During my senior year of high school, I was selected for a school district-wide presentation about apps that help students with low vision in the classroom. I was surprised that so many teachers and students had never heard of these free and low cost apps for vision impairment, and was excited to share them. Here are the five apps that help students with low vision in the classroom that I presented.
A note on this post
This post is a copy of a presentation I gave to my school district in 2015, prior to studying assistive technology in college and starting this website. While I still use and love all of these apps, my website is now filled with hundreds of posts on low vision, education, and technology, along with several free apps that students can use. If you love this post, I highly recommend exploring the rest of my website for even more resources!
This app allows the user to annotate PDFs and Word documents with drawings or text. The user can also type or draw on their own documents or photos. Afterward, the user can upload the file to a cloud storage website such as Dropbox or email it to someone.
My teachers in high school all had shared access to a Dropbox folder. They created subfolders that they uploaded work into for me to retrieve. Teachers would email me the document for a class or upload it to a shared folder, and I would open it with Notability.
Notability is $2 and only available on iOS at this time.
- Notability review
- How I Organize Digital Files For My Classes
- Common File Types For Vision Impairment and Print Disabilities
I was actually recommended this app by the technology coordinator at my school two days before a state standardized test. We found out that the calculator app that I used at the time wasn’t actually approved by the state testing group. That was a big surprise!
This app allows the user to write out the problem they want to be solved, and the app will convert the handwriting to text and display the answer. One thing I really like is that the typed font will enlarge to the size of the handwritten font, so if I write 2+2 so it takes up half the screen, the app will display the text as taking up half the screen. The app can recognize even the worst of handwriting and while it doesn’t support graphing, it is a great calculator that cannot access the Internet.
It is free and can be downloaded for iOS or Android.
- State Standardized Tests/ SOL Accommodations For Low Vision
- Five Websites That Help Students With Low Vision In The Math Classroom
- Five Calculator Apps That Help Students With Low Vision In The Classroom
I use PicsArt to apply colored filters to text so that way I can read what I am doing easier, crop images, or enlarge them as needed. It is like a free version of PhotoShop that satisfies many of my creative needs. PicsArt is free and available on iOS and Android.
- Using PicsArt To Simulate Vision Impairment
- Tips For Creating Art For Visually Impaired Friends
- 5 Apps That Help Students With Low Vision In The Science Classroom
This app allows users to create short, 30 second tutorials and draw on images as well as record audio. It is great for explaining simple concepts or for explaining things more in-depth. It does not require an account, and each Clarisketch can be accessed using a unique link.
Clarisketch is free and available on Android only, though I have also linked the similar Shadow Puppet app.
I get all of my textbooks digitally and have found that Amazon not only has all my textbooks but also has one of the best eReading apps I have ever used. There are many study sources such as creating flashcards, but my favorite functions include the ability to enlarge text and adjust the brightness of the app. It is available on iOS and Android.
Summary of five apps that help students with low vision in the classroom
- Notability allows users to annotate PDFs and other documents with drawings or text
- myScript calculator allows users to hand write calculations and have them displayed in large text
- PicsArt is a photo editing tool that can add colored filters to make images easier to see
- Clarisketch is a tool for creating short, 30-second tutorials on Android
- Amazon Kindle has digital textbooks and many different studying resources