Information management

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.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Assistive Technology Software and People with Learning Disabilities

The term "learning disability" is usually defined as involving difficulties with reading, writing, math, memory, or other cognitive functions among people with average or above-average intelligence. Because there is such a wide variation among individual needs and preferences, people with learning disabilities are often best served by software with a variety of customizable features. These features may also be of use to individuals with more temporary needs, such as beginning readers and ESL students. This article talks about some of these tools and the needs they address.

Assistive Technology Strategies for Reading

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Assistive Technology for People with Visual Disabilities

Tools that provide access to people who are blind or have low vision are available to help with a variety of tasks, including telephone use, cooking, self-care, and even carpentry. These tools usually provide output in at least one of three ways: audio, magnification, or braille.

Note: For information on computer access, see our articles on magnification, refreshable braille, and screen readers. For information on magnifying printed text, see our article on CCTVs.

Telephone Access

Large button telephones can make dialing easier for people with low vision. They may have additional features, such as audio amplification.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

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.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

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.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Free Computer AT Already in Macintosh Computers

The Macintosh OS X operating system built-in accessibility features to make the monitor, keyboard, or mouse easier to use for many people. This article provides information on these features, including how to turn them on and use them. Some of these features are also available in earlier Macintosh systems; please contact us if you would like more information. Another good resource on Macintosh accessibility is the AT Mac blog.

Mouse Assistance/Alternatives

MouseKeys

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Free Computer AT Already in Windows Computers

The Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 operating systems all include a wide range of built-in accessibility features. These can be activated to make the monitor, keyboard, or mouse easier to use for many people. This article provides information on these features, including how to turn them on and use them in all three versions of Windows. Most of these features are also available in earlier Windows systems.

Mouse Assistance/Alternatives

MouseKeys

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

New App for DAISY Audio Books

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) has released an app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch that allows users to download and read their more than 60,000 DAISY Consortium.

">DAISY books in audio. You must be an RFB&D member to use the service, and the app costs $19.99.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Assistive Technology and Elders

When considering assistive computer technology for elders, three issues need to be addressed: how will they need to be accommodated, what technology exists to provide accommodations, and how can these technologies be presented so elders will use them.

How Do Elders Need To Be Accommodated?

For elders, disability exists on a continuum of severity. Some disabilities are a natural part of aging and are generally mild.  Other disabilities rise in incidence with age, and may be mild to severe. Finally, more people with mild to severe long-term disabilities are living well beyond retirement age.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Accessibility Considerations for Library Software

What Are the Problems?

Using a library now means using software: online resources, Internet workstations, and the library's own website and catalogue create a software-based experience for patrons and staff. Users may have trouble:

  • Seeing content on the monitor
  • Using the keyboard or mouse
  • Understanding complicated directions
  • Any of the other typical computer software barriers

These barriers may appear anywhere in your software environment:

  • Information resources, which provide information or point to information--e.g., journal articles or bibliographic databases.
  • Administrative software, which provides an interface between users and applications, and control computer usage from signin through providing alerts when a user's time is up.
  • Security systems, which are intended to prevent malicious use of software and reset the system and programs to their defaults between users. These may also be used by other types of public computer labs.

There are easy, inexpensive solutions for almost all of these problems.

Legal Obligations

The Americans with Disabilities Act, which covers public and private libraries and many other institutions, states that “No individual shall be discriminated against…in the full and equal enjoyment of …services…." Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which covers some libraries, also requires accessible information technology.

Getting Started

The software used in your library should be as accessible as possible, and you can help move it in that direction without becoming an accessibility guru.  This article will go over some steps you can take:

  • Getting Close to Your Users
  • Your IT Staff
  • When You're in the Market
  • If You've Got Technical Resources

Getting Close to Your Users

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Syndicate content