Assistive Technology (AT) is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for individuals who are blind. MCB AT program provides critical computer and adaptive equipment training to consumers to increase, maintain, or improve their functional capabilities. Provided primarily to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) consumers, AT services include deployment and training on usage of software program and/or devices such as screen readers that turn regular computers into talking personal computers. AT also includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using technology to perform activities of daily living independently, or even with assistance. MCB can assist with several forms of technology. Below are some examples:
Screen Magnification Technology
Many of MCB’s consumers have some residual vision, which allows them to benefit from the use of video magnifiers and computer screen magnification software. If you are able to use functional vision, you may benefit from the use of a Closed Circuit Television System (CCTV), or screen magnification software.
Closed Circuit Television
A Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is an electronic magnification system consisting of a video camera, reading tray, and large video monitor. CCTVs can be used to read books, magazines, food containers, prescription bottles, photographs, anything you need to access for employment and independence. Material to be read is placed on the reading tray beneath the camera, the desired magnification level and other adjustments are selected and the text is read on the television screen. Using a CCTV is relatively easy with some training and practice.
Alternatively, some consumers may elect to use a portable handheld video magnifier which will allow for some magnification of items which might not be conveniently placed under a fixed desktop camera. These portable devices allow for spot reading of restaurant menus or packages on supermarket shelves.
Screen Magnification Software
A computer such as a laptop, tablet, or smart phone can be modified with screen magnification software to enlarge and enhance the contrast of text and graphics on its display. This software can work on Windows, Macintosh, Linux, iPhones, Androids, and other computer platforms. Using a screen magnification software program, one can gain full access to computers, software, information, and the internet. You can magnify the size of text and graphics to a level that is most comfortable for working with your applications.
Screen Readers and Voice Technology
Combining screen readers with speech synthesis is one of the most powerful and cost-effective adaptive technologies currently available. The screen reader turns a computer into a talking personal computer. Using a screen reader, a visually impaired user can hear all of his/her keystrokes as they are entered, as well as read back any information displayed on the computer monitor. One can use a screen reader to help with sending and receiving electronic mail, browsing web sites on the internet, for database and spreadsheet management, and for accessing computers and information in general.
Braille Embossers and Refreshable Displays
For those who are strong braille readers, they may benefit from using a braille embosser and/or refreshable braille display. Reading braille can enhance literacy, reading comprehension, and spelling. A braille embosser and translation software can be used to “print” hard-copy braille from computer documents for a wide variety of applications. A braille reader can also use a refreshable braille display in conjunction with a screen reader software program to access a computer and the internet just like a sighted computer user reads a monitor. An individual who is deaf blind may use braille embossers and displays to assist with day-to-day communication and computer access for work, school, or home independence.