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Low-Tech and High-Tech Access to Computers

Most of us agree that computers, if integrated appropriately, improve productivity and increase professionalism for all employees. Perhaps what is less obvious are the many tools and strategies, both low-tech and high-tech, that are needed to support access to computers for personnel who have disabilities. There are several hurdles to accessing computers that are easy to take for granted. Most of us don't have any trouble seeing the icons on a desktop, reaching the on/off button, manipulating the keyboard, or hearing some of the auditory prompts made by a computer. But for those employees who do have difficulty in these areas, such hurdles minimizes their ability to be independent and productive; and if unaccounted for, they can completely bars access to learning and work.

Here are some strategies that promote access and independence for all members of your organization. Some strategies fall in the category of universal design; that is, they are useful to a broad range of users. Other strategies refer to assistive technology or technologies that support access in a unique situation, where it is typically useful for only one person. The strategies also represent a range of functionality (e.g., visual, auditory, and physical).

On a cautionary note, to ensure the holistic adoption of effective accommodations, it is important to look beyond the individual's disability; for example, an individual who has a vision impairment may equally benefit from an accommodation that facilitates physical access.

Accommodations for Vision Impairments

Universal Design Strategies:

Assistive Technology Tools:

Accommodations for Auditory Impairment

Universal Design Strategies:

Assistive Technology Tool:

Accommodations for Physical Impairments

Universal Design Strategies:

Assistive Technology Tools:

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Designing More Usable Computers and Software (Trace Center)