Here are some products and resources sighted at this year's CSUN Exhibit Hall, more yet to come!
The LOGAN PROXTALKER is a tool that can act as a bridge between a typical PECS book and a speech output device, such as a dedicated device, or an iPad being used for communication. For individuals who are not ready for the iPad yet, the LOGAN PROXTALKER gives them verbal output while offering a highly tactile experience. The device allows tags to be programmed with sound and attached to PECS like symbols, or actual objects like a bottle of shampoo, or a cup. etc. The objects/symbols can be placed on the LOGAN PROXTALKER to communicate single words, or strings of words that form a sentence, with speech output. There is a great video showing how easy it is to set up and use here and here.
The LOGAN PROXTALKER has been at the CSUN Exhibit Hall before, but this year some of the symbols they had on display employed a clever tactile system to teach language structure to low vision and blind individuals. For example an object like a spoon with one shape attached underneath it, say a circle- would mean "spoon" whereas that same object with a triangle attached underneath it would mean "eat". Here is some information on how to implement a tactile symbol system yourself: http://www.tsbvi.edu/seehear/archive/tactile.html with a full list of symbols here; a blog post about teaching regular versus past tense grammar in a similar way can be accessed here.
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a FREE service which receives funding through the government. Its premise to help those with disabilities with securing job accommodations, but JAN can help with accommodation issues in a school setting too.
Ability Magazine is a print magazine with an innovative feature- first download the Voiceye app to your iOS or Android device, make sure Voiceover or TTS options are enabled on your device, then scan the QR code embedded on each page to have it read aloud to you!
Watch a video about Ability Magazine here.
Freedom Scientific has a whole range of low vision and blindness products, but I was sucked in by a demonstration of the Focus 80 Blue Wireless Braille Display, which allows a user to connect with a full range of iOS 6 devices through Bluetooth. I currently have a text sent to me through this device stored in my phone- the device allows both braille input and output- so you can send texts, open apps, and do things like convert an article on the iPad into braille. I found how it works fascinating; the user slides his fingers across the face of the braille display to read soft pins that pop up to form words in braille.
While doing further research on the above products, I also came across this web resource on how to offer assistance to people who have low vision or are blind: