When training school and university students with deep visual impairment in the conditions of including the main objective ‒ to reduce deficiency information and, thereby, to make the process of training available to them. It is necessary to consider not only the restrictions arising when accessing educational information but also an orientation problem both in the building and in the adjacent territory.
In the modern educational process, the computer with the corresponding hardware-software providing and the portable computerized devices became the main means of access and information processing for pupils with deep visual impairment. The principle of operation of all these devices is based on the transformation of visual information to forms, available to the blind pupil:
1) visual information will be transformed into the speech (programs of non-visual access to information, synthesizers of the speech, and the reading devices);
2) visual information will be transformed into a relief and dot font of Braille (the Braille displays and the Braille printers in combination with the special software, microcomputer);
3) information, remaining visual, increases, changes contrast, and colors (programs of increase in the image on the computer screen, autonomous videos enlargers).
A similar classification is rather conditional since synthesizers of the speech and the Braille displays are useless without programs of non-visual access, microcomputer it is possible to carry both to the first, and to the second class, and programs of increase in the image on the screen, as a rule, at the same time have a possibility of scoring of the increased text a speech synthesizer.
Programs of non-visual access to information (Screen Reader) ‒ it is the special programs allowing people to work with visual impairment on the personal computer without visual control. These programs for the functionality are similar to "the ability to see assistant" who finds text information on the screen and or reads it aloud or displays on the Braille (tactile) display.
The non-visual access programs themselves do not "talk," they only search the screen and transmit text information to the speech synthesizer or Braille display. Currently, software speech synthesizers, in combination with non-visual access programs, are the main tool for blind users of computer technology. The number and variety of speech synthesizers are constantly increasing.
A reading device (or, as it was previously called, a reading machine) is a device for reading flat-print information and information presented in electronic form. Since there are many more convenient portable devices for reading text information electronically, reading machines are mainly used to read flat print information. Until recently, these devices were equipped with a scanner under the cover of which an opened book or sheet with printed text was placed, and after pressing one button, the printed text was voiced using a speech synthesizer or displayed on a Braille display. Modern reading devices are equipped not with a scanner, but with a camera on a tripod under which printed text should be placed. This design is more convenient and saves space on the table.
We emphasize that only printed literary text can be converted into speech or braille, handwritten texts and mathematical formulas can only be enlarged, but cannot be displayed on the braille display or voiced by a speech synthesizer.
A Braille display (or tactile display, Braille line) is a tablet with one row of 20, 40, or 80 piezoelectric modules (cells). Each module is able to display one 8-point Braille character. Braille displays use an 8-point (computer) braille. This is due to the fact that using six points you can display only 63 combinations, and in the standard computer ASCII table of displayed characters more than 200, the eight-point format allows you to display already 255 characters.
Using a prefix system as regular braille (digital sign, signs of a large and small letter) is technically quite difficult. Therefore, to indicate capital letters, letters of the Latin alphabet and in other cases where the appropriate prefix is used in the usual braille, the 7th and 8th dots are used on the Braille display.
Using a non-visual access program with a Braille display allows you to tactile access to the text information displayed on the computer screen. Braille display keys allow for screen navigation, application software control, and text input using 8 keys similar to Braille typewriter keys.
Braille display and speech synthesizer are not alternatives but perfectly complement each other. Based on more than fifteen years of experience in using speech and tactile output of information in the process of teaching children with visual impairment. Braille display is convenient when working with text information (editing texts, programming, filling out questionnaires, etc.), and when managing the operating system (making various settings, searching and copying files, etc.) it is more efficient to rely on speech output.
Thus, the greatest efficiency and comfort of using a personal computer in the process of teaching children with visual impairment is achieved by sharing voice and tactile output of information, the training place should be equipped with a 40-character Braille display and a non-visual access program of one manufacturer, as well as several speech synthesizers.
But one should not think that computer methods of accessing information replace the traditional braille. So far, nothing more convenient and universal than a relief-point writing system for the blind has been invented. Far from any information can be perceived by the ear, for example, the proofs of theorems are much easier to assimilate when reading. In these situations, there are no alternatives to braille. Performing mathematical braille transformations on paper is also much more convenient. In order to increase the efficiency of studying mathematical disciplines, the Faculty of IT organized a small circulation publication of educational material in relief and dot Braille. Special software has been developed to convert files in TEX format into files ready for printing on a Braille printer.
Braille printers (Embosser) are extremely useful devices in the educational process. Using the Braille printer, you can print educational material, necessary relief drawings, and diagrams, handouts, etc.
But these printers are good only for printing text information, do not make high-quality relief images using them. The emphasis on printing relief graphics is on Tiger printers produced by the American company ViewPlus (http://www.viewplus.com
). The main advantage of this printer is the ability to combine embossed and color printing. I.e. the pattern produced by this printer is both embossed and colored, which is very useful for children with residual vision. But it is inconvenient to use it for printing texts since this printer does not have double-sided printing and it works only with paper in the A4 format.
Zoom programs on the computer screen allow the user to provide comfortable working conditions on a personal computer with visual impairment. This is achieved by improving the visual component of the interface and converting part of the visual information into speech information. These programs not only increase the image on the monitor (like the built-in Windows operating system) but are able to process it and display it on the screen in a convenient form tailored for the user.