Adolescent/Transition

Captions on DVDs

Viewers of DVDs and Blu-ray disks usually have the option of viewing captions.

DVDs that have closed captions or subtitles may indicate that on the cover.  To turn captions on, go to the 'menu' on the DVD and look for the 'languages' category.  Either 'closed captions' (CC) or 'subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing' (SDH) will show up.  Select the option and proceed to play the DVD.

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Alternative and Augmentative Communication--What Is It?

People may have difficulty speaking due to a physical injury or a disability (e.g., cerebral palsy), a cognitive impairment (such as brain injury or autism), or both physical and cognitive disabilities. Some of these people use alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) strategies for communication. This article covers the general principles of AAC; more information about specific strategies is in our article about Alternative and Augmentative Communication--What are the Options?

AAC needs to be matched to the user's physical and cognitive capabilities, but also to the immediacy of their communication needs. If someone is trying to communicate, it is better to quickly provide simple but reasonably effective strategies, such as a sheet of paper with pictures that she can point to, than to wait until more sophisticated options are available.

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Telecommunication Relay Service (TRS)

Telecommunication Relay Service (background article.

">TRS) is a family of free services that lets people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or speech impaired independently place and receive phone calls.  A communication assistant (CA) "translates" between a text or sign language user on one side and a voice telephone user on the other.

This article covers the various types of relay services and how to use them.

background article.

">TRS includes:

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PDF Accessibility

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a common file format that allows the layout of a document to look the same across different platforms and applications. This article explains how to view and create PDFs with accessibility in mind.

Viewing PDFs

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Mobile Phones and Vision Loss

The main problem for blind and low vision mobile phone users is access to the screen: menus, address books, text messages, incoming call information, etc.  Just like computers, the solutions are to enlarge the text or turn it into speech.  Some phones have these features right out of the box; others require add-on software that may cost as much as $400.

This article will cover some of the options available, and point you to more information resources in this fast-moving market.

Built-in Features

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Free and Cheap Screen Readers

Screen reader software converts text on a computer screen into synthetic speech and/or braille. The software also allows the keyboard to replace the mouse in controlling the computer, and provides other help in navigating. Although the most popular screen readers cost about $1000, this article covers some that are free or at low cost. They work relatively well with the basic popular software applications and general Internet tools, but do not have the "power user" features found on the more sophisticated programs.

Windows

NVDA (non-visual desktop access) is an open-source screen reader for Windows. It works with common programs such as Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer.

Thunder is another free Windows screen reader offered by a group in the United Kingdom.

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Software and Hardware Media Players

Audio and video files can be played on hardware devices (such as an iPod or portable DVD player), or via software on a computer (such as Windows Media Player or Apple QuickTime). This article discusses what to consider when determining options for making these files available for use by individuals with various types of disabilities.

Hardware media players

Controls: Controls should require minimal hand movement and activation pressure for the benefit of people with dexterity disabilities. Make sure that they are not too easy to activate or too close together.  Multiple controls with different shapes allow blind users to distinguish among them by touch.

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Large Computer Pointers/Cursors

Current computer operating systems use a small icon called a pointer or cursor that moves on the screen when the mouse is moved. The most common pointers are an arrow, a vertical bar that appears in word processing document (sometimes called the I-Beam), and a hand that appears on web pages when the pointer is on top of a link. These pointers can be quite small or may blend in with the background, making them difficult to see, especially for people with low vision.

This article discusses several ways to make the pointer more visible. Utilities built into the operating system can make the pointer easier to see by making it larger, providing higher contrast, or providing supplemental visual cues. If these are not sufficient, some third-party programs have additional capabilities.

Try It Yourself:

Pointer modification: Provides themes that change the color and size of the standard pointers. One Windows option has an option for animating the pointers, which may help in catching users' attention.

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Setting Up Accessible Workstations

When discussing computer accessibility in public computer labs, much attention is given to modifications to the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. However, for some users, accessible furniture and good lighting are equally if not more important. Setting up accessible computer workstations at a library or other public access point requires some planning, but usually little additional expense.

This article goes over some of the major considerations to help you get started.

  • Wheelchair access.  Make sure that there is an accessible path of travel to at least one of your workstations.  Chairs should be easy to move out of the way so a wheelchair can fit at the workstation, without inconveniencing other patrons.
     

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Captions on Popular Online Video Sites

Online videos have grown in number and importance to the point where deaf, hard of hearing, and other people who need captions are seriously disadvantaged if those captions are not available. For example, some educational institutions offer online training that includes videos, but these are often not available. And of course most informal videos, such as family reunions or school plays, are hardly ever captioned.

Adding to this problem is the fact that there are many different video formats, and the most popular online video sites use different interfaces to control playback.

However, there are some improvements in online captioning, and more progress is on the way. This article covers how to find and view captioned videos online.

Captioning of video websites varies since there is no legal requirement to caption "consumer-generated" videos.  Federal government agencies do have to caption their online videos under Section 508, and a

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