Visual Impairment and Tech
Murphy and Acrobat Mini CCTVs Murphy, aged 5 years, is currently a second-year preschool student at Anchor Center, where he receives individualized and specialized services for his low vision and blindness. He is also preparing to enter kindergarten in the…
Murphy and Acrobat Mini CCTVs
Murphy, aged 5 years, is currently a second-year preschool student at Anchor Center, where he receives individualized and specialized services for his low vision and blindness. He is also preparing to enter kindergarten in the local public school district he dually attended prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following school closures, his parents – Cassandra and Kade – were more grateful than ever for Murphy’s enrollment at Anchor Center. Indeed, Murphy and his family regularly participated in our 2020 virtual programming, and often served as leaders on screen during music therapy and adaptive yoga sessions.
When Anchor Center re-opened for center-based programming in January 2021, Murphy, Cassandra and Kade could not be more excited to return for in-person learning. One of Murphy’s favorite activities this year has been interacting with seeds, soil, and plants via Anchor Center’s Horticultural Therapy Program. Melissa, one of our beloved alumni and veteran teaching assistants, has been working with Murphy to use an Acrobat Mini CCTV to help magnify seeds and other garden objects (pictured at right). One of the primary benefits of these assistive technology devices, besides electronically magnifying objects for children with limited vision, is that they are portable and allow our students to naturally use them in a variety of settings (including in our outdoor greenhouse). Murphy has been very engaged in counting and planting seeds – a whole body, sensory experience that helps strengthen fine motor skills and connects him with the wonders of nature. In fact, with the help of CCTV equipment, Murphy exceeded his classroom goals by spending over 20 consecutive minutes on this therapeutic
Ryan and SMART Board Technology
Ryan – a graduate of Anchor Center’s Infant and Toddler Program – is a second-year preschooler with multiple vision diagnoses, including Optic Atrophy, Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI), Esotropia, and Myopia. Ryan is currently getting ready for kindergarten, and our teachers and therapists are helping him engage with technology that he is likely to encounter during the next stage of his education (i.e., the SMART Board purchased with 2019 funding from Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation). Through this essential assistive technology, Ryan is learning to count to 5, singing the alphabet, and even visually recognizing shapes and letters. The photos below show Ryan using his distance vision (1) and an Apple Pencil (2) to count/circle 5 speckled frogs on the SMART Board.
One of the primary goals we have for students with visual impairments is to enhance their visually-directed reach abilities. The SMART Board provides students like Ryan with an appealing and accessible visual, thereby guiding them to touch a button or image on the screen. Likewise, the backlit screen directly supports a child’s ability to use his or her hand-eye coordination, which is otherwise challenging or impossible to do when children first begin to hold writing utensils. Overall, technology provides a motivating way for all of our children to interact with educationally appropriate screen time while gaining unique skills that will strengthen their long-term use of specialized adaptive devices.
In addition to his use of the SMART Board, Ryan and his family can also count potty training, graduating from a pre-mobility device to a white cane, and spending an entire day in preschool without a chewy sensory toy as other significant accomplishments since returning to in-person preschool this year. We are so proud of Ryan – and his father, grandmother, and brother – on all of the strides they have made during their Anchor Center journey!
Article by Anchor Center Grant Manager, Molly Jenkins.