2003 Conference Proceedings

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MOBILE ACCESS TECHNOLOGY LAB SOLUTIONS

Presenters
John Cavano, Christina Gaugler, and Jane Tong
TransAccess
1590 The Alameda, Suite 110
San Jose, CA 95126
Phone: (408) 278-2005
Fax: (408) 278-2010
Email: jcavano@transaccess.org 
Email: chrisg@transaccess.org 
Email: janetong@transaccess.org 

The mission of TransAccess is to establish partnerships with Silicon Valley businesses and the community to prepare persons with disabilities for competitive employment. Through career transition services and adaptive computer access technology, TransAccess creates opportunities for significant advances in universal access, social integration and employment for people with disabilities.

The TransAccess Mobile Access Technology lab travels in a one to two hour radius of the on-site computer access lab to evaluate clients in their working environment to determine safe positioning, task analysis, current computer and software utilization, access technology needs, and interpersonal communication.

The evaluation is an opportunity for the client to experiment with the latest adaptive technology solutions. The occupational therapist and client discuss the client's strengths, goals, and concerns and then collaborate to determine the best access solution.

Occupational therapists are an important part of the evaluation process because of their background in human disease processes and their outlook at how a person engages themselves, not only by every day tasks, but also through their entire life. "Adapting a computer so that disability is accommodated offers great potential to address all kinds of human occupation." (Buning)

TransAccess provides computer access evaluations to individuals 15-years of age or older that have all types of physical disabilities such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Spinal cord Injury, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis; sensory impairments such as low vision, blindness and hard of hearing; learning differences, and work-related injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, De Quervain's and Tendonitis.

Using combinations of various assistive technologies have enabled persons with specific needs be more successful using a computer. Using voice recognition with learning disability software can help a person write more clearly with fewer errors. People who have difficulty writing, perhaps due to dyslexia, can use voice recognition to dictate text they would otherwise struggle to write. But voice recognition alone is not the solution for people who have difficulty reading words, even if they had just written them. Learning disability software can read back text, highlighting each word so that the writer can identify where the errors exist. Using these programs together requires some customization, such as creating specialized voice commands that activate the reading controls. The benefits of both of these programs combined make one useful solution.

Another example of combining technology is using switch-scanning software with speech output software, accessed with ability switches. A person who is blind and has decreased sensation in their fingers has a very difficult time accessing a computer through a standard keyboard. One solution is to use scanning software that reads off possible functions, one at a time, that the person can choose using ability switches. When the person hears the desired function, they activate switch, which are large, customizable, and are more discernable then the small buttons on a keyboard. Again, testing and customization are important to make this type of solution work.

One critical component to successfully using assistive technology is clear and meaningful training using the devices or software. The occupational therapists provide a continuum of service delivery by determining equipment purchases with the funding source, providing training, and determining client satisfaction. Common training topics are basic computer functions, and ergonomic setup and computer software for voice recognition, screen magnification or learning differences.

The occupational therapists at TransAccess collaborate with clients to determine a workable computer access solution in several different circumstances: at home, at school, and at work.

Reference:

Buning, M. E. (2000). What is Assistive Technology?. Access by Design, http://www.pitt.edu/~mbuning/whatisat.html.


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