Assistive Technology on USB Drives

Many assistive technology software programs are available on USB drives (also known as "flash" or "thumb" drives). These drives allow the programs to be run without being installed on the computer, which may be ideal for public computers with security settings that prevent software installation. A library patron, for example, may show up with his or her preferred AT, requiring little additional effort or expense from the library. This article covers how your library or other public access point can take advantage of these accessibility solutions.

Public computing locations should have IT management policies and procedures in place that let users show up with their own AT, while protecting the security of the computers and network. A staffer may have to work with the user to get the software to run effectively on your machines.

Here are some things to watch out for:

  • USB drives are small enough to get lost or "walk off". Make sure the user understands that he or she is responsible for the drive.
  • There may be a virus on the USB drive brought in by a user.  Make sure your computers have up-to-date virus protection.
  • However, if any software does need to be installed from the USB, virus protection or other security software may prevent its installation. Work with your IT staff to understand whether there is a way to get around this barrier.

If for any reason the USB-drive-based software cannot work with your setup, discuss the options with the user. It may be possible for you to load an identical or equivalent application on one of your machines.

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