Workplace accommodations can range from “soft accommodations” like adjusting weekly targets or repositioning an employee’s keyboard to “hard accommodations” like moving the employee to an entirely new workspace or providing assistive technologies. Assistive technologies are one of the more common methods of accommodation – the appropriate software and hardware can make all the difference in an employee’s comfort and ability to get their work done.
Below are some examples of assistive technologies and how they are used:
Large Keys Keyboard
This keyboard looks very similar to a standard keyboard, except that the keys are significantly larger. These keyboards are beneficial to those with limited fine motor skills.
Scissor Switch Keyboard
This keyboard is very compact but comes with standard-sized keys. These keyboards are beneficial to those with mobility difficulties.
High Contrast Keyboard
For those with vision impairment, this keyboard features large text on each key, and comes with white keys and black text, black keys with white text, or yellow keys with black text.
Ergonomic Keyboard with Zoom Function
For those experiencing wrist discomfort or low vision, this keyboard allows wrists and hands to relax, and has a zoom slider so that text can be enlarged right from the keyboard.
With this tool, a user can designate complex keystroke sequences to a single key, allowing those with learning or cognitive disabilities and one-handed users to complete tasks quickly and simply.
Ergonomic Wireless Mouse
This mouse looks a bit like a joystick (remember those?!), and is beneficial for those with grasping difficulties, or those experiencing wrist and hand discomfort.
Dragon Naturally Speaking
This speech recognition software allows employees with dexterity disabilities, learning and cognitive disabilities, and a range of other disabilities, create, format, and edit documents using dictation. It works with the Microsoft Office Suite, including Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint.
Dragon Naturally Speaking Review
JAWS stands for Job Access With Speech, and the screen-reader is a vital tool for those with vision impairments as it allows users to navigate and read documents, websites and emails. It is often used with a headset.
Basic Overview of JAWS Screenreader
This software is used with a scanner, and makes hard copy documents accessible to those with vision impairment by reading out scanned text. Documents can be saved and shared in standard formats as well.
For those with low vision, this screen-reading software reduces eye strain and fatigue by reading information, echoing keystrokes, and informing the user of program events, while also allowing the user to magnify their screen.
When magnifying and zooming in to text on a small monitor, much of the rest of the screen is lost, removing the context of what the user is reading and forcing the user to scroll excessively. With a larger screen, users can magnify their screen without losing as much of the context.
This magnifier can also introduce contrast and line markers to hard copy documents that are difficult for those with low vision to read.
For those who are on the go, reading hard copy text is made easy with a portable magnifier that also provides various contrast options.
Voice Carry-Over Telephone
For those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, this phone transcribes the user’s phone conversations and answering machine messages, allowing the user to read along while they speak. It also amplifies the phone call and minimizes interfering background noises, and uses a flashing light ringer. Users with low vision will benefit from extra-large number keys.
The Tele Typewriter answers phone calls and takes messages, displaying the transcribed text on a small screen for individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, and flashes brightly when receiving a call.
Video Remote Interpreting
With a webcam users who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing can communicate via ASL.