Computer and Software Accessibility for the Disabled

— by , Educational Outreach Writer

Lisa Richards, Educational Outreach Writer

Computers, websites, and software are always searching to improve their usability by consumers. Accessibility by all users is always a very important issue. What may be usable by some people may not be usable by someone with a disability. Those with learning disabilities process information differently and therefore may struggle with reading online or using certain kinds of software. Those with dyslexia and other vision impairments face several issues with accessibility. The color scheme of a webpage can also be a big issue for the visually disabled. There is software that can read the content of webpages aloud and braille keyboards.

Software can also be installed that visually alerts the user of sounds from the computer or webpage for individuals with hearing impairments. Those with hearing impairments can benefit greatly through the usage of computers and the internet since so much contact online is text based. There are many adaptive keyboards and mouse devices for those with motor disabilities. There are also devices that allow a user to speak commands to the computer instead of having to use a standard keyboard and mouse. The following resources are provided to teach more about accessibility issues that the disabled face and options for to help make computers and the Internet a more user-friendly place for everyone.

Cognitive Impairments and Learning Disabilities

Computers and People with Learning Disabilities ? A video presentation from the University at Washington students and workers of the university with learning disabilities demonstrate strategies and techniques for using computers.

Computers and the Writing Process for Those with LD ? A writeup on LD Online by Richard Wanderman about how computers affect the writing process for individuals with learning disabilities.

Selecting Software for Students with Learning Disabilities ? This .PDF provides general guidelines to help educators select software for use by the learning disabled.

Using Computer-Based Tests with Students with Learning Disabilities ? This article for educators discusses methods of composing computer-based tests so that they are usable by students with learning disabilities.

Assistive Technology and Learning Disabilities ? South Carolina Assistive Technology Program's provides a list of assistive technology tools and built in accessibility options for Apple and Microsoft.

Visual Impairments

An Educator's Guide to Visual Disabilities ? This article defines issues encountered by those with visual disabilities while using computers as well as provides helpful software and solutions.

Buying a Computer ? Guide for the Blind ? The American Foundation for the Blind composed this article for those with visual impairments to learn what to look for when purchasing a computer.

Computer Aids for the Blind ? The University at Buffalo's Assistive Technology Training Online Project provides this list of keyboard and mouse alternatives for its blind population.

Color Blindness Simulations ? Enter a webpage into this simulator to see what it looks like to those who are colorblind. These simulators can also help those designing accessible websites.

Assistive Technology for Blind or Visually Impaired College Students ? New Jersey Colleges Adaptive Technology Center's guide to different adaptive technology for the visually impaired.

Hearing Disabilities

Technologies for Students wit h Hearing Impairments ? Students with hearing impairments are still able to use computers without issue thanks to many assistive devices and software.

Broadband Internet Access for the Hearing Impaired ? The National Association for the Deaf advocates for accessible Internet for everyone. The Internet can help the deaf communicate more efficiently.

Computer Leaning for Deaf Children ? This article reviews how teachers can provide an educational learning environment for deaf children while still using computers.

Motor and Dexterity Impairments

Web Accessibility for those with Motor Disabilities ? This webpage provides descriptions and pictures of different assistive technologies that can help those with motor disabilities. Adaptive keyboards, eye-tracking devices, voice recognition software and other computer adaptations can help those with motor disabilities use technology fluently.

Using Handhelds to Help People with Motor Impairments ? Those with Muscular Dystrophy and other nervous system disorders can benefit from using devices such as a mouse and keyboard. The disorder affects their gross motor control but not their fine motor control.

Designing Interfaces for Children with Motor Impairments ? This paper follows a study in which children with motor disabilities were observed using laptops.

General Accessibility Resources

Computers Assisting the Handicapped ? Chris Murphy of Virginia Tech wrote this article on how computers can help those with disabilities.

Types of Assistive Technology ? Microsoft provides descriptions of assistive technology products.

Internet and Disability Related Resources ? The Internet Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter has composed this list of resources concerning the Internet and special needs individuals.

Telecommunications Access for People with Disabilities ? The FCC requires telecommunications manufacturers and providers to make their equipment and services accessible to all people.

Enabling People with Disabilities ? This Speed Matters webpage explains the benefits of high speed Internet for those with disabilities.

Assistive Technology Industry Association ? The ATIA is composed of organizations that provide assistive devices and services to those with disabilities.

Use of Computer Technology to Help Students with Special Needs ? Children are now growing up in the "digital age," and computers are so important to their educational environment. Special needs children can also benefit from computer-based learning.

Computers and Special Needs ? The usage of computers by special needs children can help enhance their self esteem and language skills.

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