A Toolbox for People Who Are Blind or Have Visual Impairments
As Director of Counseling at the Deicke Center for Low Vision,
Leah Gerlach has a very challenging role. She works at one
of the busiest low vision centers in the Midwest with only
the help of Deicke's small staff and a couple of volunteers,
comprising a team of eight.
Leah meets with consumers and their families to help each
one cope and make adjustments to sudden onsets of vision loss.
Leah helps consumers set new, attainable goalsan encouraging
first step in the rehabilitation process, and a hopeful one.
Leah's presence as a guiding force at Deicke Center is credible
to consumers because Leah herself is legally blind due to
being born two months early.
Leah also runs Deicke's support group and oversees the outreach
program, visiting many special education programs throughout
Illinois. Out in the field, Leah and her staff make evaluations
and recommend assistive technology devices. The Deicke Center
can also provide devices because they work to raise private
donations and corporate grants. Leah also writes the agency's
grant proposals. How does she accomplish so much each week?
First, there's Leah's guide dog, Future, a yellow Labrador
retriever and an active member of the staff. Future guides
Leah wherever she needs to go, safely and efficiently. Future
has been Leah's guide dog for three and a half years. (For
more information on guide dogs, see the
assistive pooch page of Infinitec's special animals section)
Then, Leah utilizes several forms of assistive technology:
A primary tool for many people with blindness is the Perkins
Brailler; Leah uses hers for taking notes at meetings
or to write notes to colleagues who read Braille.
At work and at home, Leah utilizes JAWS screen reading
software with synthetic speech for reading and writing
in all programs, such as Microsoft Word, Web pages, and electronic
mail. JAWS will also read back anything Leah types in, letter-by-letter,
and complete words. JAWS has seven or eight different voices
to choose from so that users can offset different types of
text. For instance, one voice is used for body text and another
for titles and paragraph headings. Leah sometimes uses Zoomtext
Extra, another talking screen-reader.
For database work, Microsoft Access provides users
with keystroke commands, rather than mouse movement and pull-down
menus that must be seen. A hand-held telescope is very
useful for reading street signs or airport monitors. Leah
has both of these in her toolbox and uses them.
Arkenstone Openbook is a scanning program that uses
an optical character recognition (OCR) device to scan anything
in type and read it back aloud. Openbook can also magnify
text scanned from a computer screen. Leah uses it to examine
documents and read her snailmail. Text can then be saved and
manipulated for future reference.
When it's time to relax, Leah likes to go hiking and canoeing
in good weather, machine quilting by touch for indoors, and
cooking all year long. She is married with two grown children.
Her academic achievements include a Master's degree in Rehabilitation
Administration and Counseling, a bachelor's degree in Interpersonal
Communication, and a certificate in Adaptive Technology Applications.
When it comes to work, Leah has all bases covered. You can
too with a state-of-the-art toolbox. See the resources below
for all the software and devices mentioned above.
The Deicke Center for Visual Rehabilitation
219 East Cole Avenue
Wheaton, IL 60187
Telephone: (630) 690-7115
Fax: (630) 690-9037
The Deicke Center's mission is to provide the visually impaired
with the tools and training necessary to function independently
at home, in the workplace, and in the community at large.
For more information, visit: http://www.deicke.org/
Freedom Scientific Low Vision Group
Personal notetaking, Braille embossing, computer Braille displays
and scanning & reading printed media.Screen reading, screen
magnification, web access, scanning & reading and WYNN
literacy software, accessories, training, support, and an
Eschenbach makes many types of magnifiers and hand-held telescopes.
JAWS for Windows by:
11800 31st Court North
St. Petersburg, FL 33716-1805
(727) 803-8000 or 1(800) 336-5658
(727) 803-8001 (fax)
Visit the Henter-Joyce Web site for a free demo:
Perkins School for the Blind
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02172-2790
(617) 924-3490 (Tel)
(617) 926-2027 (Fax)
Perkins Braillers are available in manual or electric models,
one-handed and large cell models.
Innovations for People with Visual Disabilities
Video magnifiers and software, note-takers, scanners, Braille
writers, display, embossers, learning disabilities software,
customer support. Pulse data also took over Humanware.
(see Pulse Data above)
Note: Infinitec Inc. does not endorse
or recommend the above-mentioned products and has no liability
for the results of their use. Infinitec Inc. has received
no consideration of any type for featuring this product on
this Web site. The information offered herein is a summary;
it is not comprehensive and should be carefully evaluated
by consumers with the assistance of qualified professionals.
The intention of Infinitec Inc. is to offer consumers a brief
overview of various assistive technology devices and their