Technology for Children with Visual Impairment

By Felicity Dryer

Image of a boy sitting with legs crossed, an iPad on his lap. His hands are clapping in the air.

Today we are posting a blog written by Felicity Dryer who is sharing her thoughts on technology.

Every parent, particularly those raising a special needs child, wants not just the best, but the very best for their child. With special needs technology advancing at such a rapid pace, the possibility of reaching and applying such progress may very well be possible.

What’s Out There?

Assistive technology (AT) now offers a long list of applications that have changed the lives of children and their families forever. These advancements include braille printers, voice activated devices, audio books, and other talking technology as well as large print texts, screen readers and magnifiers (easy zoom in/zoom out tech).

Refer to your child’s educational facility for their access to AT. If budget is a challenge, get involved in a fundraising program as well as raise awareness for technology on the horizon.

You Have a Say

Much legislation has been passed regarding special needs access to various tools and helpful additions. The Assistive Technology Act (ATA) is one which is intended to ensure that people with disabilities have access to assistive technology devices and services.

Contact your local government office to see what your state offers regarding your child’s visually impairment. You may be surprised at the help you get from your civil servants.

It’s Getting Better

Manufacturing products for a variety of physical and mental challenges often falls into the hands of free enterprise making supply and demand the ruling factor. Therefore, it may be difficult to find certain AT for visually challenged children.

Working with educators; resource platforms (organizations, social media and web/consumer sites); and word-of-mouth, you can get the latest in AT.

Hopefully as more demand continues, it brings future AT to visually impaired and blind children. Some of these even go beyond basic, practical applications such as those mentioned above and incorporate amazing tactile innovations along with some fun thrown too.

3D Printers

The invention of the 3D Printer has opened a whole new world for so many industries including medical, textile and yes, special needs. According to a report by Science Daily, “Using the technology, not only braille books, but also braille picture books and teaching materials can be made with greater flexibility in color, height and size.”

These braille picture books offer more interesting reading as they can now include 3D models of topography, miniature furniture, fruit, and anything else to bring tactile reading to a whole new level. In addition to adding this technology to reading, it can also be used to create all sorts of crafts and models for parent/child quality time.

Audio Communication Boards

One struggle for the visually impaired is being able to participate in community boards. Whether social media or other platforms like craigslist, being able to participate can help these children increase self-esteem, dignity and a sense of belonging.

A screen reader app and braille keyboard can help join these sites. Plus, don’t be afraid to search for a (or start your own) Audio-Skype Community Board.

For Kicks

Entertainment for visually impaired kids should be parallel with their peers. This is special needs tech which, with the use of an audio response device like VoiceOver, exercises imagination, thought formation, problem solving and more.

Some of these cost a few bucks while others are free. These games include:

  • Interactive Story Apps—These are stories where a child can become leader of their clan and even crowned King. Some titles are: King Dragon Pass and Frotz
  • Silly Fun—These games take away all seriousness as players run from crazy acorns in Stem Stumper or test their gesture reflexes with Zany Touch
  • Classics—Voice activated chess or cards are easily found complete with tutorials and thousands of variations
  • Brain Stimulators—There’s even trivia, puzzles, word games and electronic casino. Look for titles like: De Steno Games, 7 Little Words and Moxie
  • It Goes On—There are many other apps covering sports, music, podcasts, and more

Special needs tech keeps morphing from one benefit to the next. Stay on top of what your visually impaired child may be able to excel with. Just seeing the awe written all over their face is worth every effort.