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COMPUTERS

ADAPTIVE COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY

This list includes the most comprehensive sources of information about adaptive computer technology for people with all sorts of disabilities, especially those with visual handicaps. It excludes links to individual manufacturers and vendors because they can be easily found by entering the larger portal sites, like those, among many others, of the American Foundation for the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind. I also have a set of links to manufacturers and vendors in "Index to Adaptive Computer Hardware and Software."

ACCESS NET, a project of the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council, has an extensive list of sites for accessible computer hardware and software.

"Access Review," from the Sensory Access Foundation," provides reviews of hardware and software in addition to discussions of accessibility in general.

"AccessWorld," a publication of the American Foundation for the Blind, publishes frequent comprehensive reviews of optical and computer access technology.

The Abledata database covers a very broad range of adaptive equipment and tools useful for people with all sorts of disabilities.

The American Foundation for the Blind and the National Federation of the the Blind both maintain comprehensive directories of available adaptive technology, computer and optical. The AFB provides excellent brief descriptions of the various types of technology. The NFB provides brief descriptions of many of the individual programs and devices. Both have extensive lists of companies that produce and sell a very wide range of adaptive equipment for blind and visually handicapped computer users.

The AFB has also prepared "Accessing the Internet: What You Need to Know to Get Started and the Tools You Need to Find What You are Searching For."

Here is a good brief compilation of listserves, online newsletters, usenet newsgroups and web sites.

The Alliance for Technology Access is comprised of networks of community-based resource centers, developers and vendors, affiliates, and associates "dedicated to providing information and support services to children and adults with disabilities, and increasing their use of standard, assistive, and information technologies." It maintains a comprehensive annotated list of vendors of accessible technology for computer users with a wide variety of disabilities.

ATA has also published Computer Resources for People with Disabilities: A Guide to Exploring Today's Assistive Technology (Salt Lake City, UT: Publishers Press, 2000; ISBN 0897933001), 3rd edition, which describes a wide range of adaptive technology and (even more valuable) provides many case studies showing how the technology works (or sometimes doesn't work). Disabled people describe the difference technology has made in their lives. The book is also available from the National Library Service in cassette form as RC 52968 and in braille and Web-Braille as BR 13816.

Also worth consulting is the Adaptive Technology Resource Center of the University of Toronto.

The American Council of the Blind has a good list of resources with addresses and links to home pages of suppliers.

The Assistive Technology Industry Association "is a non-profit trade group of companies involved in providing products and services which use technology to assist people with disabilities." Their newsletter is available online.

The "Assistive Technology Resource Manual" was intended "to help school districts in Illinois meet the assistive technology needs of its students with disabilities" but its ideas, tips, strategies and samples will be useful to teachers and parents everywhere.

The Center for Accessible Technology (Berkeley, CA) has good coverage of newly released technology and computer programs, especially voice-recognition technology and its use in adapting computers for the disabled. The reviews of specific programs are current, detailed and frank.

Center for Assistive Technology (State University of New York, University at Buffalo) conducts research, education and service to increase knowledge about assistive devices for persons with disabilities.

Center for Computer Assistance to the Disabled (CCAD) (Dallas, TX).

Center for Information Technology Accomodation (CITA) is a "model demonstration facility influencing accessible information environments, services, and management practices," in the Federal Government.

The Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge sponsors an annual "Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference." The Proceedings, available on-line, are a prime source of cutting-edge developments.

"Closing the Gap: Computer Technology for People with Special Needs": magazine published six times per year, with an annual Resource Guide covering an immense range of technologies and a large number of disabilities--an essential resource; they also hold an annual conference on adaptive technology. The Resource Guide is also searchable online.

"Computer Technologies for Postsecondary Students with Disabilities" is a brief summary, based on a survey, of the technologies most used by a variety of students in Canada. The survey was done in 1999 by Adaptech.

"The Computers for Handicapped Independence Program: Restoring Independence Through Computer Technology" collects useful links about screen enlargers, braille, audio output, optical character recognition, digital documentation and word processing. There are also links to sources of adaptive technology for people with mobility impairments, speech or language impairments and learning disabilities.

Do-It: Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology has a large collection of links and online resources related to disabilities and adaptive technology, with a special emphasis on academic life and science.

The 2000 Dueling Scanners Report directly compares the performance of scanners and OCR technology from Jbliss, Arkenstone and Kurzweil Educational Systems, Inc.

You can keep up with cutting-edge developments in assistive computer technology (and much else about access for the disabled to software and information) at EASI: Equal Access to Software and Information. EASI also has a weekly web audio program on information technology.
EASI maintains an extensive list of resources for adaptive hardware and software devices and vendors.

Enabling Support Foundation aims "to provide the technological tools to empower individuals with disabilities to maximize their inherent potential." [The site is largely under construction as of May 14, 1999.]

Family Center on Technology and Disability provides "assistance to programs and organizations to respond to the technology needs of parents and families of children and youth with disabilities." It is developing an on-line database of information about assistive technology and a catalog of technology resources.

"The Federal Information Technology Accessibility Initiative is a Federal government interagency effort to offer information and technical assistance to assist in the successful implementation of Section 508." It is a source of regulations, standards and technical assistance in making electronic technology accessible.

FreedomBox sells computer with voice recognition that allows a "disabled user full access to the Internet just by talking" to the computer. They also sell word processing, scanning and typing tutor programs that are voice-operated.

The High Tech Centers Training Unit of the California Community Colleges has valuable reference and training guides, FAQ's, tutorials and guides to resources.

IC2D (Integrated Communication 2 Draw) is a program "that will enable navigation and drawing on the screen using voice synthesis and musical sounds as feedback. Through the IC2D user interface, which partitions the screen into nine equal squares, the user may select an arbitrary set of points and later return to any one of those selected points. Navigation and fine point selection are done via a new recursive scheme based on the layout of the telephone keypad."

Joseph J. Lazzaro's Adaptive Technologies for Learning and Work Environments (2nd ed.) "is a comprehensive guide describing how to select, install, and support assistive technology for persons with disabilities" (Chicago: American Library Association, 2001; ISBN 0838908047).

Manolo.net is a source of information about assistive technology and other resources for visually handicapped people who speak Spanish.

The National Library Service has created a new Reference Circular, "Assistive Devices for Use with Personal Computers," which is an excellent summary of the main devices and sources.

"Talking Technologies maintains a free on-line product guide, shopping centre, technical manual, and link hub, for speech recognition software, microphones, dictation and transcription systems, talking software, and training." [Accessibility seems to be an afterthought, but the resources are extensive.]

Tech Connections is a "one stop resource for linking Assistive Technology with individuals with disabilities."

Text to Speech: Peter Verhoeven, on his Screen Magnifier page, finds room for reviews of four text to speech programs, as well as a comprehensive treatment of screen enlarger/magnifier software.

assistivetech.net, a project of the Georgia Tech Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA), is "an online information resource providing up-to-date, thorough information on assistive technologies, adaptive environments and community resources." You can search by function or activity, keyword, product type or vendor.


The best source of information about adaptive computer equipment and programs for the blind is the blind people who use them. See "Links to the Web Sites of Blind and Visually Impaired Computer User Groups Worldwide," which has links to VICUG-L, a mailing list, and to users groups in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and elsewhere.
VICUG-L is archived.

The mailing list Blind-L, "Computer Use by and for the Blind" is archived and you may find there the answer to a problem with adaptive technology. There are also instructions for subscribing.


A number of periodicals dealing with computers are available in accessible formats:


The are many good print guides to making computers accessible to disabled users:

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