Staying Connected While We Are #TogetherApart

Photo of a student sitting in a classroom exploring a braille worksheet.

With the provincial response to the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to unfold, we know that regular services for students with visual impairments in K-12 will be disrupted as a result of the suspension of in-class instruction for all learners. At this point in time, students and educational teams are still on March break and the process of developing guidance for providing continuity of learning is ongoing. However, new digital resources and supports for students with visual impairments currently impacted by social distancing measures are coming online. 

This post serves as an ongoing record of the resources and supports that our outreach team finds on social media. Full credit goes to content creators/sharers. We'll keep curating from social isolation while we are #TogetherApart. 

This post was last updated on May 7, 2020. The most recently added resources are indicated with *NEW*.

Connections and Resource Sharing

#AtHomeWithAPH Resources

  • APH has gathered together numerous resources to support TSVIs and their students at home, including webinars, a list of free online resources, suggested activities for students to do at home, and free apps and activities.

Free home licence to JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion suites through to June 30, 2020 - Vispero/Freedom Scientific

  • Freedom Scientific has just announced that free home licences will be available through to the end of June for any user with a personal or work email address in North America. 

Paths to Literacy - Working Together to Support Students with Visual Impairments to Access Curriculum

  • Dr. Penny Rosenblum has created a post on Paths to Literacy directed to families of students with visual impairments who are at home to connect with volunteers who can create braille/tactile format materials and mail them to homes. 

Resources for Students with Visual Impairments & Their Families - by Kara Olivere M.Ed, TVI, COMS

  • See the link above for some direct links to suggestions for at home activities and resources. 

Online support for parents/guardians of students who read braille - Braille Literacy Canada.

  • "For parents with blind and low vision students, we want to do our part to support you while your students are not at school. Though we are not all teachers, we still can play a role in supporting you in a variety of ways. We will be circulating an announcement directed specifically to parents, inviting them to write to us with any questions they may have about the braille code, how their child’s assistive technology works, and ideas for maintaining braille and braille technology-related skills during this time. If you are a parent of a braille using child with a specific question or if you are looking for a resource, write to us at info@blc-lbc.ca (or call 1-877-861-4576)."

Free access to IPEVO iDocCam App

  • Turn your smartphone into a document camera with the iDocCam app. IPEVO is making access to all features of the app free through April 30, 2020.

Free Access to Ballyland Apps

  • Sonokids is providing free, temporary access to all Ballyland apps. These apps can be used to teach VoiceOver skills and introduce coding skills to visually impaired students.

Online Learning for Students

HomeBOUND FOR ADVENTURE Podcast

  • This interactive podcast is to help students who are blind or visually impaired increase their orientation and mobility skills during the COVID-19 school closures. The weekly podcast, hosted by O&M specialist Tracy Spohn, includes lessons, activity ideas, and trivia for students of all ages.

NW Association for Blind Athletes - Video Resource Library

  • Detailed instructional videos for education on teaching methods and sport adaptions for athletes with visual impairments. 

Microsoft Teams for Students with Visual Impairments

  • From the PRCVI outreach team, these educator-focused resources are intended to support TSVIs as they implement Microsoft Teams with students who rely on keyboard access using screenreading software. 

Homework Hotline for Blind and Visually Impaired Students

  • This free homework hotline for students experiencing school closures due to the COVID-19 crisis covers technology-related topics such as navigating accessible websites with JAWS and using JAWS with a refreshable braille display.

Staying Active While are are #TogetherApart

  • From our friends and BC Blind Sports and Recreation, a weekly set of recommendations for adaptive sports and recreation for learners with visual impairments. Check back each week for a new set of recommendations and tips. 

Virtual Expanded Core Education Learning (ExCEL) Academy for Students with Visual Impairments

  • From Paths to Literacy: "Featuring daily lessons for students with visual impairments.  Paths to Literacy is collaborating with APH (American Printing House for the Blind) and CalState University to present this programming.  Qualified teachers from around the country will be presenting a range of lessons.  You can call in via Zoom or connect via the Internet." Virtual lessons begin on March 23rd!

ObjectiveEd platform free to use

  • ObjectiveEd offers accessible gamified learning for students with visual impairments via an online platforms. TSVIs can register for a free account through to the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. 

AccessiByte makes products available for free to parents, teachers, and students

  • The AccessiByte suite of apps includes Typio - an accessible typing tutorial for students with visual impairments. 

Getting Together with Technology - Canadian Council of the Blind

Braille Challenge sample materials are available online - Braille Institute

  • For students looking to practice their reading and writing skills, or looking to get an edge at their next Braille Challenge event, sample materials from past contest years are available on the Braille Institute's site.

Digital Accessible Learning Content

AEM: Best Practices for Educators & Instructors

  • This resource focuses on best practices when creating accessible educational content including documents, presentations, videos, mathematical notation and social media posts.

Creating Accessible Content - Microsoft Educator Center

  • Resources for ensuring that content created by teachers is accessible to all students. Includes information about creating accessible documents in PowerPoint, Word, Excel, OneNote, Sway, and Outlook, as well as information about creating accessible videos, recordings, on-demand material, and PDFs.

Dr. Luis Perez - Accessible Content Creation Tutorials for COVID-19

  • Our friend Dr. Luis Perez has shared a number of user-friendly tutorials on how to create accessible learning materials in digital formats across a number of apps and platforms, including Google Docs and Book Creator. 

Office of Civil Rights - US Department of Education

  • A very quick introduction to digital accessible learning content and its importance to learners who are accessing this content via online learning platforms. 

Accessibility Maze - Ryerson University

  • This online game provides users without disabilities with an opportunity to experience some of the access barriers that users with disabilities face online and provides suggestions for troubleshooting and problem solving. 

Accessing Higher Ground UDUC Track Archives (free access)

  • Achieving Higher Ground is an internationally-recognized conference on inclusive design and digital accessibility in education. Some recorded sessions have been made available via free access

Basics of Inclusive Design for Online Education

  • This course provides information teachers and instructors can use to develop an online course that is accessible to students with a wide disabilities, including information about common accessibility barriers. Note that a Coursera account (free) is required to access this course.

An Introduction to Accessibility and Inclusive Design

  • This course introduces the fundamental principles of accessibility and the major principles that guide inclusive design and accessible content creation. Note that a Coursera account (free) is required to access this course.

Online Events and Programs

CNIB Foundation BC/Yukon Events

  • The CNIB Foundation is offering several events through teleconference that may be interesting to students of a variety of ages, including youth music, technology, and parent support groups.

Blind Beginnings - Connecting Through COVID-19

  • Blind Beginnings has moved many of its programs online with programming six days a week! Online programs include interviews with youth and adults with visual impairments, youth and parent support groups, a fitness group, and accessible story time!

About the author

Adam Wilton

I have been fortunate to learn and grow with students with visual impairments since 2007, working as a teacher of students with visual impairments (TSVI), Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) and most recently as the Program Manager of PRCVI and ARC-BC. I completed a PhD in Special Education at the University of British Columbia in 2017 where my research focused on the administrative determinants of workloads for itinerant TSVIs.   

One of my favourite aspects of my current role is delivering outreach support to my colleagues and their students from across British Columbia. I've been fortunate to have many exciting adventures in schools and communities across the province and I hope you enjoy following along through #outreaching!

When I'm not on the road, I enjoy learning to play the violin, collecting antique books, and spending time surrounded by trees. 

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