There are a number of handy apps out there for those with low vision. Clarix, a leading provider of magnification systems, has created three new apps and all are free (always the best part!) Visit their website http://www.clarixusa.com/index.php/products/apps or the iTunes store for more information. Just remember that iDevices have small megapixel capabilities so the magnification resolution will never quite as sharp as we’d like, but the apps are great.
iCam is a low vision magnifier and reader for your iPhone or iPad. It features 5 high-contrast false color modes, as well as black and white, and color. iCam can magnify printed text and includes an optional light feature for use in dimly lit rooms. iCam uses OCR technology to convert printed text to speech, as well. It takes a picture and then converts it to spoken text. It uses state of the art OCR technology. Features include: variable magnification levels, contrast enhancement, pinch zoom magnification, 4 inverse color choices, full-color and black/white mode options.
Voice IT will read your text messages, incoming calls, voice mail alerts, eMail, etc. Advanced settings allow you to choose a ringtone alert and repeat what is being read. For privacy, a discreet mode is available when using headphones.
Need to find something on your phone and quickly launch it? No need to fumble to find a website, contact, song, or app. Use Find IT. Start typing and Find IT will show you what you commonly used. Find anything on your phone quickly and easily. It remembers your favorite items and search history. Featuring large type.
LARGE Timer is a simple countdown timer for those with low vision. It has a very simple interface and a large display. Use it for any timed event or as an alarm.
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I am often asked to recommend screen magnifiers for students with low vision who are struggling with computer use. There are several amazing, multi-function programs available for purchase with a wide range of features, but they can cost between $199 – $500 per installation. This becomes a pricey option, especially since we may not know exactly what each student needs and they may need the support on multiple systems across classrooms (or buildings). With that in mind, I always recommend starting with one of the freebie or low cost options available online.
Mac systems have a nice set of assistive technology supports built in, including cursor enlargement, color inversion, voice dictation and the Zoom magnifier. Many of you may be familiar with these features, as they are also on the iPad. http://www.apple.com/accessibility/osx/#vision
Windows systems are also equipped with similiar supports, including text-to-speech, voice dictation and a screen magnifier: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/make-items-on-the-screen-appear-bigger-magnifier
Here’s a link to a wonderful article by the American Federation for the Blind, comparing some of the most popular freeware and shareware (low cost) screen magnification programs. You might want to look at these as possible options for any of your low-vision students using a range of computers in different settings. These are just some of the freebie and cheaper choices as reviewed by AFB. http://www.afb.org/afbpress/pub.asp?DocID=aw140403
The freeware options are just that: free. But they may not have a wide range of features, offer low screen resolution or lack tech support. The shareware options allow you to take a free trial download, then buy if you like them. All listed here are under $29 and the authors make several specific recommendations based upon their trials.
The article suggests creating a separate user account on the computer so the files are downloaded there and then activated by the student user when they log in. We have always used this approach so the system reverts to standard settings once the user has logged off.
If you have a contained classroom or lab, you may want to put one of these on a single system so those students with low vision have immediate access to an adapted computer. These are inexpensive options for students to use at home, as well.
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