Computers and The Disabled


The computer age has changed many things for many people, but for the
disabled the computer has ultimately changed their entire life. Not only has it
made life exceedingly easier for all disabled age groups, it has also made them
able to be more employable in the work force. Previously unemployable people can
now gain the self esteem from fully supporting themselves. Computers have given
them the advantages of motion were it had not previously existed. Disabled
children now have the advantage to grow up knowing that they can one day be a
competent adult, that won't have to rely on someone else for their every need.
Windows 95 has made many interesting developments toward making life easier for
the nearly blind and for the deaf, including on screen text to synthesize speech
or Braille, and adaptive hardware that transforms a computers audible cues into
a visual format. Computers have given the limited back their freedom to be an
active part of the human race.
According to the Americans with Disabilities Acts, any office that has a
staff of more than fifteen people now has to provide adaptive hardware and
software on their computers, so that workers with disabilities can accomplish
many tasks independently. Before this Act was passed the disabled were normally
passed over for jobs because of their handicap, now however employers can be
assured that people with disabilities can work in the work place just like
people without disabilities. The self esteem disabled individuals have gained
from the experience to work and be self supporting, is immeasurable.
Computerized wheelchairs have given disabled people a whole new perception
on life. It has given them the mobility to go just about anywhere they want to
go. It has given them the ability to explore an unknown world, and progress
intellectually as well as spiritually. Computerized vans allow many disabled
people to drive, by having onboard computerized lifts to place the disabled in
the driver's seat. Movement sensitive hardware, as well as computerized shifting
devices allows the disable to control the van with very little physical movement.
Children with disabilities now have access to many computerized devices that
enable them to move freely in their home as well as outside. The battery
operated bigfoot truck, much like the ones that we buy for our own children to
play on have been adapted and computerized for children with special needs.
These trucks have been designed for even some of the most limited children to
operate with ease. With the newest technology these children can now go to
public schools with their peers, and have an active social life. They also are
learning that there is a place in this fast paced world for them, and are
teaching the rest of us that with strength and the will to succeed, all things
are possible.
The Windows 95 help system was designed to help users with hearing, motor
and some visual disabilities, they include information on the built-in access
features. The controls of these features are centralized in the Accessibility
Options Control Panel. This specialized control panel lets the user activate
and deactivate certain access features and customize timing and feedback for a
limited individual. A program for the disabled called StickyKey helps a person
who doesn't have much control over hand movement to use a computers delete
command, or any other command that normally uses both hands. StickyKeys allows
a disabled person to hit one key at a time so that they can access a multi-
command without pressing multiple keys simultaneously, it also allows for
mistakes by deleting any accidentally hit key that isn't held down for the set
amount of time. To use a mouse a person needs complete control of hand movement.
MouseKeys assist the disabled with the use of the arrow keys on the keyboards
numeric keypad to move the mouse around the screen. ToggleKeys is another
program that aids the disabled, it provides audio feedback for certain key
strokes by providing high and low pitched beeps that tell the current status of
Caps Lock, Number Lock, and Scroll Lock keys. Windows 95 offers several features
for those with limited sight. They make a high contrast layout that can be
scaled to multiple sizes for easy reading. Their program Showsounds lets you set
a global flag that shows sounds in a visual format.
In an age when computers seem to be used in just about every aspect in life,
the disabled have found something that makes their lives more endurable.
Considering the limitations that they have overcome in their everyday lives the
disabled should