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The Brandt-Thomas Educational Center, equipped with Braille displays, PCs, reading machines, and embossers

Technology is changing the way people with visual impairments live and work.  Students with visual impairments can complete homework, do research, take tests, and read books along with their sighted classmates, thanks to advances in technology.  Adults with visual impairments can continue to work and pursue a tremendous range of careers because of the use of computers and other devices.

The Mary Bryant Home assists not only its residents by providing the latest in technology to help them live more independently, but we offer a variety of services for those in the greater Springfield, Illinois community.

The Brandt-Thomas Educational Center


"If you can dream it, you can do it" ~ Helen Keller

The Brandt-Thomas Educational Center (BTEC) was created in memory of Gordon Thomas and in honor of Evelyn Brandt Thomas to teach individuals who are blind or have a visual impairment about the technology available.  An issue of blindness is not necessarily the loss of sight, but more the lack of information and availability of new technology that exists.  The BTEC offers a hands-on approach to learning as it gives people a chance to actually work with and try out the latest, available technology.  This in turn helps someone with a visual impairment live and work in the world.  If a visually impaired person is able to use technology to its fullest, blindness could be reduced to just a physical nuisance.  By offering the resources of the BTEC to the visually impaired community, we hope to give people more independence and the opportunity to contribute great things to society.

Technology and software available in the BTEC includes:

  • Reading Machine: With a simple click of a built-in camera, this unit will process the text from a printed format and will read it aloud
  • Jaws® for Windows®: This tool is a screen reader that reads aloud what is on a PC screen and gives the user tools to navigate web pages as well as all screen content
  • MAGic: A screen magnification program that enlarges and enhances everything on the computer screen as well as offers a text to speech feature
  • Classroom and Training Tools: The BTEC is equipped with a white board, smart board, wireless printers, WiFi, and computers

Braille Classes are also offered monthly through the BTEC.  For more information, please contact us HERE.

Residents catch up on the daily news in the BTEC

A computer assists a Resident enjoy a movie clip

Corporate Training Room

Need a place to host a business meeting or retreat?  The BTEC is an ideal location as it has the latest technology to support multi-media presentations, food and beverage service upon request from the wonderful culinary team at the Mary Bryant Home, restrooms adjacent to the meeting space, and ADA compliant facilities.  Whether you need a space for a half day or full day meeting, we can accommodate your every need.  To inquire about reserving the BTEC, please contact us HERE


Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP)


The Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP) is the non-profit organization designated as the Statewide AT Program funded under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, as amended.  IATP’s lead agency is the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation Services.

IATP’s mission is to increase access to and the acquisition of Assistive Technology (AT) devices and services for individuals of all ages with disabilities.  IATP provides AT information and services in the areas of education, employment, community living, and IT/telecommunications.  Their goal is to improve the quality of life of all Illinoisans with disabilities and enable them through greater access to assistive technology devices to fully participate in all aspects of life.  They believe disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes a person’s right to: 

  • enjoy full inclusion and integration in mainstream society;
  • benefit from an education;
  • pursue meaningful careers and;
  • enjoy self-determination and make choices.

Sensible Innovations, LLC


A Springfield based company called Sensible Innovations has introduced a mobile, patent pending solution to help visually impaired individuals explore the world more freely.  Their solution works through an app called AWARE on a mobile device and uses electronic stickers that help provide information and directions inside public and private buildings.  The Mary Bryant Home has the Sensible Innovation technology installed within the building and residents with a smart phone really love using it as the indoor directions and descriptions are crafted with utmost detail.  The AWARE app is built with large fonts and high contrast for those who prefer to read, completely audible for non-visual preferences, and Braille display for Braille readers.  To learn more, please visit: Sensible Innovations.

Graphic link to the Technology page at Mary Bryant Home
Graphic link to the Low Vision Store page at Mary Bryant Home