Advice on Mac products for VI college bound student

Hardware & Accessories


My daughter is a visually impaired high school student entering 11th grade next year. She is legally blind (20 X300 , 20X800) and uses 2 ipads (for split/dual screen purposes), & CCTV exclusively in school. Since Kindergarten, she has had a personal aide that has enlarged all her papers/books, etc. to font size 24. She relies heavily on the touchscreen zoom capability on her ipad. We are currently working to phase out her aide as she can't have someone enlarging papers once she's off to college. We have her CSE meeting with the school this week where they are going to recommend the technology for her for next year. One of the things they are pushing is a laptop with Zoomtext but my daughter has never been properly trained in zoomtext so is quick to dismiss the laptop. We believe she needs a laptop or the Mac equivalent to be successful in college in conjunction with her ipad. Are we correct to think this way? Given that she is already so comfortable with her iphone and ipad, perhaps a macbook makes more sense? I don't know if she can utilize the touchscreen zoom feature on a macbook and I realize losing this "feature" may be something she needs to be more open minded about.

Would really love to know anyone's thoughts on the best technology to use in college when you have some vision but rely heavily on zoom features. She can't see the board so everything being done on the smartboard/chalkboard is transmitted to her ipad or viewable through the CCTV camera.

Trying to find resources that can help us make good technology decisions for her moving forward. If anyone knows of resources that could help guide us, please let me know. We have a great support system in our school and through our state's commission for the blind but it seems like there aren't many VI kids in our local system that are high honors and college bound. Thank you!!




Submitted by david s on Saturday, June 3, 2017


I know this is an old thread but I hope you got your answer. If not, here is my suggestion.

Since your daughter is already familiar with IOS, moving to a Macbook will be a better way to go. Her IOS devices will interact with a Macbook easily and getting her to learn OSX will be easier than having her learn a new OS such as Windows and a new screen reader. Also, with a Macbook, you can also install windows and a screen reader should she decide she wants to try it out or if a class requires that she use windows. Will this be cheap? Not really but you already know that since she uses an iPad instead of a cheaper android device.

If you haven’t already, call your local apple store and ask to set up an appointment with an accessability specialist. Let them know your daughter is visually impaired and would like to try out a Mac. IF there are a few apple stores near you, call each one until you find a person familiar with Voice Over as this same person will also know about other visual features on the Mac.

If you have further questions, just post.

HTH and good luck.

Submitted by Nathan Stocking on Saturday, June 3, 2017

I am not particularly qualified to suggest for this situation, as I am completely blind and thus do not use any magnification products, but I would suggest trying a laptop to see if it will meet your standards. Most university courses could probably be accomplished with an iPad, but it is usually an all-or-nothing situation when it comes to more advanced or specialized classes. Thus, if the perspective course of study is mostly based on literary materials (I.E. reading and writing text), an iPad should be able to handle that work. Mathematical and scientific studies will pose a risk of not functioning well with the restrictive environment of an iPad, and studies such as computer science will not be possible.
One recommendation I have is to test a laptop, both a windows one and a Mac to determine how usable they are. Both these operating systems have magnifiers built in to the system, although I cannot speak to their reliability or quality. However, it should be possible to test them with any computer that can be used temporarily. If no Mac is conveniently available, the Apple Store is usually quite receptive to allowing a test on one of their display machines, even if this takes some time. In order to start the mac's magnifier (called zoom), launch system preferences, which can be found in the leftmost menu (the apple menu), click accessibility by the bottom, and select zoom from there. In windows 10, you can test Microsoft's magnifier by typing "magnifier" into the search box. There are other magnifiers available, including zoom text as you mentioned, and you could try these as well. Unfortunately, many accessibility departments at the university level are not always familiar with all aspects of a disability, so their suggestion of zoom text, while undoubtedly well-meaning, may stem more from their limited experience of the equipment. You may need to help the department to understand the specifics of your daughter's situation. I know from experience that this may be difficult and/or irritating, but there are usually many advantages.
I wish you the best with your situation. If I can be of any assistance, don't hesitate to ask a question. I am a university student, so I have some experience with some of the processes involved that apply more generally to students with disabilities, even though mine is a different one.