Menu Computer & Electronic Aids – Disability Info SA

Unlocking The Shackles of Your Disability Using The Key of Knowledge

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Introduction

In these modern times Computers are an essential piece of equipment for most people, but they are even more important Assistive Devices for persons with disabilities, including persons with Mobility Impairments. With the advent of the Internet and the multitude of businesses supported online, one's imagination is the only limit. You can do just about anything from your home computer, including operating a business, doing research, socializing, listening to music, watching TV & movies, playing games, reading books, purchasing products, doing banking and taking part in discussions. Therapeutic treatments and support groups are even available on-line through your computer. Many persons with Mobility Impairments turn to computers to assist them in the tasks mentioned above and there are a number of Assistive Devices & adaptions available to purchase which make almost any computer accessible for anyone to use.

Once you've had a computer, you will wonder how you ever managed without it, you don't need to spend a fortune to buy one, you can start off with a cheaper one & slowly upgrade as you feel the need arises.

The availability of this computer equipment and Assistive Devices is increasing thanks to various Organizations and Companies such as Edit Microsystems who have made concerted efforts to make sure that this equipment is easily available for persons with disabilities in South Africa. To find out more about these Computers, Electronic Aids and Assistive Devices and the companies that provide them, please read the article below and click on the links provided.

Edit Microsystems: Edit Microsystems (Pty) Ltd is an award-winning company that is devoted to finding alternative and state-of-the-art technical solutions to improve curriculum delivery in educational institutions and effective communication inEdit Microsystems business with a focus on high-speed functional connectivity and on-going support. They have a proud tradition of innovation and are on the cutting edge of technological advances in education. Many of their products are designed to enhance interactivity in a classroom or lecture theatre. Edit Microsystems are also a leader in finding and providing specially adapted hardware and software for Learners with Special Educational Needs throughout South Africa.

Edit Microsystems can be contacted on: 086 111 3973 and have their Head Office in Cape Town at: 13 Boy De Goede Circle, Table View, 7441. They also have an online shop and branches in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng.
To contact these other branches or find out more about Edit Microsystems and the products they supply, visit their web site at: www.editmicro.co.za
 or email them at: info@editmicro.co.za.

Choosing A Computer

Before purchasing a computer, you will need to decide whether a desktop or laptop would be best suited for your needs. Both have advantages and disadvantages, depending on what they will be used for, so you would firstly need to look at the reason for purchasing a computer and then the advantages and benefits of both desktops and laptops, which would then determine which one would suit your needs.

Take a look at the advantages and benefits of both desktops and laptops below, to help you decide which to purchase.

Computers and other electronic aids can be extremely helpful tools, especially for people with disabilities, including the Intellectually Impaired. Due to the fact that many people with disabilities turn to computers to assist them with a variety of tasks, there are a number of Assistive devices to make computer accessible for almost anyone to use.  Computers are useful operate a business, do research, socialize, listen to music, watch TV & movies, play games, read books, take part in discussions, even therapeutic treatments are available through your computer.  You can order just about anything you can get in a store, receive & send faxes, listen to voice-mails, & call for emergency help, all from your computer.

There is a variety of different types of Computer Aids available for Persons with various types of Intellectual Impairments, including children. These Computer Aids are available in South Africa from Organizations and Companies such as Edit Microsystems. which offers a wide variety of solutions and can also advise you on what equipment would best suit your needs. Some of these companies can also teach persons and offer support to them on how to best use the equipment that they supply. To view more information about these Assistive Devices and others, read the article below or view the menu on the left.

Desktops

Desktop computers offer a variety of benefits, they not as portable as a laptops, but can be a more affordable and powerful option, with more features than Laptop computers, therefor ideal for a classroom, office or organisation. There are also a variety of other advantages that Desktops have over Laptop, which include:

  • Desktop computers are easier, and less expensive, to upgrade.
  • Desktop computers are generally less expensive overall and offer a better overall value.
  • Desktop computers have a more comfortable keyboard and a much easier to use mouse. It should be noted that an aftermarket large, comfortable Keyboard and Mouse or Trackball, are also possible.
  • Desktop computers generally have larger monitors, but bigger monitors can also be connected to Laptops.
  • Desktop computers have a lower risk of theft, which means less chance of losing your data and having to pay to replace your computer.

Desktop Computers

Image supplied by Edit Microsystems

There are a variety of different types of Desktops which are available from various companies in South Africa, including:

Desktop Computers From Edit Microsystems: Edit Microsystems can supply desktop computers from all brands to your unique specification requirements. If you know what you are looking for, you can send them your specifications and they will quote you. If you are unsure about your computing needs, you can contact them, so that one of their highly trained sales staff can assist you to find the ideal solution based on what you would like to use the computer for. Contact Edit Microsytems, to find out more about these types of products or to receive a quote.

There are also various other types of these products which are available from other companies, Contact Us to see what other types of these products are available in South Africa if Edit Microsytems cannot assist you.

Laptops

A Laptop, sometimes called a Notebook, is a portable personal computer, which has a Keyboard and screen that can be folded shut for transportation. Laptops are extremely useful for working on while traveling or for people who have to spend time in bed or hospital and still need to work on their Laptops.

Other advantages of a Laptop computer, as compared to a Desktop computer include:

  • Laptop computers are highly portable and allow you to use your computer almost anywhere.
  • If you are an international student, a laptop computer will be much easier to transport from home to school and back again.
  • Laptop computers take up less room on a desk or table and can be put away when not in use.
  • Laptop computers have a single cord to contend with, rather than the multiple cords associated with desktop computer use.
  • A more comfortable Keyboard and Mouse or Trackball can be purchased to use instead of those used by the Laptop.
  • Desktop computers generally have larger monitors, but bigger monitors can also be connected to Laptops to use when at home.

laptop

Image supplied by Edit Microsystems

While the list of advantages of a laptop computer may seem sparse when compared to a desktop computer, essentially, the choice comes down to portability versus functionality and cost. While desktop computers are less expensive, more powerful and more user-friendly, there is a lot to be said for being able to work, check emails, chat online, write papers and play video games anytime and anywhere you like. This is particularly true if you are a person with Mobility Impairments. An External Hard Drive can also be used to store and backup work if space is an issue.

There are a variety of different types of Laptops which are available from various companies in South Africa, such as:

Laptops from Edit Microsystems: Edit Microsystems can supply Laptop computers from all brands to your unique specification requirements. If you know what you are looking for, you can send them your specifications and they will quote you. If you are unsure about your computing needs, you can contact them, so that one of their highly trained sales staff can assist you to find the ideal solution based on what you would like to use the Laptop for. Contact Edit Microsytems, to find out more about these types of products or to receive a quote.

There are also various other types of these products which are available from other companies, Contact Us to see what other types of these products are available in South Africa if Edit Microsytems cannot assist you.

Tobii Dynavox Speech Case for iPad: The Tobii Dynavox Speech Case for iPad is designed specifically for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) the Speech Case for iPad is equipped with extra loud speakers, an ergonomic and durable design and more. It provides a reliable communication solution for iOS users by transforming your iPad into an AAC device. When combined, your 9.7” iPad and the Speech Case work together to create a great solution for communication. The Speech Case gives users the freedom to choose technology they already know, teachers and parents can rest assured knowing the user is comfortable with their device, and can be confident in recommending a great solution.

Features include:

  • Built purposefully for AAC with a durable yet lightweight design so you can go anywhere with confidence.
  • Be heard loud and clear with powerful, integrated, outward facing speakers that provide AAC quality speech output from your iPad.
  • Created to adapt to your lifestyle with an integrated handle, strap, and mounting plate holes so you never have to compromise.
  • Designed to meet your access needs with one or two switches for control and independence over your iPad.
  • Available in three great colours – Grey, Teal Blue and Raspberry Pink (please specify colour when ordering).
  • It seamlessly connects to your iPad via Bluetooth, weighs only 570g and includes a built-in stand for easier access.
  • Use with popular symbol based communication Apps such as Snap + Core First, which is available to buy from the Apple App Store.
  • The Tobii Dynavox Speech Case is compatible with the following iPads:
    (9.7” iPads supported are the 5th (2017) generation and 6th (2018) generation versions)

As mentioned above a Laptop uses a pointing device called a touch pad or track pad, which can be very difficult to use if your disability effects your hands. I am a C5 Quadriplegic and use a Trackball & wireless keyboard, set with "sticky keys", "key board shortcuts" & "Numb Pad" for finer work. I often battle with pressure sores and am sometimes laid up in bed. I use an Adjustable Bed, which enables me to be able to sit up enough to work in bed with my Laptop on an Over Bed Table, which means that there is no down time in my business. I can therefore consider that my laptop, one of my best buys.

Companies such as Edit Microsytems also supply Desks for both Desktops and Laptops, as well a wide variety of other Accessories, such as Laptop Bags and Laptop Carts. Visit Edit Microsytems to find out more or Contact Us to see what other types of these products are available in South Africa if Edit Microsytems cannot assist you.

Read the article below to find out more about Trackballs and Accessibility Tools & Resources such as "Sticky Keys", "Key Board Shortcuts" & the "Numb Pad", or visit our Pressure Care Products page to find out more about Adjustable Beds and Over Bed Tables.

Monitors

All computers comprise of  a Monitor, whether they are Desktops or Laptops. A Monitor is an output device that displays information in pictorial form, it usually comprises the display device, circuitry, casing, and power supply. The display device in modern monitors is typically a thin film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) with LED back lighting.

Touch screen Monitors are also available for certain types of software, particularly those that do not require pixel-accurate pointing. These monitors use touching of the screen as an input method, items can be selected or moved with a finger, and finger gestures may be used to convey commands. The screen will need frequent cleaning due to image degradation from fingerprints.

There are several types available, but you should try to avoid using 'add on' touch-screens such as those that fasten over your standard monitor, as these devices lack the accuracy and robustness of modern touch monitors and can cause problems as some learners are more interested in trying to pull them off than using them appropriately.

There are a variety of different types of Monitors which are available from various companies in South Africa, such as:

Monitors  From Edit Microsystems: Edit Microsystems can also supply LCD or LED monitors in a wide range of sizes and connectivity options. Their monitor range includes touch screen monitors, which are ideal in a special education needs environment. Contact Edit Microsytems, to find out more about these types of products or to receive a quote.

There are also various other types of these products which are available from other companies, Contact Us to see what other types of these products are available in South Africa if Edit Microsytems cannot assist you.

aptop computers & Tablets

Laptop computers and tablet devices are beneficial for students with learning disabilities because they are portable and lightweight. For students with handwriting difficulties, being able to take notes on a laptop or computerized device (such as an iPad) can improve the quantity and quality of the notes. Using a word processor can help students to complete work that is more organized and includes less spelling errors than handwritten work. Some students may also identify and correct more errors when using spell check than when editing by hand. However, personal access to laptops and computerized devices does not ensure engagement and increased academic success. For many students, laptop computers and computerized devices can be too distracting. Teachers and students need to be trained in how to meaningfully integrate technology into academic contexts so that the devices don’t detract from learning.

A laptop, often called a notebook, is a portable personal computer. The keyboard and screen can be folded shut for transportation of the laptop. Laptops are therefore extremely useful for working on while traveling or for people who need to spend time in bed.

A laptop uses a pointing device called a touch pad or track pad,  & can be very difficult to use if you have a mobility impairment that effects your hands. I use a Trackball & wireless keyboard.

Key Boards & Key Boards Shortcuts

There is a variety of different types of Computer Aids available for Persons with various types of Intellectual Impairments, including children. Some of these Computer Aids such as specially adapted keyboards are available in South Africa from Organizations and Companies such as Edit Microsystems, who stock the following types of keyboards:

Accuratus Monster 2 – Mixed Colour Lower Case Childrens Keyboard for Learning with Large Keys: This keyboard is for young children and is the perfect entry into computing, with large oversized keys grouped in different colours making learning easy and fun. The lowercase keys are especially designed for early readers who are not yet familiar with capital letters. The keyboard features and specifications include a USB connection; black case with modern gloss piano black beveled edge; large 1 inch square keys (24mm); mixed, high visibility or high contrast keys (only 1 style per carton) and much more. Contact Edit Microsystems to find out what other features they offer and to receive a quote

Keyboard shortcuts are combinations of two or more keys that you can use to perform a task that would typically require a mouse or other pointing device. Keyboard shortcuts can make it easier to work with your PC, saving you time and effort as you work with Windows and other apps. This can be particularly useful if your hands are impaired, especially in combination with "Sticky Keys"

Examples of these include:

Windows system key combinationskeyboard & rollerball mouse

  • F1: Help
  • CTRL+ESC: Open Start menu
  • ALT+TAB: Switch between open programs
  • ALT+F4: Quit program
  • SHIFT+DELETE: Delete item permanently
  • Windows Logo+L: Lock the computer (without using CTRL+ALT+DELETE)

Windows program key combinations

  • CTRL+C: Copy
  • CTRL+X: Cut
  • CTRL+V: Paste
  • CTRL+Z: Undo
  • CTRL+B: Bold
  • CTRL+U: Underline
  • CTRL+I: Italic

Mouse Keys

Mouse Keys allows you to move the mouse cursor from the keys in the number pad on the right side of a full-size keyboard. It is not as fast as a regular mouse, or even as fast as the Track Ball, but when turned on, Mouse Keys also allows you to click and drag. This gives you much more control, especially in Graphic Design & if your hand movement is impaired.

To turn on the Mouse Keys option, click Start; Settings; Control Panel; Accessibility Options. Click the Mouse Tab at the top of the dialog box and then click the little box next to Use Mouse Keys to put a check in it. You can then select the options you want and click OK.

You can also turn on Mouse Keys by pressing Left Alt+Left Shift+Num Lock.  To change options like how quickly the mouse pointer moves and whether your PC makes a sound when you turn on Mouse Keys, in the Ease of Access Center, tap or click Make the mouse easier to use, and then, under Control the mouse with the keyboard, tap or click Set up Mouse Keys, and tap or click OK.

Move the pointer using Mouse Keys

After you turn on Mouse Keys, you can use the numeric keypad to move the mouse.

To move the mouse pointermouse keys

Up - 8
Down - 2
Right - 6
Left - 4
Up and to the left - 7
Down and to the left - 1
Up and to the right  - 9
Down and to the right - 3            

Sticky Keyssticky-key

Sticky Keys is a Windows Ease of Access feature that makes it possible to use keyboard shortcuts or type capital letters without needing to press more than one key at once. Normally, you’d hold down the Shift key while pressing a letter to type a capital, or hold down the Ctrl key while pressing ‘S’ to save a document. It's even trickier if you want to use a shortcut such as Ctrl-Alt-Del or Ctrl-Shift-Esc.

With Sticky Keys, you can press Ctrl, Shift or Alt, let go and then press another key – Windows will interpret this as GjvzKoxh8yBmIcgL5WxBlX0w9l0akIIPshould also hear a beep if you have speakers connected.

It’s great if you’re disabled and can’t press two keys at once, I always use it & find it helps allot. It also makes it easier to use keyboard shortcuts or hold down the Ctrl key while pressing 'S' to save a document.

You can Setup Sticky Keys when you hit one of your keyboard’s Shift keys five times in a row, this will cause a Windows pop-up, which will ask if you want to enable Sticky Keys.
You can also switch it on by going to "Control Panel" then "'Adjust Computer Settings" then"ease of access" & turn sticky keys on.

Software & Applications

Penfriend XP 4.1
The Penfriend XP 4.1 is an application tool specially designed for users with Dyslexia or physical disabilities. The application allows users to add word prediction, speech and an onscreen keyboard.

Features
The application allows users to add word prediction, speech and an onscreen keyboard which is compatible with most other software programs.
New and improved abbreviation expansion.
works with your word processor and tries to guess the word you are typing when the first, second and third letter has been entered.
Complete the word with one key press.
Learns the words you used recently and frequently and improves when you use it.
saving feature allows for work to be saved by each individual user enabling easy access for teachers.
Includes an edit and add topic feature for vocabulary.
Technical Specifications

XP Windows CD-Rom single user PC
XP Portable single user USB
http://editmicro.co.za/product/penfriend-xp-4-1/

Trackball/Roller Ball Mouse

As mentioned above, some individuals with Intellectual Impairments might find a regular mouse difficult to use. A Rollerball Mouse also known as a Trackball can assist you. A Trackball is basically an upside-down mouse with an exposed protruding ball. To move the pointer the user rolls the ball with the thumb, fingers, the palm of the hand, or in my case back of my hand.

Compared with a mouse, a trackball has no limits on effective travel. A mouse can reach an edge of its working area while the operator still wishes to move the screen pointer further.

With a trackball, the operator just continues rolling, whereas a mouse would have to be lifted & re-positioned. Some trackballs have notably low friction, as well as being made of dense material such as glass, so they can be spun to make them coast. The trackball's buttons may be situated to that of a mouse or to a unique style that suits the user.big trackball

You get a variety of different types & styles of trackballs, including cordless ones, which can be handy, you need to find one that suits you. The Trackball is more expensive than the normal mouse & can be difficult to find in South Africa.

Large trackballs can be used for easy precision. The BIG track Trackball has a 3 inch trackball which makes it the largest trackball available. The large ball requires less fine motor control than a standard trackball and it is ruggedly built. It has a left and a right mouse click button located behind the trackball to avoid unwanted mouse clicks. This was the first type of trackball that I used & gave me good practice to eventually use a normal trackball. These large Trackballs are cheaper than normal Trackballs.

Voice/Speech-Recognition Software

Voice/Speech-Recognition Software  enable you to run your computer entirely with your voice. It converts speech to text, and allows users to perform commands and even move the mouse without touching anything. This is ideal for someone who has difficulty typing through a physical disability.

There are a variety of options available including a free one that comes with windows & Dragon NaturallySpeaking also known as Dragon for PC. This speech recognition software package, runs on Windows personal computers . It requires quite a bit of RAM (Random Access Memory) to run well & the right microphone.

There are many different microphones that work well with Voice/Speech-Recognition Software, but the better microphone results in better accuracy.

There is no "BEST" microphone. Your voice, how you use the microphone, your environment, and your PC are a few of the variables that determine what is a good microphone for you, the same applies to the microphones you will find comfortable, it is a personal preference.

If you have a local microphone reseller who will let you come try various microphones, contact them and buy from them!

The Microphones vary in type & price & include:dragon

  • Basic headsets & mike
  • cordless headsets & mike
  • USB headsets & mikes
  • Microphones mounted on a desk.

Each of these have their pros & cons & you will need to purchase one that suits your needs & pocket.

The person using it, talks into a mike & the words are then translated into text. After you set it up, it provides a Tips function, which you can leave on for a while so you keep learning tricks every time you start the software. You will also need to train it to learn & understand your voice.

If used correctly, it should improve every time you use it.

Products & Equipment
Silver Level Membership
Edit Microsystems