Technology in education

We've got lots of links to information and resources to help people with sight loss overcome the barriers they may face in the field of education.

Bigger, Better Vision

VISION 2020 (UK) Ltd's Children’s Low Vision Sub-group is holding a nationwide design competition for a low vision device.

The aim of the competition is to highlight the lack of child specific low vision equipment whilst encouraging children and young people to think creatively about adapting their own devices.

Young people from across the UK are invited to submit a design, photograph or written description of a modified low vision device. Participants should base entries on pieces of equipment that are currently widely available. The idea is to change or modify a device to make it more attractive to use. Entries need to be in by 12 September. For more information visit the Vision 2020 website.

Assistive technology assessments

Technology is an essential means for learners with sight loss to develop their literacy skills to their full potential, to access information and present their work. We have produced a guide which gives information and advice to anybody involved in deciding what equipment to provide for a young person with sight loss in an educational setting.

In addition, we have produced a checklist to help with setting up a PC in order to maximise its use for learners with vision impairment.

Video resources

Guidance

iSee is a free 196-page book from a blind user of Apple technology, available for the iPad and Mac computers. It's not aimed at the education sector, but it does give some good tips that would be useful in many situations.

Apple TV is a digital media receiver which allows you to play content from a variety of devices on a high definition TV or projector. It can thus be used to replace an interactive whiteboard or to share work between students and teachers, and it contains the Apple screen reader, VoiceOver.

After nine  years training blind and partially sighted people how to use computers, the tablet revolution has some real benefits for everyone, but especially blind and partially sighted people, says Steve Griffiths of RNIB.

eBooks are increasingly being used in the classroom, and many of the devices and apps that are used for reading eBooks have good accessibility features. Our eBooks webpages include videos demonstrating the features of some of the more popular devices and apps.

iPad in the classroom, updated in February 2013, is an introductory guide to using iPad within a classroom environment, and in particular, when working with children and young people with sight loss.

"The Complete Guide to the iPad: Education Edition" covers the benefits of the iPad in the UK further and higher education arenas. The book is available in book shops such as WHSmith, and online where it costs 69p.

Articles and reports

There are an increasing number of articles about the use of iPads in schools online. We've gathered a few which struck us as being particularly useful.

iPads bring students with disabilities new ways to participate, excel in education

iPads bring students with disabilities new ways to participate, excel in education is an online article from the US, dated 14 August 2013, about a day long workshop on "using iPads to aid students with special physical and mental needs".

  • Read iPads bring students with disabilities new ways to participate, excel in education on the Concord Monitor website.

The use of Apple iPads amongst Trainee Teachers of Visually Impaired Students - an exploratory survey

Visual Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research (VICTAR) carried out a small scale of survet of 49 teachers by questionnaire in February 2013.

Macworld podcast: the ipad in education

In January 2013, Fraser Spiers spoke about how and why iPads are used in his school:

  • Listen to iPad in education Macworld podcast (37 minutes) on the Macworld website.

iPad Scotland Evaluation study

iPad Scotland Evaluation Study was produced by the University of Hull in October 2012 on the use of the iPad in education.

Case studies

We've collected some case studies around the topic of using tablets in the classroom. At the moment, all of these focus on the use of iPads, which would seem to reflect their prevalence in this area. If you have any stories you'd like to share, please contact us at digitalaccess@rnib.org.uk.

App reviews

There are a huge number of apps for every kind of tablet, so how do you know which ones to use?

While the choice depends on the specific aims and objectives you have in mind, two which are aimed specifically at education are:

  • iTunes U, which comes with any iPad using iOS 6 or later, and provides a window to many different short courses and educational aids through a subscription basis. There are hundreds of topics across all educational sectors and key stages.
  • Udemy is a similar app which allows you to subscribe to short courses. Most are pay courses; some are free for the first couple of lessons, which may be enough to evaluate it. Udemy is aimed at further education and personal development with more detailed courses that are beyond the realm of standard school curricula.

You might also be interested in some example apps that we've had mentioned as being particularly useful. All these are iPad apps.

If you know of any other apps you feel are particularly useful in a classroom context, please let us know so that we can add to the list. You can contact us at digitalaccess@rnib.org.uk.

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Right now we can only reach one in three of the people who need our help most. Please make a donation and help us support more blind and partially sighted people.

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