Summer camp teaches visually impaired teens computer skills through adaptive software

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Year-round, Alphapointe helps those with vision loss achieve their goals.

This week, the nonprofit is focusing specifically on helping teens learn tech. That's something it says can help level the playing field for those with vision loss.

Faces planted in front of a screen most the day isn't your typical summer camp. But Alphapointe is giving visually impaired teenagers a crash course in computer basics.

"Being a teenager is hard. Being a teenager with visual impairment is an additional challenge," said Clay Berry, Alphapointe director of education.

They learn how to navigate different Microsoft applications while using adaptive software.

Things like the Jaws program provides speech and Braille options. A program called Zoom Tech magnifies words on the screen.

"I think it's important because they not also learn the technology, but they also get to interact with other peers like them," camper Mandy Myers said.

Fifth-year camper Elvis Frazier agrees. He said interacting with teens like himself is the best part of this camp.

"I'm already somewhat of a tech nerd myself. So I pick up a few new tricks here and there. But most of the stuff they teach is baby steps for me. But I enjoy the crew," Frazier said.

Most of these teens receive vision services from their schools during the academic year. Alphapointe said it wants to provide similar services when the teenagers are away from school during the summer, too.

"I think the best thing for me is when I hear a kid talk about their future, and they talk about life after college and work and what they want to do, what they want to be. It is the same kind of thing you would hear from a kid with sight," Berry said.

He said by the end of the week, he hopes these campers' computer skills are comparable to other teens.

Thanks to the numerous donations Alphapointe received, every kid will go home with a laptop at the end of the week.

Alphapointe hosts three camps during the summers: this technology camp and two adventure camps, where the kids go horseback riding, swimming and participate in archery, among other things. The adventure camps are for those ages 8-18.

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