Author: Margaret Griffin, M.Ed.Stud., State Coordinator, Vision Impairment Service, Tasmania, Australia


Janii is a young girl aged 7 with congenital nystagmus who attends a busy inner city primary school.  She is legally blind.  Like all the students in her class, she is still learning to read, acquiring more competencies on a daily basis and showing an even upward curve in her literacy and numeracy skills attainments.  Through continuing assessment, Janii’s interaction with print is closely monitored.  She comfortably works with N18 print size.  A range of other physical adaptations in the classroom in relation to lighting, seating position, and tilt surfaces ensure that she is comfortably positioned to engage with different learning tasks.  The ergonomic tilt board which is an important consideration is lightweight and adjustable and easily managed on a group desk arrangement.

Janii has access to a range of technology to support her learning needs. A desktop computer equipped with a lightweight LCD monitor is in her classroom.  It is situated with four other class computers. Janni’s computer has the same operating system and suite of software as all other classroom computers.  Janii’s class teacher integrates technology into daily class activities.  Like all her classmates, Janii is becoming familiar with different Microsoft Office applications.  At this stage of her literacy development she is learning to review her first draft and then publish a final copy, which can be done on the computer.  Janii can easily open a word file and is currently learning about different features of Word.  The enlargement software, Zoomtext assists this process by enlarging all the screen icons. Janii has this set  to a 2X magnification.  Other specialist software has also assisted Jannii’s functional vision and response to auditory information.  For example, the specialist software program Balanced Literacy has been utilized. The interactive literacy materials provide students both auditory and visual feedback to students engaged in reading the talking books which are part of this programme. Information on this program is available at www.intellitools.com.

Janii really enjoys the visual arts area of the curriculum.  She has great curiosity about the natural world around her.  These curriculum areas are both learning strengths.  Janii’s vision impairment means that it is more difficult for her to obtain the quality and quantity of information about the natural world in which she is so clearly interested.  For this reason a colour video magnifier is an important component of her kit of individual technology tools.  Jannii’s video magnifier is a Prisma.  

The Prisma enables Jannii to magnify print, pictures, small objects and other items that capture her interest. For example, Jannii and the class have recently enjoyed looking at snails and caterpillars. Janii can see the fine detail and is motivated to learn how to operate the Prisma. The unit is lightweight and portable folding down into a compact suitcase which can move between home and school locations. It can connect into an ordinary desktop computer or connect to a TV screen as in the photo on the left. Further information on the Prisma is available on the Quantech website.  Other students who may require higher levels of magnification and the capacity for sustained interaction with print may be assisted by other video magnifier options.  In Jannii’s case, the Prisma has met a particular need assisting by:

  • creating opportunities to extend her conceptual ideas through by bringing the natural world to her attention.
  • enhancing ways in which Jannii can develop early literacy and numeracy skills by direct experience and engagement with picture books and other materials.

Like other students, Janii’s needs will be regularly reviewed so that changing needs are identified and addressed.