Alternative Access: A Case Study on the Benefits of Assistive Technology for Students with Temporary Disabilities

DO-IT Factsheet #203
http://www.washington.edu/doit/Stem/articles?203

Background

My name is Carol. I am a nontraditional student who was recently diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a repetitive motion injury that affects my wrists. As a journalism major, I have many writing assignments that require the use of a computer.

Access Issue

I could not complete my coursework and assignments because my injury prevented me from using the standard computer keyboard.

Solution

I contacted the technology specialist at the campus adaptive technology lab. I was introduced to speech input software, which allows me to bypass the keyboard. The technology specialist also provided a training session that was open to students and staff from the campus labs and the library to introduce the software and spread awareness of computer access options.

[A young woman shown with a headset and microphone as she uses speech recognition software.] Select the image to the right to view a captioned video clip, in Real Player format, about speech recognition software.

Conclusions

This case study illustrates the following:

  1. Assistive technology can provide ways to access a computer other than the standard keyboard or mouse.
  2. Assistive technology typically used by students with long-term disabilities may also benefit students with temporary disabilities, as well as those without disabilities.