(For those new to the column, Forward Migration is our term for companies moving from Wintel machines to Macs — or at least adding or increasing the number of Macs they use. A Forward Migration Kit is an overview of Mac OS products for a particular occupation, such as photography, optometry, etc.)
This is the first part of our special, multi-part series about software and hardware products that aid in the education and/or assistive living of the disabled and elderly. This first installment will look at some organizations and individuals that use the Mac. This week we’re looking at some specific Mac products for the disabled and handicapped and the companies that make them, as recommended by our readers.
in Chelmsford, MA offers Web accessibility services, Web site programming and premium hosting services. The company says that commercial, government and educational Web sites can be designed or modified to make them available to the millions of blind and low-vision users around the globe. Agassa is one of the companies behind SETI-search, a speech-friendly search engine. (Thanks to MacCentral reader, Benjamin F. DeClue III, for the heads-up on this one.)
is a control panel extension from Apple containing a set of keyboard utilities. These utilities assist people who might otherwise have difficulties using the keyboard or the mouse. Included as part of Easy Access are three main features: MouseKeys, StickyKeys, and SlowKeys. A fourth feature, Talking Alerts, is also included.
MouseKeys is a program that lets you control all mouse movements by typing on the numeric keypad. This utility is especially valuable for people who lack the manual dexterity to maneuver a mouse. StickyKeys is a software keylatch, meaning it can help you hold down keys during times when you must press two or three keys simultaneously (if you need to type a capital letter or a question mark, for example). For people with a physical disability who type with one finger or with a mouth wand, this keylatch feature is a helpful tool.
SlowKeys enables the user to change the length of time it takes for a keystroke to be registered on the screen. This allows for several keys to be pressed accidentally without effect. For a child or adult with fine motor difficulties, this customizable feature saves unwanted keystrokes from appearing on the screen. Talking Alerts, or Text-to-Speech, lets your speak the alert messages that appear on the screen. There are 26 different voices to choose from. Your computer can speak alert messages using the Talking Alerts section of the Speech control panel. In some application programs, your computer can also read text contained in documents out loud.
According to sources at Apple, Easy Access isn’t in the initial version of OS X, but will be added later.
The Learning Clinic
works with children and adults who have language-based learning disabilities using a trained therapist and Macs. They feature the Fast ForWord family of programs, published by Scientific Learning Corp., the treatment that rapidly develops the oral language skills that are necessary for reading. The Learning Clinic is the first organization in Montana and all of its surrounding states to offer Fast ForWord.
The adaptive exercises of Fast ForWord can help a wide range of individuals who are having difficulty with reading and language skills The exercises can benefit those who are reading below expectations; have difficulty associating letters with sounds; have difficulty communicating and following directions; exhibit little interest in reading; have poor listening skills; and have difficulty following conversations and class discussions
makes such products as Overlay Maker, Intellipics (which let teachers design adapted curriculum), and IntelliTalk (a talking word processor that can be used independently or with custom overlays)
Next week: part II.