Sunday, January 29, 2012

Computer Accessibility:

The computer is the one of the only pieces of technology that is mass marketed that comes with accessibility options.  The accessibility options are geared towards individuals with physical or sensory impairments.  These options are to change keyboard or mouse access, as well as the screen appearance and add features for individuals that are hard of hearing.  Both Windows and Macintosh operating systems have these features built in, and both operating systems have similar features.

The ease of access center in Windows allows you to adjust these settings to the users needs.  In the Macintosh operating system is it Universal Access:

The Keyboard Features:

Sticky Keys:  You can turn on sticky keys by either going through the control panel on both systems or by pressing the Shift Key five times.  This allows the users to create two keyed characters without having to press both keys down at the same time.  For example, the user would press shift then the key that they want capitalized.  This is very helpful for individuals that are one handed users. This can work for symbols and CTRL-ALT-DELETE as well.

Filter Keys: This feature "filters" out repeated keystrokes.  This can be modified, changing the amount of time that the system waits before it filters or allows the key to accessed.  This can be very important for individuals with tremors that cause multiple keystrokes.  

Toggle Keys:  This feature creates a tone when either CTRL, ALT, or CAPS LOCK is pressed.  This is very important for individuals that might accidentally hit CAPS LOCK without knowing.  Often, many individuals are "hunt and peck" typists, not looking up at the screen until they are done typing.  If they kit CAPS LOCK without knowing it then their whole document is in all caps and they would have to delete and start over.  This feature is very helpful in cueing the user to prevent this issue, increasing their efficiency and decreasing their frustration with typing skills.

For the next few blog posts I am going to continue to explore how adaptations can be made to the operating system of a computer, both within the accessibility features and in other ways to increase the performance of the user.

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