Entering the teaching profession, regardless of the level, poses unique challenges for a visually impaired student. Some of the articles below, reprinted from our newsletter, may suggest possible solutions to some of the most common problems.
American Foundation for the Blind.
which is one of the single best sources for current information on adaptive technology. The following articles are especially appropriate for students. The publication, however, also offers a storehouse of excellent information on a wider range of technology that may be of interest for teachers and students. You may also want to visit our page on
Computers and Assistive Technology
to read some of these articles.
- Science Is Golden: Interviews with Four Scientists Who Are Visually Impaired (January 2005)
- Making the Grade: An Overview of Accessible Testing (November 2006
- Accessibility and Distance Learning: An Overview (March 2007)
- Staying On Course: Interviews with Students Who Are Blind (July 2007)
- Online Learning: What Works, What Doesn't (July 2008))
- Book Review: Assistive Technology for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired: A Guide to Assessment (March 2010)
- Back to School (July 2010)
- Educational Resources and Tips from AFB's Information and Referral Center (July 2010)
- Getting Ready to Go Back to School: Assistive Technology Considerations for K-12 Students (July 2010)
- Navigating Higher Education with Visual Disabilities (July 2010)
- Productivity on the Go: Notetakers, Netbooks, and Everything in Between (August 2010)
- Seeing the Possibilities: An Analysis of STEM Resources Available for People with Vision Loss (July 2011)
- Tackling the Research Paper: Tips and Tools for Success for People with Vision Loss (July 2011)
- Note-Taking 101: How Blind and Visually Impaired People Capture Information (July 2011)
- Making the Right Impression: Interview Tips for Job Applicants with Vision Loss (October 2011)
- Series: Removing The Stress from I.O.S.: A Blueprint for Incorporating Touch Screen Products Into The Classroom, Workplace, and Community (May 2012)
- Series: Removing the Stress from iOS: A Blueprint for Incorporating Touchscreen Products Into the Classroom, Workplace, and Community. Part II: Success
With iOS: Making it Happen! (June 2012)
- Series: Removing the Stress from iOS: A Blueprint for Incorporating Touchscreen Products Into the Classroom, Workplace, and Community: Part III (July 2012)
- Series: Removing the Stress from iOS: A Blueprint for Incorporating Touchscreen Products Into the Classroom, Workplace, and Community (August 2012)
- A Step Forward for Accessible Textbooks: A Review of the STudent E-rent Pilot Project (September 2012)
Scholarships, Loans, and Grants
There are a number of excellent sites with information about scholarships, loans, and grants to help pay for college. Below are a few of our favorites:
This source for college information allows you to search for U.S. colleges by name, location, type of institution, and programs/majors. Provides material about expenses, financial aid, enrollment, admission, athletics, and more. Include multiple institutions on a "favorites" list to see side-by-side comparisons. Also includes links to material about applying for financial aid and careers. From the Institute of Education Science (IES) National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.
college, education, financial aid info
"college.gov is being built by the U.S. Dept. of Ed. in collaboration with students. This site is intended to be the go-to source for information and resources about planning, preparing and paying for postsecondary education (such as 2- or 4-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational or career schools). Of particular interest will be the links to
Student Aid on the Web
Free Application for Federal Student Aid
as well as
How to Pay: scholarships, direct loans, financial aid
Helping Students with Visual Disabilities
"colleges are creating more welcoming and inclusive learning environments [for visually impaired students]. This site provides useful sections on assistive technology, campus resources that provide assistive
services and tools, information about scholarships for students with visual impairments, and online resources they can access to facilitate academic and
Association on Higher Education And Disability
"The successful transition of students with disabilities to, through and beyond college is a team effort. AHEAD offers [this section of its site] to students, parents, professionals and employers so that all are aware of the wide range of resources that are available." Of special interest are the pages on
FAQs for Students
Transition Resources from A to Z.
Because this is a cross-disability organization, only some portions of these pages will be relevant to a blind or visually impaired student.
50 State Certification Requirements
The University of Kentucky College of Education collects the teacher certification requirements for the 50 States. Because states are continually revising their teacher certification/licensure rules and requirements, this information can be especially helpful. This page is intended to help you gather planning information on states of your choice. You might want to look at the certification requirements and later look for
in the state youíre interested in.
While parts of some pages are not accessible to a screen-reader, the overall site is more accessible than might initially appear. Certification Map is a comprehensive resource for teacher certification information. It provides state specific information on how to become a teacher, teacher salaries, teaching credentials, teacher certification tests, alternative teacher certification, and teaching certificate reciprocity. The aim is to provide all the information necessary to become a teacher no matter where you live. You may either search the entire site or a particular state of interest.
Online Degree Programs from Online Colleges & Universities from around the World
This site is a directory of online courses, accredited online degrees, continuing education, online training, and online education. At this site you'll find hundreds of online courses, accredited degree programs, certificates, professional continuing education and learning resources in 239 subject areas offered by educational institutions, companies and individuals from all over the world.
Search Accredited Online College Degrees, Universities and Courses
"Making an informed decision about which college to attend or which degree program to pursue can be a daunting and difficult endeavor. For nearly a decade [this site has] been helping aspiring students and education oriented professionals make better, more informed choices by providing them with relevant, reliable and up-to-date information about colleges and higher education opportunities." Want to know what schools offer the most financial aid, have the highest or lowest acceptance rates, or have the most highly rated graduate programs? You can find it all, and a great deal more, here.
Free Online Courses in Education
The title of the site is a bit misleading since the listing of free courses is not confined to those typically offered by a college of education. You will find extensive links to free class in business; technology; science (astronomy, biology, general science, etc.); math; liberal arts (foreign languages, history, literature, music, philosophy, writing, etc.); teacher education; and much more.
Hadley School for Professional Studies
" . . . a unique distance education program that provides a convenient and affordable alternative to traditional professional continuing education. [Designed for those] who want to build or refresh their skills to work more effectively with clients and students. HSPS . . . allows you to earn Continuing Education Credits.
HSPS courses are available to anyone who works directly with blind or visually impaired individuals in a work, school or community setting, whether as a paid employee or volunteer. Students currently enrolled in a college or university program preparing for a career in the blindness fieled may apply for enrollment, as well. The Hadley School for the Blind has met the high standards of integrity and performance set by the accrediting Commissions of the Distance Education and Training Council, North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. Hadley is a fully-accredited member of each association."
include Braille, adjusting to vision loss, developing social skills, guide dogs, living independently, business and careers, finding employment, Internet skills, and much more.
Blind College Student Resources
This page of a blind college student's web site contains excellent, practical advice on attending college. Key sections include applying for financial aid, preparing for classes, getting books and other materials in alternative format, hiring readers, working with the disabled student's services office, and more. While the site is intended to reflect the views of the webmaster, the advice is good and realistic. Very much worth considering.
Best and Worst College Web Sites for Blind Students
While not definitive, this ranking, taken from The Chronicle of Higher Education, rates over 180 different college web sites in terms of their accessibility. This is helpful in serving as one gage of an institution's commitment to inclusion.
Tax Tips for the Blind
This page from TurboTax provides an excellent description of tax benefits for blind and visually impaired tax filers. It includes items that, while applicable to anyone paying Federal tax, may be more appropriate for someone who is blind as well as some items specifically intended for the legally blind.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following links from
DO-IT: Disabilities, Opportunities, Internet Working, and Technology
are excellent and may be especially valuable. While designed for the post-secondary environment, some of this material is still applicable for K-12 instruction. It is referenced here with permission because it is easily the best and most thorough discussion of these issues we have found available.
Top of Page
- Can grant funds be used to pay for job accommodations for a graduate student?
- How would a blind student access material on electronic course reserve?
- How would a blind student take in-class computer-based
While this article describes how a learning disabled student and her professor dealt with this issue, their solution is directly applicable for a blind or visually impaired student.
- How can foreign language courses be made more accessible for blind students?
- What Are Tactile Graphics?
- How can math and science documents be made more accessible to visually impaired students?
- How can I make measurements in a science lab?
- How can musicians who are blind make use of computers to notate, read and record music?
- If a postsecondary student's accommodations include extra exam time must the professor allow the student to take the exam outside of the classroom?
- If a student with a disability qualifies for accommodations in high school, must they receive the same accommodations in college?
- Is it appropriate for an instructor to ask about the extent and type of a student's vision loss?
- Are there electronic mentoring programs for students with disabilities and, if so, how would I learn about them?
- Are there guidelines for creating accessible math?
There are a number of additional options not discussed in this article. You may want to consult our pages on
Math and Statistics
Specialized Tools for Math and Science
- Are there graphic and scientific calculators that can be used by the blind?
Again, the answer to this question is more complicated than indicated here, but this is an excellent place to begin.
- Are there screen readers that can read math equations?
While the article is helpful, the real question to ask is: "How easy is it for screen readers to read math equations and what do they do well and what do they do poorly?"
- Can astronomy classes be made accessible?
This is a brief personal anecdote explaining how one student dealt with the problems confronted when taking astronomy.
- How can I locate a scientist in the field I am interested in with vision loss?
- In a postsecondary setting, who is responsible for providing Braille translation?
This is also an excellent introduction on how to best interact and make use of the disabled student services office on your campus.
- Is my school legally required to make our web pages accessible?
- College: You Can Do It!
An excellent online brochure with special sections on preparing for college, attending college, and transitioning out of college. Clear, specific, and highly practical advice.
- Software Compatibility: A Case Study on Assistive Technology, Accessible Course Software, and a Student with Low Vision
The incompatibility of software on university computers is a common problem confronted by visually impaired students. This is a brief anecdote of how one student solved this problem in a computer class.
- Web Access: A Case Study on Making Content Accessible to a Student who is Blind
A brief, but highly informative, description of how a blind graduate student in atmospheric sciences developed techniques for accessing material on a web site used by his department that was otherwise inaccessible.
- What adaptive technology is typically provided to students with disabilities on postsecondary campuses?
It is important to note that your campus may not have everything described here.
- What are examples of accommodations for students with low vision in science labs?
A good, practical list of things that can be done to make science labs more accessible. Most of these ideas are relatively simple and inexpensive.
- What are my institution's responsibilities regarding the care of my guide dog??
- What grants are available for making science, technology, engineering, and math accessible to students with disabilities?
- What if a student with a disability disrupts a college class?
- What resources can help students with disabilities locate internships and other work-based experiences?
- Where can I find a list of publisher contacts to request electronic text formats?
- Where can I find electronic text versions of books for students who have visual impairments or other print disabilities?
- Where can I find resources about legal, social, and political issues related to disability?
"The Internet hosts a large quantity of websites that deal with legal, social, and political issues related to disability. A short list can be found at" this site. It contains an excellent and detailed number of discussion lists.
- Who is responsible for providing a postsecondary institution with documentation of a student's disability?
- Why is it important that visually impaired students take pre-college mathematics?
An especially important article for middle and high-school students to read since research shows that success in pre-college math is highly correlated with success in post-secondary education.
- How can blind or visually impaired students get accommodations for the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, and other standardized graduate or professional entrance exams?