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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Accessible Software for Preschoolers

Message: I am a teacher for visually impaired children in upstate New York and am looking for computer software for a blind preschool student that I teach. I have had trouble finding software that is accessible and am not sure where to look now. I thought you might be a good person to ask!

Unfortunately there are not many places that carry software specially designed for blind preschoolers. However, there are pieces of software that are more accessible than others, as well as some others that, with some creativity, can be easily adapted for blind kids.

One of the few companies that offers items for young blind children is rj cooper:http://www.rjcooper.com. In their Web site they have a special section for blind children.

RJ Cooper
27601 Forbes Rd. Suite 39
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Phone: 949-582-2749
Toll free: Phone: 800-752-6673

Don Johnston Inc: http://www.donjohnston.com is a company that carries learning intervention software. They have cause and effect software that with small tactile adaptations, may be used with blind preschoolers. Their contact info is:

Don Johnston Inc.
26799 West Commerce Drive
Volo, IL 60073
Phone: 800-999-4660

Another option to check out is Stickybear software: http://www.stickybear.com. Their software is manufactured by Optimum Resource, Inc., a company that carries educational products. Stickybear may be used with low vision preschoolers. You can contact them at:

Optimum Resource Inc.
18 Hunter Rd.
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
Phone: 1-888-784-2592

Finally, a place you can visit to get ideas about software for preschoolers is the VI Web Site: http://www.viguide.com. This site is a guide to Internet resources for parents and teachers. They rate commercially available software for its accessibility to blind individuals. The following is a transcription of a list of names and reviews of commercially available software for preschoolers found in their Web site:

Lamb Chop Loves Music

This software Is available at Toys R Us and most software retailers. It runs under Windows95, Windows 3.1 or on the Mac. It is aimed at children in preschool through grade 3. This CD features the "Bremen Town Musicians" story read aloud, plus several musically oriented games. It also has a Store where kids can learn about and listen to a wide variety of instruments. It has tremendous auditory appeal.

Living Books series

This software is available at most software retailers. The titles in this series, such as Dr. Seuss's ABC, Berenstain Bears and Arthur Books, run under Windows95 or on the Mac. They are typically aimed at children in preschool through grade 3. These are books that are read to you and, while they are read to you, the words are highlighted on the screen. They also offer some degree of interactivity. With sighted assistance to "drive", a young child could find these quite appealing.

Tuneland

This software is available from most software retailers, this game runs on Windows95 and Windows 3.1. Age level is approximately preschool through kindergarten. In this CD, there are 2 components. The first, called Tuneland, is several scenes, where the user clicks on various hotspots to see animations and hear music. No keyboard accessibility except for Shift-___ combinations to move from one scene to another (Shift-M to go to the Mountain, Shift-T to go to the train station).
In the other component, Tuneland Tune Player, just the music is played. While the music is terrific arrangements of about 40 nursery rhymes, the player is not keyboard accessible at all.

Software for Kids is a blog looking at what software is easily (and freely) available for use by children, specially the very young. This could be a great resource for children who have low vision, or for blind parents who are looking for programs for their sighted children.

Check it out at http://softwareforkids.wordpress.com.

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