Category Archives: Assistive Technology

Students with Visual Impairments Push Through Barriers

This article chronicles the activities of two Bismark High School Students who have visual impairments. The use of technology and the support of their teams at school enable them to successfully attend classes, get employment and plan for the future.

Bismarck High School seniors Amber Kraft and Cole Roberts are just like any other teenagers going off on their own, but with a characteristic they have proven does not define them — they are blind.

….Bismarck Public Schools teacher of the blind and visually impaired Brandi Trom-Anderson has helped teach Roberts and Kraft the skills they need inside and outside of the classroom since they were in preschool.

“Most of my students are scheduled in my room for one class period,” Anderson said. “During this time, I might preteach a tactile drawing they need for class; students may be introduced to a new Braille symbol for math; they may learn how to navigate a website using a screen reader called JAWS or we may even go to the kitchen and prepare a snack or meal. Students also practice independent mobility skills. One to two times a week they meet with the orientation and mobility specialist to learn how to be independent travelers whether they use their cane or the city bus. They learn to listen to traffic and safely cross streets.”

Roberts and Kraft can participate in class by using a BrailleNote that is like a computer with just a keyboard, and a laptop with a screen reader on it called JAWS. Teachers email or use Dropbox to send assignments or PowerPoints of the learning material.

Read the article here.

Changes to the Workforce Investment Act: Information and Call to Action

This PACER (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) alert was excerpted from the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition E-News, which can be found at

PACER Legislative Alert – Supporting Youth With Disabilities

Congress is considering changes to the Workforce Investment Act and the federal Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Program that assists youth and adults with disabilities to get the education and training they need to obtain and retain a job. While Congress is trying to strengthen the VR services that students with disabilities would receive as they transition out of high school, some possible changes would hurt families of youth with disabilities. PACER is asking families and others to call their representatives to make the following points critical to families and youth:

(1) Oppose moving the Vocational Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology programs out of the Department of Education (the Senate version of this legislation seeks to move Vocational Rehabilitation to the Department of Labor and the Assistive Technology program to the Department of Health and Human Services, but separating these programs and moving them out of the Department of Education would disconnect them from a culture valuing parental involvement and the other programs that support students with disabilities, and such a move would damage the strong family connections and important services provided to youth and adults with disabilities by providing such services together in Department of Education);

(2) Strengthen competitive employment awareness provisions (ensuring that young adults with disabilities transitioning from high school to employment are aware that jobs which pay the minimum wage and higher are available is an important aspect of providing individuals the opportunity to reach their potential, and the bill could be strengthened by ensuring that there are no exceptions to making sure young adults are made aware of the possibility of working in a competitive workplace, in addition to the non-competitive, often less than minimum wage, work possibilities).

The phone numbers of Congressional Representatives can be found at the website.