This software has been around for more than a year but I did not have a chance to try it out until today.
CDesk is a very basic talking software program for older adults who have lost sight or cognitively challenged children in school who cannot remember hundreds of commands to make their computer do what they want it to do. I have trained many adults and I can tell you, the challenge in remembering all these commands starts in the late 20's, so when I say older, you may be included in this category where technology is concerned.

CDesk offers several enlarged fonts for viewing. White letters on Black is the most popular, but it has other options too. Any major command begins with the Alt key, so that is only 1 thing to remember. Even if you do not remember ALT-the TAB key will move you through every option and ENTER opens the option. The Main menu consists of:

You can download books straight from Bookshare or BARD. If you are looking for games for blind children and adults, it has that in the Media Center. Simple email that you are already on is incredibly easy to navigate and use. Anything you scan can also be brought right into the CDesk Word and the same commands that you use for word processing are used now for your scanned object.

Enlarging your page is simple and easy with the F12 key, so when you go into an email that has pictures, you can enlarge them enough to see them, true for Internet browsing and the other programs in CDesk too.

If you have tremors or palsy in your hands, the company will be putting out a new speech program soon, which works off of CDesk basic commands already, so it is easy to verbally command your computer to do what you need it to do. Your voice just needs to be loud enough to be heard by the mic. It has also come out with a simple small camera that will take a picture of any print work and put it on the CDesk format on your computer for you to immediately have feedback.

The more I work with this software, the more I see its potential for those who have difficulties remembering all those commands. In addition, the company: adaptivevoice offers the option to buy a computer, monitor, printer, scanner and software for $1999. Within that agreement is Best Buy will come out and set it up for you. So you can be set up to go in a very short time.

Narrator is built into every PC computer, if you are running Microsoft products and their operating systems (OS).

If you are using talking software already and you use the following hotkey, the double speech may get annoying, so turn it off. Narrator is a basic program. If you do not have talking software on your machine and need to get it installed, this is a way you can do it independently. It is a basic talking program and does not come close to a speech program such as JAWS, but it does help you to get things setup.

In Windows 7, Hit your Start Key+U also known as the Windows key with the Logo+ U – hit ALT+N to start narrator…if you are blind, you are going to walk by faith as you turn on your computer with NO speech and just do those 2 commands and narrator will start speaking to you. A dialog box will open with options, just TAB through to select the ones you want to use and continue with your work on the machine.

In XP, hitting the Start Key+U will immediately get Narrator talking. A dialog box will open with options–down arrow to listen to the options, then TAB to your next options, then TAB to OK.

This is a wonderful option for anyone who needs speech to get things setup on his or her new computer or fix one where the speech has gone down.

Lessons to help you learn

Magnify your screen, add Narration as needed-audio/visual lesson


JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving


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 keystrokes for Sighted


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


Many do not know that magnification is already on every computer built with Microsoft Technology.

On XP, hit your Start Key+U to begin your utility manager. Your computer will begin talking to you also and the words magnifier is not running will be your first options, do an ALT+A to get the magnifier working and turn off narrator if you do not want speech. The magnified part of the screen will come up at the top of your monitor. Take your mouse and drag it to where you want it to be. You can also drag the corner of the magnifier to make it larger and more easily to see. As you move the mouse around your machine, everything will be enlarged in this magnified window.

On Windows 7, Start Key+U then hit ALT+G to start your magnifier and Enter to start the magnifier window at the top of your monitor. You can take your mouse and go to the bottom line of the magnified window and while you hold down the left click of the mouse, you can drag down the window to make it larger. Once again, as you move around your machine, everything will be enlarged for you.

There are many free options already built into computers today, that you may not need to buy something else. Try it out.

Lessons to help with Low Vision Instruction

The new operating system iOS5 is out and works much better with voice over on your iproducts. The new iphone 4S just works better all-around in so many areas and with the app Siri where you can give voice commands to make it do what you want, frees up more than your hands…it frees up time.

But if you are looking for a good word processor for your Ipad that you can use voice over with and a braille display iA Writer at the iTunes store is under $5 . Hook to a Braille display or a Bluetooth keyboard also! If you want to be able to use spell check, it will do that too, rename files, copy, paste, and a host of other options.

iA Writer is a really good basic all around writing program and students will love using the braille display with it to get that tactile feedback that helps in their learning. That cause and effect approach..They braille it, hear it, feel it.

Lessons to help with iTools

Teachers and Parents often ask me what their child needs for school. Here is the basic rule of thumb. Look around in the world today and see what is everyone else basically using. What are they using in class today? Educate today, what they need tomorrow.

First, to compete in the world and be able to do what every else is doing, blind, visually impaired children must learn the computer inside and out, Excel, PowerPoint and Word are the main programs. Having an adaptive laptop (such as a Braille Note) is incredibly valuable, but if schools only have enough money for 1 piece of equipment, go with the computer, as it will do everything the Braille Note will do, but the Braille Note can NOT do what the computer can do. They must learn how to do email and socialize on social networking sites like Facebook. There are many other things off this, but those are the main points. If using talking software, they need to learn how to control it and make it do what it needs to do for them. If visually impaired, use magnification where possible BUT also ask, "if my eyes cannot do as much and as quickly as my peers around me, then I need to learn blind skills also."

One thing for sure, you will never go wrong if you teach many tools. The child will get into big trouble if they do NOT have enough skills in their toolbox of learning. Get the education and lessons they need and parents anything that is taught at school, backup at home, or vice versa. Get everyone on the team involved in the education of this child, and you will have someone who can meet tomorrow's challenges.

If you have not already had this experience, some day, someone is going to ask you for your IP address, especially if you start teaching virtually, or you need to hook into a school. Go to Find IP Address

Have you ever wondered why your Internet runs so slow during some parts of the day? First, the Internet is like a highway and the more people on, the slower you will go. If you are on during the peak of the day along with everyone else, you will run slower. If you are on at midnight, you will zoom like a speed car. Here is a test to see how fast your Internet speed is.. Speed Test

Many Services providers offer a faster speed if you need it. By checking your own speed you can be better informed and what you need.

There is an enormous amount of research on music and learning. Music makes learning fun and fast.

Here is a Braille Rap song that will enable your children to learn the Braille Alphabet quickly. Have them sing it for awhile, then when they place their hands on a brailler, it will all come together. Make sure those fingers are in the correct position on the brailler.

Lessons  to help you:

Braille Rap song

Braille Rap Lyric

There are many options when it comes to finding and getting braille books.

For Free Braille books, go to Seedlings Braille Books for Children  They offer 2 Free braille books per year through their Angel program. Otherwise they offer very low cost braille books for your children.

If you want to create your own braille or audio books, you can download books from, where school children can sign up for free. Bookshare offers thousands of books at your fingertips. You can download Victor Reader Soft, from their site, which is free audio software. When you download your books, you will download them in daisy format to be played on Victor Reader Soft right from your computer. Sign up and get your child registered.

Bookshare offers braille book downloads also. If you have braille software such as Duxbury Braille Translation software you can download books in the .brf format and have them open in braille. Combine this with a braille display and your child can read the book from their computer. If they are blessed with an adaptive laptop such as a Braille Note then the file can be saved to a thumb drive and loaded onto the Braille Note, or the Braille Note can go online and download it directly from Bookshare and can be read in the bookreader of the Braille Note.

National Braille Press also offers books, some for purchase and others for free.

Read Books Online and  Classic Reader are other resources for more books too

But never forget about your state book and braille library. This is a free book loan program in your state for braille and audio books. For more books than you can dream of, go to the largest braille library source in the country: Utah State Library for the Blind and Disabled
If you go there, they will have a host of other information and where to go and get more braille books and materials. Your state library can help you get books from this resource if you do not happen to live in the loan area for books from them.

Web Braille
is the National Library of Congress loaded with thousands of braille books for download also. When you sign up for services you will go to their download section of Braille Books which will require you to have a username and password. There you will find a plethora and myriad of braille books at your fingers tips also.

Texas School for the Blind also has an extensive braille book list-just get a username and password

If looking for audio for the real young child go to Story Reader Books

So here are a few options to get you going. For more information on educating your child based on experience and years of education, visit and ask questions that you need answers too.

When one of my students is having difficulties with their Jaws or needs help installing it, I need to connect to their computer a different way than through Jaws TANDEM. There are many ways to do remote access, but I chose to connect yesterday through SKYPE. For those new to the idea, remote access is where someone can help you resolve computer problems, no matter where you or they are in the world. You just need a phone line, but better is a wireless connection…anything works though.

The student called and then I gave her directions on the key commands so I could call up her computer.

Within minutes her Jaws was fixed. I then gave her the JAWS commands to pull up her computer using JAWS TANDEM and continued her lesson.

When you connect remotely using anything else other than JAWS TANDEM, you will not be able to hear JAWS unless the person turns him way up, which I have done also depending on the issue, but you miss too much information. To truly check to make sure JAWS is working correctly you must pull the students' computer up using TANDEM. I had her and SKYPE on one of my monitors, still connected remotely and then pulled her computer up using TANDEM on the other monitor. I could easily watch the interaction on both screens, tweaking as I needed. Well actually having her tweak. In general, I will not touch my keyboard to control their machine, as this is a great chance for the student to learn how to fix their own problems.

The point is giving them applicable skills that will work for a lifetime, so when they are on their own, they can fix their own issues as they come up. My older students who have long since graduated, can just email me now with a problem and I can give them the answer back through email. Rarely do I have to pull their machines up.

Give someone a fish and they eat for a day.
Teach them how to fish and they eat for a lifetime!

Lessons to help teach

Everything you need to use GMAIL in basic HTML or standard view

Remote Access using SKYPE

A. SKYPE—for Regular Vision, Low Vision, and Blind

Skype texting and making a Video Call—with additional JAWS scripts

Skype texting and making a Video Call—no additional JAWS scripts

GMAIL-Google Talk, Firefox, and Chat

We have many low vision students, sitting in the classroom and unable to see what the teacher is doing when she uses the document camera, or projector or computer to project images up on the board, in front of the room.

There is a very inexpensive way to combat this problem. A simple VGA splitter and an extra monitor is all that is needed. An extra monitor can be connected to these other pieces of technology and brought right to where the student is sitting. The student can now easily participate with the rest of his peers, take notes as needed and complete work with more understanding of what is occurring in the front of the room.

Lessons that help teach

Low Vision- Viewing information in the distance with an extra monitor

Low Vision Skills-Windows 7 Office 2010

Low Vision-XP-Office 2003

Font Resize