Information management

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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Independent Living As We Age

In honor of National Falls Prevention day this Friday, Sept. 23rd, the National Council on Aging posted an article debunking the commonly held belief that the older we get the more likely we are to fall. They've responded to 10 popular myths such as "4. As long as I stay home I can avoid falling or 5. Muscle strength and flexibility can't be regained".

At the Accessible Technology Coalition we are all about how technology can promote and support living independently. There are many types of devices that can help to keep people active and strong as we age.

Regarding falls, technology may not be preventing them just yet but new fall detectors, with gyroscopes, mean that a fall can be reported even if the person can't press a button. One product and service from Phillips never needs charging and is waterproof.

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Technology Made Easier for Technology Averse People

While technology seems a clear boon to many people, including elders and people with disabilities, others may find it too intimidating. This article talks about products and strategies that simplify the process of using technology or that provide up-to-date capabilities via familiar products, such as televisions and refrigerators.

Not using current technology may present significant barriers, such as the inability to use an ever-increasing number of services that are only available online: applying for jobs, cutting through governmental red tape, or communicating with banks and other companies.

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Content Management Systems (CMSs) and Accessibility

Content Management Systems (CMSs) let you create websites without having to write software or know much about web technologies -- they separate the task of creating and managing the content of your site from the task of building and maintaining the underlying structure. This lets 'average people' set up and manage a site, and makes it easy for contributors to write and comment. Drupal, Joomla!, WordPress, and Plone are popular CMSs. This article provides an overview of CMSs and accessibility, and how to get started.

Note: this article does not cover the specific types of CMSs used widely in education, called learning management systems, such as Blackboard and Elluminate.

How CMSs Work

CMSs are all about simplicity, and they use 2 techniques to achieve their goal of simplification; both have accessibility implications.

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Using Pictures in Mainstream Communication Programs

Adding pictures to standard communication tools such as address books may provide important visual cues for people with learning or other cognitive disabilities -- users can contact people without knowing how to read or write their names. This article contains information on ways that Macintosh and Windows computers and mobile devices support this feature.

Adding Pictures to Email Address Books

Macintosh

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Accessibility and E-Readers

E-readers (portable devices used primarily for reading electronic books) and general purpose tablets with book-reading apps, like the iPad, are fast becoming popular choices for reading the growing collection of books available in electronic formats. Both types arrived with some accessibility advantages, and developers have been making their products more accessible to people with visual and dexterity disabilities. This article is a summary of the current accessibility state-of-the-art for the most popular of these devices, as well as information on using computers to access e-books. The field is evolving due to lawsuits against schools and libraries, by groups concerned with access.

Most e-readers have features that make them easier for some users, compared to printed books: lighter weight, buttons or screen gestures for page-turning, magnification, and good contrast in low light. Brands and models differ widely on these and more advanced features such as text-to-speech, easy-to-use controls, and screens that perform well in all lighting conditions.

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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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