Regan is 13 and is in year 8 at intermediate school. She has been recently diagnosed with Stargardt’s Macular Degeneration. For Regan, accessing text is difficult.
Anne Thomas, Resource Teacher Vision introduces us to some technology which allows Regan to independently access what is written on the whiteboard without having to ask her peers or get close to the information.
In figure 1 Regan is looking at the screen.
What is happening now?
Regan is currently using a bubble magnifier for reading text. However, she also needs to access what is written on the whiteboard. Her teacher uses black pen and writes in a large font where possible.
Although Regan sits at the front of the class, as close as she can to the whiteboard, she still has difficulty reading most of the words.
In figure 2 Regan is using a bubble magnifier.
Regan has been trialing the camera on the Asus Transformer Android tablet.
We spent time getting to know the features of the tablet.
It is very user friendly and very quickly Regan was able to access the camera, take a photograph and then use the touch screen to enlarge the text to a comfortable size for her to read easily.
In figure 3 Regan is photographing the whiteboard using the Asus Transformer Android tablet camera.
Figure 4 shows Regan using the touch screen to enlarge text and in figure 5 she is using it to read enlarged text.
Possible next steps
- Trial other tablets as the camera differs in clarity .
- Trial camera to see if this gives better images .
- Learn to store and retrieve photos for future use. This will be very useful as Regan transitions to secondary school.
- Look at other magnification apps.
Teaching methods and strategies
Once the photo has been taken it is a very simple and quick process with automatic saving, which allows the user to take multiple photos if the teacher is continuing to write information on the board.
Strategies for obtaining clear pictures
Initially Regan found it best to hold the tablet with 2 hands and brace her elbows on the desk until the preview was in focus. After several days of practising she was able to hold it steady enough in the air.
After some research on the internet, we also read that the camera button does not take the picture until you release your finger from it. So if you press and hold your finger on the button as you compose the shot and then gently release it at the point you want to capture, you get much clearer photos.
The most difficult part was to hold the tablet still until it had taken the photo so that it retained the clarity of the picture. We will also need to look at other technology options to see what is easiest to use.
- Clarity of picture when enlarged .
- Ease of use – the equipment needs to be small enough to hold easily but the screen size is important so that when the text is enlarged it still shows most of it without having to scroll through it.
Professional Readings and Resources
- High Tech Gadgets and Low Vision – eyeSmart website.
- Assistive Technology – BLENNZ website.
- 2013 Best Tablet Side-by-Side Comparisons and Reviews – Top Ten Reviews website.
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