Computers

Accommodating Individuals with Multiple Disabilities

Assistive technologies, like their mainstream counterparts, are often designed with assumptions about user capabilities. For example, screen readers for blind users require extensive keyboard use, which may cause problems if the user also has difficulty using their hands. Creative strategies may help people with more than one disability to accomplish their goals using technology.

Consulting with the User

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iPad/iPhone/iTouch AAC Apps Sorted by Customizability

No matter how well thought-out an augmentative and alternative communcation (AAC) application may be, there will still be some situations that it does not cover. Apps may be modified in one of several ways:

  • Some apps allow vocabulary (words and/or phrases) to be added. This is particularly useful if the user has an unusual vocabulary--e.g., related to their profession--or wishes to speak large amounts of text on a repeated basis.
  • Some apps allow graphics to be added. This helps personalize the app, particularly if the graphics show family members or other images relevant to the user's life, and may increase motivation.
  • Some apps allow users to set presentation preferences (voice qualties and speed, text size, etc.) These can then be reconfigured if the user's needs change.
  • Some apps are basically authoring programs for the user to create whatever vocabulary they wish. These provide the greatest amount of flexibility for users who need highly customized tools.
  • Some apps have no customization capabilities. These may be helpful for users who appear more interested in playing with program options than communicating.

This article lists the relevant apps under each category of customizability.

Apps that Allow Vocabulary to be Added

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Using a Computer While Lying Down

Some people need to spend much of their time in bed for medical reasons; other find that sitting or lying in bed is more comfortable than using a chair or standing. In both cases, appropriate furniture and other hardware may be necessary to permit effective use of either a laptop or desktop computer. This article talks about some strategies and considerations for in-bed computer use.

Initial Considerations

  • Position the bed near an electrical outlet, surge protector, or uninterruptible power supply. Even if the user is using battery power, they will want easy access to the recharger.

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Mounting Systems for Electronic Devices

Mounting systems are often needed to hold specialized or mainstream devices to wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, or stationary objects such as desks, counters, beds, and walls. They provide a way to accommodate the user's ability to reach or operate the device, or a cognitive disability. They work well in public settings and institutions, where the device must be easy to find and use, but protected against theft. Mounting systems have evolved to handle many devices and environments. This article provides an overview of available mounting systems, including what to consider when selecting a system.

When considering mounting systems, keep the following in mind:

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Organizational Tools for People with Learning Disabilities

In some cases, the primary need that people with learning disabilities have is assistance with organization. This may affect organizing thoughts, tasks, or both. This article covers mind-mapping software, which helps with brainstorming and thought grouping, and calendaring software, which helps with time management.

Mind Mapping Software

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Notetaking Tools for People with Learning Disabilities

An important function of accessing information in most educational and work settings is notetaking -- extracting the most important material and using it for studying, supporting assertions in new writings, or transmitting to colleagues. Assistive technology is now available to help facilitate notetaking with either text or audio materials. This article summarizes these current technologies.

Notetaking with Written Materials

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Reading Tools for People with Learning Disabilities

Some people with learning disabilities experience problems with reading, for a variety of reasons. Solutions may involve modifying the font size, typeface, or color contrast, multimodal presentation of text, availability of easy-to-use dictionaries, and masking text that isn't being read.

This article covers some of the mainstream and AT solutions to these writing problems.

Mainstream Options

Office-type programs have options for making the text larger and therefore more legible to some people with learning disabilities. They also have options for changing typeface, type color, and background color, any or all of which may be useful.

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Accessible Technologies for People With Hearing Loss

People who are deaf or hard of hearing need access to audible information.  This may be:

  • part of a computer interface (such as alerting tones)
  • a movie sound track
  • a voice conversation on the phone

This article covers some of the accessibility solutions for both groups of users.

Computers

Computers usually have error and alerting tones, and both Windows and Macintosh have a setting that flashes the screen whenever the sound is played.

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iPad Extras: Mounts, Switches and Other Peripherals

Wednesday, November 30, 2011
1:00 - 2:00 Pacific Standard Time

Wondering what mounts, switches, and other peripherals to get for your iPads? Jennifer was too. She'll share with you what she bought, what she didn't, what she liked, and what she's learned through this process.

Wondering what mounts, switches, and other peripherals to get for your iPads? Jennifer was too. She'll share with you what she bought, what she didn't, what she liked, and what she's learned through this process. The archived webinar is here: iPad Extras: Mounts, Switches, and other Peripherals

Login or sign up for a free membership to register for this training.

Microphones for Speech Recognition

Speech recognition systems perform best when used with an appropriate microphone. This article talks about different microphone options and how to get the best results from each.

Headset microphones work well because they keep the microphone close to the user's voice. Place the headset's microphone consistently, near the corner of the user's mouth. Avoid placing it where it will get bumped or pick up the sound of breath.

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