Information management

Setting Up Accessible Workstations

When discussing computer accessibility in public computer labs, much attention is given to modifications to the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. However, for some users, accessible furniture and good lighting are equally if not more important. Setting up accessible computer workstations at a library or other public access point requires some planning, but usually little additional expense.

This article goes over some of the major considerations to help you get started.

  • Wheelchair access.  Make sure that there is an accessible path of travel to at least one of your workstations.  Chairs should be easy to move out of the way so a wheelchair can fit at the workstation, without inconveniencing other patrons.
     

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Captions on Popular Online Video Sites

Online videos have grown in number and importance to the point where deaf, hard of hearing, and other people who need captions are seriously disadvantaged if those captions are not available. For example, some educational institutions offer online training that includes videos, but these are often not available. And of course most informal videos, such as family reunions or school plays, are hardly ever captioned.

Adding to this problem is the fact that there are many different video formats, and the most popular online video sites use different interfaces to control playback.

However, there are some improvements in online captioning, and more progress is on the way. This article covers how to find and view captioned videos online.

Captioning of video websites varies since there is no legal requirement to caption "consumer-generated" videos.  Federal government agencies do have to caption their online videos under Section 508, and a

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Captioning

Captions display the dialogue, narration, and sounds of a video program.  Captions can be found on broadcast programs, DVDs, online, or on any other video technology. They are used by viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing, and by people who are learning the language or who benefit from hearing and seeing the content at the same time.

This article explores the basics of captions.  There are other articles here for more specific topics, including how to add captions to a video you are producing.

TVs and Set-top Boxes

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Accessibility Features in Computer Operating Systems

All current computer operating systems include features that make using the computer easier for people with disabilities.  For many people, these features may provide sufficient accommodations or may be the best available solution. In other cases, the features are scaled-down versions of capabilities that are available in more sophisticated versions from third-party vendors.

These features accommodate a wide range of users:

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Keyboards for Users with Dexterity Impairments

Some people have trouble hitting the right keys accurately or holding down one key while pressing another.  There are hardware and software solutions that provide accommodations; this article covers the basics and will help you get started.

Software Solutions

Utilities

All operating systems have two utilities that change how the keyboard works.  StickyKeys lets the user press keys one at a time to get combinations like "CTRL-P" for printing, instead of having to hold one key down while pressing another.  Filter Keys reduces unwanted keystrokes.

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Keyboards for Users with Low Vision

Regular keyboards are hard for some people to read. There are a variety of ways to address this; this article covers some of the basics to help you get started.

  • If lighting is an issue, gooseneck lamps and other task lighting can provide more light on a standard keyboard. Take care to minimize glare from the lamp onto the monitor.
     

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Magnify Printed Material With Closed Circuit TVs

Low vision users may have difficulty reading books and other printed matter.  Closed circuit TVs (CCTVs) use video cameras aimed at print materials; the image appears on a screen. This image can then be modified by enlarging the text size or changing black-on-white text to white-on-black ("inverted text"). They can also be used to magnify other things; for example, some people use CCTVs to facilitate stitching needlepoint or tying fishing lures.

This article covers the options for CCTVs.

CCTVs range in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.  Options to consider include the following:

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Speech Recognition Software

Speech recognition software converts what you say into text or mouse commands. It benefits people who have physical or cognitive difficulty using a keyboard to create text.

This article explains how speech recognition works and will help you get started.

Basic speech recognition is built into Windows and Macintosh operating systems. 

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Screen Magnifier Software

Simple magnifiers are built into all operating systems.

">Screen magnifier software enlarges text and other elements on the monitor.  Simple versions are built into all operating systems, and on some smartphones and other portable devices

This article covers both free and third-party AT solutions.

Try it yourself:

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Web Accessibility Resource for Higher Education

The National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE) has a resource on their site called Web Accessibility and Accreditation: A Blueprint for Regional Agencies. The blueprint is a set of materials that can be used by regional accreditors to introduce web accessibility into their documents and proces

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