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You are in: Home > Articles > Adapting A Computer for those with Physical Disabilities (1)

Adapting A Computer for those with Physical Disabilities (1)

 

In today's classroom, whether in a special school or mainstream, including all learners in all situations can be a real challenge.

Giving learners with physical disabilities access to the computer can provide motivation and support as well as the intended learning opportunities. As computer skills appear increasingly to be a standard requirement in the world of work, we have to provide as many opportunities as possible for all learners to develop ICT skills.

At least as far as ICT is concerned there are practical solutions that can be applied to meet a variety of needs.

Making choices about adaptability requires careful consideration of an individual's needs and an opportunity to try different solutions. This may mean finding a supplier that will allow goods to be returned after a trial period, or getting in touch with one of the centres that can carry out assessments of individuals.

We want you to have the right resources for your learners. Inclusive Technology provide all of our customers with a very generous 100 day return policy on all of the products in our catalogue. Simply return any unsuitable goods (in resaleable condition) within 100 days of purchase for a full refund.

There are ways of modifying how a computer is used without having to buy any extra hardware, such as checking the seating position and modifying keyboard and mouse settings. However, there are some specialist devices that may be required.

Basic common-sense rules should be applied in the first instance. A comfortable working position whilst seated at a computer will help with concentration, quality of work, and reduce the risk of long-term problems. This is important for all who use computers, and especially so for those with disabilities.

Chairs should give support, allow the feet to be flat on the floor and be at the correct height in relation to the monitor and keyboard. For people with disabilities further advice and specialised seating may be required. Professional advice from a physiotherapist or occupational therapist should be sought if there is any doubt.

An adjustable computer trolley will allow a workstation to be positioned at different heights to suit a variety of users, making effective use of available resources. Such trolleys must have enough room for additional access devices such as rollerballs and alternative keyboards, as well as the standard peripherals such as a printer. Trolleys can have either a full or half top shelf and generally have brakes for added safety.

The standard keyboard can be used by many who are unable to write using a pencil. A series of alterations to the keyboard can be made if required. People who have problems in pressing and releasing keys quickly enough to avoid repeated and unwanted characters can be helped by having the key response changed. Such changes can be made using the accessibility options in your computer's control panel.

Some users find it easier to hold a stick to press the keys; a pencil with a rubber can be used as a non-slip pointer or a T-shaped dibber can be made. Wrist and arm supports can give also give extra help. QED sell a range of mouth sticks, head pointers, arm and wrist supports to suit all sorts of situations.

The addition of a keyguard, a metal or plastic plate with holes for each key can make it easier to avoid unwanted keys and can also provide a hand rest between presses. Metal and perspex keyguards are available for a wide range of keyboards including compact and those with larger keys.

Speech and sound feedback will help some users by providing an instant confirmation of the acceptance of a keypress.

The inclusion of all learners by finding the correct computer setup for an individual can take some experimentation, but will be well worth the effort for all concerned in the long run.

 

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