Strategies in working with students who are Blind or Visual Impairments:
- All of the web pages and websites that are used at the college must meet the technology guidelines of the ADA Section 508.
- Online classes must also provide access. All of the campus workshops on writing web pages contain sessions on ADA access. ANGEL now has accessibility features built into the format. CONNECT classrooms also can be set up to be accessible.
- The college is committed to giving access to all who need to use voice input and output software as well as assistive technology and software that can be helpful for students who are blind, visually impaired or who have difficulty processing written materials. Therefore, information that is in print can be assumed to be accessible if it is in Word. Currently, assistive software and adaptive equipment are available in E.H. Butler Library and in the Disability Services Office. Training in their use is given on request by the Special Services Librarian (Amy Rockwell) and by the staff of the Disability Services Office.
- To enlarge font size to make print more accessible, use the “Format” button on the task bar at the top of the screen. On the internet, use the “View button”, go to “Text size” and increase the size to “larger.”
- Many of the measures used for students with learning disabilities also work for students who are blind or visually impaired: Audio textbooks, reading tests aloud and recording answers, taped lectures, study partners, and group work with carefully assigned roles give both access and control to the students. Many students have been using their own assistive technology and software for years and may not ever use the campus’ equipment except as a backup system.
- Sensory words are not taboo: it is all right to use “see”, “appear”, “look”, and other vision terms. Students still perceive, and often the best word for the process is a sight-sense word.
- Not all students who are blind know Braille. Some were never taught, some didn’t want to or couldn’t learn it, and there are not always instructors for Braille available.
- Students who are blind may see colors and some shapes quite well, while others struggle with ever-decreasing sight, and some see only darkness. Always ask the students what they CAN see, and note their response.
- If you need to walk with a student in an emergency, such as a fire or an evacuation drill, DO NOT lead the student – offer your elbow so that they can keep up and walk along at a normal gait. Offer verbal cues on turning left or right or where there are curbs or other obstacles.