Assistive Technology Awareness Day

Transcript from the Vision Rehab Podcast: Assistive Technology Awareness Day

Hello, and thank you for joining me today on the Vision Rehab Podcast.

Last year Congress declared March 27 to be National Assistive Technology Awareness Day. What is Assistive `Technology, and what does it have to do with a vision loss or vision rehab? Assistive technology, or AT as it is often called is technology that enables people to do their everyday activities in a slightly different, more accessible way.

These days, assistive technology is available on many devices, like our computers and smartphones, and we may not even know it’s there. For example, Mac and Windows computers, smartphones and tablets have screen magnifiers and text to speech built right in. If you’re having difficulty seeing the small print on the screen, you can make the text larger or turn on text to speech and have it read to you.

There are also plenty of more specialized devices like a video magnifier that enlarges print or scans a printed document and reads it out loud, electronic book readers, braille displays, and so much more! Assistive technology and the professionals who provide training with AT are playing a bigger role in keeping people independent in their homes or on the job. Professionals like vision rehab therapists, Assistive Technology `Professionals, and Orientation and Mobility specialists are increasingly providing AT training to people as they get older or experience changes, like a vision loss, they need to adapt to, in order to maintain their quality of life.

Where do you find out more about Assistive Technology for a vision loss and where do you get training? Check with your state or community’s services for individuals who are visually impaired or blind. The VisionAware website has a great Directory of Services that will list services by state, and that includes Assistive Technology Services. The web address is www.visionaware.org/directory.

Did you know that each state has an Assistive Technology Act Program? Depending on your state, these programs offer demonstrations of Assistive Technology, loaner and reuse programs, and they can even help you locate funding for some devices. Check out www.at3center.net and click on Find Your State.

If you want to dive in and teach yourself or a family member more about some of the Assistive Technology  you have right at home or the office, like a screen magnifier or screen reader that’s built into the smartphone or computer, check out the workshops and archives at Hadley. Go to www.hadley.edu and click on Instructional Videos. You can also get a copy of these workshops in large print, braille or audio at no cost by just calling Hadley at 800-323-4238. [Note: since the podcast Hadley has updated their site. Create a free login to access instructional videos.]

If you listened to last month’s podcast you know about the free Talking Books Program, and maybe even signed up. Ask Talking Books to send you a book by Hannah Fairbarn, “titled ,” When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: Vision Loss and Personal Recovery.” Fairbarn offers some great suggestions on how to get started with vision rehab, assistive technology, and where to find resources. If you haven’t signed up for Talking Books yet, what are you waiting for? The number is 800-424-8567. Remember, if you have a vision loss you’re eligible and it’s free!

You’ll also find Fairbarn’s book for sale on Amazon.com in print or a Kindle Edition. Another great title Making Life More Livable: Simple Adaptations for Living at Home after Vision Loss, written by Maureen Duffy. Maureen Duffy is a vision rehab therapist herseld and past director of the graduate program on Vision Rehabilitation Therapy at Salus University.

Thanks for joining me today on this episode of the Vision Rehab Podcast. Again, my name is Steve Kelley and you can find me at lowvisiontech.com. I look forward to seeing you again on the next episode of the Vision Rehab Podcast. Have a wonderful day!

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