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Technology for Students Who are Visually Impaired Collection
Table of Contents

Students who are visually impaired can benefit from a range of software and hardware tools that utilize Braille keyboarding and printing, screen magnification, and/or synthesized speech output. These range from lo-tech solutions such as braille keyboard overlays, to hi-tech solutions such as small portable devices for notetaking in Braille. Such technologies provide access to text-based information and support the development of writing skills, enabling students who are blind or visually impaired to fully pursue their educational goals.

These resources were compiled during NCIP's period of funding, 1992-1998.  If you have any questions about a resource, please use the contact information listed for the resource. NCIP encourages the reproduction and distribution of these materials as long as the contents are not altered in any way, and credit is given to NCIP. 

The following profiles are overviews of this topic developed by NCIP:

NCIP Profiles

 "'Write' Tools for Students Who Are Visually Impaired"

PDF icon (224 bytes) .pdf version (To access this file, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

Video Profile: "Write" Tools for Angie: Technology for Students Who Are Visually Impaired"

The following resources contained in the Technology for Students Who are Visually Impaired collection were compiled by NCIP.  They are grouped into four categories: General, Practice, Products, and Organizations and Publications.


Access technology for blind and visually impaired persons

A description of four methods that persons who are blind or visually impaired use to access information: enhanced image, braille, synthetic speech, and optical character recognition.

A framework for understanding the literacy of individuals with visual impairments

A framework which explores different facets and levels (emergent, basic, and functional) of literacy for understanding the issue of literacy of individuals with visual impairments.

Guidelines for integrating young children with visual impairments in general educational settings

A set of guidelines and recommendations for developing and implementing the successful integration of preschoolers with visual impairments into educational settings with their sighted peers.

[Profiles | General | Practice | Products | Organizations and Publications]


A process approach to teaching braille writing at the primary level

A description of the process approach to writing instruction as it has been modified and used effectively for teaching braille writing to young children who are blind. Key components of the approach are discussed.

Adam's Story

A vignette about Adam Linn, a student at Harvard University, who is visually impaired. This vignette highlights Adam's experiences with assistive technology.

[Profiles | General | Practice | Products | Organizations and Publications]


Sensory Feedback: An Overview

An overview of the role of sensory feedback during three phases of writing: inputting, monitoring, and outputting, and the implications for writers who are visually impaired. Includes an introduction to technologies which can provide alternative sensory feedback, and a graphic which illustrates how particular kinds of assistive technologies help in the process of writing.

Braille Input

A description of different ways students who are visually impaired can use their knowledge of Braille to input text into a computer A list of specific products that enable input is attached.

Braille Monitoring

An overview of refreshable Braille displays, which facilitate monitoring, editing, and correcting of text in Braille. Describes some of the features to consider when purchasing a refreshable display. A list of sample products with brief descriptions is attached.

Braille Output

A description of two components of Braille output--Braille translation software and Braille embossers. A list of sample products with brief descriptions is attached.

Speech Access

An overview of three categories of speech access technology for users who are visually impaired: speech input, screen access software, and speech synthesizers. The attached documents includes descriptions of specific products within each of these categories.

Magnification Technology

A description of magnification technology and how it can help those with low vision input, monitor, and output text. An attached document also includes the summary, plus descriptions of specific products.

Optical Character Recognition Systems

An overview of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, which has become an aid for inputting documents by and for users with visual impairments. Lists some of the features to consider when selecting an OCR system.

Combination Access

An overview of products that offer access to computer technology using a combination of features incorporating more than one modality, e.g., notetakers which combine braille input and speech output. Sometimes these products are referred to as "hybrids." The attached document includes descriptions of a range of combination products.

List of Manufacturers

A list of manufactures who produce assistive technology products for users with visual impairments. Includes a brief description of each product, as well as the name, address, and telephone numbers of the manufacturers.

[Profiles | General | Practice | Products | Organizations and Publications]

Organizations and Publications

Organizations Supporting Students with Visual Impairment

An extensive list of organizations and state agencies that support individuals who are visually impaired.

On the way to literacy I and II

Information about materials which provide basic information and activities to enhance the development of literacy in young children who are blind or visually impaired. Includes a description of, and information about ordering, the parent/teacher handbook and the tactile/visual storybooks.

[Profiles | General | Practice | Products | Organizations and Publications]


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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. 

ŠEducation Development Center, Inc.