ViTAL software allows teachers to create exercises on a computer that can be transported or synced to tablets to allow students who are blind to interact with materials that would normally only be available through alt text or embossing technology.

The technology essentially allows teachers to tag parts of things like charts, graphs, maps, or images with auditory feedback. In addition, it makes use of the vibration technology available in most tablets to let the student feel where things are to other things, similar to when using an embosser. For instance, one example they showed me was a map of the world. As you trace your finger over the tablet, the tablet vibrates and speaks the name of the country your finger is on.

ViTAL also includes haptics, which allow creators to use different vibration patterns to identify different items, like multiple lines on a line graph that represent different things.

The software is currently only compatible with Droid tablets, but there are plans actively in the works to being it to IOS devices.

The only down side, as far as I can tell, it does take additional time and effort from teachers, and in many cases students who are blind are in mainstreamed classrooms where finding that time might prove difficult for the classroom teacher. While many of those students have one to one aides, some might also be resistant or unable to learn an entirely new technology. This is an issue with all technology, though.

The time commitment does not seem unreasonable at all, and ViTAL informed me that they are planning to launch a teacher collaboration tool where teachers can borrow already created materials (similar to in the Clicker series of products) by the summer. It seems to be an exciting (and currently shockingly inexpensive by AT standards) technology to keep an eye on and consider.

For more information, you can visit www.vital.education

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