Assistive Technology Skills

Photo shows a student using a Mountbatten Electronic Braillewriter with a teacher.

Image shows a logo with an outline of an iPhone.Technology is everywhere in education and home life. Assistive technologies provide access to information for learning, social interaction or leisure. We have come to rely on technology for many forms of our daily communication and productivity tasks.

Assistive technology skills include knowing how to

  • operate and maintain devices
  • navigate operating systems
  • decide which device to use for different tasks.

Check out the Assistive Technology Skills section in #Outreaching - the blog of the PRCVI Outreach Team.

Connections to the BC Curriculum – Core Competencies

The BC Curriculum emphasizes Communication and Critical Thinking as a core competency with the goal that all students understand and engage in digital media and that students reflect on their own thinking and that of others.


The Communication Curriculum identifies four facets of communication competency:

  • Connect and engage with others (to share and develop ideas)
  • Acquire, interpret, and present information (includes inquiries)
  • Collaborate to plan, carry out, and review constructions and activities
  • Explain/recount and reflect on experiences and accomplishments

The Critical Thinking Curriculum identifies three facets of student development:

  • Analyze and critique
  • Question and investigate
  • Develop and design

Assistive Technology Skills - Students with Visual Impairments

The use of technology for communication and productivity in our daily lives is widespread. For students with visual impairments to participate fully and independently, they require access to current and accessible technology. Assistive technology has improved so much in the field of vision that consumer technology like smartphones, laptops and tablets come with built-in accessible features. Dedicated assistive devices like braille notetakers go even further in supporting the specific needs for access or learning material formats.

When it comes to technology, students with visual impairments need to have the same access, knowledge and skills as their sighted peers. This can also mean that students will have multiple devices and that they are able to select the appropriate assistive technology (e.g. software or hardware) for the task (Kamei-Hannan, Brostek Lee, Presley, 2017). Students need to learn how to use technology so that they are independent and efficient.

According to Ike Presley and Frances D’Andrea (2008), assistive technology serves the following functions for students with visual impairments:

  • Supporting learning and literacy
  • Accessing print information
  • Accessing electronic information
  • Producing written communication
  • Producing materials in alternate formats

Examples of Assistive Technology Skills

  • General device knowledge/maintenance: Knows the function of buttons and ports, ensure battery is charged, save transportation and/or storage, starting up and shutting down the device
  • Accessing online information: Using a search engine, filling out forms, downloading a document, navigating web pages
  • Email: Download email, read email, send an attachment

Resources to Support Instruction

PRCVI Library Catalogue

Presley, I., & D’Andrea, F. M. (2008). Assistive technology for students who are blind or visually impaired: A guide to assessment. New York, NY: AFB Press.

#Outreaching Posts from PRCVI

Introducing Students to VoiceOver for iOS

  • This post provides resources and suggested teaching strategies for introducing students to using VoiceOver on an iOS device.

Setting Up Windows for Low Vision

  • This post covers Windows built-in accessibility features including display settings, high-contrast settings, and magnification, and links to resources and training materials from Microsoft.

NVDA Features for Teachers

  • This post covers the the Focus Highlight and Braille Viewer features of NVDA and suggestions for how TSVIs may use these features with their students.

Microsoft Teams for Students with Visual Impairments

  • From the PRCVI outreach team, these educator-focused resources are intended to support TSVIs as they implement Microsoft Teams with students who rely on keyboard access using screenreading software. 

Resources to Introduce VoiceOver for iOS

  • This post from the PRCVI Outreach Team’s #Outreaching blog includes resources and suggestions for introducing students to VoiceOver on the iPhone or iPad.

Web-Based Resources

Kelso, E. (n.d.). Overview of Assistive Technology. Retrieved from

Mountbatten Pro Braille Writer Resources

  • Developed by Graham Cook, this series of ten Mountbatten Pro lesson plan modules contains strategies and ideas that will serve as a resource and teaching guide for vision professionals. The second document, MB Pro - A Visual Guide, was developed to help teams become familiar with the hardware.

Musescore Music Editor. Do you have a student who needs a way to compose music? MuseScore is an open-source music editor featuring screen reader accessibility (with NVDA) as one of its flagship features! This software can be used to compose music that can then be printed for sighted music teachers or peers. Retrieved from 

Perkins School for the Blind (2019). Paths to Technology. Retrieved from

  • Comprehensive website from the Perkins School for the Blind with assistive technology-focused content for practitioners, students, and parents

Image shows a table with the distribution of disability types across survey participants.WebAIM Screen Reader User Survey #8 Results

  • The results of the most recent survey of screen reader users conducted by WebAIM. TSVIs will find lots of useful information on trends and perspectives on how screen reading software is being used by consumers.



Kamei-Hannan, C., Brostek Lee, D., & Presley, I. (2017). Assistive Technology. In Foundations of Education (3rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 611–653). New York, NY: AFB Press, American Foundation for the Blind.

Presley, I., & D’Andrea, F. M. (2008). Assistive technology for students who are blind or visually impaired: a guide to assessment. New York, NY: AFB Press.

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