Technology is a great tool in the classroom, but with so many products on the market, it is difficult to know which ones work for students with visual impairments. I found Noteshelf a couple of years ago, and it became an instant favorite for my students and me. For Apple users, it is available in the App Store for $9.99 (often offered at $4.99). Once installed, you can upload documents from many places, (e.g., Google drive, email, or the internet) and Noteshelf will import it as a .pdf document. Once in the app, folders can be created; documents can be highlighted or modified; pictures can be drawn; and audio can be added. Below are several benefits and advantages, for students and teachers, of using Noteshelf in the classroom:
- Go Paperless: Noteshelf can transport photos of worksheets. The worksheet can be enlarged, (zoom), written on (text or using a stylus), then emailed directly to the teacher. This will help the student with low vision have easy access to all documents, and provide the teacher immediate access to written work. High school students keep folders on Noteshelf for all subjects. No more searching for papers, or not being able to identify papers for each subject.
- Note Taking: The teacher can email notes to the student (from board work or overhead), and the student imports these to Noteshelf. The student can highlight the important information, or use the Audio feature and record the lecture or comments on important points. This allows easy access for later to study, or complete assignments.
- Teacher use: The teacher can create a folder for each student with schedules, attendance, important information, lesson plans, and work samples. Also, when attending trainings or workshops, documents and power points can be added and highlighted, marked or emailed to colleagues or parents.
- Accessibility: Once the documents, photos or notes are in Noteshelf, they can be zoomed to view, and edit. The font style and size on the insert text box can also be increased for optimal viewing. Voice over will read the menu bar and the bookshelf, but not the text in the actual document. This will require a reader/transcriber to insert the needed information, or the document to be imported from other sources. The primary user of this App would be low vision students, and teachers.
- Fun and functional: There are a variety of stickers you can use and place in the document. Below is an example of some features.
These are just a few features of Noteshelf. The world of the visually impaired can be difficult to navigate, especially in the classroom. I like it when I find a way to help them access the sighted world. I like it even more when I can share it with others.