Students who are blind cannot access standard print or visual materials. Accommodations for students who are blind include computer software that reads text aloud, audio books and materials, course materials in Braille, and verbal descriptions of demonstrations and visual aids.
When providing verbal descriptions, it is important to remember that students who have been blind since birth may have difficulty understanding descriptions that rely on imagery. Consider the description "This diagram of ancestral lineage looks like a tree." To someone who has never seen a tree, it may not be readily apparent that the structure discussed has several lines of ancestry that can be traced back to one central family. Directions and demonstrations based on color differences may also be difficult to follow. During demonstrations, provide a clear, concise narration of the basic points being represented; this technique benefits other students as well.
Providing access to printed materials on computers or websites allows a blind student to use technology to read text aloud and/or produce it in Braille. Some materials may need to be transferred to audiotape or embossed in Braille. Since it may take weeks or months to create or procure audiotape/Braille materials, it is essential that campus service staff select and prepare these materials before they are needed. School services for students with disabilities typically coordinate Braille, electronic, and audiotape production in collaboration with staff, instructors, and the student. They may also be able to locate or create tactile models and raised-line drawings of graphic images.
Computers with optical character readers, speech output, Braille screen displays, and Braille printers allow students who are blind to access electronic resources. Consult the disabled student services office and/or computing services staff on your campus when addressing computer access issues.
Web pages should be designed so that they are accessible to those using Braille and speech output systems. Your webmaster should be knowledgeable about accessible design of web pages.
Typical accommodations for students who are blind include:
- audiotaped, Brailled or electronic-formatted notes, handouts, and texts
- verbal descriptions of visual content
- raised-line drawings and tactile models of graphic materials
- Brailled equipment labels
- auditory emergency warning signals
- assistive lab equipment (e.g., talking thermometers and calculators, light probes, tactile timers)
- computers with optical character readers, speech output, Braille screen displays, and embossed output
Specific Academic Activities
- Working Together: Science and Students with Sensory Impairments (video)
- Working Together: Computers and People with Sensory Impairments (brochure)
- World Wide Access: Accessible Web Design (brochure)
- Universal Design of Instruction (brochure)
Consult the AccessComputing Knowledge Base
The AccessComputing Knowledge Base contains Q&As, Case Studies, and Promising Practices.