Adaptive Technology Levels the Field for the Visually Impaired
February 29th, 2016 | Doug Wampler, Guest Blogger from Outlook Nebraska
Close your eyes. Now pull up an app on your smart phone or send an email on your computer. This is the challenge faced daily by the 15,000 people in and around Omaha who are visually impaired or totally blind. Even the simplest technology like clocks or stoves can be difficult to use without clear vision. What many people don’t realize, however, is that, while technology can be challenging for the visually impaired, adaptive technology can also allow a person to overcome their visual impairment. Adaptive technology is any tool or system that is specifically designed for the purpose of increasing or maintaining the capabilities of people with disabilities. In other words, adaptive technology allows someone with significant vision loss to do anything a sighted person can do. The third Friday of every month at Do Space is dedicated to free one-on-one adaptive technology training by technology trainers from Outlook Nebraska, Inc.
For someone who still has some remaining vision, screen magnification technology such as Magic® or Zoomtext® can allow anything on a computer screen to be enlarged far more than the built-in magnification of a standard screen. Smart phones have magnification options as well under the settings accessibility option. CCTVs and hand-held digital magnifiers enlarge any documents including photos and handwritten notes.
Screen reading software is used by individuals with very limited or no sight. Programs like JAWS®, Window Eyes®, and NVDA read out loud any text on the computer screen. Using keyboard commands or swiping technology, people who are visually impaired can use a computer or cell phone just as well as a sighted person, sometimes even better.
Apps on smart phones are now available to assist the visually impaired with everything from around- town navigation to listening to music and books to identifying objects in their hands. And new apps for the visually impaired come out every day!
Anyone from age 5 to 95 can use adaptive technology to overcome vision loss. Join Outlook Nebraska’s Doug Wampler at Do Space on the third Friday of each month to learn how adaptive technology can work to overcome vision loss for those you love!
For more information on services and employment opportunities for the blind and visually impaired, visit www.outlooknebraska.org.