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Monday, November 07, 2005

Enlarging Scientific Graphing Calculator Displays for Students with Low Vision

The following record was created as a response to a high school teacher looking for a large print scientific graphic calculator (preferably by Texas Instruments) for one of her students. The Fred's Head Team, asked Susan Osterhaus for assistance. Susan is a Secondary Mathematics teacher with the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She offered the following alternatives:

If the student needs to use a specific TI (Texas Instruments) scientific graphing calculator, I can suggest the: TI Graphing Calculator ViewScreen Enlargement Solution.

Texas Instruments makes a ViewScreen package for the following calculators: TI-80, TI-81,TI-82, TI-83, TI-85, TI-86, and TI-92. When I purchased the TI-82 with the following set-up, it was approximately $300. It has worked very well with my low vision students. They use a ViewScreen calculator connected to a ViewScreen LCD display panel placed on a light box. Call or e-mail Texas Instruments to get a list of vendors from whom you can make your purchase. TI-CARES Educational Support Programs
P.O. Box 650311, MS 3962
Dallas, TX 75265
Phone: 800-TI-CARES
Website: TI-Care Educational Support:

Also, keep in mind you can borrow calculators, at no charge, for you to examine before making a purchasing decision.

I suggest that when you contact Texas Instruments, you order the ViewScreen package, which includes the following:
a ViewScreen display panel, that normally sits on top of any standard overhead projector
; a ViewScreen calculator
a unit-to-unit cable
an adapter
a guidebook
and a carrying case.

You will also need a light box (instead of an overhead projector) for a light source to place the display panel on. "Tru-View" Light Boxes can be used to back-light TI ViewScreens providing a convenient and effective way of enlarging the TI series of graphing calculators for low vision students. I ordered mine from:

Logan Electric Specialty Mfg. Co.
1431 West Hubbard Street
Chicago, IL 60622
Phone: 312-226-5888, Fax: 312-226-4217
Website: Logan Electric Specialty:

The entire ViewScreen package and the Tru-View Light Box by Logan fit into the attractive and comfortably designed carrying case, which makes a light-weight easily portable package, which is very important for my students.

2) If the above doesn't meet your student's needs, I would suggest that you check out a piece of software called "Scientific Notebook" by Mackichan Software. If your student has a laptop, Scientific Notebook can be installed in it, and then you actually have a very portable device which is more than just a graphing scientific calculator. Scientific Notebook is also a math/text processor, so your student could do all of his or her assignments, calculations, and graphs in one document directly on the laptop. You can download a free 30-day trial version of Scientific Notebook directly from their Web site. You can get Scientific Notebook at:

MacKichan Software, Inc.
600 Ericksen, Suite 300
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Phone: 1-877-SCI-NOTE
Fax: 1-206-780-2857
Website: MacKichan Software:

The Scientific Notebook software already has onscreen magnification up to 400%, however, the student can also use his or her own screen magnification software. In addition, MacKichan Software, also has the large print fonts LP and LP2 available for free. These fonts will allow further onscreen magnification as well as the ability to produce large print hard copies.

If none of these alternatives meet your student's needs, you may want to visit the Texas School for the Blind Web site, where Susan offers other "Large Display Scientific/Graphing Calculator Solutions"

Contributor: Susan Osterhaus

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