Assistive Technology for the Blind

About

The Assistive Technology team is comprised of specialists who can help consult, instruct, problem solve, and build in order to help educators around the state of Utah serve students with visual impairments. Our team is happy to serve all districts and schools (those contracting with USDB and those not for other services). 

We are divided into two camps- Low/Mid and High Tech, but also work together to support the whole child. We provide a range of services and are happy to come assist you or your students with their Assistive Technology needs. We of course want to work collaboratively with any existing supports you have in place (i.e. IEP teams, local AT support, and more). 

Grid shown with a linear continuum of assistive technologies which fall within the no tech, low to light tech, medium tech, and high tech division. No tech is described as follows: simple modifications, inexpensive, ready to use, affordable tools. Low or light tech are described as less sophisticated, easy to learn, readily available, affordable tools. Medium tech is listed as possibly costing more, requires some training, and relatively complicated mechanical devices. High tech is defined here as very advanced, needs specific training, may require on-going support, electronic or digital devices, and being expensive

What is High Tech AT? 

High tech assistive technology is described as “the most complex devices or equipment, that have digital or electronic components, [and] may be computerized,” This would include Braille Displays, BrailleNote Touches, CCTVs, Computers, Digital Book Players (Victor Stream)screen readers such as: JAWS, NVDA, Narrator and  VoiceOver.

High Tech AT Page

What is Low Tech AT? 

Low Tech” assistive technology (AT) is all around us! Surprise! 

Most people use this type of technology because it makes daily living easier. What would we do without zippers, velcro, or egg timers? As it applies to students with disabilities, including those with visual impairments, this type of AT usually refers to items that don’t require electricity.  Examples of these items include: slant boards, high contrast graphics, pencil grips, hand-held magnifiers, raised lines on floors or desktops, color acetate overlays (for reading), tactile magnetic alphabet letters, and enlarged foam dice. 

“Mid” tech items include: switch-operated toys or software programs, repositionable lighting fixtures, electronic talking calculators, clocks or timers, and voice recorders.   

   Low Tech AT Page

The benefits of using items that fall within these two categories are: cost effectiveness, usability regardless of  access to electricity,  replaceability, and transfer across school districts. In addition, low tech items are beneficial because they are durable and are easily disinfected. Students with multiple disabilities, including sensory impairments, benefit from low to mid tech AT because items are customizable to meet their specific needs and abilities and are not dependent on the child’s level of academic literacy. Lastly, approaches made from this end of the AT spectrum are usually not dependent on funding limitations, as items can be created out of upcycled materials that are relatively abundant in the school and home setting.  These include cardboard, spray paint, duct tape, and velcro. Pretty cool, huh?!!

Who’s on the team? 
High and Mid Tech
Quintin Williams Bio and Role: I am an assistive technology specialist and I provide assistive technology training to students and staff across the state of Utah.

Through my training and specialized knowledge I am able to help my students achieve their academic goals.

I provide instruction on a variety of devices and solutions some of which you will find listed below:

  • Screen readers.
  • BrailleNote takers.
  • Tablets and interactions with touch screens.
  • Digital book players.
  • Connecting peripherals I.E. braille displays and keyboards.
  • Translation software and embossers.

 I am very passionate about technology and have seen through the years an incredible amount of doors open up to me as a result of learning to use the technology and now it is my goal to help others realize their potential through the use of technology as a whole.

I am heavily involved in many facets of assistive technology across the state and part of my mission is to raise awareness about accessibility and inclusive design across all platforms.

I am very proud of what I have achieved during my tenure at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.

I envision my role as a leader in the assistive technology space more specifically in the k-12 arena. I help lead a team of specialists and professionals to ensure that we are providing the most comprehensive technology services to our students. I work collaboratively with stakeholders and other team members to provide the highest level of instruction and support in the field of assistive technology throughout the state of Utah. 

Contact Quintin and Wayne for: 

  • To schedule training.
  • When in need of advanced technical support.
  • When trying to decide on AT purchases.
  • On anything as it relates to website or mobile phone accessibility.
  • Advanced Screen Reader support.
  • Advanced BrailleNote Touch support.
  • For troubleshooting embossers and other peripherals.
  • For any major OS support, I.E. Windows or Mac oSX.

Contact HERE 

Wayne Todd Bio and Role: I have been around the technology world since the early 2000’s when Windows ME was first introduced, I have spent close to two decades in the PC world. I wanted to be a PC repair tech in the beginning and it evolved into trouble shooting, repairing and now building PCs. I personally use the built in accessibility features of Windows (Magnifier and Narrator) in the Ease of Access section. I’m fluent in and use Jaws. I assist family and friends on setting up their networks and assigning devices to each bandwidth. I also assist them with PC/Android related issues.With being in the PC world for so long I found three things that helped throughout my journey they are, Most common questions can be found in the manufacturer’s website, power cycling your device (Turning it off and on) or there is an update that is needed.

I’m currently an AT Aide and assist in finding answers, how to’s and key commands for all the Assistive Technology we use at USB and beyond. This list includes: Jaws, Narrator, IOS, Android and PC to name a few. If you are having minimal trouble with your device, I would have you check with the manufactures FAQ first. This would include: Setup and startup, connecting the device to a network, updating the unit and apps. If the device is still having issues after that please feel free to reach out and I can assist you further.  

Contact HERE
Libby Hanson Bio and Role: I am probably the newest to the world of assistive technology, and my current role is an assistive technology aide. My background includes working with children with multiple disabilities, troubleshooting PC/Windows errors for family and friends, and currently teaching myself Braille (with the help from coworkers). My most recent experience with the blind community was our preschool class in Springville. 

Still learning, but I work hard and continually increase my knowledge of what is out there and available for the students. I can help with parents learning the tech for their child, as well as making learning fun for the student. 

Contact for: 

  • Updates on iPads
  • App(s) navigation on android/Apple 
  • Novice screen reader support
  • Ideas for working with the students
  • Games/learning activities 

Contact HERE

Matthew Norman Bio and Role: I have entered my fourth year at USDB, as the Educational Technology Specialist. And have more than eight years of training/professional development experience in the private and public sector.

I provide technology training for faculty and staff from anything to Google Apps to Zoom. I try to bridge the communication gap between IT and teachers and staff. I consider myself approachable and a believer that there are no dumb questions. As long as you’re willing to learn, I’m more than happy to teach you no matter what your skill level is.
One of my favorite things about my job is to hear about a problem or a need and to find the right tool that can fill that need and help you successfully complete your task. I love to teach people about technology, and look forward to learning from you as well!
Contact for: 

 

  • Training opportunities involving Google Apps, SmartTV’s, Nearpod, Canvas, Schoology, and other platforms.
  • Help in identifying the best tool for your projects.
  • Explore different resources and tools available to USDB Employees.

 

Contact HERE:

matthewn@usdb.org
https://helpdesk.usdb.org/

(801)629-4786

Low Tech/ Accessible Learning Media
Keri Ostergaard-Welch Bio and Role: Hello! So excited to be here. I have 17 years experience working in public education. More specifically I have worked for the Utah Schools for the Blind for almost 7 years; starting in Blind PIP, then 1 year Itinerant V.I. teaching, and most recently serving in the campus functional skills classroom program for the last six years. My role in the classroom here, on campus, taught me a great deal about the connection of Low to Mid tech learning materials and academic success for some of our most complex multiply disabled students (i.e. those who aren’t sighted or are very very low vision, are non-verbal, and are developmentally delayed). Our mini department within the greater AT department will specialize in creating learning materials that, in large part, do not require software but do meet the needs of learners who require tactile input. We are calling ourselves the ALM shop of USB, which stands for the Accessible Learning Materials. 

     We will be building materials that are durable, weatherproof, replicable, and also effective for repeated learning sessions. Velcro, duct tape, cardboard, Thermoform, Swell Touch, and 3-D prints are just a few tools of our trade. As “Head Maker” for USB I am looking forward to all the wonderful creations we can make for our students to use in the school setting, as well as take home to keep. Low to Mid tech approaches are a way of providing due diligence of FAPE to our most complex V.I. learners. So exciting to be a part of this team! What an incredible privilege.

 

Contact for:

  • Teaching Materials that are not made out of paper
  • Consultation for materials to use for complex, multiply disabled learners that are in developmentally emergent stages.
  • Ideas for making educational items more accessible for limited motor ability 
  • General Inventions that need to be created.
  • Tactile Maps or Diagrams

Order/Consultation From: HERE

Keri Ostergaard-Welch
Ogden Campus J104
kerio@usdb.org

801-629-3719
435-760-7559

Teanna Timmins Bio and Role:

This is my first year in assistive technology. I have been a paraprofessional for the last two years at the school for the blind. While working directly with visually impaired, multiply disabled students I was able to find and help them with new technology programs like EyeOn, Eagle Eyes and other games on their iPads.I created and adapted learning materials to suit each student’s specific IEP goals by making materials. Some of the things I learned to do was create books that were high contrast and tactile, work with iPad software to meet IEP needs such as color identification goals, experiment with craft making activities that aligned with the lessons but were accessible for unique learning abilities, and print 3D tactile objects that allowed the students to touch, feel, and interact with concepts ( especially in science).  

 I am an integral part of the ALM shop on campus.My title is “Learning Materials Technician”. I am here to assist teachers, as well as content teams, in creating durable  materials that align with both lesson plans and IEP goals. I am a very hard worker and I look forward to honing my craft over time as I gain more experience. 

Contact for:

  • Classroom Materials
  • Lesson Materials

Contact HERE

Teanna Timmins

Ogden Campus – J104
teannat@usdb.org
801-629-3719

 

 

Content and Resource Library 
Events and Training Opportunities 
AT Cohort
The AT Cohort is sponsored by the Assistive Technology Team at USB. It is a multi-week cohort. The AT Cohort uses the Eye T screenreader curriculum. Teachers learn how to use JAWS, ChromeVox and NVDA. Participants meet weekly for 60 minutes for coaching and discussion on strategies and practices for using screen readers.
For more information or to sign up please contact Robbin Clark: robbinc@usdb.org