Gesture interface

How Stephen Hawking Uses a Computer (Switches and Scanning)

You might wonder how Stephen Hawking can operate his computer and tell it what to say. He uses a single switch activated by the movement of a muscle in his cheek along with some specialized software that presents choices that narrow down to what he wants to say or do. This article discusses the range of switches and related software that allow anyone with a single consistent motion they can control to use a computer.

Switches

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Touchscreen Use and Accessibility Issues

Touchscreens are becoming ubiquitous in mobile devices: tablets, smartphones, e-readers, etc. However, individuals who have either visual or dexterity disabilities (or both) may have difficulties using standard touchscreen technology. This article covers the types of problems that people may experience, as well as innovations that attempt to address these barriers.

Vision

Traditional touchscreen use, like mouse use, requires good hand/eye coordination. If users cannot see the target, they cannot activate it. This affects opening applications, using the virtual keyboard, and most other touch screen functions. Recent touchscreens have built-in solutions for this problem:

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Gaming Systems (Wii, etc.)

Gaming systems like Playstation, Wii, and XBox are powerful technologies for education, entertainment, and exercise.  They include a console, a handheld controller, game media, and a connector to a television for display.  Some connect to the Internet as well.

They can be used to play physical games or mental puzzles, chat by voice or text with others, browse the web, and watch videos.

There are specialized input devices for different activities, and some have been created or modified for people with disabilities.  New controllers include object, face, and voice recognition technologies -- exciting options for accessibility.

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Apple’s Mobile Products (iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch)

In many ways, Apple’s iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch are ideal accessibility tools. They’re lightweight and easy to use. The wide range of applications -- built-in, free, or generally inexpensive -- suit a variety of needs. The touchscreen interface is ideal for many people who can't use a keyboard or mouse. Finally, because they’re mainstream products, people use them without feeling self-conscious or paying a large amount of money. This article covers some of the accessibility features and ways you can use these devices.

Apple has included some powerful accessibility features in the iOS operating system used by its mobile devices:

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Comparing the Accessibility and Screen Enhancement Features of Google Android Lollipop 5.0 and Apple iOS 8.1.1 for People with Low Vision

The AFB has posted a good comparison of the two dominant smartphone operating systems

"It can be argued that Apple has represented the gold standard of accessibility for some time now. It is reassuring to see Google taking accessibility more seriously with its more recent Android releases that include Magnification Gestures and color inversion."

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