Simplicity, ease of use

Use of Macros as an Accessibility Strategy

Macros are coded sets of instructions added to existing programs to change or enhance their functionality. In some cases, macros are easy to create and implement; in others, they may require sophisticated programming knowledge. This article talks about how macros can be used as an important accessibility tool and various ways to develop them.

Examples of Macro Use

  • Macros can be used to simplify the execution of complex functions, particularly those that need to be repeated. For example, users may need to go through documents imported from other sources to find and remove extraneous page breaks; a macro can be written to initiate and perform this process with a single key combination.

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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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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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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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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.

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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

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Free AAC Software for iPhone/iPodTouch/ iPad Devices

Many free alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) apps are available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. This article summarizes the capabilities of the most useful of these apps as well as providing links to the products' iTunes pages.

For an introduction to AAC, please see the articles on Alternative and Augmentative Communication--What Is It? and Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) -- What are the options?

Introduction

One benefit of using free apps is that they can be used to explore whether AAC is beneficial to an individual, and what type of AAC is beneficial, without requiring a financial commitment beyond the necessary hardware. They also tend to have simple designs so that they are very intuitive and can be used with little or no training or configuration.

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