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Author Topic: Computer equipment for the disabled
Dagonee
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I may delete this thread in a few days. If no one quotes too much about specific symptoms, I will instead delete some of the specifics from this post.

Does anyone know where I can find an overview of computer equipment that would be useful for a stroke victim?

The problems I need to solve include:

1) Poor vision - the quality depends on the angle and distance as well as the size of the text.
2) Limited mobility - only the left hand (in a right handed person) has mobility, and it is limited. As an example of his dexterity, he can dial a phone with big buttons, but it takes a while and he drops it sometimes.
3) Suitability for bed and wheelchair. He gets tired easily while sitting up. Because of vision problems, the monitor angle must be very adjustable.

The solution will need to be used from bed both wheel chair (the wheel chair could be limited to proximity to the bed). It needs to be moveable in the sense that we can't alter the room and need to take it out when he leaves rehab. But true portability is not required.

Primary task will be selecting documents and viewing. Vision will dictate big font size and ability to adjust the monitor - preferably with the left arm only, but requiring simple assistance would be ok. Automated reading software would be a plus but not necessary. Lack of mobility will require an easy to use pointing device and probably a simple interface for selecting files (I can create that part if needed.)

Connectivity is not needed - I can bring over what's needed via thumb drives - but WiMax might not be a bad thing.

I have no idea of the budget. I'm assuming this will all attach to a standard WinXp desktop system, which I have.

I have a good sense of what's probably available, but if someone can point me to a specific provider or a good overview of how to set up such systems, I would appreciate it.

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The Rabbit
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I know a legally blind engineer who does a lot of computer work. I'll e-mail him for recommendations on the vision issue.
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DarkKnight
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I'm still googl-fuing
Stroke victims

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DarkKnight
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Adaptive technology
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DarkKnight
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Low Vision tech stuff, magnification, speech to text

Lowvision.org site

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scifibum
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No expert knowledge from me, but this wiki page contains links to resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_accessibility

Including this site which appears to be excellent:
http://www.bltt.org/

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Dagonee
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Thanks, guys. Those are great links - I think I've got a pretty good idea of what to do on the IT side of things, although I'll have to try things out to get the best match. And first-hand info from Rabbit's friend will make that even easier.

I still don't know what to do about furniture. I'm imagining some kind of self-contained rolling stand with an articulated monitor arm. But nothing I can find seems suitable - they're all for trade show displays and the like.

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sndrake
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What state is this? There might be some agencies that will do evaluations on what would work in terms of seating and equipment.

Also, if this person needs to write at all, word prediction software might be useful, given the limited hand movement.

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Dagonee
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quote:
What state is this? There might be some agencies that will do evaluations on what would work in terms of seating and equipment.
I think we have determined that the state agency has reached the limits of its usefulness. Even if it hasn't, this is a short-term need.

Are there people who do the consulting on this from start to finish - that is, evaluate the abilities, listen to the needs, and then design a system? If so, what are they called?

quote:
Also, if this person needs to write at all, word prediction software might be useful, given the limited hand movement.
Writing is a secondary concern right now, but I've added that to the list of things to investigate.
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scifibum
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Hmm...not sure it's helpful but perhaps some combination of the rolling stand and articulated arms pictured here? (might require some aftermarket modification, or maybe the seller can quote a custom build):

http://www.ergoindemand.com/flat_panel_mounts_consul.htm

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sndrake
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quote:
Are there people who do the consulting on this from start to finish - that is, evaluate the abilities, listen to the needs, and then design a system? If so, what are they called?

I have to check with Diane later today. She's much more familiar with this area than I am. Once upon a time, she was an assistant director at a technology tech center.

There should be professionals who will evaluate the abilities, etc. and then match them with existing tech options. I'll check with Diane when she's available later. If you could get ahold of the right professional, it could save a lot of trial and error.

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rivka
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I'm waiting to hear back from someone too. He promised a response later today.
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Dagonee
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Excellent, both of you. [Smile]

scifibum, aftermarket modification is an iffy prospect for me, although I'll go that way if I have to.

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sndrake
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OK - Talked to Diane.

First option (if you haven't done this already) is through Vocational Rehabilitiation, which is a state agency. Downside is that there's may be a time lag for intake, eval and recommendations.

Second option - probably the best that I have to offer - is to call the local Center for Independent Living and ask for the person that does Information and Referral. There are probably both free and private-pay services for what you want in terms of evaluation.

Directory of Centers for Independent Living

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Dagonee
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Thanks for the link. I'll talk to the family and get in touch with the local center.
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Tante Shvester
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My husband has some pretty severe disabilities (totally paralyzed, unable to speak, yadda yadda ya), and uses a computer all the time. He finds it an indispensable way to stay in contact. He emails me when I am just in the next room. While there are lots of adaptive hardware and software out there, he found that his best resource was our local United Cerebral Palsy branch. He doesn't have cerebral palsy, mind you, but a lot of the issues that affect CP-ers are common to people with muscular dystrophy (which he does have), or stroke. The advantage that he found was that they had a knowledgeable cadre of tech experts who were current with the latest technology, and a lab right there with all kinds of equipment to try out. They had a great "can-do" attitude regarding problem-solving, and it is terrific to get to try stuff out before you invest in it. Some equipment can be awfully pricey, and if you get it and find that it doesn't work for you, well, you are plum out of luck.
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Dagonee
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Oh, that's an excellent idea, Tante. Thanks!

The person in question really wants - needs, really - to continue working. And he can still do tremendous amounts of good if we can make this easier.

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The Rabbit
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Dag, Here is the response from my blind friend.

quote:
I'm probably not as helpful as yer average Blind Guy would be here. I have
tried some magnification software (I recommend ZoomText), but frankly my
best approach is a vanilla dual 19" monitor setup. I use Opera as my web
browser, because it is fantastic at resizing the entire page (not just text,
but pictures as well). The newest Micro$oft Exploder also does a decent
job. Sadly, Firefox sucks in this regard.

In Word and Excel, I just use the zoom features. In Outlook, if I need to I
write in a big font (then try to remember to resize before I send).

Bottom line: I've found specialized software to be way too cumbersome for my needs, though an older person and/or someone who doesn't use their computer as intensively as I do might really appreciate some of the features of ZoomText. You can download a trial version from their website.

I hope that helps at least some. We've discussed this in the past and his perspective as someone who has been legally blind since birth is a bit different from someone who has recently become visual impaired.

He's also considered (I don't know how seriously) starting a business writing accessibility software since, at least in his opinion, most of the stuff out there is awful.

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Dagonee
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That's useful info. I will try it with just zooming at first.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
I'm waiting to hear back from someone too. He promised a response later today.

He's about to go out of town, and doesn't have time to make any suggestions.

Then again, it looks like you're gotten plenty without him. [Smile]

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amira tharani
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Another thing to try is a piece of software called Jaws which is screen-reading software. A friend of mine who is completely blind uses it and it's indispensible to her. She reads books that she can't get in Braille (most of our philosophy books at university, for example) by scanning them in using OCR software and getting Jaws to read them out for her.
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