My name is Scott. I am a nineteen-year-old engineering student with muscular dystrophy. I use a powered wheelchair for mobility. An important part of the first year of my engineering program involves work on computer-aided design programs in the engineering computer lab.
Although I can use one hand to control my wheelchair, I have limited strength and movement in my hands and fingers. I cannot use a standard mouse or keyboard to operate a computer. I also cannot physically access some lab computers due to the height of the table and the position of the computer equipment.
- Discuss potential solutions to the access issue described. There can be more than one good solution.
- Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each proposed solution.
- Clarify the appropriate roles of the student, instructor, and campus support services in reaching a decision and providing accommodations if needed.
- After you have completed your discussion, read the access solution on the back of this handout that was employed in this real-life scenario. Compare your proposed solutions with the solution used. Discuss the conclusions listed and add at least one more.
I met with my course instructor and toured the computer lab prior to the first class. I found that I could not physically access the lab computers. An adaptive technology specialist within the university helped the lab acquire an adjustable computer table and set up the workspace at an appropriate height and location for me. The lab also acquired a trackball, which eliminated the need to use a mouse. With the trackball, I can perform mouse functions and use a virtual, on-screen keyboard. These computer accommodations were in place by the first day of class. They provided me with the full access I needed to complete required laboratory coursework as part of the engineering program.
This case study illustrates the importance of
- accessible workspace design;
- preplanning, site visits, and cooperation with computer lab staff, because adaptive computer equipment and furniture take time to order and set up; and
- the availability of an adaptive technology specialist as a resource within the university setting.