1998 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article. 
Go to next article. 
Return to 1998 Conference Table of Contents 


Peggy Barker, MS, ATP
Applied Assisitive Technology
Email: pbarker@atole.com 

WebTV (R) provides inexpensive, easy to use and adaptable access to the internet. It can be used by people with physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities and low vision.

WebTV (R) provides Internet (email and WWW) access through a television. It requires a special terminal connected to a television, a phone line and an internet service provided by WebTV Network, Inc. The terminals include the original WebTV (R) Internet

Terminal and the recently introduced WebTV (R) Plus Internet Receiver. The internet terminals are distributed by Sony, Philips Magnavox and Mitsubishi. A personal computer is not used.

With WebTV (R) users can send and receive email; visit chat rooms and Usenet groups; find local sites and services tailored to their community; search the web and with the new terminal use a system that integrates and relates television programming and web sites.

The WebTV (R) browser changes the look of some Web pages to accommodate displaying them on a TV and the use of a remote control for access. Print size can be enlarged. The browser is designed to be used with a remote control so that the user sequentially steps or scans using arrow keys through the functions of WebTV (R) and every link on any web page. It does not use a mouse or similar technology.

The WebTV (R) Internet Terminal is typically operated with a remote control that can be also be used with your TV and/or a remote keyboard (sold separately for the WebTV (R) terminal). It can also be operated with a standard PC keyboard (AT type) plugged into a PS-2 (6-pin) connector on the back of the internet terminal. Most of the remote control functions have keyboard equivalents in that some keys or a sequence of keyboard keystrokes is used to represent a remote control function. With these features WebTV (R) can easily be adapted with commercially available input devices for people with physical disabilities. These devices include programmable or trainable remote controls and adaptive keyboards.

The programmable or trainable remote controls that can be used to operate WebTV include the Director and Scanning Director from Prentke Romich Company; the Relax, the Mini Relax and the Sicare pilot from Tash; and the U-Control II from Words+. The

Scanning Director, the Relax, the Mini Relax and the Sicare pilot are used with a single switch to scan the functions needed to operate the WebTV (R). The Sicare pilot can also be ordered with speech recognition. The Director and U-Control II is interfaced with Augmentative Communication Devices (ACD) that have RS-232 output. The functions for WebTV can then be programmed into the ACD. WebTV (R) can also be used with ACDs that have a built-in programmable remote control. ACDs with this feature include the Deltatalker from Prentke Romich, the Dynavox 2,2c and Dynamyte from Sentient Systems.

Keyboards designed to be used with PCs can also be used with WebTV including adaptive keyboards such as the Intellikeys. Several overlays have been designed for the Intellikeys to operate WebTV (R). These overlays are appropriate for people with physical disabilities, low vision and low cognitive abilities.

The overlays include a set for people able to select from a few large targets. These overlays are designed to step through the links on web pages and select the desired link. The minimum number of keys or targets is three to perform these functions.

One overlay has been set up so that the keyboard is one large target for select and two switches are used to step forward and backward through the links.

Several overlays include the alphabet and functions used to write email as well as explore the Web. The overlays have a variety of arrangements of the alphabet. These arrangements include the standard qwerty, and alphabetic, a frequency of use arrangement around the center of the keyboard for users of single pointers (e.g.,single finger, headwand, mouthstick)and left and right hand Dvorak. Keyboards are also made up with very small keys (9/16 inch square) and with larger keys (7/8 inch square).

In summary, not only is WebTV an easy to use, less expensive system for Internet access, it also is very adaptable. There are Several commercially available devices that can be used by people with disabilities to take advantage of the internet using WebTV(R).


IntelliTools, Inc.
55 Leveroni Court, Suite 9
Novato, CA 94949
(800) 899-6687
email: info@intellitools.com
Product: Intellikeys

Prentke Romich Company
1022 Heyl Road
Wooster, OH 44691
Products include: DeltaTalker, Director II, Scanning Director II, Vanguard

Sentient Systems Technology, Inc.
5001 Baum Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA
(412) 682-0144
email: sstsales@sentient-sys.com
Products: Dynavox 2, 2c, DynaMyte

Unit 1-91 Station St.
Ajax, Ontario
Canada, LiS 3H2
email: tashcan@aol.com
Products: Relax, Mini Relax, Sicare pilot

WebTV Networks, Inc.
305 Lytton Ave.
Palo Alto CA 1-800-GOWEBTV

40015 Sierra Highway
Bldg. B-145
Palmdale, CA 93550
(800) 869-8521
email: phil@words-plus.com
Product: U-Control II

Go to previous article. 
Go to next article. 
Return to 1998 Conference Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings 

Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.