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Vision Rehabilitation Week: Assistive Technology Specialist

Woman in front of computer screen with her hands on keyboard

Did you know that most devices, like smartphones and computers have a screen reader and even a magnifier built right in? You just need to know they’re built into the software and learn how to use them. VisionServe Alliance designated the week of June 10th Vision Rehabilitation Week—a great opportunity to say hello to the Assistive Technology Specialist (AT Specialist), often part of the vision rehabilitation team.

Assistive technology is software or hardware, that compensates for a vision loss or other variation in ability. For example, both Windows and Mac computers have built in screen readers that will read everything on the screen with the right commands and keyboard shortcuts, so the mouse is not needed, and someone with no sight at all is able to use the computer just as efficiently as a sighted user. Likewise, for a user with low vision, both have a built in screen magnifier to make words and items on the display larger, and more readable. If users and employers aren’t aware of the assistive technology that is available and where to find training, it might just be wrongly assumed that a vision loss will prevent people from using the computer or smartphone.

The AT Specialist may have a national certification, such as CATIS (Certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist) or may be a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist or Orientation and Mobility Specialist with a greater level of expertise in assistive technology.

The AT Specialist may work through a state’s vocational rehabilitation department, a non-profit serving clients with vision loss, or as an independent contractor, so you may find services are available at no cost, a sliding scale, or at a competitive market rate, depending on which option you choose.

To find an AT Specialist in your area, check out the ConnectCenter Directory of Services for your state’s vocational rehabilitation services, or the Unit on Aging. Ask either agency for a recommendation. You can also call the Connect Center at 800-232-5463 and they will connect you to local resources. Another great place to start is with some of the no cost training workshops in Hadley’s Technology section. Registration and workshops are available at no cost. For more information, call Hadley at 800-323-4238 and ask for one of the Assistive Technology Specialists.


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