What Assistive Technology is used for Computer Access?
Computer access is a term describing a group of devices that allows an individual to operate the computer who would otherwise not be able to do so. Special devices may provide access to computers for individuals who can not use the standard keyboard or mouse. There are a variety of special devices to help operate the computer. Here are some examples.
Assistive Technology for Computer Access
- Keyboard with accessibility options from the operating system
- Word prediction, abbreviation/expansion to reduce keystrokes
- Arm support
- Track ball/track pad/ joystick w/ on-screen keyboard
- Alternate keyboard that is programmable
- Mouth stick/head pointer with on-screen keyboard
- Switch with Morse code
- Switch with scanning
- Voice recognition software
When is it appropriate?
When a student cannot use hands, ears and eyes to operate the computer in a standard fashion assistive technology for computer access may be needed. This is especially true when the student needs to use a computer to complete school related tasks, such as writing spelling words or researching information on the internet. Students with physical disabilities and students with visual impairments most commonly need computer access adaptations but they may also be helpful for, cognitive disabilities, hearing impairments and other challenges.
Where can I go for help?
Some accessibility features are actually contained in Windows and Apple operating systems. Depending on the computer system you use, you will find built in ways to change the way the computer operates so that you can do things such as enlarge what you see on the screen, change the colors of text or background, operate the computer with only one finger, or change the responsiveness of the keyboard. To learn about these basic modifications for computer access, you may be able to talk to the technology coordinator on your campus.
An Occupational Therapist who knows about technology can be a very valuable resource when it comes to computer access for students with physical disabilities. Most vision specialists understand the computer adaptations that can be made when a person has trouble seeing the screen or understanding what they see. An assistive technology consultant is generally knowledgeable about the full range of computer accessibility options. The IEP team should work with one of these individuals to determine what will work best for the individual student.
Other Helpful Websites
TRACE Center at the University of Wisconsin
Links to websites with adaptive computer access freeware and shareware
The Typing Injury FAQ
Extensive resource on typing related injuries with links to information about keyboard and mouse alternatives