Selecting Assistive Technology for someone who is blind or has Low-Vision

The following guidelines may be helpful when assessing the suitability of assistive technology for people who are blind or who have low-vision. The list is not intended to be fully inclusive, as each person's situation is unique.

Hardware Guidelines

  1. Can the user change sound settings, such as volume?
  2. Are status information and cues that are provided in a visual manner also available in an audible manner for persons with visual impairments?
  3. Is there a headphone jack for accessing information by users of assistive listening systems?
  4. Are instructions and all information for use accessible to and independently usable by persons with vision impairments, such as in large print, with recorded information, or with Braille labels and directions?

Functional Guidelines For Blindness

  1. Use screen reader software to convert electronic text to a voice or speech synthesizer.
  2. Use a scanner to scan a printed document into electronic text using optical character recognition (OCR) software
  3. Use a PC with a refreshable Braille display instead of a monitor
  4. Install Braille translation software and a Braille printer on a standard computer
  5. Consider using speech input software instead of a QWERTY or Braille keyboard input.(Speech to text software)
  6. Can the user confirm the selected options before submitting?

Functional Guidelines For Low Vision

  1. Use computers with built-in software tools to enlarge or magnify screen images
  2. Use a large visual display or monitor
  3. Consider using a large-print keyboard with contrasting letters (Yellow on black or black on yellow)
  4. Affix large-print keytop labels onto a standard QWERTY keyboard
  5. Use screen reader software to convert electronic text to a voice or speech synthesizer.
  6. Use a scanner to scan a printed document into electronic text format using optical character recognition (OCR) software.
  7. Use a CCTV to enlarge printed documentation.
  8. Use both visual and auditory prompts to confirm information.
  9. Check if it is possible to change color coding of the product’s display to user-selected alternates.
  10. Ensure the background is free of patterns or distortions.
  11. Ensure it is possible to adjust or disable screen flickering.

When assessing a product for suitability it is important that the product be looked at in light of the user’s needs, and that the product fulfills a specific, definable function required by the end-user.

People with more than one disability may require additional functionality. Please refer to the other articles in this series for more information.

Useful Links

The following links may provide additional help in selecting assistive technology for people who are blind or who have low vision: