On September 30th, eight vision resource teachers and two student support workers came together at the SET-BC Provincial Centre in Vancouver to attend a workshop to learn more about the Focus 40, a refreshable braille display from Scientific Freedom.
Most teams have been using the refreshable braille display as a single purpose device – just a braille display. Workshop participants wanted to learn how to harness the power of using keyboard commands on the Focus 40 to fully access the Windows environment with the JAWS screen reading program. Exploration of these more advanced features was the “focus” for the day.
The Focus 40 has a braille keyboard which allows students to type braille when using the computer with JAWS. The JAWS software handles the translation from braille input to print on the computer. Most functions in Windows can be accessed through the Focus 40 and JAWS pairing so teachers and students can become efficient in using both by learning and practicing the various keystroke combinations.
During the workshop, participants spent time adjusting settings in JAWS so that student braille reading preferences were optimized. They also explored navigating the Windows environment, word processing, selecting blocks of text for formatting or moving, and navigating the internet. Participants spent time practicing their keyboard commands and tried to complete short tasks as well as troubleshooting on their own to improve their understanding of how the entire system works together.
It was a productive (and ‘focused’) day of learning and exploring this powerful technology solution. The school teams are looking forward to applying their learning in the days and weeks as they support their students who use Focus 40 and JAWS.
For those interested in learning about this technology, please view our Focus 40 with JAWS technology tutorial resources.