Another school year is here and parents and teachers alike are looking for school supplies. For visually impaired students, this list can come with a few extra supplies on it. But what kind of supplies do they need? How do these supplies differ from the supplies of a sighted classroom?
Whether you’re a teacher making a more inclusive classroom or a parent sending their child off to school, here are 7 supplies that can assist blind students on their road to knowledge.
As you would guess, students with blindness often use braille to read and one device they use to do it is a braille reader. Typically attached to a computer keyboard, it allows a blind person to read a display one line of text at a time in a line of braille characters. Each braille character consists of six or eight movable pins that change as the person reads.
Gif Description: Braille blocks rotating through the alphabet.
2.Large Print/Braille Books
People with blindness do read books. And some are just plain bookworms. To help them read, they can use books with a larger print or ones that are written in braille. One of the most famous people with blindness, Helen Keller, loved to read as seen here in a photo with a giant braille book at the Perkins School for the Blind.
Gif Description: Cat flipping through pages of a book.
Image description: Hellen Keller reading a braille book.
Object calendars can help students who are blind plan out their day. You won’t find Blue Steel on these calendars, but you will find objects that have been attached to it so people can tell what comes next on their schedule. Typically younger children who don’t read braille well use it to keep them on track and tell them what their next class is or when lunch is.
Gif Description: The Blue Steel calendar from Zoolander flipping through the different months.
Think that blind people can’t use pens or pencils? Think again. People can have varying degrees of blindness. Some can’t see anything, while some can still distinguish shapes and light. For some they are still able to use writing utensils while some prefer to use braille typewriters or computers to take notes or write messages.
Gif Description: Man twirling a pen.
5.Screen Magnifier/Large Computer Monitors
A simple screen magnifier or larger screen can help blind students use a computer. By simply increasing the size, they can more easily surf the web to research school projects, current events, and what’s happening with TSwift and Kimye.
Gif Description: Small computer monitor transforming into a large monitor.
By installing speech software onto your computers at school, students who are blind can more easily navigate the digital world. Many websites will not have a screen reader function, however some websites like Facebook have installed their own voice over tech into the platform so that people with visual impairments can keep up to date with their friends and family.
Gif Description: Scotty from Star Trek saying “Hello, Computer?”
No matter what school you are in, you will ALWAYS find students on their phone. Many students who are blind use tablets and smartphones to complete schoolwork because of their sophisticated accessibility features. The speech software that’s already installed on these devices helps them to use apps for school….and maaaaybe texting their bff about last night’s episode of GoT.
Gif Description: Bart Simpsons classroom all playing on their phones.
With just a few additions and adjustments to your supply list, every student will be ready to tackle the school year and get those A’s.
Gif Description: Cartoon character holding an A+ paper and giving a thumbs up.
GIF’s Via Giphy