk could be your answer.
Tap to Talk is a simple communication device that helps children "talk" to the people around them. You cannot use Voice Over with it, but it has its own talking ability within the program. It works great for Low Vision children and you could use a braille overlay to help a blind child learn where each item is going to be so they could use it too.

Watch a video on this device at: iPad app-Communication Device that speaks

For more iPad app suggestions and lessons on how to use it, go to: iTools

For a child that is blind or sighted, an animal can make life more bearable. When depression hits, the unconditional love of an animal can make it all better. When that child just can't explain what is wrong, crying into the soft fur of their beloved pet, can change a frown to a smile.

I do not suggest getting a puppy or kitty unless you are ready to raise another very needy person around your house…..and YES, they become another of the family membership.

There are so many wonderful adult animals at shelters that are ready to love someone, who are obedient and all they want is the chance to give out that unconditional love to a child who so desperately needs what they have to give. An animal helps the child become more responsible without the issues of trying to train a puppy or kitty. Put in a cat window and the litter box issue is immediately resolved and a dog can go 10 hours without a potty break.

Make the difference for a child by getting them a pet and watch the changes that will occur for incredible GOOD.

In general, when a child is born blind, parents have a sense of overwhelming grief, fear and a lack of understanding of what to do. This birth is "different" and they are very unsure. One tendency is to do everything for the child. When this occurs, children do not learn the basic skills to move around and do for themselves. If children are sighted and everything is done for them, they can "watch" to see how to do something, if they ever so desire. However, blind children MUST touch the environment and interact with it in order to understand it and learn how to "DO" life.

Many parents may do too much because it is faster for them to do it. But children are slow "at first" and as they do skills, they become faster. That is true for all of us.

Many parents have such guilt of their child being blind that they over compensate by doing "EVERYTHING" for the child, not realizing that they are hurting the child's chances of being "normal" having friends and being able to do for themselves, becoming independent later on.

The last scenario is the one I deal with often. High School students come to me, who have never made a meal, cannot cut their own food, can never be left alone because they would not even know how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They do not even know how to carry their books, hang up their coat and get ready for class because their parents have insisted that a para educator be next to them all day long. The student cannot even go to the bathroom by himself or herself. But on a cognitive scale, this child is of average intelligence and has every capability of being independent. Many times this situation will be made worse because the para that was hired for the child WANTS to do everything for the child also because they feel sorry for him/her. Pity kills—kills the spirit and soul….be there no doubt.

Some children completely give into this and just become dependent all their lives. Never going on to college, or a job or living out any potential dream deeply buried within them.

Others and this is most, in High School start to really resent their parents and those around them who refuse to let them do anything. What they did not realize was that all those years they let someone else "do" for them –but then they NEVER wanted to clean a toilet or sweep the floor, so gave in to their parents doing everything for them; they never gained the skills to do what they wanted when the time came. Parents must make this decision as children are in general too fearful or lack desire to confront them on their lack of participation in daily life activities.

When children asks to go on a major High School field trip over days of time, the answer has to be "no" because they have no ability to get around by themselves, or even organize themselves enough to know how to pack, unpack or get ready for bed and wake up and get dressed without constant attention.

Some will go onto training centers for the blind if they get angry enough about their lack of abilities and these people go on to accomplish their dreams. But those who just stay angry or resigned go on to do very little.

A highly skilled teacher of the blind can get this situation turned around. The introduction of technology is usually the first step, as students have great success fast in learning how to accomplish and do their own work. They start to gain the confidence in doing more and slowly but surely start to learn those independent skills. Once the parents start to see the success, they now understand their child can do anything they desire. Hope grows, vision changes and they start to see a new picture of possibility.

We can either make a society of independent people or not. Be careful how much you "do" for anyone. Are you really helping or hurting. If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach him how to fish, he eats for a lifetime!!!!

Mac with Lion OS system and Voice Over are truly giving the PC with talking software a run for its money. Mac has truly become accessible right out of the box. Voice Over is able to access information with a flick of a finger or a key command.
If you are a PC user and want to make a switch, you must be ready for a learning curve as everything you learned on the PC will not transfer over to the Mac, other than you will be using the keyboard. You will also be using the Track Pad. There are great features worked into the Mac that with a simple finger gesture you can sail across a page

To get you going and moving on the Mac with Voice Over, download lessons at iTools


Tap to Talk is a simple communication device that helps children "talk" to the people around them. You cannot use Voice Over with it, but it has its own talking ability within the program. It works great for Low Vision children and you could use a braille overlay to help a blind child learn where each item is going to be so they could use it too.

Watch a video on this device at: iPad app-Communication Device that speaks

Download lessons at: iTools

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