COMPUTERS ACCESSIBLE TO
ALL BUILT-IN ACCESSIBILITY OPTIONS
years ago, there were no such things as handicapped parking spaces,
laws for access to public buildings, braille numbers on elevator
controls, accessible buses, closed captioning on television and
many other things that now make it easier for individuals with disabilities
to participate in mainstream living.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 made much of this possible.
No laws exist at this time regarding universal accessibility to
computers and the Internet. However, Macintosh and Windows users
are fortunate to have certain options built into their computer
operating systems that help with some accessibility problems.
has a control panel called Accessibility Options. This can be found
by going to the Start Menu at the lower left hand corner of the
screen and choosing Settings-->Control Panel--> Accessibility
98 offers the same options, with the addition of a screen magnifier,
using the Accessibility Wizard which gives step by step instructions.
System 7, OS8, and OS9 have Control Panels (located in the System
Folder) called Easy Access and CloseView. Other Control panels that
have features for accessibility include Keyboard, Mouse, Monitors
and Sound, Speech, Color (System 7) and Appearance (OS8). Easy Access,
Close View, Speech and Text-to-speech are not automatically installed
during the system installation. They can be found on the installation
disk--> CD Extras-->Universal Access.
are some problems your children may have using the standard computer,
and some possible solutions.
your child have the use of only one hand, or one finger for using
or she will have difficulty pressing two keys (i.e., Shift and L
to capitalize a letter, or Command and S to save) or three keys
(control-alt-delete) at the same time.
turning on StickyKeys (Macintosh & Window). StickyKeys
lets computer users press these keys consecutively instead of simultaneously.
your child hold the key down too long, and it repeats a whole string
of letters instead of just inputting one letter?
turning on FilterKeys (Windows) or adjust the Key Repeat
Rate (Macintosh-->Control Panels-->Keyboard). Key repeat can
be turned off completely so that, no matter how long a key is held
down, only one letter will be inputted.
your child accidentally brush other keys while trying to press a
specific key, or does he/she often press two keys at a time by mistake?
using SlowKeys (Macintosh), Delay Until Repeat Rate (Macintosh)
or FilterKeys (Windows). These will tell the computer to ignore
quickly pressed key strokes and accept only those that are held
down for a given period of time.
your child have trouble holding the mouse steady while double clicking?
to adjust the speed required for a double click (Windows and Macintosh-->
Mouse Control Panel).
the cursor moves too fast when he/she moves the mouse?
the Mouse Tracking speed (Windows and Macintosh-->Mouse Control
your child unable to use the mouse at all because of motor difficulties,
eye-hand coordination problems, etc. , but able to use the keyboard
MouseKeys (Macintosh and Windows). MouseKeys lets users control
the cursor with the numeric keypad. They can click, drag, double
click and move the cursor without using the mouse. When MouseKeys
is on, the 5 key in the keypad acts like a mouse button. Press once
to click, twice to double-click. The eight keys around the 5 move
the pointer left, right, up, down and diagonally. pressing 0 locks
the mouse button down until you press the period key on the keypad
to release it.
your child visually impaired?
turning on High Contrast (Windows) or CloseView (Macintosh). This
will let the user choose a white on black display, designed for
magnification is available in Windows 98 and Macintosh (CloseView).
It allows users to zoom in on sections of the screen.
Talking Alert option (Macintosh) can announce Alerts or read computer
alert messages aloud. Turn this on by going to Control Panels-->
Speech-->Options-->Talking Alerts and select Speak the Phrase
or Speak the Alert Text.
also has some additional options for both visually impaired and
for those with learning/reading difficulties. Any text that is placed
in a Simple Text file can be read aloud. Just open Simple Text,
paste or enter text, select Sound from the menu bar. You can speak
the entire text or a highlighted section. This is very valuable
for children with reading problems. Hearing their writing read aloud
is an excellent way to learn to monitor and self-correct.
your child hearing impaired?
individuals with hearing impairments, SoundSentry (Windows) will
generate visual warnings when the system makes a sound. Macintosh
can also be set to give visual alerts instead of sound warning.
In System 7, users go to Control Panels-->Sound and set the volume
to zero. This will cause the menu bar to flash instead of a sound
alert. In OS8 and System 7.6 or later, users go to Control Panels-->Monitors
and Sound, and click the sound button. You can adjust a sliding
switch for sound level or click on the Mute button.
ShowSounds is selected, Windows will tell programs to display
captions for the speech and sounds they make. This works only with
programs that have this feature built-in.
additional options and information, try http://www.apple.com/disability
CCC-SP & A, is an Assistive Technology/Computer Consultant and
Speech-Language Pathologist in New York. She is a specialist in
using the computer to enhance the language and learning in children
with Special Needs. She can be reached at ForTLL@aol.com.