Information Management— Reading and writing alternatives and enhancementsTwo major losses that accompany vision impairment involve:
- managing written communication and record keeping
- managing personal information independently and confidentially
Low tech solutions
A personal information management system should INCLUDE both high tech and low tech solutions. Low tech solutions include vision aids, felt-tip markers, large filing cards, an abacus, Brailler, slate and stylus, etc.
Learning uncontracted Braille (Gr. 1) is useful for labelling items and keeping track of appointments, addresses and phone numbers.
A slate and stylus are inexpensive and portable, and substitute for pens, pencils and markers.
Learning to use an abacus is an option for doing mathematical calculations.
High tech solutions
- Books in audio format have become part of the mainstream. You can find audio books for sale on commercial sites like audible.com.
- Texts can be downloaded in accessible electronic formats from non-profit libraries like the C.N.I.B. Digital Library. Texts are also available in the form of streaming audio and DAISY disks, which can be delivered free through Canada Post.
- A large number of websites are accessible via speech and large print screen readers.
- Traditional cassette-based talking book players and voice recorders have largely been replaced by C.D. players.
- Some organizations like the U.S. Library Of Congress are opting for digital machines that use high-capacity memory cards.
- Consider getting a digital recorder. Be cautious about buying it from a mainstream company that doesn’t have an accessibility philosophy or doesn’t advertise its products as accessible.
- Do your research before buying. Many digital recorders and M.P.3 players are only minimally accessible without vision, or not at all. However, some are starting to appear on the market with certain accessible menus and features.
Digital equipment suggestions
- Popular accessible digital recorders are available from Olympus, while Sony offers recorders that can be operated without looking at the menu.
- A fully accessible suite of solutions is the Victor Reader product line available from Humanware Canada. They are full-featured DAISY book players (with and without CD drives), all with the ability to download books and music from a computer, play electronic books with a speech synthesizer, record vocal “margin notes,” and set several types of bookmarks for each book.
Developments in scanner hardware and image recognition software have made it much easier to read and process hard copy text. The Pearl Reader and Kurzweil 1000 are two of the most widely used solutions because of their accurate recognition and because they work well with cameras, scanners and scanner/fax/printer combos.
They can also convert scanned text into electronic or audio formats and transfer these files to most portable electronic note takers and book players.