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One Purpose, One Goal

Program Statement

Assistive Technology Program Overview:

Assessment Overview

Curriculum Overview

Assistive Technology Lab Classes:

Special Assistive Technology classes

Transition Opportunities Transition Opportunities

Assistive Technology Devices Used in the Classes

One Purpose, One Goal

The OSB Assistive Technology Lab has one purpose, one goal: to teach students who are blind or visually impaired how to independently access various types of electronic information. The tolls we provide for our students are expensive, but necessary for students who are blind or visually impaired to be successful in the classroom.

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Program Statement

The invention of new and the continuous improvement of existing Assistive Technology devices have opened educational and professional opportunities for students who are blind or visually impaired. OSB's Assistive Technology program provides our students instruction in skills and strategies to be independent users of Assistive Technology within the learning environment. Students will use devices that are specific to Assistive Technology when accessing electronic data and devices that make mainstream computer technology accessible. This allows them to accomplish educational tasks and partake equally with their sighted peers in the educational setting

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Assessment Overview

all Students who are enrolled at OSB are assessed in different areas that best serve the student. The Assistive Technology Lab conducts assessments designed to determine the student's assistive mainstream technology needs. Some of the computer skill sets that are addressed are touch-typing, word-processing and Internet usage.

Assistive technology assessments help determine which devices best help the student access classroom materials. The assessments answer questions such as:

Does the student need a screen-reader or screen magnifier to access the computer?

Does the student need an augmented keyboard or a switch?

Does the student need an electronic note-take/PDA? If so, what type?

Does the student need instruction on how to use a screen-reader, screen-magnifier, scan-and-read, etc., when accessing electronic information?

How proficient is the student in using an electronic note-taker/PDA with refreshable braille?

These and many more questions are answered to determine the students needs and skill level when accessing information.

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Curriculum Overview

Once the assistive and mainstream technology needs have been determined, individual goals and objectives are developed. Students can enroll in one of the several A.T. classes offered at OSB to address their individual needs. Instruction is provided separately for students who require braille/creen readers and students who use print/screen magnification.

The assistive Technology curriculum has two goals:

Goal One: Develop skill set students need to be successful in their classes. The A.T. lab works closely with classroom teachers to ensure students learn skills that are meaningful in their academic classes.

  • Goal Two: For the students to build their skills so they are ready for college and/or the workplace when they graduate.

OSB's Assistive Technology Lab offers keyboarding classes and several levels of A.T. classes that address the students' educational needs. The A.T Lab teaches students who can use a standard keyboard to access the computer with an augmented keyboard, a one-handed keyboard or a switch.

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 Six Essential Skill Sets

These 6 skill sets are the building blocks for the students to independently access electronic information on the computer. they are introduced and continuously developed throughout the progression of classes offered in the A.T Lab. As students complete their classroom assignments, the skill sets are reinforced and developed.

The Assistive technology Lab focuses on using special software to help students access the computer. We use two special programs:

  • JAWS, a screen reader
  • Zoom Text, a screen magnifier

These two special software programs give students who are blind and visually impaired access to mainstream computer programs, such as office productivity software including Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and Web browsers including Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox.

The six skill sets are:

  • Skill Set 1: Touch-typing Skills
  • Skill Set 2: Keyboard Exploration
  • Skill Set 3: Opening/closing Programs
  • Skill Set 4: Working with a word processor
  • Skill Set 5: Working with text within a document:  A. Basic Text Navigation, B. Basic Text Editing
  • Skill Set 6: Basic Internet Navigation: A. Website Navigation, B. Webpage Navigation

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 Keyboarding Class

OSB addresses keyboarding around the 3rd grade. I it important for students who are blind and visually impaired to have good keyboarding skills. The foundation of good keyboarding skills is good touch-typing skills. Teacher-dictated lessons are used to ensure correct fingering: afterwards they work with typing programs to improve accuracy and speed. Students learn other important skills such as using basic text navigation and working with documents.

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Assistive Technology 1 Class 

Depending on individual needs, but usually between 3rd and 5th grade, students are offered a semester or year-long class to learn basic computer skills using JAWS or ZoonText. The class includes learning keyboard commands and completing basic computer tasks required in the classroom. These tasks range from opening programs, opening and saving files, and navigating basic text to surfing the Internet. Students are introduced to our PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant), PacMate or Braille Note mPower, which are smaller that laptop computers but have similar features. During this class they learn how to create, edit, save, and print/emboss documents.

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 Assistive Technology 2 Class 

Depending on the individual needs, but usually around the 7th grade, students may be offered the year-long scheduled class. The Assistive Tech 2 class teaches more advanced skills using a word processor and web browser with JASWS and/or ZoomText. Students continue to build on their PDA skills (Pac Mate and / or Braille Note). They are introduced to new software programs, such as Open Book and Duxbury. Open Book allows students to scan hardcopy documents and have the scanned documents read back to them. Low vision students learn to adjust low vision settings so they can read the scanned document on the screen. Duxbury is a text-to-braille translation software program. Students learn to create a document in a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, then use Duxbury to translate it to braille and emboss it (make a braille copy). Students also learn to use various other hardware devices such as digital talking book players, like the Victor Reader Stream. Students learn to play special DAISY formatted books (human recordings of books) and access text files, web pages, etc. that have been transferred to the device from the computer. Students are also introduced to refreshable braille displays that are connected to computers. A refreshable braille is an electronic device that provides braille output from the computer.

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 Assistive Technology 3 Class

Depending on the individual needs, but usually around the 9th or 10th grade, students may be offered the year-long scheduled class.

This class is an extension of the A.T. 2 class. Students are encouraged to think about how to apply the appropriate assistive technology devices to be successful with particular assignments.

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Assistive Technology 4 Class

Depending on individual needs, but usually around 11th or 12th grade, students may be offered the year-long scheduled class. The purpose of this class is to prepare students for college and/or the workplace. This class is an extension of the previous A.T. classes. Students focus on how to use the different assistive technology devices to complete assignments similar to what they will find in college and/or the workplace. Emphasis is placed on completing assignments independently.

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Special Assistive Technology Classes

Often the IEP team will ask the Assistive Technology Lab to address a student's individual needs that do not fit within the regular assistive technology Classes. The Assistive Technology Lab assesses the student's needs and develops a special curriculum. Students may learn to use an augmented keyboard, one-handed keyboard or a switch to complete tasks. Students may also learn how to use special assistive technology programs to help them access electronic information.

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Transition Opportunities

The AT Lab offers students the opportunity to develop tech support skills as part of OSB's transition program. Students involved in the Work Study Program of the FACS Job Simulation Program are trained in the AT lab to perform a series of checks to keep computers in good working order, resolve basic assistive and mainstream tech problems, and tutor other students in the use of assistive technology devices. Students are trained to identify if short-cut keys work properly to launch programs, programs work correctly, and speakers and scanners work properly. They are also trained to fix specific problems and complete reports that reflect their work. Students receive the title "Technology Support Specialist" once they successfully complete the training sessions.

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Assistive Technology Devices Used in Classes

Software Devices

  • JAWS, (screen-reader), by  Freedom Scientific
  • Zoom Text (screen magnifier), by Ai Squared
  • Open Book (scan and read), by Freedom Scientific
  • Duxbury (text-to-braille translator) by Duxbury Systems Inc.
  • Talking typer (typing program) by American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. (APH)
  • TypeAbility (typing program), by YesAccessible!

Hardware Devices

  • Braille Note mPower/Apex, (PDA), by Humanware
  • PAC Mate OMNI, (PDA), by Freedom Scientific
  • Juliet Pro Braille Embossers, (braille printer), by Enabling Technologies
  • Index Basic-D Embossers, (braille printer), by Index Braille
  • Victor Reader Stream, (Digital Talking Book player), by Humanware

Refreshable Braille Displays:

  • Focus 80 by Freedom Scientific
  • PowerBraille
  • PAC Mate 20 by Freedom Scientific
  • Refreshabraille 18 by American Printing House for the Blind

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