Saturday, 18 October 2014




Vision Australia

Provides free services

Advice for Schools
schools cannot directly access student-specific services(such as transition or opthamological services  from  vision australia without a special consent form however schools can tap into more generic services such as;
- advice and resources on sports adaptation
- purchase equipment such as games and low-tech aides from the resource cente
- order library materials (tactile resources, braille books, audiobooks, daisy books and large print books) with a school-centric account.

Additionally, Schools should ask parents to make appointments for vision assessments and adaptive technology assessments to be made available for the school every 18 months or more regularly if the student’s vision is unstable, an optimal arrangement is for a student’s ISTV to be in direct contact with the Students VA caseworker to help facilitate transitions and other situations at school.

Advice for parents
it is highly recommended that parents of low vision students have an account with vision  australia and utilise the following services
- Free opthamological assessments including classroom recommendations to be sent to the school.
- Support in early childhood to assist your child in being ready for the school environment
- Free adaptive technology assessments for home and school
- Free advocacy and counselling services
- A library for accessible materials for reading
- Training programs for assistive software such as Jaws
- Grants for students for assistive technology for students of all ages (even tertiary)

Guide dogs Australia

Provides free services
Advice for schools

Guide dogs works in Tandem with students through their parents so you will have to recommend the parent to Guide dogs and their appropriate services- particularly valuable to schools are free Site assessments that can be used to procure funding for adjustments to your school via a MCW grant.

Advice for Parents.

Tap into guide dogs for the following services;

  • Travel Training to new schools and sites, including public and private spaces
  • Site Assessments
  • Orientation and Mobility including Canes, Dogs and Electronic Aides
  • Transition to new school advice/training/advocacy.
  • Advocacy for accessible environments at school or in public spaces


waiting for clarification from Alan Bayman- curriculum coordinator of RIDBC

Advice for Schools

Advice for parents

  • professional advice for hearing/vision and multiple disabilities to schools
  • Tactile/ Braille resources
  • Adaptive Technology advice
  • Braille teaching

Adaptive Technology Devices

Focus 40 Blue  

The focus 40 Blue is a braille display device that will provide a user interface with IOS devices such as iPads and iPhones as well as Windows (with Jaws 13 and above) and Macintosh machines. It is a great piece of technology for any braille user as it allows digital text to be read as braille and allows the student to create braille documents that read as text, as well as being able to operate their computer using braille commands.


  • 40-60 key braille display
  • Bluetooth interface
  • USB interface
  • Light and sleek (especially compared to a braille book!)
  • Has its own carry case or fits easily into a laptop bag
  • 11 hour battery life, chargeable with power cable or through USB


Victor stream reader

The victor stream reader is a tactile, easy to use and navigate MP3 player that plays audiobook files known as ‘Daisy Files’- a daisy file differs slightly from a standard MP3 file in that it is indexed and searchable- so one can go to specific chapters of a book and listen to it. It is also very easy to search, pause and lock in order to continue listening to an audiobook later.

Many of our students still use these and vision australia still supply these tools and their library of books is usually in a daisy format- although IOS devices are quickly replacing these devices as they have a wider applicability and a great many audiobook websites use the standard MP3 format.


  • Compact and portable
  • Uses an SD Card for memory storage (up to 8 gig depending on card)
  • Features a USB cable for transferring directly to and from PC
  • Can play audio books or text files using a built-in text-to-speech software
  • Plays DAISY, MP3 or NISO formats
  • 15 hours of listening time and rechargeable
  • Easy to navigate, lock, search, pause within files.
  • High Contrast tactile button interface
  • Has inbuilt speakers and headphone jack  


Phantom Omni

Sensable (windows only) $3285

An experimental haptic interface device that has proven functionality over ten years in assisting blind students in accessing virtual objects such as graphs, charts, diagrams and virtual models. No models are currently deployed in CEO.


  • Six degree-of-freedom positional sensing
  • Portable design and compact footprint for workplace flexibility
  • Comfortable molded-rubber stylus with textured paint for long term use and secure grip
  • Removable stylus for end-user customization
  • Two integrated momentary switches on the stylus for ease-of-use, and end-user customization
  • Compact workspace for ease-of-use
  • Constructed of metal components and injection-molded plastics
  • Stylus-docking inkwell for automatic workspace calibration


An academic thesis on the use of Phantom for blind students

Another essay (requires subscription)

evaluation of Haptic maps available for students

iPad (and iphone/ipod)

iPads are tablet based computers that are accessible to the blind using inbuilt zoom and voiceover utilities. iPads can be turned into braille book readers when used with a braille display, a learning tool for various curriculum outcomes using accessible apps, a better large-print or
talking calculator, an accessible web-surfing device, a dictionary, or a board access device using VNC protocol as well as a scanning/ocr machine. Many ipads are deployed in CEO for use with hearing and vision impaired students.In some cases- such as when working with a student with no vision- an ipod touch or iphone will be a better device as the student will not be taking advantage of an ipad’s large screen.


  • A large variety of apps
  • 16/32/64 Gig models
  • wifi/USB interface
  • Accessible touch screen
  • 5mp camera (useful for OCR)
  • Lightweight and the size of a book
  • Microphone and camera can record and store video/audio
  • Able to play audio books and gives access to any book on amazon or itunes as braille/audio/large print
  • Support for closed caption videos



$895, available from Freedom Scientific.

Jaws is currently our most deployed tool for access to Windows machines and programs. Jaws
will work with a braille display or audio to give blind students access to Windows. Jaws does this by providing audio/braille information and is accessed by the keyboard or braille keys without the need for a mouse. Jaws is a complicated program to build proficiency- but a very powerful tool for our students to learn.


  • Talking Installation - fast and easy
  • Two multi-lingual speech synthesizers - Eloquence™ and RealSpeak™ Solo Direct with great natural-sounding speech. Sample and download RealSpeak Solo Direct voices in various languages.
  • DAISY-formatted basic training in text and audio
  • More than 15 years experience working with Windows, distributed in 55 countries, and translated into 24 languages
  • JAWS 11.0.1467 and later supports dual monitors
  • Research It at your fingertips - fast and simple to look up information like definitions, sport scores, area codes, stock listings, and more
  • Convenient OCR reads graphical elements like graphic buttons and PDFs



aisquared, $599

Zoomtext is our most often deployed software for magnification access on Windows machines for Low Vision students who are not restricted to auditory/braille access. Unfortunately it is not compatible with Jaws like MAGIC. Zoomtext is customisable, easy to learn and features powerful zoom and screen reading components.


* available on USB (requires admin privileges)
* available as magnifier or magnifier/reader (magnifier/reader is suggested)

Magnifier Features:

MagReader features


window eyes


NVDA is a free and open source screenreader for
Windows. whilst not as powerful or full of features as Jaws or
Voiceover for Mac- it is free and constantly being developed
by blind users and accessibility advocates.

User Guide available:

MAC accessibility  

Windows accessibility

CCTV devices

Spoken Web
Spoken Web is a free web-portal of accessible sites, articles and information that is available through text-to-speech. It works with internet explorer on all Windows platforms.

Accessible Podcatcher
free podcaster aggregator for windows, includes an accessible search engine for podcasts. A great tool for blind users who have windows and are interested in finding, listening to, navigating and sharing podcasts.


Webbie is a free browser designed specifically for blind people. It will simplify webpages and make them accessible.

Notable features that make this browser special is an accessible PDF reader that will simplify and reformat an unlocked PDF for ease of access and a fully features web-browser that can convert traditionally hard to access webpages- the browser allows you to view a page as text or as a magnifiable web site, I have experienced some issues with the google toolbar.  


GTCALC is a powerful and versatile talking calculator software specifically designed for use by blind and low vision users.

GTCALC has all of the features of a powerful modern calculator- including scientific, financial, conversion, fractions, trigonometry and graphing. What makes it advantageous over other calculator options for high school and tertiary students is the ability to record and print your steps so that they can be marked/edited by teachers, this makes it more comfortable and convenient for blind students to reach the correct results and show their working!

Unfortunately at this stage there is no way to print to an accessible medium so blind students can correct or edit their working or results before handing it in or allowing teachers to mark in an accessible format, however EOC staff are looking for a ‘virtual printer’ that will print to Word which will allow editable documents with accessible text when used with JAWS

Note:. A free piece of virtual printing software- Paperless printer has been sourced for Windows machines and seems to be working fine with Jaws so students can now access their notes in WORD/NOTEPAD and edit their results if necessary before sending into the teacher.

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