Independent Living Center

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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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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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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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:

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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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iPad: Accessibility

Thursday, October 2, 2014
3:30 PM Pacific, 6:30 PM Eastern

Settings to enhance use by those with vision, hearing, learning, and physical and motor issue from the Special Ed. Tech. Center at Central Washington University.

The iPad provides excellent accessibility features for students with disabilities.  These features address difficulties with vision, hearing, learning, and physical and motor.  Join this webinar to learn how to adjust the settings on your iPad to enhance usage for students with a variety of needs.  

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

Smart Phones & Service for the Visually Impaired

Professor Norm Coombs of EASI has shared articles on a phone and a cell phone provider designed for people with visual impairments. The Project-Ray Smart Phone is an Android device that has simplified features and was reviewed by the AFB.

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AT in Action: Meet Nick!


In the FCTD's newest AT in Action video, you'll meet Nick, a young entrepreneur with CP, who owns his own lawn-care business. Nick uses assistive technologies, both low and high tech, that aid him in driving and accessing his laptop computer and tablet.

Watch on YouTube

Hadley Archived Webinars on AT for Visual Impairments

The Hadley School for the Blind has over 40 archived webinars on topics of interest to visually impaired individuals including cloud computing basics, how to choose a notetaker, iOS access, internet search, Skype, and many more listed below.

 

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