We live in an age where it’s easy to go paperless, but many people have wondered why I embrace having all of my schoolwork digital, when possible. Since I have low vision and a print disability (more on that here), I have a profound appreciation for the availability of digital materials, and have seen the tremendous effect they can have on my learning. Here are ten reasons as to why I love being able to hold a wealth of information on a device.
It’s much more lightweight.
As someone who has neck, back, and shoulder issues, I’m not interested in having to carry a heavy backpack filled with papers or textbooks. Carrying around several ten page large print worksheets can add up very quickly, and having to sort through several packets can get frustrating very quickly. For more about digital textbooks, read this post.
I can add color filters easily.
Before I started getting all my work digitally, I would get my work enlarged on stark white paper that would cause glare on a page. Alternatively, when I got my work enlarged on colored paper, my backpack would look like I was carrying a rainbow and at times the colors of paper that I could see the easiest weren’t available. I can easily change the background of a page to be blue or put a red filter on my screen to reduce glare and eye strain. Read more about how color affects the readability of font here.
Easy to enlarge text.
Quite simply, you can’t zoom in on a piece of paper. And when magnifying glasses give you a headache, if you can’t read something on paper, you have to get over it and keep reading. There are video magnifiers available though- read my review of the Eschenbach SmartLux here.
Technology can fit on a desk.
One day in science class when I was 14, a piece of classwork had to be enlarged to eighteen point font, the smallest size I could read at the time. To accomplish this, the assignment had to be enlarged so large, that I couldn’t work at my desk, and instead had to work on the floor of the hallway because the paper was so large. With digital tools, a user can simply scroll across the page to read information.
People won’t forget about it.
I had several teachers forget to enlarge my work in middle and high school. By sharing a digital file, I can have assignments at the same time as my fellow students instead of having to wait for an assignment to be enlarged.
No one has to attempt to read my terrible handwriting.
I have dysgraphia, and typing is much easier than attempting to read whatever I wrote down. I can’t read my handwriting, so typing is much more efficient. For when I do need paper copies of an assignment, I follow these guidelines for creating accessible materials.
I can use applications on my computer to enhance my learning experience.
It isn’t uncommon to see me using a screen reader and magnification at the same time so I can make sure I retain all the correct information. Read how I made my iPad accessible here.
There’s less of a stigma.
I’ve had students and teachers give me very funny looks for having to use large print, and some would be downright rude about it. I’ve even heard someone say that me large print was unfair to the other students. Nowadays, it isn’t weird to be seen typing on an iPad or using other technologies, as chances are, others are using them too.
It’s often easier to balance.
Having to carry twenty sheets of paper around a science lab as opposed to an iPad was much more unpleasant and difficult to organize. Plus, I accidentally set my paper on fire once in a lab- as you can imagine, the teacher was not very happy.
Having access to it prepares me for the “real world.”
By having access to technology in high school, I am prepared to adapt to any situation when it comes to requesting materials I can view. Anything can be found digitally now, and by knowing how to access it, I can adapt the world to my needs, instead of demanding the world adapt to my needs because I don’t know what to do. This is a skill I had the opportunity to practice by taking several virtual classes in high school- more on that here. I am grateful for learning how to adapt digital material to my different needs, so I can feel like I can do anything now.