It wasn’t until high school that I heavily started using technology in the classroom. I’m glad I did have the opportunity to learn about technology though, as I use it constantly in college. For students wondering what to bring to high school, here is the inside of a high school backpack for a student with low vision. Your inside of a high school backpack might look a bit different than mine depending on where you live
At both of my high schools, students were allowed to bring their backpacks from class to class, as long as they fit certain dimensions. I received special permission my senior year to use a rolling backpack, since I had back problems. Before that, I used a backpack with a laptop sleeve that could hold up to a 17″ laptop and had several pockets.
I got approval to use a laptop in school starting the second semester of ninth grade. It was rare to see technology in the classroom, and assistive technology was unheard of. As a result, my first high school did not allow students to connect to the internet. I frequently used Office applications such as OneNote to take notes, Word to type assignments, and PowerPoint to follow along in class. I also was able to read textbooks and complete digital assignments, which were given to me by flash drive.
- My High School Laptop
- Choosing Technology: Laptop
- Microsoft Office OneNote
- Designing Accessible Documents With Microsoft Word
- How To Create Accessible PowerPoints
My eReader revolutionized how I received print materials starting in middle school. Being able to quickly get books in large print, and being able to fit an entire library in my hand, was extremely helpful when I had to read books in class.
Because of the lack of internet services, I didn’t start heavily using my iPad until my junior year of high school, when I transferred to a new school. I started heavily using different apps in the classroom and used my iPad to research information, work on virtual classes, and complete digital classwork with the app Notability. I had some textbooks on my iPad, but not many, since my virtual classes did not require textbooks.
- Choosing Technology: iPad
- How To Make iPad Accessible for Low Vision
- Virtual Classes in High School
- Why I Prefer My Schoolwork Digitally
- Notability and Low Vision Review
My Android phone was one of the first technology devices I ever used in the classroom. I used it as a magnifier and simple calculator, as well as a camera. I made sure to notify my teacher before I used my phone so I didn’t get in trouble.
I had a small magnifier that I didn’t like using much, since the magnification would make my eyes hurt a lot, plus it was difficult for my eyes to focus. I still carried it anyway, but it was not very helpful.
One day, I went to school very sick and found that my normally excellent hearing wasn’t working very well. Weirdly enough, I aced every quiz and test I had that day. I was tuning out a lot of the background noises that normally bothered me. After that, I started using ear plugs for assessments and found that it was easier to concentrate. They’re also great for cancelling out loud noises in the hallway, making them a must-have for putting inside of a high school backpack.
Instead of leaving class when my materials were not enlarged, I decided to try and make my own accessible materials. My mom bought me a portable scanner that hooked up to my computer. I would scan in the inaccessible materials into Microsoft Word, and then make them accessible. This didn’t work very well if the page had anything other than text, and it took a long time to scan in, but it was a temporary solution to an ongoing problem. I now recommend the ScanMarker Air instead, as it scans much faster and more accurately.
These were written in as an IEP accommodation, as students were normally not allowed to use pens in the classroom. I like the extra fine Sharpie pens in a variety of colors, and never had any issues with them leaking or breaking.
I received all of my paper assignments on colored paper, because it is easier to read text on a colored background. This was written into my IEP as well, and I had slightly different print accommodations for each subject. It’s worth noting I did not use folders, due to the size of the paper. Because of all of the colors, the inside of a high school backpack like mine was very colorful!
By knowing what to put inside of a high school backpack, students can adequately prepare for transition and be ready for the first day of classes!