In this new "Technology Q&A" column, we seek to answer questions related to technology submitted by JVIB readers. This month's question was submitted by a teacher of students with visual impairments who wrote:
"Anna" is a 9-year-old in an inclusion
third-grade class. She is developmentally
delayed, visually impaired (20/1000),
and has emotional disorders. Anna recently
transferred to our school. In her
old school she would not participate in
braille instruction. She is reading on a
first-grade level. Anna participated in a
low vision exam and was prescribed
a + 20 hand magnifier, + 20 ClearImage
microscope, 6X30 Selsi telescope, and a
very basic CCTV [closed-circuit television].
Anna likes to use her low vision
aids, and has been very cooperative with
training to use such a close working distance.
Anna cannot read her own writing.
Once she becomes comfortable in her
new school she will receive instruction in
braille. Her teachers have two concerns
that we would like the assistive technology
specialist to address. What type of
CCTV should we request that would allow
Anna to participate in computer activities
with projection magnification?
Anna is not able to see the Promethean
Activboards [interactive whiteboards
that connect to computers and projectors]
her teachers use in the classroom. She
becomes frustrated using the telescope.
Does the assistive technology specialist
have any suggestions?
The question of what type of closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) are appropriate to use in a classroom setting is in many ways a universal one, and we hope this response will not only benefit Anna, but also provide tips for other students and those who work with them.
KEY QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
A video magnifier, or CCTV system, uses a stand-mounted or handheld video camera to project a magnified image onto a video monitor, television screen, or computer monitor. Choosing the correct video magnifier involves a number of factors. When conducting an assistive technology assessment, key questions that must be answered include how much reading the student needs to do, how quickly can he or she read, and will he or she become fatigued. If the student becomes fatigued quickly while reading visually, a CCTV may not be the best answer. If she cannot keep up with the reading speed of her classmates, another method of reading may be required. Another question to ask is whether the student's eye condition is progressive. If it is, it may not be wise for the school district to invest a few thousand dollars in a video magnifier. However, the investment may still be worthwhile if there are other students in the district who could use the unit when the student in question can no longer use it.
One product that could help Anna is the STRIX from the Dutch company FOCI BV, distributed by Florida Reading and Vision Technology. The STRIX is a portable, handheld electronic CCTV with an adjustable angle and a 7-inch thin film transistor (TFT) display screen. A portable CCTV has the advantage of being able to be moved from place to place to accommodate various activities in the classroom and elsewhere. It has a display-freeze feature that allows you to take a temporary picture of what is on the screen, and a stand to facilitate short handwriting tasks. It also has adjustable magnification levels and various display modes.
The STRIX has an auto-focus camera, can be used for reading and writing, and can be held up to magnify images across the room. The device can magnify from 4 to 22 times. In addition to its full-color (photo) mode, it displays images in high-contrast black on white (positive) and high-contrast white on black (negative) modes.
The STRIX's Freeze mode freezes the image on the display screen, allowing you to save the image temporarily. …