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When thinking of ways to support those who are
legally blind, two supports often come to mind. Guide dogs and
Braille. It’s no wonder. Guide dogs provide their owners with a
sense of freedom, an increased level of confidence, and a feeling
of safety. Blind people who know Braille and use it find success,
independence, productivity, and are more likely to find
employment.
Surprisingly though, of the 1.3 million people in
the United States who are legally blind, only about 2% have guide
dogs according to Guiding
Eyes for the Blind
. Also surprising is that fewer than 10
percent are Braille readers according to a report from the
National Federation of the Blind
. Unfortunately, these supports
are currently generally reserved for the elite in our society
because of cost and access. These are unfortunate statistics.
Fortunately, there are low-to-no-cost technologies
that provide support to the visually impaired and blind
population.
Five technologies to support the visually impaired
and legally blind.

Exploration Apps

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There are apps that provide GPS. These apps let you
explore the world around you using audio messages. It tells you
about nearby places, and it also will set up routes. The app lets
users point the phone in your hand in any direction to hear the
nearest places as virtual talking signs. When pointing straight at
a virtual sign the speech is loud and clear, but as you point away
from it, the speech starts to get staticky, so you have quick audio
feedback about the exact location of the virtual talking
sign.

Here are the two popular free apps.

Sighted Volunteer App

Be My Eyes
enables blind or visually impaired users to lead a more independent
life by giving them access to a network of sighted volunteers and
company representatives. By the tap of a button, users can get
connected to a sighted volunteer, who is ready to provide visual
assistance for the task at hand. You can request assistance at any
time of the day, from anywhere, and it will always be free.

Seeing Artificial Intelligence

These are apps that narrate the world around you
using a phone or glasses to identify what is around you out
loud.
Screenshot of Tap Tap See, Seeing AI, and Google Lookout
Tap Tap See
(iOS and Android)
Seeing AI (iOS
only)

Google Lookout
(Pixel only)

These videos show how this technology works.

Alt Text

More and more content creators realize the
importance of including
alternative text (alt text) with their images
. This allows the
person consuming the content to understand what is in a picture if
they are unable to see it well.

Screen readers

Browsers like Chrome have screen
readers built in
. Other browsers like FireFox
have addons
. There is also screen reading software.  

Here are some that are popular:

Your Turn

Of course there are far more than five tech
resources out there. These are some that are popular among
innovative educators. What is your experience? Have you used any of
these resources with your students are families? If so, what has
your experience been? Are there other resources you’ve used and
loved that are missing?

Go To Source To Read More!

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