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Input Devices or Methods

The typical way to enter information into a computer is though the use of a keyboard and a mouse. When an individual has a motor control and/or a visual disability, alternative input devices may be needed. There are a variety of alternative and adapted keyboards and mice available on the market. In addition, the Universal Access Tools available for Macintosh provide some built-in access features that may assist individuals with motor and or visual impairments. If this software is not preinstalled it may be necessary to install from the iMac System Software.

Easy Access
The Easy Access control panel offers a number of options to help control functions of the mouse, the ability to hold multiple keys down, and conversion of text to speech.

Speakable Items
Another application available with your iMac is Speakable Items that allows visually impaired or learning disabled students to operate the computer through voice commands so they can access the same curricula as others.

Alternative Keyboards
As the primary input device currently available with computers, there are a variety of alternative solutions for students to respond to the needs of lessons. The IntelliKeys keyboard provides a larger surface area for students who have difficulties with motor control. The Little Fingers keyboard, as it sounds, provides smaller keys for smaller hands, while the BAT One-Handed keyboard provides full keyboard access for students with the use of only one hand.

Portables Word Processor
Portable word processors give students an alternative mode for note taking and word processing. Most interface directly with a printer. Use is appropriate when portability and access needs in more than one location are an issue.

Overlays
A variety of keyboard overlays are available for a variety of special needs such as Braille, larger images of keys, and special functions that can be programmed into the computer using special software.

Mouse Alternatives
The other primary input device is the mouse. A range of mouse alternatives is available to help provide a less restrictive environment for students inputting information for lessons. These alternatives include scroll wheels and track balls that make it easier for students who have difficulty with motor control to handle the mouse.

HeadMouse
Another type of mouse is a head mouse that tracks a student's head movement to activate and control the computer application program.

Touch Window
Touch windows also provide a mouse alternative by allowing students to directly touch the screen to activate and control the computer application program.

Switches
In some cases individuals with severe motor disabilities cannot operate any type of adapted keyboard or mouse. In these cases, a computer can be operated with a switch used in conjunction with software scanning program. Switches come in all shapes and sizes and are designed for multiple access points on the body, including hand, foot, head, eyebrow, and mouth.

Word Prediction Software
Word prediction software (Co:Writer) is designed to reduce the number of keystrokes an individual needs to type a word. For example, when the initial letter of a word is typed the program generates a list of possible words based on previous user history and the context of the sentence. If the desired word is displayed, the user only needs to type the number in front of the word to complete the spelling.

(See Assistive Technology Training Materials for more extensive information.)

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