2000 Conference Proceedings

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Blindness and Assistive Technology:

Larry L. Lewis, Jr.
Blindness Products Manager
HumanWare, Inc.

I. Welcome and Introduction

II. What is assistive technology?

A. Devices, applications, or methodologies that enable an individual to perform specific tasks that he/she would not be able to complete independently and effectively without implementing these solutions into his/her technological experience

B. Adaptive devices, applications, and methodologies that enable an individual to access commercial applications to perform given tasks. III. What are blindness products?

A. Adaptive technological hardware and software solutions for persons who are blind

B. Braille Solutions: a tactual medium for reading and writing

C. Speech Solutions: an audible means of accessing information

IV. Why is a multi-sensory approach to technology essential for a person who is visually impaired?

A. The correlation between tactual representation and literacy

Holistic perceptions of sighted individuals vs. fragmented perceptions of persons who are blind.

1. A 180 degree field of vision allows a sighted person the ability to holistically process words, phrases, sentences, computer screens.

2. Persons who are blind are processing parts of a whole concept when they are audibly accessing given information, and they are not able to actively review given materials.

Utilizing both speech and Braille solutions to minimize the fragmented method by which a person recognizes words, sentences, paragraphs, documents, and ultimately, operating systems--one medium should not exclude the other when literacy is being promoted

V. What are the fundamental components to a technological solution for persons who are blind?

Devices that promote tactual learning at an early age

1. Mountbatten Braille Writer: An introduction to technology through Braille reading and writing

2. Pictures In A Flash: Tactual access to graphics

Notetakers: The importance of promoting and implementing organizational skills

1. Keynote Companion

2. Braille Companion

Utilizing A PC To Access Commercial Applications And Printed Material

1. The necessity of a screen reader

2. Adaptive OCR software to access print

Braille: the means of tactually accessing and interacting with technology

1. Refreshable Braille Displays

2. Braille Embossers

VI. Conclusion

A. Closing conclusions:

1. Combining tactual access and audible access into a person's technological experience helps to promote literacy.

2. It ingrains into the individual his/her right to have access to materials that he/she ordinarily could not access independently and effectively.

3. It offers to the individual the tools necessary to begin to integrate into a predominately sighted society.

4. It begins to level the playing fields in both the educational and vocational arenas.

B. Open forum discussion, questions, and demonstrations

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