Computer Access

Computer Access

Key Takeaways

What is Assistive Technology for Computer Access?

  • It can be input and output devices, alternative access aids, modified or alternative keyboards, switches, special software, and other devices and software solutions that enable individuals with disabilities to use a computer.
  • Typically, ergonomics focuses on the workplace, but ergonomics can also apply to individuals with disabilities by helping with computer access and computer workstation set up in all environments.

Common No-Tech and Low-Tech Computer Access AT Solutions:

  • Built-in computer features such as Microsoft and Apple iOS options
  • Alternative keyboards
  • Alternative access methods

When and Where is AT for Computer Access Appropriate?

  • Individuals with disabilities may need computer access throughout the day or just for certain tasks like reading text, taking notes (lecture notes, grocery lists, etc.), social media, online banking/shopping in all environments of school, work, or the community.

Who Needs AT for Computer Access and Why is it Important?

  • Individuals with disabilities struggling with the three functional barriers: 1) providing computer input 2) interpreting output, and 3) reading supporting documentation.
  • For a person with a disability, accessing a computer may be their only way to learn new skills, participate in classroom activities, demonstrate their knowledge, perform job duties, and interact with other people.

Situations for Computer Access AT:

School Environment

  • Note-taking
  • Reading
  • Completing assignments
  • Organization
  • Access to curriculum
  • Keyboarding
  • Computer control

Socialization

  • Social media
  • Games
  • Chat rooms
  • Telecommunication
  • Group and committee activities
  • Lunches

Work Environment

  • Application/Interview process
  • Meetings
  • Trainings
  • Daily tasks

 Home Environment

  • Homework
  • Social media
  • Reading
  • Paying bills
  • Preparing for work
  • Preparing meals
  • Talking on the phone
  • TV/Radio
  • Games
  • Computer tasks
  • Entertainment

Community

  • Research at the library
  • Shopping for essentials
  • Transportation to and from work
  • Doctor’s office visits
  • Entertainment

Commonly Asked Questions about Computer Access AT:

  • Q – Are there built-in accessibility features for Microsoft and Apple iOS products?
    • A – Yes! Microsoft has Speech Recognition, Narrator, and Magnification, all located under the Ease of Access options. Apple iOS has very similar features located under the Accessibility Settings: Dictation, Voiceover, Zoom for magnification, and other similar features.
  • Q – How can I get more information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
    • A – You can obtain more information about the ADA and respectful/inclusive workplaces through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website: www.eeoc.gov.

Blue Able Tech logo  AT Solutions at ABLE Tech:

Visit ABLE Tech’s Computer Access Inventory

Visit ABLE Tech's Computer Access AT/DME Reuse/Exchange Inventory

Helpful Links and PDF Resources:

Video/Webinar/Podcast Resources:

Check out these videos highlighting computer access devices available to borrow from ABLE Tech!

Education

Case Studies of Individuals with Computer Access Needs and Recommendations

Case Study #1

4-year-old Pre-K student, physical limitations, computer access trouble

The student is in Pre-K, is 4 years old, and has Cerebral Palsy (CP) with physical limitations. He can't access the keyboard on the computer as other peers do. He has tried various adapted mice, alternative keyboards, and switches. He enjoys playing on the computer and looks forward to computer time every day.

Possible Recommendations:

The student will trial different switches including the Jelly Bean Switch, the Rock Adapted Joystick, and the Blue2 Bluetooth Switch. These options include wired and wireless switches to meet the specific needs of the student and can be used at multiple access sites.  Access sites are the places by the student’s body where you can place the switch so that the student can activate it. Access site options may be by the head, elbow, hand, knee, foot, etc. and are chosen based on the abilities of the student. Recommendations may be chosen based on how quickly and easily the switch can be activated and whether one or more switches can (or need to) connect with a computer/iPad.

Goals and Outcomes:

The student will show increased participation in activities on a computer or iPad. He will work to be able to play and pause a music player and turn pages in an eBook.

SETT Framework for feature-matching forms based on the Student, Environment, Tasks, and Tools model.

Case Study Forms – SETT Framework
Sample Solutions:

Case Study #2

6th grade student, fine motor issues, good voice control

This student is in 6th grade, is 12 years old, and struggles with fine motor control. He cannot write with a regular pencil. He has tried various pencil grips and other alternatives. He can do some things with his hands such as pushing larger buttons, and he enjoys working on the computer.

Possible Recommendations:

The student will trial different AT options to complete school work. Higher tech solutions that offer typing and dictation features that could help this student include a Chromebook, desktop computer, laptop, or tablet like an iPad. With these options, the student could use the keyboard to type out messages and built-in features or additional software with speech-to-text so that the student can talk out his messages. This would help the student participate in class activities and homework.

Goals and Outcomes:

The student will show increased participation in the classroom. The student will initiate the use of AT in the classroom and show an increase in the number of assignments submitted.

SETT Framework for feature-matching forms based on the Student, Environment, Tasks, and Tools model.

Case Study Forms – SETT Framework

Sample Solutions:

Case Study #3

High school student, who is a quadriplegic with good head and truck control

This student is a senior in high school, is 17 years old, and survived a skiing accident but broke his third and fourth vertebrae. As a quadriplegic he now uses a wheelchair. He has retained good head and trunk control and can move his right arm minimally from the shoulder. He has good movement in his thumb, index finger, and second finger of his right hand. He is very motivated to complete his regular high school program and get back to his after school job.

Possible Recommendations:

An on-screen keyboard coupled with an adapted mouse could be appropriate for this situation. This would allow the student to choose either the Tracker Pro or SmartNav 4 adapted mouse that fits most comfortably for him and remove his need to access an external keyboard. The best option would require very little hand/arm movement to operate. If a hand-operated mouse like the Roller 2 Joystick is too fatiguing, another alternative to consider would be a head mouse

Goals and Outcomes:

The student will finish high school and resume work at his after school job by accessing a computer/iPad. He will also become more independent, not need a full-time aide in school, and graduate on time.

SETT Framework for Feature-Matching forms based on the Student, Environment, Tasks, and Tools model.

Case Study Forms – SETT Framework

Sample Solutions:

Employment

Case Studies of Individuals with Computer Access Needs and Recommendations

Case Study #1

Adult with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), sometimes uses a wheelchair and needs workstation accommodations

A resource nurse with MS is having difficulty accessing her workstation. She needs to be able to adjust her workstation for different clerical tasks and be able to move around as freely as possible. She spends most of her day at her desk helping customers.

Possible Recommendations:

No-tech solutions/accommodations may be moving furniture to widen the floor space in the workstation allowing for easier access for the nurse in her wheelchair and offering a flexible schedule so she can continue providing medical treatment. Other mid-tech solutions may be needed as well including an adjustable keyboard tray or wheelchair tray, monitor risers, and a manual standing desk could be added to the workstation to allow her to adjust positions whether in the wheelchair or standing. A high-tech solution would be an electric standing desk.

Goals and Outcomes:

The employee will have the ability to sit and stand as needed throughout the day. She will be able to complete tasks on time without as much fatigue having most of her needed resources close to her.

See the attached HAAT Model form to see how to match the employee to needed AT.

Case Study Forms – HAAT Model
Sample Solutions:

Case Study #2

Adult employee with bipolar disorder, memory loss, and reduced concentration

An employee working for a printing company is having concentration and memory issues related to mental illness. He needs to be able to take notes, make lists, set reminders, and develop strategies to help with needs that arise.

Possible Recommendations:

No- to low-tech solutions may be using post-it notes or other handwritten reminders. Does he already have a smart phone or watch with apps that could be used to help him? An iPad/tablet, Chromebook, or laptop may also be helpful to create to-do lists, set reminders, take notes, create white noise, and use the voice recognition feature to capture on-the-go notes. Other devices could be added to assist in keeping his production level high.

Goals and Outcomes:

The employee will develop strategies to reduce distractions and complete job responsibilities with AT. He will learn to use an iPad/tablet, Chromebook, or laptop daily. Setting reminders will help keep him on track, and taking notes will help keep him organized and allow him to maintain better focus.

See the attached HAAT Model form to see how to match the employee to needed AT.

Case Study Forms – HAAT Model
Sample Solutions: 

Case Study #3

Recent graduate employee with severe right-handed malformation, needs alternative input device

A new graduate has received a receptionist position and needs alternative computer input access. He has good functioning in his left hand, and he needs to find the best keyboarding solution. He spends most of his day at the computer entering appointments and answering emails.

Possible Recommendations:

There are many tools that could be used for easy computer access that are not fatiguing: speech recognition/dictation options, alternative/hands-free mice, etc. It is good to start by trying a smaller keyboard that allows less movement of the hand and provides more control. Keys are closely spaced for easy access, and the keyboard surface is very sensitive to touch. If that is not helpful he can try one-handed typing. One-handed keyboard keys are placed differently than a standard keyboard and can make data entry easier. After an alternative keyboard is selected, the workstation will be adjusted to position the keyboard for comfort.

Goals and Outcomes:

The employee will have a natural, comfortable alternative keyboard for data entry. He will also be able to use the computer throughout the day with less fatigue.

See the attached HAAT Model form to see how to match the employee to needed AT.

Case Study Forms – HAAT Model
Sample Solutions:

 

Funding Sources for Individuals with Computer Access Needs

Public Sources

Private Sources

Community Living

Case Studies of Individuals with Computer Access Needs and Recommendations

Case Study #1

2 ½-year-old child, significant physical limitations, unable to reach far or point, wants to access and play on technology

This child cannot access any form of tablet or computer using her hands as she doesn’t have the fine motor control to do so. She will need a larger target to access to allow for uncontrolled movements. She is extremely smart and wants to play on an individual device.

Possible Recommendations:

We would start by trying different switches that would allow her to activate the tablet. Switches that are compatible with the tablet may be corded or wireless/Bluetooth. The best solution would provide access to a desktop computer or mobile device/tablet and would allow for multiple switches to be used at the same time. She can start using a switch with a tablet and eventually transition to a computer.

Goals and Outcomes:

The child will show increased participation in activities on a tablet and eventually a computer. She will be able to play educational games and increase her cognitive abilities.

Case Study Forms – HAAT Model

Sample Solutions:

Case Study #2

Veteran, brainstem meningioma with mild visual impairment and severe to profound dysarthria

This 38-year-old veteran has a mild visual impairment and severe to profound dysarthria (or weakness). Her attention span is good, and her memory is intact. She is living at her parents’ home and wants to start emailing and shopping again.

Possible Recommendations:

Trialing alternative computer input devices and methods such as different mice, keyboards, and computer settings (like magnification or enlarged text) would be beneficial. Beginning with the mouse, she could try a trackball and a joystick which would allow her to navigate the computer with minimal movement of the arm and little fatigue. With good head control, a hands-free mouse like the SmartNav may be another good option to trial.

Goals and Outcomes:

The resident will correctly and independently take his medication with the use of AT.

See the attached HAAT Model form to see how to match the gentleman to the needed AT.

Case Study Forms – HAAT Model
Sample Solutions:

Case Study #3

Grandmother, in nursing home needing technology for socialization

A grandmother, who lives in a nursing home and away from family, would like to use technology to interact with them. She spends her days in bed, and seeing family when they can’t make it to the nursing home would cheer her up.

Possible Recommendations:

It is recommended that she try a computer for Skype, an iPad for FaceTime, or a Double Robot so that family members can log in and spend time with her. It would be best if the technology can be taken around with her, and also be present when the doctor, therapists, or nurses come to assist her.

Goals and Outcomes:

She will be able to independently access and control the device to initiate interactions with her family at any time. The family will be able to contact her and have virtual visits with the doctor during rounds to ask questions and play an active role in their grandmother’s care.

Case Study Forms – HAAT Model
Sample Solutions: