Free Products and Technology at AIM Center Library for the Blind Help Students Succeed | Local News
Oklahoma City – Living with COVID-19 has been a challenge in all walks of life, but especially for students, parents and educators in Oklahoma.
Imagine the additional difficulties if you are a blind or visually impaired student – or a parent or visually impaired teacher (TVI) trying to make educational materials accessible in virtual classrooms.
Many already rely on the Accessible Educational Materials Center, known as AIM, at the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled in Oklahoma City.
The library and AIM are trying to educate others about this statewide program in Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a division of Oklahoma’s Rehabilitation Services.
“The AIM Center is currently lending Braille and large print textbooks and other educational materials to 875 Oklahoma students who are legally blind and 511 visually impaired students as part of individual education programs in their school districts.” , explained Pepper Watson, director of the AIM Center.
Watson, who has a brother Stephen who has low vision, has worked for AIM for 20 years. She handles all requests with the help of three staff: Sheldon Moglia, Cynthia Stokes, Kay Johnson.
The AIM Center receives $ 417.75 per student in federal funds distributed by American Printing House for the Blind through the Federal Quota program each year.
AIM maintains the federal registry of quotas for blind and partially sighted children in Oklahoma.
In addition, the Oklahoma State Department of Education provides $ 50,000 annually for technology, which helps students participate fully in the classroom.
“We are eternally grateful for this financial support,” said Kevin Treese, director of Library for the Blind.
AIM’s core collection includes around 776 different items, including Chromebooks with larger-than-standard screens, high-tech magnifiers, Braille note-takers, and large-print tools like rulers, stickers. for keyboard, large print calculators and multiplication and division cards.
For example, AIM offers 14 types of braille reminder equipment, which are electromechanical devices for displaying characters with round-tipped pins raised through holes in flat surfaces such as keyboards.
“We have different devices for students with different levels of braille proficiency,” Watson said. “You start them on a Buzz Braille for two to five year olds, which looks like a fun game with braille keys. Then we have the Braille Trail and then we go to the Chameleon 20, which is a little bigger, and then to a Mantis, which is bigger than that. Finally, the Focus Forty is intended for efficient braille readers.
Items are loaned and picked up by the AIM Center when students graduate from high school or the items are no longer needed. Then the items are repaired if necessary and put back into circulation to help other students.
Devices are usually sent by post, but can be delivered and set up personally by AIM or library staff.
“The Jupiter handheld magnifier has a camera that points down to magnify reading material and swings up to magnify text on the classroom board,” Watson explained, showing how text appears on a large screen. “This is for children who normally have to sit in the front row or get up and go up to the board to copy notes.”
“We installed a Jupiter for a Purcell pupil, each child and the teachers were looking at the details of an enlarged piece of honeycomb on the screen,” Watson said. “It was the perfect opportunity to incorporate our technology as well as our student into what the whole class was doing that day. “
Each Jupiter costs around $ 3,000, which is not affordable for many school districts or families.
About 200 directors and teachers of special education, including 50 teachers for the visually impaired, and some parents order materials and teaching materials in early spring specifically for each student when they start school next fall.
“During the pandemic, the AIM Center sent braille typewriters and other equipment to children’s homes so that TVIs (teachers of the visually impaired) could zoom in with them to practice braille,” said TVI Cynthia Lumpkin of Fort Gibson, who works with students in several school districts.
“I couldn’t do what I do without AIM Center and Library for the Blind,” Lumpkin said. “They let us control everything to help the students in the classroom, and they are so efficient,” Lumpkin added. “Sometimes they get it (in the mail) the same day we ask for it.”
Students served by the AIM Center and parents are also grateful.
“Having access to equipment that opens up the world for my son and daughter has been instrumental not only for their education but also for their well-being,” said Ashley Zeno of Edmond.
Zeno’s son Joey and daughter Emma are both AIM students.
“The AIM Center gave me the Bright Yellow Line Reading Guide, and my mom and occupational therapist taught me how to use it,” said Emma Zeno. “I could finally read real words, and it made sense. I love to read more than anything, and I’m fast too!
For more information about the AIM Center and the Oklahoma Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, visit http://www.olbph.org/, phone (405) 521-3514 or (800) 523-0288, or e-mail [email protected]
OLBPH was named Regional Library of the Year 2019 by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled. The Oklahoma Library is one of 56 regional libraries in the NLS system.