This lesson is divided into the following parts:
Part 1 Becoming familiar with the Adaptech:Research Network
Part 2 :Introduction to motor impairments
Part 3: Alternative keyboards and an alternative mouse
Part 4 On- Screen Keyboards
Part 5: voice recognition
Part 6: lesson take-aways
This material is copyrighted by Norman Coombs in 2017. We encourage your sharing useful individual pieces of information to help people. However, we request that you do not share the entire workshop without specific written permission.
The Adaptech Research Network has developed an extensive database of free and inexpensive adaptive technology and a set of demonstration videos highlighting the capabilities of some of these tools. This was mentioned in an earlier lesson. Now it is time you will need to use it. First you need to visit it on the Internet at:
EASI also has an hour-long webinar about Adaptech presented by one of its staff. I don’t think you need to watch the webinar, but if you want to it is at:
View the webinar
The Adaptech web home page is the front for a number of research and other resources produced by Adaptech. For our purposes, I want you to go to the database of software. From the home page, select the link for downloads. The database is organized in categories. From this page, the first 2 items are ‘windows’ and ‘Mac OS’. These deal with built-in accessibility tools built into the system’s operating system. I had you use some of those previously. Now take time to notice just which tools are there. Feel free to use these again in your assignments. In any case be familiar with these so you can introduce to students with disabilities. The remaining categories include other devices and operating systems such as both Apple and Android smart phones. Some of the categories under the operating systems are:
The software on the site is either free or inexpensive. Many of the software that is not free does provide a free demo version. As far as this is concerned, it is ok if you select a demo timed version so long as you finish before it times out. This lesson relates to navigation and input of data which mainly means software related to the keyboard or the mouse.
The course is about providing a level learning space for people with motor impairments. For that reason we will not touch on some serious motor impairments that do not involve the use of computers and other electronic devices. Someone who has lost one or both legs or whose legs are seriously deformed to be a significant impairment is not included in this lesson. We are not minimizing them or their impairment. Our concern has to do with the use of information technologies. Upper body impairments that have a direct impact on using computers, smart phones and more will be our focus. Disabilities that involve the arms and/or hands so that using a mouse or keyboard are the focus. That disability may or may not simultaneously impact the neck or head which may make a difference in which adaptations will be useful. The upper body impairment can be so pervasive that it is difficult to locate a single muscle that could be used to interact with the adaptive technology. In some situations, the person may have almost control of the upper body that moving the eye may be all that is left. It has been possible to equip a computer so that it can track someone’s eye movement, and this could be used to trigger a control on the computer.
You may have to consider whether the person can move into the room and position herself or himself at the computer. It will also be necessary that there is a handicapped toilet available.
Some people with no disability use a different keyboard than the normal one which is called a ‘qwerty’ keyboard. name comes the first 6 letters left to right on the row starting with ‘q’. Many it is not natural to learn and the some statistics indicate that it might not be the most efficient. However, here I am talking about people who cannot use any of the normal keyboards. There are one-handed keyboards. It fits nicely under a hand and has 5 ‘buttons’ for the 5 fingers. The user presses an arrangement of the 5 keys one at a time or in various combinations. For anyone who has both hands, trying to use this seems very awkward. For someone who has to use 1 or 2 finger hunt and peck on the standard keyboard, this has the potential of being more efficient.
before looking at mouse alternatives, I want to remind you that your computer lets you modify the working of your mouse. You’ll think of it as personalizing it and not related to a disability. It does relate to physical differences however. You can change the functioning of your mouse’s buttons to function more naturally for someone who is left-handed. Don’t assume your client knows about this. If it is relevant that point it out.
The first video re mouse alternatives is really an adaptation of the cursor rather than the mouse itself.
Actually, there several different kinds of head mouse, but what they have in common is that by moving the head, the user can move the cursor around the computer monitor. It usually will also permit the user to do the equivalent of clicking on a mouse.
Nex, there are 2 videos on using eye movements to control the computer or any device. The first video describes a research project that developed a free application to track eye movements. When it ends, you will be automatically to another video describing in more detail how eye movements can control a computer.
Another help for people with some motor impairments is using a single switch. while a mouse requires the user using the hand to move the mouse and then use a finger to activate something on the screen, there are many different single switches. Depending on the switch, only moving one finger or even some other muscle that can activate a switch can provide a lot of control of the computer.
These devices make use of an onscreen keyboard. In this case, there is a picture of a keybard showing on the monitor. The device is interfaced with this. It may mean using the device to move across the onscreen keyboard and then use the switch on a particular key to input that letter or number. In other cases, the application has the focus on the monitor move across the keyboard. When the focus is on the key that the user wants to input, the users activates the switch to make that item on the screen make the equivalent of an input.Go to the Easi of Access area on a PC or the accessibility area on a Mac and activate its onscreenboard. You should be able to play with it using your mouse. xx
Obviously, that device is not inexpensive. There are joy sticks and even a trackball.
I believe your computers operating system’s accessibility will have one. Just the same, I recommend you look on the Adaptech site as it will have some choices. This time, when you have to use something to trigger the input, you should be able to have your mouse do that.The next clip includes a trackball mentioned already but is being used along with an onscreen keyboard.
Voice recognition is rapidly becoming more common. Years ago, a user had to put several hours into training the software to clearly understand her or his pronunciation and accent. It might even stop working well when the user got a cold. The software was very demanding of the user. That has changed drastically. No, it is not yet perfect. The only place I currently use voice recognition is on my phone where I can dictate text messages. If I am a little slow and pronounce clearly, mine is doing well. Sometime all it seems to do is to make mistakes. Some of them are humorous. It is guaranteed to get better every few years. There isn’t much to showing a demo. All you get is someone talking to a microphone.
Probably the most well-known voice recognition product is Dragon. For someone who needs for all her or his work and who must have accurate results, The software can still be trained. Then as it is used, it learns from what you say and when you need to edit a correction. The accuracy rate can be quite reliable but probably not perfect. So while many of us are using it, for those who need it, voice recognition is a wonderful, efficient product.
In this lesson we are concerned primarily with the ability to input an item into the computer. There are several different tools to do that. Personally, I think I would have jumped immediately to voice input, but not everyone prefers it. One of its disadvantages is the user needs a relatively quiet place. Second the user may not want to disturb those around her or him. The user also could be putting some of a personal nature into the computer and not want others listening to it. I know people who are surprised that I use the keyboard to put info into the computer as they assumed that I too would find voice recognition less bother. Frankly, I enjoy keyboarding. When I do dictate into the computer, it seems awkward. So it is important not to assume that you, the trainer, know what is best for your trainee.
Send the assignment to Norm Coombs
end of Trainer lesson 4