: My son is struggling in middle school because it takes him more time and effort than others to finish reading assignments. He’s getting more self-conscious and withdrawn. Are there ways AT can help?
Beth MineoThere are a variety of things his team should consider. First, have they documented that he has a “print disability” as defined by law? That can be done by comparing his productivity with standard print and print alternatives, such as audio, large print and on-screen text that is both highlighted and read aloud to him. Second, once a print disability is documented in an Individualized Education Program (IEP), students are eligible to receive their materials in a format that works best for them. Having accessible instructional materials (AIM) can help students complete learning activities more quickly and accurately, and can make learning enjoyable again! In Delaware, all public schools can order AIM at no cost from the Delaware AIM Center for qualifying students.
Finally, there are tools that enhance students’ access to print materials and most can be modified to meet an individual’s needs in terms of reading speed, manner in which text is highlighted on-screen, and comprehension and notetaking. Visit your local DATI Assistive Technology Resource Center to see these tools in action. If you want to try them, you or your son’s team can borrow them for a few weeks before a decision to acquire them for his personal use is made. Many schools have access to these tools because their district purchased a license or because they are available as a Chrome extension. We have worked with many students who have a new outlook on learning because print is no longer a barrier for them; let us know how we can help. – Beth Mineo
: My mother just learned that a condition will reduce her vision. How can I help her remain as independent as possible?
Beth MineoI understand your concern, especially when you don’t know at this point what the progression of her condition will be. There are many devices that help people with blindness or low vision to retain their independence. There are magnification devices that enlarge text or enable people to see things at a distance more clearly. There are talking products, such as watches, scales, and glucose monitors, that translate visually-oriented information into speech. And there are products that help with computer use and Internet access, like large print keyboards and screen-reading/screen enlargement software. DATI has examples of all these products in its Assistive Technology Resource Centers. You are welcome to bring your mom in for a visit. We can show you a range of products, and she can even borrow them for a while to try them out at home, at work or wherever else she experiences visual challenges. Getting some "hands on" experience with products will show her how she can continue doing the things she likes to do even as her vision changes. We can also help you identify vendors who sell these products. If cost is an issue, we may be able to connect you with resources that could help. – Beth Mineo
: I need a ramp to get in and out of my house. How do I go about finding one?
Dan FendlerAre you looking for a permanent or temporary solution? There are a few things that you need to consider when looking for a ramp. The first is the rise. How tall are the stairs you are trying to climb? You can measure each step and add them together to get the total rise. The rise will help you determine the slope needed to safely travel the ramp. The slope for an occupied wheelchair will need to be less than the slope for an unoccupied wheelchair. Do you own or rent your home? There are things to consider for each possibility. If your need is temporary, you may want to consider renting a ramp. Our DATI centers can provide resources for ramp rentals. If your need is permanent, you will need to plan how to best approach the construction. Our DATI centers have resources that can help you plan and build a ramp to safely meet your needs. – Dan Fendler
: Where can I find funding for the device I need?
Dan FendlerThat depends on what type of AT is involved and potentially your age or other personal circumstances (are you a veteran, in school or covered by insurance). If the device is something you need for employment or school you may want to contact the Division for Vocational Rehabilitation. If you qualify for services from the Division for the Visually Impaired you may want to check with them or a local Lions Club. If you need a device that might be considered medically necessary, you may want to check to see if your insurance might cover it. If you are a person with a significant disability looking to increase your ability to function on your own at home, at work, and in your community, then Delaware Division for the Visually Impaired, Independent Living Services may be available to assist you. If you are a senior or have disabilities, the Delaware Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities (DSAAPD) may be able to help. There may be other possibilities, so you should contact DATI for additional suggestions. – Dan Fendler