What are some low-tech assistive technologies that aid computer access?

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Not all assistive technology for people with mobility impairments is computer-based. The use of common items, such as adhesive Velcro to mount switches or power controls, can provide elegantly simple solutions to computer access barriers. Often, tools of one's own making provide the most effective and comfortable accommodations for mobility impairments.

Furniture

Proper seating and positioning is important for anyone using a computer, perhaps even more so for a person with a mobility impairment. Specialized computer technology is of little value if a person cannot physically activate these devices because of inappropriate positioning. A person for whom this is an issue should consult a specialist in seating and positioning–such as an occupational therapist–to ensure that correct posture and successful control of devices can be achieved and maintained.

Flexibility in the positioning of keyboards, computer screens, and table height is important. As is true for any large group, people with mobility impairments come in all shapes and sizes. It is important that keyboards be positioned at a comfortable height and monitors be positioned for easy viewing. An adjustable table can be cranked higher or lower to put the monitor at a proper height. Adjustable trays can move keyboards up and down and tilt them for maximum typing efficiency. Be sure to consider simple solutions to furniture access. For example, wood blocks can raise the height of a table, and a cardboard box can be used to raise the height of a keyboard on a table.

Facility Access

Before a person can use a computer, she needs to get within an effective proximity of the workstation. Aisles, doorways, and building entrances must be wheelchair-accessible. Other resources, such as telephones, restrooms, and reference areas, should be accessible as well. Don't overlook a simple barrier, such as a single step or a narrow doorway. Work with architectural accessibility experts to ensure physical accessibility.

For more information consult Working Together: Computers and People With Mobility Impairments or view the video by the same name.

Last update or review: January 25, 2013