New technology helping visually impaired students

Alicia Vitarelli Image
Monday, December 19, 2016
VIDEO: New tech helping visually impaired students
New technology is giving visually impaired students a new outlook on learning.

OVERBROOK (WPVI) -- New technology is giving visually impaired students a new outlook on learning. It's part of a program showing great results at Overbrook School for the Blind.

Issa works on his math skills just like any other 8 year old would in class. The only difference is that Issa is visually impaired, and uses a special technology program to work with numbers.

Kelly Lauer, the technology specialist at Overbrook School for the Blind, explains, "It has a special base that connects to the iPad and a camera that reflects so you can see what's in front of the iPad."

It's called Osmo - a program that blends the physical and digital worlds.

Lauer has been a teacher and technology specialist at Overbrook for 13 years. She recently brought Osmo into her classroom and says the results are remarkable.

"This is a mainstream technology that anyone can use, but we use it with our students that have low vision so that they're able to have some vision, or we will add a video magnifier so they are able to put letters under a magnifier," Lauer said.

Overbrook School for the Blind currently has about 200 students on campus between the ages of 3 and 21. Next year they will celebrate 185 years, and over close to two centuries of working with the visually impaired, they've been turning more to mainstream technology.

Gerald Kitzhoffer, Executive Director of Overbrook School for the Blind, says, "It's just providing so many things that we had to rely on specialized devices before. Now, so many things are accessible, and much more reasonable price wise."

And fun! Lauer uses all kinds of Osmo programs - from animation to numbers and letters.

"We are seeing a lot more retention of their spelling words," Lauer said.

Kitzhoffer says, "Our kids love it. They are kids, they just like that kind of stuff and the fact that it works for them is a real treat."

The students are able to use those Osmo tiles with letters and numbers in conjunction with braille lessons by adding braille to the back of each card.