Senior Center

Accessible Options for Art, Music, and Other Creative Activities

Creativity software can help users bypass the most difficult physical, sensory, and cognitive aspects of making art, while enabling expression and exploration. While there is not much high-tech hardware or software for making art specifically made for people with disabilities, there are a variety of mainstream options that can be put to this purpose. Many of these are particularly relevant to people with dexterity disabilities that prevent them from holding a paintbrush or strumming a guitar.

This article covers some of those options in:

  • Painting/Drawing
  • Making Music
  • Photography
  • Video and Animation

If you already have a creativity application, examine the interface, documentation, and online resources; you will usually find at least some of these usability and accessibility features:

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Writing Tools for People with Learning Disabilities

Some people with learning disabilities experience problems with writing (dysgraphia); this may include problems with specific words (e.g., spelling) or with generating ideas. Some writing tools are specifically designed for people with learning disabilities; others are built into mainstream products. They provide assistance with a wide range of needs, including optimizing on-screen and print formats, idea generation and organization, choosing the right word, and spelling, homophone, and grammar checking.

This article covers some of the mainstream and AT solutions to these writing problems.

Try It Yourself

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Staying Connected: Meet the Accessible Technology Coalition

Thursday, January 27, 2011
10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PST

You are invited to join this introduction to the Accessible Technology Coalition—a new model of information and training delivery to better serve the end-users of assistive technology. Funded in part by the California Emerging Technology Fund, ATC is a project of the Center for Accessible Technology (CforAT) in Berkeley, California. The vision of the Accessible Technology Coalition is to broaden the focus of assistive technology to include not only computer access, but all information and communication technologies.

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

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.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Captions on DVDs

Viewers of DVDs and Blu-ray disks usually have the option of viewing captions.

DVDs that have closed captions or subtitles may indicate that on the cover.  To turn captions on, go to the 'menu' on the DVD and look for the 'languages' category.  Either 'closed captions' (CC) or 'subtitles for deaf and hard of hearing' (SDH) will show up.  Select the option and proceed to play the DVD.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

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.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

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

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

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.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

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:

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

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.
     

Have a question?

Ask an Expert

Syndicate content