7th grade Layla sits with her hands on a laptop running JAWS.

Benefits of mastering tech early: Layla, then and now!

The benefits of introducing technology in preschool!

Do you ever wonder what those adorable preschoolers who were introduced to tech early are doing now? I am one of those “mature” educators who have watched many of my previous preschool and kindergarten students graduate from high school and college and go on to have successful careers. When iPads were released, I knew this device would be a game changer for students with low vision and blindness. With its touch screen, built-in accessibility, and simplicity, app developers quickly began creating simple educational apps for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarten students and excited TVIs jumped to find ways to harness this powerful piece of tech. What are those BLV students who started with iPads in preschool doing now?

Preschool Layla

Layla was one of the first 4-year olds to be introduced to an iPad with VoiceOver and a refreshable braille display that I followed. In 2015, her amazing TSVI, Rachel Heuston, participated in a semester long iPad Accessibility course that Ed Summers and I taught, and Layla was her test student for the course. Rachel did an amazing job of recording Layla’s iPad progress which she shared through posts on Paths to Technology.

The summary video below follows then 4-year old Layla as she was introduced to the iPad, VoiceOver gestures, and a refreshable braille display. This 9-minute video begins in September with Layla being introduced to VoiceOver gestures and ends in January with Layla reading and writing braille using an iPad paired with a refreshable braille display.

4-year old Layla’s introduction to the iPad video:

This video inspired many TSVIs and parents to introduce an iPad to their young students with visual impairments. The video was also shared with app developers as “proof of concept” showcasing the tech abilities of very young blind students, which brought much needed attention to the need to incorporate accessibility into early apps.

Did you recognize Layla? She is the icon image for Paths to Technology!

4 year old Layla sitting in her preschool classroom with fingers on a refreshable braille display with an iPad beside her.
4-year old Layla wearing sun glasses and hair in pigtails with her fingers on a braille display in her preschool classroom.

Middle School Layla

The video below features rock star Layla, now in 7th grade, who is Freedom Scientific’s March 2023 Student of the month. Layla’s personality shines through as she shares about all the activities she participates in and then goes on to talk about her tech skills. She was using a laptop with JAWS in 4th grade to access her schoolwork and she shares that she became even more efficient with JAWS during the pandemic with virtual classes. Layla now uses JAWS to access all her schoolwork and for leisure activities.

Descriptions of background photos and clips in the video here.

Benefits of mastering tech early

Layla’s TSVI also shared that it is critical for Layla to learn her tech skills BEFORE applying those skills to mainstream classroom activities.


More posts about Layla:

More posts about preschoolers and the iPad:

by Diane Brauner

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