Making the world more accessible.High-tech devices for children andpeople with visual impairment PETRIC MARINA Master of Speech Pathology and Audiology BABES BOLYAI University Cluj Napoca, Romania
Low vision Low vision describes any condition ofdiminished vision that is uncorrectable bystandard eyeglasses, contact lenses,medication, or surgery that disrupts aperson’s ability to perform common ageappropriate visual tasks (Jutai et al., 2007).
Effects of low vision It is been considered that it affects four major areas: - the social and the emotional, - language, - cognitive and, - mobility and orientation. It is interesting to see the impact of those effects on the functioning and learning potential of the individual. The parent’s feelings will affect their relationship with each other and with the child and this in turn will influence the child’s emotional and social development.
Regarding the language the researchers discovered some evidence of differences in language development in the area of: -the acquisition of the sound system or phonology -the syntactic use of words Visual impairment has an effect on the acquisition of concepts and meaning. The terms mobility and orientation have specific meaning for people who are visually impaired and for the professionals who work with this client group. Without clear vision children may experience difficulty in creating a mental map of their surroundings
Assistive technology Assistive technology is an interdisciplinary field of knowledge comprising products, resources, methodologies, strategies, practices, and services that aims to promote functionality for visually impaired people with regard to autonomy, independence, quality of life, and social inclusion Examples of assistive technologies for vision rehabilitation include handheld magnifiers; electronic vision enhancement systems; and mobility-related devices such as long canes and night-vision systems.
These types of devices and interventions allow individuals with low vision to lead productive lives and to maintain their independence in everyday activities. Often, the success with an assistive device is determined by how satisfied the user is with it (Jutai, Fuhrer, Scherer, & DeRuyer, 2005).
According to Raasch, Leat, Kleinstein, Bullimore, and Cutter (1997, p.289), effectiveness is ”the degree to with a desired or planned improvement is accomplished in the subjects’ usual environment”. The desired outcome of low vision rehabilitation is for individuals to attain the maximum function of any remaining vision they may have; increase their level of functional ability; increase their independence; and, as a result improve their quality of life (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Technology Assessment, AHRQ,2004; Jutai et al., 2005).
Closed circuit television (CCTV) CCTV’s tend to be used today for children with more severe visual impairment who require a higher degree of magnification than can be obtain from an optical type of device. It comprise a television camera mounted above an X-Y moveable table and connected to a video display monitor. A great advantage of the CCTV system is the ability to vary the illumination and contrast of the image produced. A child with a visual impairment will often prefer a higher contrast than exists on the original document
In most cases the camera is fixed, pointing down towards the platform, requiring the object to be placed underneath the camera lens. There are available in either monochrome or color versions. More complex CCTV systems may provide additional features. They may be linked to a typewriter or interfaced with a computer.
Limited evidence from one good-quality case series (Goodrich & Kirby, 2001), suggested that the participants speed and duration of reading were significantly greater with CCTV systems than with prescribed optical devices. Moderately strong evidence indicates that electronic stand-mounted or handheld CCTVs can improve reading performance and are generally preferred by persons with low vision over standard non electronic optical devices (Jutai, Strong, Russell-Minda 2009).
When people seek services because of visual impairment, they often state their need in terms of being able to resume reading or being able to travel independently. Before individuals could effectively use the device to read letters, bills , books, magazines, and other print materials they need a reading training, including the mechanics of using the device and the cognitive and perceptual strategies necessary to read with the device. To overcome the disability created by a severe visual impairment, people need a combination of interventions, including an appropriately prescribed device, training in its use, and other support services.
Individuals who are visually impaired frequently encounter vision and accessibility-related challenges when using the Internet or performing other common computing functions. Some studies indicated that visual acuity and contrast sensitivity are significantly associated with the performance of computer tasks. Other studies shown that the sizes of icons and sets were significantly associated with the accuracy of performing computer tasks
A larger icon size was significantly associated with a shorter time to complete tasks Adaptive technologies, such as text magnification, screen readers, and digital image enhancements (Leat, Omoruyi, Kennedy, & Jemigan, 2005) can help both to enhance and to substitute for the visual and sensory functions that are required during computer use. Software that enlarges text and graphics makes computers accessible to people even with severe visual impairments, and voice synthesizers open up the computer to totally blind individuals.
Computer accessibility Refers to the accessibility of a computer system to all people, regardless of disability or severity of impairment. It is largely a software concern; When software, hardware, or a combination of hardware and software, is used to enable use of a computer by a person with a disability or impairment, this is known as Assistive Technology. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5-g3Rt3c2Q
Zoom Text ZoomText is a stand-alone piece of software designed for visually impaired people. It is available for the Microsoft Windows operating systems 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7 and 8. The program allows you to see and hear everything on the computer screen as well as providing access to applications, documents, email and the Internet.
ZoomText has dual monitor support and is capable of magnifying the screen up to 36 times; it also allows you to choose which part of the screen is magnified. Color controls help improve the clarity of the screen and mouse pointers can be resized. It also provides enhanced navigation capabilities to help the user to launch programs and find documents on the desktop and find the hypertext links and controls on web pages, find words or phrases. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htJ5jZnk6ZQ
Concerning the importance of using assistivetechnology resources in educating students withvisual impairment, 84.2% of the teachers declaredthat the resources were very important to enhancereading and writing skills as well as to communicatewith the world on an equal basis (95.8%). In addition, they made information available andthe content of the teaching material more attractive thanthe traditional resources (93.7%), improving the students’quality of life, facilitating the learning process (91.7%), andallowing them to rewrite correct texts (87.5%) withautonomy and privacy (66.7%) .
References: Bennet, D. (1997). Low vision devices for children and young people with visual impairment. In Monson, H., McCall, S., Arter, C., Mclinden, M., Stone, J. (ed) Visual Impairment. Access to Education for Children and Young People. London: David Fulton Publishers. Feritas Alvares et al., (August 2009). Assistive technology applied to education of student with visual impairment. Revista Panamericana de Salud Publica. Vol. 26., Issue 2, p 148-152. Goodrich, L.G., (March 1, 2003). Available and Emerging Technologies for People with Visual Impairment. Generation, Vol. 27, Issue 1, p 64. Jutai, W. J., Strong, G. J., Russell-Mind, E., (April 2009). Effectiveness of Assistive Technologies for Low Vision Rehabilitation: A systematic review. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, Vol. 105. Issue 4, p 235-239. Pr Kingsley, M. (1997). The effect of a visual loss. In Monson, H., McCall, S., Arter, C., Mclinden, M., Stone, J. (ed) Visual Impairment. Access to Education for Children and Young People. London: David Fulton Publishers. Márkus, B., (2011). E-Learning experience. Geographia technical, No 2, p45-55. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_accessibility