MOORE — For Southmoore junior Katie Loman, who has a visual disability, a 1.45 pound iPad not only customizes print size, it liberates her from juggling more than 60 pounds of text books.
Students with visual impairments generally use three large print books for each standard print book. Braille students use seven to 10 volumes.
Loman, 17, has an iPad on loan from the Accessible Instructional Material Center at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
She has the developmental reading disorder dyslexia and Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid and can inflame and swell eye tissue.
“I take pictures of everything, notes on the board, anything I can’t see well like a test …and blow it up so I can see it better and not have to strain so much,” Loman said. “On a lot of math tests, I used to need somebody watching to make sure I was putting them (the answers) in the right order, but now I’m able to double-check … and say, ‘OK, I’ve got it.’”
The Library for the Blind, a Visual Services program at the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, currently has 29 iPads available to loan through their AIM Center. Even with donations this year of 10 iPads from the non-profit organization Oklahomans for Special Library Services, more than 760 legally blind students who could benefit are waiting for iPads.
“There is a huge, huge waiting list and so many kids that need them and want them,” AIM Center Director Pepper Watson said. “Using an iPad for classwork sets blind students apart in a good way, unlike older disability-specific technology that made them look and feel so different from other students.”
The benefits of textbooks on iPads include the ability to vary features to accommodate students’ individual visual needs.
“I can customize everything, even the color, which is good for me because I have it color coded to help me with certain words,” Loman said. “If I’m using my math book, I’ll make it smaller so I can see the full equation. When I’m reading a book, I’ll have it on 50 (points).”