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Collection: Technology for Students Who Are Visually Impaired

purple arrow (1137 bytes)NCIP Profile: 'Write' Tools for Students Who Are Visually Impaired
Technologies That Provide Sensory Feedback for the Writing Process

NCIP Staff, 1994


Braille Keyboard: A nine-key device that enables users to "braille in" text. A braille keyboard may serve as an alternate keyboard for a standard computer or may be an integral part of a computer-based assistive device.

Braille Keyboard Conversion Software: Software that converts a standard keyboard into a braille keyboard. Nine specified keys on the standard keyboard are used to "braille in" text.

Braille Keyboard Labels/Overlays: Labels with braille letters that can be placed on individual keys. Alternatively, braille dots can be placed directly on keys with a liquid substance that hardens after application.

Tactile Locators
: Tactile stickers or other materials can be strategically placed on the keyboard to identify important keys and facilitate positioning for touch typing.

"Refreshable" or "Paperless" Braille Displays: A hardware template that can display braille as it is being written. As each letter is typed, pins corresponding to braille dots pop up on the template to form braille letters. The braille display is refreshable because it can be altered as the text is changed and advanced letter by letter or line by line (depending on the size of the display). Refreshable braille displays can be a separate component or part of an integrated system. Software may be required to translate standard text to braille.

Braille Embossers: Sometimes called braille printers, these devices emboss documents in braille. Braille embossers typically have blunt pins that punch dots into special 100-pound weight paper.


Speech Output Software: Software that translates standard text into a phonetic code that can be "spoken" by a speech synthesizer. Speech output can be integrated into a specific application, such as a word processing program.

Screenreaders: Software that works in conjunction with other applications and converts the text on screen into speech output. Some personal computers come with built-in screenreaders.

Speech Synthesizers: Hardware that produces speech output. This can be an external unit that connects to a computer, or an internal chip or circuit card.

Visual Magnification

Magnifying Lenses for Monitor: Sometimes called optical aids, these portable lenses can magnify text up to twice its original size. They are designed to fit over many standard computer monitors.

Magnification Software: Software that allows users to enlarge text on the computer screen, sometimes up to sixteen times its original size. These programs run in conjunction with other applications and usually have features that facilitate cursor navigation.

Magnification Hardware: A special magnification card that replaces the existing video card in the computer.

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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