Assistive Technology: If the technology is fine, why is it not working?


Lauren Tappen posted this article.

I had a recent experience at a county library filled with some of the best assistive technology available for blind people and those with low-vision.   A group for blind and low-vision meet there on a weekly basis.  A county van picks them up at their homes and deposits them at the library.  They have a reader and driver that will give them assistance along the way.   Their reader reads them newspaper articles and they have a lively discussion.

I told this group about our blog that provides updated information on medical research, assistive technology, coping skills and conferences for blind and low-vision individuals. The blog is  This group was very interested and wanted to know how they could read our blog information.  I turned to the table behind us filled with AT equipment and said that all they needed to do was to use the equipment right behind us.  I suggested that the reader could read them information off our blog or they could bring up Zoom Text and let the computer speak the text to them.   This group has already been given information and a tour of the AT equipment so it was surprising to me that they weren’t aware of what was available to them only a few feet away.  As we spoke further, there seemed to be more confusion about AT equipment.   Many of these group members were using AT equipment but called it by different names.

So these are a few points to consider about a very involved subject.  Why is there a disparity between AT technology and blind and low-vision individuals accessing this technology? Why have low-vision and blind individuals not utilized low-vision AT programs when they are available at some local libraries?  This is a very big topic and here are a few points for consideration:

– Confusion of terminology. As an example, one member had a Magnisight but didn’t know it was called a CCTV.

– Individual adjustment to differing stages in loss of vision.

– The need for more repetition and making the association between the AT equipment and the ways it can be used in daily life situations.

– One solution to consider is a virtual buddy/one on one program that could give low-vision and blind the one on one attention that they need.

– We need a better network of volunteers that can make personal contacts and provide low-vision/blind with updated information and act as personal readers. This group of volunteers needs to have training on AT devices and an understanding of some of the issues for blind and low-vision individuals.

-When considering assistive technology, one size does not fit all. The AT equipment has to be picked out and purchased according to individual needs.

What solutions do you have?


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