Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Computer Accessibility Resources

I spoke earlier about Web Accessibility Resources, but now it's time to think about Computer Accessible Resources. This includes any hardware or software features built into your computer and discuss possible computer add-ons that help make computers more accessible. Inevitably, this discussion leads to a debate of PC vs. Mac. I have been a PC user for years but I won't dismiss the fact that Apple has some very nice features included on the Mac that make it ideal for some applications (as in uses, not software), and even some schools. That being said, the PC seemingly is much better equipped for individuals with special needs than the Mac. To begin with, here is a testimonal on the PC advantage.

Beyond that, Microsoft has provided a wealth of resources about the accessibility features it offers - much more than Apple provides. Here is Apple's stance on accessibility. That''s it? Ok, sure, they say they have all these features but there is no additional supporting documentation. You'll see what I mean in a minute.

Microsoft, on the other hand (for all my complaining about its faults) has done a great job on this aspect. To begin with you can watch video demonstrations of four aspects of accessibility (Display and Appearance, Sounds and Speech, Keyboard and Mouse, and Accessibility Wizard). Then, jump on over to Microsoft's main accessibility page to see Fact Sheets and Tutorials for Windows, Office and Internet Explorer of various versions. If you really want to get down and dirty, check out Accessibility Technology: A Guide for Educators which also includes an Assistive Technology Decision Tree, some research reports on the topic and a great breakdown of assistive technologies by impairment.

Finally, although not solely focused on computer accessibility, eSchool News is a great resources for teachers.

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