Future Reflections Special Issue: Technology
by Anna Catherine Walker
From the Editor: Anna Catherine Walker attends her neighborhood school in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, and is fully included in her fifth grade classes. She participates in Fifth Grade Chorus, plays flute in Fifth Grade Band, and is beginning to use Braille music. She loves spending time with friends, playing with her dog, attending church and youth activities, cooking, cleaning, and working on her golf game.
This article is all about my "techno life” and the tools that I use in this life.
ZoomText is software that I use to make my computer screen larger. I can use it to make my mouse more noticeable by changing the color and style. Also I can do the same for the cursor. I can change the color of the background so I can see the icons more easily.
Now I am going to tell you about my e-book reader, the Book Port. The Book Port has several additions. That is why they call it the Book Port Plus! If I press the top left smooth button, I can make a recording. If I am in a document, I can press zero to get the Help Menu. I can listen to books and worksheets. I can even place bookmarks so I can find a part that I want to hear again. I download a lot of books from Bookshare. Bookshare is free, and they have lots of great books, such as the Babysitters Club and Black Stallion series.
I can also listen to books and worksheets on the Braille Sense. The Braille Sense is a Braille notetaker that has a built-in refreshable Braille display. I use the Braille Sense when I do my homework. Mostly I use it to do my science homework. I have my book on the Braille Sense so I can listen to the text and use the Braille display to read the word that I need to spell for my homework.
That leads me to the laptop, which I use to write down answers. I read the questions on my Braille Sense and write the answers on my laptop. That way I don't need to switch documents on my Braille Sense. I use JAWS on the laptop to accomplish this feat. JAWS is a screen reader that tells me the letters I have typed. It makes a high sound when I type a capital letter. You can get a free forty-minute demo version of JAWS to try it out. I can use JAWS and ZoomText at the same time. I can listen to documents with JAWS. In science class I can use my magnifier to see diagrams in the print textbook.
Now I get to the thousand-year-old tool called the abacus. It has long bumps that are commas and decimals. I can do math quickly on the abacus, and it is a lot easier than writing the print down on paper.
Last but not least is the cane--the most important tool of all. My cane is the tool that guides me through my life.
All of these things are tools, and that is just what sight is--a tool. Sight is good to have, but it is just one of the many tools that I use.