Assistive technology helps people with disabilities to break through barriers that could potentially stop them from being successful. “By using computing technology for tasks such as reading and writing documents, communicating with others, and searching for information on the Internet, students and employees with disabilities are capable of handling a wide range of activities independently” (Burgstahler, 1992).
In selecting accessibility features on my computer, I was amazed at what I learned. I am currently using a MacBook Air with X Mavericks. Accessibility is a standard feature in a Mac making these resources readily available to those in need. The available accessibility features are located in settings. The following features are located on my computer:
For the seeing impaired
Zoom, a built-in screen magnifier, is a standard feature on all Apple Mac OS X and iOS products. This feature helps those who are visually impaired get access to computers. “Zoom magnifies everything that appears onscreen – including text, graphics, and video – up to 40 times their original size on Mac machines, and up to 5 times on iOS devices such as iPhone and iTouch” (Leibs, 2014).
VoiceOver is another standard feature on Mac, making the computers accessible to the visually impaired. Loaded with options, VoiceOver not only tells the user what is happening on the screen, but also is the first screen reader, which supports braille displays. VoiceOver is also available for iOS, making computing portable for the visually impaired.
For the hearing impaired
Whether it is FaceTime, closed captions, sending and receiving messages using iMessage, Screen Flash, or mono audio, Mac computers provide access to the hearing impaired. I was familiar with all of these options with the exception of Screen Flash. Working in conjunction with apps utilizing the system beep, the beep is replaced by a flashing screen.
For those needing interactive assistance
- Mouse and Trackpad
- Switch Control
- Speakable Items
For those with physical impairments, which impede the use of hands or arms, Mac has several assistive options. The keyboard sensitivity can be adjusted by using Slow Keys. Slow Keys delays the speed between the time the key is pressed to when it is entered. The acceptance delay can be adjusted to meet the needs of the user.
Mouse and Trackpad options are also available. Mouse Keys allows the user to control cursor movement with a numeric keypad. The scrolling speed for both the mouse and track pad can be adjusted depending upon the needs of the learner.
The Switch Control provides the user with the option to navigate onscreen keyboards and menus using external devices such as a switch, joystick, and keyboard space bar. Possibly more importantly, Switch Control gives the user the ability to navigate onscreen keyboards and menus using scanning. Scanning is
Burgstahler, S. (1992). Computing services for disabled students in institutions of higher education (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from: https://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/Technology/wtcomp.html
Leibs, A. (2014). Zoom: apple’s built-in screen magnifier. Assistive Technology. Retrieved from: http://assistivetechnology.about.com/od/ATCAT10/p/Zoom-Apples-Built-In-Screen-Magnifier.htm