We live in an age where it’s easy to go paperless, but many people have wondered why I have my reasons for getting digital assignments. Since I have low vision and a print disability, I have a profound appreciation for the availability of digital materials. I have seen the tremendous effect they can have on my learning. Here are ten reasons for getting digital assignments and going paperless in the classroom.
A note on this post
I wrote the text of this post as a senior in high school in 2015 when I was asked about why I prefer digitally accessible materials as a student with low vision by a teacher of the visually impaired. I have chosen to only update the “Related Links” portion of this post in order to preserve my perspective as a high school student who uses accessible materials.
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.
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.
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.
Technology can fit on a desk
One day, I needed to receive an assignment for my science class in 18 point font. To accomplish this, the assignment had to be enlarged so large, I couldn’t work at my desk. I 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.
- Paper Size and Low Vision
- How I Document Accessibility Preferences With Low Vision
- Accommodations For Print Materials
- 5 Apps That Help Students With Low Vision In The Science Classroom
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.
- Ten Spooky Inaccessible Assignments and How To Fix Them
- Eight Things I’m Glad My TVI Taught Me About Transition
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. Since I can’t read my handwriting, so typing is much more efficient. I still have accommodations for print materials in my IEP though.
- How to create accessible documents in Microsoft Word
- Dysgraphia accommodations in the classroom
- AlphaSmart For Low Vision and Dysgraphia
I can adapt to my fluctuating vision
It isn’t uncommon to see me using a screen reader one minute and a magnifier the next. My vision fluctuates regularly throughout the day, sometimes changing multiple times throughout a class period. This is one of my main reasons for getting digital assignments. There’s no way to predict how my eyesight will be on a given day.
There’s less of a stigma
Students and teachers give me very funny looks for having to use large print. Some are downright rude about it. Some even say my large print is unfair to the other students. Nowadays, it isn’t weird to be typing on an iPad or using other technologies. Chances are, the students and teachers use 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. I have my reasons for getting digital assignments, and I glad that so many of my teachers are willing to work with me.
Summary of why I prefer my schoolwork digitally
- It’s much more lightweight
- I can add color filters easily
- Easy to enlarge text
- Technology can fit on a desk
- People won’t forget about it
- No one has to attempt to read my terrible handwriting
- I can adapt to my fluctuating vision
- There is less of a stigma
- It’s often easier to balance
- Having access to it prepares me for the “real world”