Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Things that Work and Ways to Make Things Work

Access on Main Street is a website that features mainstream products that, by chance or design, make life easier for a person with a disability. Its aim is to inform consumers, inspire designers, and wake up marketers to opportunities with these underserved customers. Things they’ve highlighted include a hands-free guitar tuner, a new punctuation mark and the Powerzoa, a device you can attach to the power cord of an appliance that allows you to turn it off and on via a webpage.
But, if you’re not up for waiting around for the rest of the world to start designing products for people with disabilities, visit OneSwitch.org.uk, a site with a list of do-it-yourself adaptations for games and toys, like the pictured Water Blaster.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Can elementary school students use speech recognition (i.e., Dragon Naturally Speaking)?

We have used DNS with students, but usually with older students. There is a lot of practice that is needed, learning to correct the software when (not if) it makes mistakes. For those who cannot use a keyboard (due to physical disability), and meet all the other criteria (ease with computers, need to type longer material, quiet environment), it is great. For those with learning disabilities, who have difficulty with spelling, there are more barriers (since you need to be able to spot errors and spell corrections).

However, I always say that each person is an individual, and I wouldn't say that an elementary school student couldn't use it. Usually, what overcomes these barriers is a need and desire to use the tool to meet the goal, some level of maturity, and training on how to use the program so that your voice file gets better with time, and not worse.

Here is a personal story from an adult with cerebral palsy who used it from elementary school.
click here.

And here's a video of a high school student with a learning disability who started using it at age 9. (note that the video is dated- from 2007)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Starting the year with some humor...

For those of us who have been "ergo buddies". . . really, our solutions involve no salt.

. . . and if you're looking for real office ergonomics info, Cornell University's site combines both research and practical advice. www.ergo.human.cornell.edu