There was a time before I lost my sight that I did a lot of work with graphics programs and web design programs. I have used almost all of the big brand ones over the years. Some of those programs are accessible to screen readers, but when a braille display became necessary, I put away my software tools, and now let my husband and son do all of that work. When I was asked to review Great Software Tools’ Graphics-Toolbox, I really didn’t think I was going to be of much help. I wanted to at least try though to support my crew mates. The program is totally inaccessible to me, since I am DeafBlind. The designer was kind enough to send me a .txt document of the manual, since their manual was in an inaccessible format, as well. There are helpful videos available on their website, but not to someone who is deaf and blind. I gave it a try in learning the manual and then trying to teach a student to use the program which is my greatest interest now anyway.

I chose a low vision student, a learning disabled student who loves computers, and a regular education student who shows little interest in computers. I worked with each individually. I guided each of the students through the basic functions of the program. There is a learning curve to this program, and it is steeper than a free program available off the internet or a children’s type drawing program. With time and effort, each student learned to draw shapes, fill in colors, import graphics, manipulate parts of an image, etc. The low vision student was able to zoom in on the parts of the graphic he was working on and found that he could see it well enough to do what he wanted to do. His precision may not be as good as a sighted student, but he could satisfy his tastes. The learning disabled student didn’t struggle much because his instructions were verbal either from me or a text to speech output of the manual. He also is very familiar with computers and a few inexpensive graphics programs and specialized programs with a simple drawing format. Regular education student only struggled a bit more as she had to familiarize herself with the mouse and how it functions in a drawing program and a few other basic skills. They each were able to complete the simple task I devised that had them draw a simple drawing of shapes, color palette choices, and importing of a graphic and cutting a part of it out and placing it in another drawing. They were each asked to then use the program as they choose to design their own project for pretty much any purpose. One designed a logo for his web page. One did graphics manipulation to place his picture in another picture and printing it out for a scrapbook page for a book he keeps. He also designed some various shaped cut-outs to arrange around this page emphasizing his theme which was nautical. There were fish and shell shapes and a wave type design. The last made a detailed and attention-getting flyer announcing a baseball team tryout for the homeschool association. Once they understood the basics, the students were using tools of this software they either wouldn’t have had at all in a lot of programs, or were doing them with almost professional quality because of the high level of precision. All were pleased with their final projects.

The $149.00 price might prevent some from even glancing at it, but it is worth every penny of the price based on the tools and high quality provided here. It is perfect for business or home use, but I recommend it for the skills that a student can learn that can’t be found anywhere else for this price. Try the 30-day trial to see if it is a fit for your family. Go to http://www.greatsoftwaretools.com to find out more.

Great Software Tools provided me a 30 day trial period of this program to do my review. I received no other compensation, and the opinion expressed here is entirely my own.

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