Having a disability doesn't mean you can't use a computer...you can!
For many people who have a disability, standard computing equipment can prevent them from using the range of opportunities that a computer can bring, for example, increased job opportunities, keeping in touch with friends and relatives with e-mail.
If you (or if someone you know) have a visual impairment or poor finger or hand control and you would like to use a computer, we can help!
To find out how you can make your computer more accessible contact Assist-I.T.firstname.lastname@example.org
Why not try our online learning module to help customise your computer to best suit your needs? Select this link to find out more.
Many people donít know that there is a range of alternative and adaptive technologies that can make using computers easy. For instance, you do not need to be restricted to a standard keyboard or mouse.
If you find using a computer uncomfortable, difficult or impossible then Assist-I.T. can help you find a solution to meet your computing needs.
Get in touch.
A few simple adjustments to your computer or some additional devices such as an alternative keyboard or mouse, can make all the difference.
For more information on how you can make your computer more accessible contact Assist-I.T. - email@example.com
Keyboards (Introduction to alternative and adaptive keyboards)
Accessibility Options (Customising the keyboard to suit your needs
Intellikeys Keyboard and Intellitools Studio (Including free customised left-handed overlay to download)
Introduction to alternative and adaptive keyboards.
It was over 130 years ago that the first commercially typewriter was developed with its famous QWERTY keyboard (from the first six letters in the top alphabet row).
Although QWERTY is still used as a primary means of accessing a computer there is a range of alternative and adapted keyboards to meet the needs of different learners.
This is particularly so for those learners who find using a standard keyboard difficult or impossible to use, for example, learners who have a disability or experience difficulties with fine motor control or are one handed users.
Considering that the standard keyboard was designed for right handed people, left handed learners can find a standard keyboard problematic.
The reality is that keyboards come in all shapes and sizes, for example, alphabetic layout, lowercase, large keys, high contrast keys, keyboards that can be split in half and/or raised to a variety of levels. There are keyboards for left-handed users, one-handed, virtual or on-screen, keyboards that can be moulded into different shapes and positions and even keyboards that claim to be indestructible!
Did you know it is possible to customise the keyboard to suit your needs?
For example, in Accessibility Options ('Start', 'Settings', 'Control Panel' and select Accessibility Options) it is possible to set up the keyboard for one-handed use and to slow down the keyboard response rate for users who have motor difficulties, such as a hand or finger tremor.
StickyKeys is a great utility for people who have difficulties using both hands to type and/or use a mouse. To quickly activate StickyKeys press the shift key 5 times. Repeat the process to change it back.
FilterKeys is useful for people who find it very difficult to isolate one key from amongst others.
Filterkeys slows down the keyboard's response rate, i.e., the typing speed. By having a fairly fast response rate it improves access to users who tend to frequently tap or mis-hit other nearby keys inadvertently.
By invoking a longer response rate it allows a user to drag their hands across the keyboard without actually producing any text or doing strange things in Windows until a key is held down for the chosen time.
The Cherry Compact Keyboard makes an ideal alternative for learners who find a full sized keyboard difficult to use.
The small size means that it can fit on a wheelchair tray with plenty of room for a trackball, if required.
The Cherry keyboard costs approximately £50.00.
A keyguard is a metal or plastic cover which fits over the keyboard with drilled holes. It can be particularly helpful for learners with fine motor difficulties.
A keyguard can help to identify the correct key thereby eliminating wrong key presses.
A keyguard also enables you to rest your hands on the keyboard without worrying about hitting keys.
The keyguard pictured on the right hand side is for the Cherry Compact Keyboard. However, keyguards are also available for standard keyboards as well as Intellikeys and AlphaSmarts.
The IntelliKeys keyboard is an ideal way to give physical, visual and cognitive access for people with a wide range of disabilities.
It is possible to plug IntelliKeys straight into the keyboard port - serial or USB. Intellikeys comes with 7 standard overlays to choose from, for example, QWERTY, ABC, Numbers etc.
The seven standard overlays have a bar code instantly read by IntelliKeys - you already have a range of alternative keyboards!
With Intellikeys Overlay Maker you can create overlays to match a range of learners needs and abilities.
IntelliTools Classroom Suite
IntelliTools Classroom Suite is a software platform providing learners with additional needs a multisensory environment. It enables teachers to tailor specific instructional activities, for example, literacy and numeracy, to the individual learning needs of pupils.
IntelliTools Classroom helps educators boost achievement in math, language arts, social studies, and science with:
- Curriculum-based, standards-aligned activities and templates
- Activity answer tracking, record keeping, and student portfolios
- Plus: multimedia authoring tools for both students and teachers
To download a free Intellikeys keyboard overlay, for left-handed users (arrow / mouse keys on left hand side), click here You will need Overlay Maker or Overlay Sender to send the overlay to the Intellikeys keyboard. This keyboard has limited functionality - useful for a learner who only requires input and some keyboard features.
To download a free Intellikeys (fully functional) keyboard overlay, for left-handed users click here This keyboard has all the functions of a standard keyboard with the arrow/mouse key buttons on the left-hand side.
An extremely popular keyboard for younger and older learners is the Jumbo Keyboard. The large keys make locating letters much easier. Available in upper case or lower case versions, this feature is especially important for children in the pre-reading and reading stages of their education.
The colour-coded keys are also a very handy mnemonic device to remember vowels, consonants, and punctuation marks. A metal keyguard is also available too for users who have motor difficulties.
The JumboBoard costs approximately £79.00. For more details about the JumboBoard contact Inclusive Technology
The KidBoard is similar in colour and layout to the JumboBoard but much smaller, and less expensive. The KidBoard is a bright, colourful keyboard designed to aid learning location of the letters. A great first keyboard!
The KidBoard costs approximately £29.00.
The Virtually Indestructible Keyboard is a silicon-based flexible computer keyboard, which features a unique combination of durability and soft, comfortable feel.
This is a particularly useful keyboard for learners who have difficulties controlling saliva or require to use a keyboard in environments which require greater flexibility.
The Virtually Indestructible is washable so no need to worry about spilling
coffee or other fluids.
The Virtually Indestructible Keyboard costs approximately £38.00.
Learning to use a a pointing device such as a standard mouse can present a significant challenge to some learners. Devices such as trackerballs or joysticks can replace the moue for learners with physical or cognitive difficulties.
Microspeed KidTRAC trackerball
The Microspeed KidTRAC is a large, colourful and sturdy trackerball. It has three colour coded buttons which perform the same actions as the standard mouse.
The low profile case acts as a natural hand rest and minimizes the wrist angle by mirroring the natural contour of the hand.
Includes a "drag lock" feature - simply press the drag button and the button stays 'locked' until you press a second time.
Used in conjunction with the Cherry Compact Keyboard the KidTRAC can make an accessible and alternative solution the standard keyboard and mouse. Additionally, both the Cherry and KidTRAC easily fit on a wheelchair tray.
The Microspeed KidTRAC costs approximately £59.00. For more details visit the Keytools website
The BigTrack is a very colourful, engaging and easy to use mouse and provides an easy and effective way to move the mouse cursor across the screen.
The BigTrack is a valuable tool for users who lack fine motor skills which a regular mouse requires. Just a touch from a knee, finger, elbow, toe or foot on the huge yellow ball is all it takes to cruise around the computer screen and a tap on one of the blue buttons pulls out various other computer functions.
A version of BigTrack is available with two sockets for ability switches. These sockets are standard 3.5mm mono jack plugs, which are compatible with all of our ability switches. The two sockets correspond to the two buttons on the BigTrack; so ability switches can be used to operate the left and right buttons.
The BigTrack costs approximately £55.00 without switch sockets and £79.00 with switch sockets. For more details visit the Keytools website
The Kensington Expert Pro
The Expert Pro is a solidly made ten button trackball. The light touch needed makes Expert pro very suitable for those who find the mouse difficult, especially users with poor motor skills or limited hand control.
Its four main buttons and six additional programmable buttons provide an amazing range of control, e.g., double click or hold-and-drag, or access for Internet shortcuts
The ball is large and comfortable with an ultra smooth movement, and can be removed for easy cleaning.
Includes easy-to-install programmable software to let you perform a wide
range of time-saving tasks.
The Kensington Expert Pro costs approximately £89.00. For more details visit the Keytools website
TheTraxsys Roller Plus Joystick and Roller Plus
The Traxsys Roller Plus Joystick is an adaptive joystick for those users who have difficulties with motor skills and are unable to use a standard mouse or other trackballs.
Compared to a conventional mouse, this joystick requires very little energy to operate. Other mice or trackballs require lots of pushing to move the mouse around. The Roller Joystick just needs holding in the direction that you want the cursor to travel.
The Joystick is similar to those found on electric wheelchairs. Screw holes
underneath allow easy fixing to a surface or wheelchair tray.
The unit is supplied with a removable finger-guard which helps locate the correct switch, supports the hand, and avoids pressing the wrong keys.
The joystick has a latching 'drag-switch' and a double-click switch. In addition the X-Y inhibit switch enables the cursor to be moved horizontally or vertically only. The 5 speed variable cursor can adjust to suit user needs.
The Traxsys Roller Plus
The Traxsys Roller Plus is a robust trackerball with extra functions, similar to the Traxsys Roller Plus Joystick, i.e., latching drag with buttons that allow only up/down or left/right movements of the pointer, multiple pointer speeds and integrated keyguard.
The Traxsys Roller Plus costs approximately £249.00. For more details visit the Inclusive website.