2003 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2003 Table of Contents 


Peggy Barker, MS, ATP
Assistive Technology Consultant
Applied Assistive Technology
1874 Silvana Ln
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Phone: 831.476.6555
Fax: 831.462.4543
Email: pbarker@atole.com 
Website: www.atole.com 

Caroline Van Howe
Director, Marketing
IntelliTools, Inc.
1720 Corporate Circle
Petaluma, CA 94954
Direct Dial: 707-773-2053 - press 0 to page me
Fax: 800-598-6941
Email: cvanhowe@intellitools.com 
Website: www.intellitools.com 

Tom Wlodkowski
Director of Accessibility, America Online
Phone: 703-265-1999
TTY: 703-265-7567
Email: tomwlodkowski@aol.com 

Aaron Pankratz

e-Buddies, a Best Buddies International program, facilitates e-mail friendships between people with and without developmental disabilities. Individuals are matched in email friendships based on age, gender, and similar interests. Participants commit to the program for one calendar year and e-mail their match once per week. e-Buddies provides individuals with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to develop online friendships while acquiring computer and literacy skills needed to use email.

The e-Buddies Guide to Internet Literacy is a comprehensive curriculum for developing computer and literacy skills for using email to communicate with friends. The Guide consists of a teacher's manual with complete lesson plans, including topics for weekly discussions. In addition, there is a guidebook for student use during each lesson, which includes guided questions to assist students in developing their ideas.

America Online (AOL) is a partner with e-Buddies, and is able to offer some participants free AOL accounts. In order to use features of AOL to participate in the e-Buddies program, many students benefit from having access to a computer interface configured to match their cognitive and physical abilities. The IntelliKeys lends itself well to this application.

The IntelliKeys keyboard is an intelligent, programmable keyboard that provides access to the computer for people who have difficulty using a mouse or standard keyboard. Overlays are created for the IntelliKeys 8 1/2 inch by 13-inch touch-sensitive panel. Corresponding content is stored in the computer and retrieved when a light force is applied to the defined areas of the keyboard. Content can include words, phrases and macros, as well as, letters, numbers and functions of the standard keyboard. The areas on the keyboard can be labeled with traditional orthography, icons, images and tactile representations.

Several student profiles based upon physical, language and communication abilities have been identified and matched to content of Intellikeys overlays designed to use email as well as access the Internet with AOL. Keyboard equivalents, features controlled with Tab and shortcut keys provided in AOL 8.0 have been incorporated into the overlay content. IntelliKeys overlays have been designed to facilitate use of available keyguards when needed and include color-coding and logical groupings. The overlay designs also take into consideration content relevant to the lesson plans in The e-Buddies Guide to Internet Literacy.

This presentation will discuss the eBuddies program, how the Intellikeys overlays are currently being used and the plans for distribution of the overlays and guidelines for implementing the use of Intellikeys with the eBuddies program and AOL.

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2003 Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings

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