Laptop and Desktop Accessories That Help Disabled Users

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Laptop and Desktop Accessories That Help Disabled Users

Laptops and desktops open up a world of possibilities for users, allowing them to create, communicate, learn, work, and play in many ways. However, the standard interface of a keyboard, mouse, and computer screen is not accessible to all people, so users with disabilities need other options for accessing the power of their computers. To assist these users, many companies produce accessories and tools that allow different ways of interacting with a laptops and desktops.

Switches are the most basic device and can be used in a variety of ways to choose and confirm selections on a screen. Switches may be controlled by the user's hand, foot, eye, or even the air pressure of their breathing. Buyers can also purchase items like a wireless mouse or a keyboard with large print.

Laptop and desktop accessories that help disabled users are available from electronics shops and department stores, although the best place to shop for them is online. Several websites are devoted to computer accessories and some even specialise in products for disabled users. Marketplaces like eBay also have a high number of listings, and buyers can shop for both new and used items.

Switch Access for Laptops and Desktops to Help Disabled Users

There are several types of accessories available to help people with disabilities input information and access the various functions of a laptop or desktop. In some cases, a combination of two or more devices can create an ideal environment. The most basic type of technology in this category is the switch. Switches can be designed in a wide variety of styles. They allow users to interact with a laptop or desktop in ways that are easy and comfortable for them based on their needs. There are three primary types of switch operation: single switch with direct response, single switch with time scanning, and dual switch step scanning.

Single Switch with Direct Response

A single switch with direct response is the most basic form available. These units perform a single action with the activation of the switch and are the ideal starting point for a user. It is also possible to link multiple single switch direct response units together, each one with its own action.

Single Switch with Timed Scanning

A more advanced type of switch retains the single switch design, but allows for new options to be chosen by incorporating timed scanning. With these devices, a cursor option moves between possible selections at regular intervals. When the cursor comes to rest on a desired choice, the user activates the switch to select it. The interval speed can be set to speeds ranging from very slow to very fast, depending on the needs and abilities of the user. However, this option can be difficult and frustrating for some, so it should only be implemented if the basic single switch design has been used successfully.

Dual Switch with Step Scanning

A dual switch incorporates two switches into a single unit and allows the user to navigate between selections before choosing the desired option. This is similar to the timed scanning of a single switch, except the intervals are controlled by the user and are not timed or automatic. These switches are suitable for users who have had experience with the timed scanning operation of a single switch and would like more control over their interactions with the laptop or desktop.

Switch Activation Methods

The activation method for a switch can vary greatly from one product to the next. The following table lists common switch activation methods, with a brief description.

Switch Activation Method

Description

Push

Used by applying pressure away from the user

May utilise a small joystick or knob

Pull

Used by applying pressure towards the user

Press

Most common switch type

Usually a large, round button depressed by the user

Squeeze

Pressure sensitive

Reacts to the grip of the user

Blink

Monitors eye activity

Activated by blinking

Sip/Puff

Wand or straw design

Reacts to air pressure

User may inhale (sip) or exhale (puff) to activate the switch

Some products measure force of the air for alternative commands

Foot

Rests on the floor or wheelchair pedal

Usually a press-style switch

Voice

Requires no physical movement from the user

Other types of switch activation types exist. Look for switches that can provide the best use based on the needs and abilities of the user.

Wireless Mice to Help Disabled Users

Some disabled users may find it awkward or difficult to use a traditional mouse on a desk. Instead, it is possible to buy wireless mice that can be placed on a mounted platform. These mice usually connect to the laptop or desktop via a USB port. The mounts are sold separately and are created in varying designs to fit different shapes and sizes of sites, such as a wheelchair.

Eye Gaze Cursors to Help Disabled Users

For disabled users who cannot operate a standard mouse, or for whom constant movement of a mouse or other cursor device can become tiring or painful, there are alternatives. Buyers can shop for specialised cameras that read the user's eye movements. By looking at different areas of the computer screen, the cursor can automatically move to that location. These items work in conjunction with switches to make selections.

Large Print Keyboards to Help Disabled Users

Laptop and desktop users who are able to physically use a mouse and keyboard, but have low levels of vision can shop for keyboards with large print. These products typically have their keys printed in a bright colour, such as yellow, to increase visibility. Some keyboards, especially those for disabled children, are colour coded to separate the keys for numerals, commands, functions, and other input operations.

Typing Aids to Help Disabled Users

Some typing aids are very simple accessories that allow users with limited motor functions in their fingers to input text via a keyboard. The most basic typing aid is designed to fit in the palm of the user's hand, and usually wraps around the back of the hand to stay in place. A short rod, usually made of metal with a rubber end, protrudes from the device. This rod is used to press the keys of the keyboard.

How to Buy Laptop and Desktop Accessories That Help Disabled Users on eBay

Many types of laptop and desktop accessories for disabled users can be purchased on eBay. These products are sold by commercial retailers and private sellers, and can be found in both new and used condition. To shop for these items, begin a search from the home page using keywords. For example, enter "wireless mouse" into the field to see all items tagged with those search terms. You may enter additional terms on subsequent pages to refine listings further.

Read the Item Listing

Click on the name or image of an item to see its full listing. There you can find information about the price of the item, as well delivery charges and the delivery methods used by the seller. Read the full description provided by the seller and compare it with available photographs to be clear on the specific item being sold.

Seller Feedback

Sellers on eBay are given feedback ratings that indicate the level of satisfaction of buyers within the past 12 months. Compare this information with the number of transactions completed by the seller to find experienced and reliable users. You may view additional information about a seller's history by clicking on the name in the item listing. Look for comments from previous buyers, along with average ratings on aspects of the seller's performance, such as the accuracy of item descriptions. Leave your own feedback at the end of your transaction. This helps the seller to improve and informs the eBay marketplace about your experience.

Conclusion

The standard interface options for a laptop or desktop can be difficult to use for people with certain types of disability. A high number of items are produced to help these users to engage with technology in a way that is comfortable and enjoyable. The most common type of accessory is a switch. Switches are designed in a wide variety of styles and can be used to activate commands in a computer program. There are three primary types of switches: direct response, timed scanning, and step scanning. It is recommended that a user becomes comfortable with one type of switch before advancing to the next option. Multiple switches can be linked to create new and more specific opportunities for interaction. Switches may be activated by pushing, pulling, pressing, and squeezing. It is also possible to find items that react to blinking or to the user's breath.

Additional accessories can be found, and can greatly enhance the comfort and efficiency of the user. These include wireless mice, as well as cursor controls that follow the gaze. Laptop and desktop accessories that help disabled users can be obtained online from eBay. Consider all of the available products to choose the best options for the needs of the user.

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