Assistive technology is a set of tools and devices that enhance communication and allow students who are Blind or Visually Impaired (BVI) to independently access the curriculum.
According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, an assistive technology device may be "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities."
MDE-LIO offers several assistive technology devices that teacher consultants for the visually impaired may borrow for eight weeks. To borrow a device, view the list of available products on the Assistive Technology Library page.
The Michigan Assistive Technology Guidelines for Teachers of Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired is an expanded document intended to guide teachers of students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12 who are BVI with assistive technology.
Students need accessible content to learn the core curriculum (e.g., math, English language arts) and to learn the expanded core curriculum (e.g., independent living skills, orientation and mobility).
Many apps and websites offer accessible content through the use of assistive technology features on phones, tablets, and computers. Search through the list of assistive technology resources to find accessible apps and websites for students and teachers to use.
AT Journey: Web Edition
Alt+Shift, an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grant-funded initiative through the Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education, offers several assistive technology modules. These modules help individuals and school teams learn more about assistive technology while examining their current practices.
Alt+Shift Lending Library
Alt+Shift's Lending Library contains assistive technology equipment and software that is available to Michigan's PreK-12 public schools and intermediate school districts (ISDs) for short-term loan. Educators can also request custom 3D printed keyguards, order pragmatic organization dynamic display (PODD) communication books, and request items to be added to the library.
Conducting Essential Assessments During COVID-19 [PDF]
This MDE-LIO tool provides information on conducting essential assessments during COVID-19 for students who are BVI, including assistive technology assessments.
Assistive Technology Consideration Flowchart
The following documents can be used to help individualized education program (IEP) teams make decisions about pairing assistive technology with a student.
- Assistive Technology Consideration Flowchart - Visual [PDF]
- Assistive Technology Consideration Flowchart - Screen Reader Accessible [PDF]
Featured Devices and Software
The documents below include screen reader overviews, updates, and comparisons, including Job Access with Speech (JAWS) and NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA).
- Screen Reader Comparisons [PDF]
- 2023 JAWS Updates [PDF]
- Table Navigation With JAWS and NVDA [PDF]
- NVDA Comparison to JAWS [PDF]
- NVDA Web Browsing Commands [PDF]
- NVDA Add-Ons [PDF]
Adaptive switches allow users with movement-limiting and/or cognitive disabilities to use technology and various devices.
Duxbury Braille Translator
Brailliant BI X Series
HumanWare's Brailliant BI X series brings portable braille to users' fingertips. Brailliant offers 20-cell and 40-cell braille displays and features Bluetooth connectivity.
- HumanWare Brailliant BI X and iOS Devices: A Productive Combination [PDF]
- Navigating Web Pages Using Brailliant [PDF]
- Using Word Documents with JAWS and Brailliant [PDF]
Additional resources are available on HumanWare's Brailliant BI X Series page, including Setting up and using Brailliant with JAWS Screen Reader [Word].
Computer Skills and Tips
These documents provide information and tips on various computer needs for students who are BVI.