This year I have put in place a few hardware and software computer adaptations to meet my ever changing computer needs due to my disability, Friedreich’s Ataxia. Adaptations are needed to compensate for my motor skill, visual, and auditory difficulties. These include a desk mount monitor arm with a keyboard tray; a Swifty Beam and Bluetooth software; WordQ software; ZoomText software plus a keyboard with manually easier to use low cut scissor-swift keys: and OpenBook software with a scanner. I will be briefly describing them below:
Hardware for Desktop Computer
The desktop monitor is brought closer to me appropriate to my field of vision through a desk mount monitor arm which also has a keyboard tray that supports and brings the keyboard right up to my wheelchair for easier access. The keyboard is a ZoomText large-print, black on yellow keys which are not only easier to see but allows me to use my ZoomText vision software more easily. With just a touch of a button, I can perform ZoomText commands otherwise requiring multi-step mouse movements or manually difficult multi-key combinations (hotkeys).
Auditory speakers are also set up beside the monitor with extension cables to be near me allowing me to hear well.
Another important computer hardware device for me is a Swifty Beam which is the infrared transmitter under my wheelchair armrest. In combination with a Bluetooth mouse app in my wheelchair controller which allows me to use my wheelchair joystick as a mouse, the Swifty Beam allows switches/button mounted on my wheelchair joystick box for right or left mouse clicking to be pressed.
The latest version of ZoomText consists of a magnifier and a reader for people with low vision. ZoomText allows you to hear and see everything on the computer screen according to your specifications and modifications including, documents, applications, email and the Internet.
This word prediction program predicts the word you want to be displayed by typing a few letters. You can also get vocal feedback of each word or letter typed including the sentence and any text or sections of text that you have highlighted. WordQ also offers the option of using a thesaurus for certain words predicted and offers the option usage examples of words that sound the same in small sentences.
This software along with a scanner turns your computer into a reading machine. When scanning a book or other reading material you can have it displayed according to your preferences, including highlights and voice settings. You can also edit and highlight an electronic document and have it read back to you.
My CPU, Swifty Bar and WordQ software, as well as Windows programs, are currently leased from a rehabilitation hospital so that I am able to make additions or changes to the computer and receive ongoing writing aids occupational therapy services and technical support. Because the visual software and keyboard are not available for loan, they were purchased from an ADP vendor who also offers 20 hours of free training time after purchase.
Despite the technical support and training offered, one must keep up-to-date with the manuals and webinars on his/her own. This can be an ongoing challenge but a learning process at the same time.