Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Additional Operating Systems For Users with Disabilities

Along with creating operating systems for students with disabilities, the computer industry has created modifications for both keyboard and mouse control, as well as modifications for students with sensory impairments.  According to Dell, Newton, and Petroff, the use of keyboard modifications, used both alone and in various combinations, can not only eliminate student frustration with the use of a keyboard and/or mouse, but also increase a students productivity (2012).  Modifications such as StickyKeys, Slow Keys, and MouseKeys are all beneficial to students in their own way.

"StickyKeys allows students to press keys sequentially to execute function that typically require pressing the keys simultaeously" (Dell, 2012).  When activited, StickyKeys allows modifier keys, such as Shift, Alt, and Windows Logo, to work as though they are being held down by the student until the next non-modifier key is pressed.  Students who are only able to press one key at a time, specifically those with fine motor skills or disabilities such as cerebral palsy, would benefit from this modification.

When using Slow Keys, the amount of time it takes for a key to be depressed before it registers a keystroke  is increased.  This is helpful when students make brief keystrokes accidentally; when using SlowKeys, this action is ignored.  Students who suffer from hand tremors, muscle weakness or fatigue, and/or poor fine or gross motor control will be able to facilitate effective keyboarding when the use of this adjustment.

Students have the ability to direct the mouse pointer and execute all functions of the mouse with the use of MouseKeys, rather than a numeric keypad.  This modification helps students who can use a keyboard successfully, but have difficulty using a mouse.

Along with keyboard modifications, the computer is made accessible for students who are blind or visually impaired, and for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Students who are blind or have visual impairments can alter their computers to have a higher visual contrast and font size, while those students who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a computer through the use of visual signals, icons, and/or captions.


Dell, A.G., Newton, D.A., Petroff, J.G. (2012).  Assistive Technology in the Classroom; Enhancing the School Experiences of Students with Disabilities. 2nd Edition.

No comments:

Post a Comment