Ideas to help in Gen. Ed. classroom
This message was posted by Daniel Brock on Jul 22, 2009.
Hey Everyone! I know this may be a little off topic but it is a technology question. I work with many low vision students and I have noticed that sometimes no matter what I do as the vision teacher they still have trouble keeping up in the Gen Ed. classroom, especially if the teacher waits to the last minute to give me materials to enlarge or decides just to be spontaneous and teach something he or she has not had me enlarge for the student. Can anyone offer suggestions as to any kind of techology equipment that I may want to look in to. We have tried just the simple hand held manual magnifiers and they don't magnify enough sometimes. Especially if the Gen. Ed. teacher gives them material that are really small in font size. We also have CCTV's but most of the highschools have them in the media center,so they are not always accessible for the student since the students change classes. If the student goes to the media center they may miss information during class. Does anyone know of anything portable that operates similar to a CCTV that mys students could possibly try for those days the Gen.Ed. Teacher is feeling spontaneous?
There are a number of portable CCTV devices out there. Perhaps others here can recommend specifics from experience, but a quick look at LSS catalog shows quite a few: http://www.lssproducts.com/category/portable-cctvs Note that I'm not necessarily endorsing LSS, but it came up on my Google search and I've worked with them before...
Thank you for your help.
I/we have put a CCTV on a movable cart so that the student (or someone) can take it room-to-room. But this can be a safety issue and often my student will not want to use this large magnifier in front of his/her peers. I have had much more success with portable or hand-held CCTV's. Check out tsbvi.edu website for a great resource on anything to do with assistive technology and CCTV's.
Thanks for the idea. The TVI that had this student before me also talked about the idea of a movable cart but ultimately I want to say safety was an issue as well. The high school is two stories and does not have an elevator only an outside ramp and the student had classes upstairs and downstairs. I am thinking the hand-held route is probably going to be best. I did hear towards the end of the school year about a device called an "Amigo" that sounded like a hand held CCTV. I'll definitely check out the tsbvi.edu(Texas School For The Blind ) website.
Thanks this is great.
We have recently purchased a MagniLink from LVI. It is a portable camera that can be hooked up to a computer/laptop. The student is able to turn the camera for distance viewing or for document viewing. The student can turn the camera to view the white board on their computer screen making the adjustments that they need for viewing. They can also take snap shots to save and view later. They can turn it and use it for viewing documents, again making the size/contrast adjustments that they need. It is a small, portable camera which used in conjunction with a laptop, should be easy to move from classroom to classroom. Since this is a recent purchase, we havenít had any students use it, so I canít share any feedback as to what the students think of it.
Some of the low vision high school students I serve have used a similar technology called the Clarity Camera. One student used it to read texts, view the white board and the classroom television. He also took snap shots in order to capture "real time" teaching such as math computations, etc. He used it quite successfully. The other student who used it has been less inclined to implement it due to the fact that it takes some time to set up and pack up. Her schedule required changing classes every 50 minutes and she found that managing the equipment was difficult for her. The other student didn't move his equipment as often.
There are actually some more flexible smaller mountable cameras for laptops on the market now, which when I watched them being demonstrated only took a couple of minutes to unpack or pack up. Clarity has come out with a couple, i.e., the Travelmate, as well as the Long Flex arm. You might also look at the Clearnote products with Optelec. I had a couple of students a few years ago who used the Clarity Deskmates, which were difficult to move and the flex arms that held the cameras were just not that strong. However, in just a few years - things have come a long way.
As it happens, yesterday I saw a photo of a system a father made for his middle school aged daughter with a visual impairment who needed spontaneous access to printed materials in a larger format. The system included a low-cost video camera connected to a laptop via a USB cable. The camera was mounted to a lighweight "arm" so that it could be positioned above anything the student wanted to read. The camera basically served as a CCTV. It could also be moved around so that the student could look at other things in the classroom. It was reported that the first thing the student did when she sat down to try out the system was point it toward the clock. She said she had never known the time before because she was unable ot see the classtoom clock. :) The whole system could be folded and carried reallu easily and it was stated that, other than the cost of the laptop (nothing special, just a typical one)it was estimated that the system cost about $300. Although "home made" is not always the answer, it can be really, really slick!!!
On that same note, a technician at one of our high schools is helping provide teachers an active board by using Johnny Lee's et-up (Low-Cost Multi-point Interactive Whiteboards Using the Wiimote http://johnnylee.net/projects/wii/) The materials involve a projector, free software and a Wii remote camera. The teacher makes the projected image interactive by using a simple IR pen. I think the cost of the Wii camera and the IR pen is under $50. Most classrooms have a computer so it's the projector that is the high ticket item rather than the active board which requires the computer and projector anyway. For schools that can't afford a interactive board, this is a consideration. It's very cool and fun to watch.
Thank you all for giving me some ideas that I may want to try with my low vision students.
Our district bought the Onyx Deskset by Freedom Scientific for each of my visually impaired children. They are about $1800, but the children will need them throughout their academic career so we invested. The systems have been working great. It is quite large, but I bought carts and the aide or Teaching assistant brings it along to the library, field trip, etc. I would definitely recommend.
In our classrooms, most teachers have a scanner linked to their PCs because most classrooms have projector and screen for work/teaching. This could also prove to be helpful for visually impared students as their seats are generally up front so seeing the projected material is easier. A simple solution we have used for this is to have the student type responses or answers while viewing on the projector. Another answer might be to scan the material using the gen ed teacher's computer/scanner then save it onto a flashdrive. If the student has a laptop then the flashdrive quickly gets them up-to-speed and it can be magnified.
Warning- this is going to sound like a plug, but I have no affiliation with this company, just have had good luck with MaxiAids.com for finding great tools for my low vision kids. A wide range of CCTV resources, including handheld and mouse based cameras, tons of magnification supplies, and one of my favorite tools for lots of kids, 20/20 pens. They write like a sharpie, nice and dark and slightly thick lines, but don't bleed through the paper or feather.