2004 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2004 Table of Contents 


UNIQUE COMPUTER ENHANCEMENT SYSTEM FOR LOW VISION INDIVIDUALS

Presenters
Andrea Carter
Samuel A. Hardage
Pascual Talamantes
Contact Information:
The Vision of Children Foundation
12730 High Bluff Drive, Ste 250
San Diego, CA 92130
Phone: 858-799-0810
Fax: 858-794-2338
Email:acarter@visionofchildren.org

Summary: Discuss the development and implementation of a new computer system for low vision students and its application to the general public.

Presentation Outline:

I. Development of the specialized installation

Inventor Samuel A. Hardage will discuss the development of the computer enhancement system for low vision students.

Teacher Pascual Talamantes, visually impaired teacher, will discuss the benefits of this system in special education programs.

Program Director Andrea Carter will discuss the implementation of this system in schools and its application to the general public.

I. Question and answer period with presenters

III. Seminar attendees will have the opportunity to view and test the system

The Vision of Children has developed an innovative new computer system for individuals with low vision. Specifically, this system allows an individual to view the screen in its entirety rather than a magnified portion of a software program. It also allows for correct typing posture. These two solutions allow low vision individuals to access, learn, and manage computer software programs effectively.

The Vision of Children Foundation developed the computer installation for visually impaired students in response to feedback from students, parents and teachers. Teachers reported that these students were leaning overly close to the computer screen in order to see it clearly. This resulted in awkward posture, eye strain, and muscle fatigue which hindered a student's ability to successfully advance through standard computer curriculum. Students also complained that magnification aids and devices did not allow them to gain a comprehensive feel for standard software programs. As a result, these students were not effectively learning computer skills.

With this system, the computer needs of visually impaired individuals are being met in a simple and effective way. A flat plate screen LCD monitor is attached to a specialized articulated arm. In this way, an individual can adjust the monitor's distance and height to view it clearly and type comfortably. Teachers report that students using the equipment increase their computer skills by over 50% within the first few months.

Teacher Pascual Talamantes, who is visually impaired himself, describes best how the system allows students to work with standard programs more effectively: "The installation allows students to see the screen in its entirety rather than in small portions. It is not easy to grasp the contents of an entire web page while viewing it through a software 'magnifier' especially with some of the information in movement as is so popular today. At the instant the student moves the 'magnifier' from a portion of the page, that previous information may be temporarily invisible."

Magnification aids and programs enhance a specific part of the program on the screen. Using this pinpoint approach, the student is unable to get a comprehensive feel of working with standard computer programs. With this system, the student can view the full screen because the monitor can be moved as close to their eyes as necessary, which also allows for correct typing posture.

Various private, charter, and public schools in San Diego have implemented this system into their computer curriculum with great results. The third largest school district in the nation, Sweetwater Union, will incorporate this technology into their special education program during the 2003-2004 school year. The long-term goal is to have this system as standard school technology nationwide.

This system also has applications for the general public in the workplace and for personal use. Doctors, teachers, and donors have all commented on how this technology could also benefit elderly relatives and have even expressed interest in it for their own personal use. This system can benefit all persons with diminished visual acuity from common farsightedness and nearsightedness to those affected with macular degeneration and other disorders.

Attached are an installation diagram and a picture of the installation which consists of an NEC 18" flat plate LCD monitor attached to an Ergotect articulated arm.

-The arm is mounted on the desk top. The desk or table material must be able to withstand the drilling of a 3/8 in. hole. A 2 in. laminate desktop is recommended.

-The hole must be 13.5 in. from the front edge of the desk but no less then 11/2- 2 in. from the back of the desk (for stability).

-It must also be centered to the horizontal axis of the front edge of the desk or working surface.

(Drawing not to scale)

Computer Enhancement System for Low Vision Individuals which incorporates an NEC 18" flat plate screen monitor with a specialized Ergotect LCD arm.


Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2004 Table of Contents 


Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.