February is Low Vision Awareness Month! According to the National Eye Health Education Program, more than 4 million Americans over 40 have low vision that cannot be corrected by standard eyeglasses, contact lenses, medication, or surgery. In addition, more than 5% of Americans under 40 have some type of low vision. Vision rehabilitation and assistive technology can help people with vision loss to maximize their remaining vision, maintain their independence, and continue to do the things they love. The NIDILRR community has developed programs, tools, and technology to support people with low vision in employment, education, and community living. Here are just a few examples you can use right now:
CaptiVoice is text-to-speech software for smartphones, tablets, and computers that will read aloud any text anywhere. CaptiVoice is also a good tool for people who have difficulty reading print because of brain injury, learning disability, or language proficiency. https://www.captivoice.com/capti-site/
From School to College: A Transition Activity Calendar for Students Who are Blind or Visually Impaired from the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project on Transition Services that Lead to Competitive Employment Outcomes for Transition-Age Individuals with Blindness or Other Visual Impairments lists tasks that students need to complete as early as middle school in order to be ready to attend college. While college will still be demanding, a student who has completed the tasks outlined in the Transition Activity Calendar will be better prepared to meet the challenges of college academia as well as campus life. http://www.ntac.blind.msstate.edu/providers/tac/
OverTHERE is a free iPhone app developed by the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Low Vision and Blindness that gives blind pedestrians quick and easy access to accurate location information about businesses and other points of interest in the world. Simply point your phone in a direction to hear what’s “over there,” and audio cues make it easy to quickly and accurately pinpoint exact locations of businesses and addresses. https://www.ski.org/project/overthere
Wireless Independence Now: An Overview of Smartphone Accessibility Features for Vision Impairments from the RERC on Wireless Inclusive Technologies walks iOS and Android users through the accessibility features of their smartphones and tablets. http://wirelessrerc.org/visual-impairments-presentation-2016-wireless-independence-now-workshop
These are just a few examples of tech and tools developed by the NIDILRR grantee community. Learn more about these and other NIDILRR-funded projects by searching the NIDILRR Program Database https://www.naric.com/?q=en/ProgramDatabase!