For a lot of students with low vision, spending lots of time on the computer or brightly lit devices can easily cause eyestrain/eye fatigue, especially for those taking a lot of virtual classes. One of the ways that I help to reduce strain on my eyes is by using my eReader to display information so that I don’t have to look at my computer as much to read through longer documents. Here is how I’m using my eReader to support virtual learning, and tips for using eReaders for accessible materials.
While it may seem like a strange choice to use an eReader as assistive technology when tablets are so popular, there are quite a few reasons why I like to use mine:
While the exact method for adding documents/books to an eReader will vary depending on the model, here is the general step-by-step for how to add additional content to an eReader:
Many of my professors will give students excerpts of text to read for an assignment or provide a copy of the textbook online. While I tend to read these on my computer whenever possible, some of my friends prefer to read textbooks or textbook excerpts on an eReader because it’s easier for them to hold and some of their devices support having books read out loud- a very useful tool for helping to manage eyestrain.
If I have to read a lot of text for a research paper and don’t want to do it at my computer, I can download a PDF copy of whatever I am reading to my eReader and read through the information that way. I can take notes using the Notes function built-in to my device, though I prefer to take notes either by hand or by typing in Microsoft OneNote whenever possible, as this helps me to stay more organized. Another bonus is that I don’t have to worry about losing the link to the full text of a source- all of the information is on my device.
Many libraries have awesome services that allow users to check out a variety of content, including magazines, eBooks, and more. This is a great way to explore new titles or do read a book from the college library that is hard to find elsewhere. Of course, for students with print disabilities, Bookshare is another great option for free eBooks and has hundreds of thousands of titles available for users to download and keep forever, with new titles added frequently.
Sometimes, it just helps to step away from a screen and see writing on a different device. One of my friends was telling me about how they will download their finished papers in a PDF format so that they can review their writing on an eReader and catch mistakes before they turn in their paper. For them, it’s much easier than reading large amounts of text while being close to a screen, or using a screen reader to go through every detail. While I haven’t personally used this method, I think it is an awesome idea!
I love using my eReader, as it was one of the first assistive technology devices I ever used and it helped me tremendously with being able to access print materials and finally read whatever book I wanted. Years later, I’m still using it to help me with virtual classes and to read books in accessible formats, and it makes a tremendous difference. I hope this post on using eReaders as assistive technology to support virtual learning is helpful for others!
By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes, www.veroniiiica.com
Updated August 2023
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