How children with vision impairment can learn to touch type

Post date: 
Friday, 12 June 2015

Touch typing is a vital skill for children with vision impairment. How do you choose a typing programme that suits the needs of your learners? Insight asks qualified teachers of visually impaired children about their favourites.

Michelle Kearsey, Sheffield Vision Support Service

I am using Text Type 2 from Doorway Online with some Year 4 children. One child is blind and the class teacher also chose six sighted children who would benefit. One has a syndrome which affects visual processing.

The children meet three times a week for between 20 and 30 minutes. Text Type 2 is free online so some of the children have accessed it at home and are working through the programme more quickly. After nine weeks none have yet got to the end of the programme, but all except two have learnt all the letter keys and now learning capitals, punctuation and numbers.

They all like it and can work at their own pace. They all have speech on and use headphones so it's the same for everyone. This is great for the child with a vision impairment who is reluctant to do anything he sees as being different to his sighted peers.

Katharina Walls, advisory teacher, Oxfordshire Visual Impairment Service  

Our service uses Azabat, an audio touch typing programme designed for blind learners. It has a very clear layout. You can buy single (£30) or multiple licences which work out slightly cheaper for this software.

We don’t use Azabat on its own. I always make a pupil specific resource, as this gives more variety and means we can encourage the child’s strengths and work on weaknesses better.

I also draw on a book called “Easy Type” by Ros Kynloch. Again I usually make new booklets for individual children based on it selecting exercises which meets their individual needs. Making a booklet for a child helps the teaching assistants to supervise the touch typing practice. I ask them to note when they do which exercise, so I can see how often they managed to practice with the child and any comments they made.

Must read resources:

  • Check out our Beginner's guide to keyboard skills.
  • Buy Azabat from RNIB’s online shop.
  • Other visual impairment services use IOTA’s TouchType 2, which can be customised and has voice cues.  
  • Nessy Fingers uses games and points rewards to teach touch typing. It introduces letters in alphabetical order and is recommended for learners aged 8 and over.
  • For a touch typing programme that works well with screen readers, such as Jaws, check out Typeability. It has free 15 trial sessions, after which you have to pay or enter a different user name. It includes games and sound effects.
  • Easy Type by Ros Kinloch ISBN 978-0905858906A structured, multi-sensory, small step programme that combines spelling development with keyboarding skills.
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