It is important to understand a computer system's various components.
Which parts can you adapt or replace for better student control?
You can modify computers in two primary ways to make them more usable
by students with disabilities:
how information is displayed or printed (output).
- Change how the computer is controlled (input).
The individual student's abilities and needs
determine the adaptations to make.
With increased emphasis on graphics and Internet use, standard
17" monitors make the computer easier to use. Monitor
- Replacing the monitor with an even larger (19-21")
- Using a magnification lens, or
- ·Using a screen filter.
Enlargement and Screen Magnification software programs are
available that can increase the size of objects and text on
Multimedia computers include a sound card and CDROM drive to maximize
the integrated use of graphics, animation and sound in software
programs and Internet sites. Sound cards vary in sound quality;
16 and 32 bit cards are available. Sound cards are necessary for
software programs using auditory features that "read"
the words aloud and describe the graphics on the screen.
You can print information in a variety of sizes by changing the
font size within the software program. A color printer is required
to print colorful graphics and text, which can be very rewarding
to students. Information can also be printed in Braille with a Braille
embosser connected to a computer.
The mouse and keyboard are the primary tools (input control peripherals)
that a student uses to put information into a computer and to control
software programs. Everyone needs ways to efficiently control the
computer. Often low-cost modifications can make them easier to use.
The standard keyboard consists of:
- 104 - ½ inch square keys spaced closely together,
- Gray or beige keys labeled with ¼ inch capital letters;
the small labels are not centered on the keys, and
- § A layout designed for typists in a "QWERTY"
layout, which reflects the first 6 letters on the top letter row.
This layout may be difficult for students who use a "hunt
and peck" method to type.
The standard mouse requires the student to hold and
move the mouse to coordinate the pointer's movement on the
screen. He must also be able to click, double-click and drag
the mouse. These very exact movements may be difficult for
students with disabilities. Some mice come with software drivers
that allow the user to customize its features.
Peripherals are computer hardware devices that can be added to
the computer to increase the number of resources to be manipulated
and used within the computer environment. These include drives for
exchanging information for storage and retrieval purposes (i.e.
CDROM and Zip drives) as well as video, photos and other graphical
and auditory information.
CD-ROM, CD-Writer and DVD Drives
These drives connect to a computer providing the means for
large files to be stored on media other than the hard drive.
For example, many software programs with graphical programs
need a CD to be inserted into the drive when the student wants
to use it. CD-Writers are able to store 650MB of data on a
single CD. Many people store large graphics files on CDs to
free space on their hard drives. DVD drives are primarily
read-only devices used for storing large files such as movies
and audio programs.
The ZIP drive is a high-capacity floppy disk drive available in
250MB and 100MB sizes. Each disk is able to hold the same amount
of information stored on 100250 floppies. Zip disks are slightly
larger than conventional floppy disks, and about twice as thick.
Because they're relatively inexpensive and durable, they have become
a popular media for backing up hard disks and for transporting large
USB Removable Storage Disks
small devices are sturdy and easy to use. It is a great solution for transferring
files between computers and for storing files. Simply plug the device into any
open USB port and it shows up as an external drive. Files located on the system
hard drive can be moved to the device for storage or to transfer to another computer
much as would be done with a floppy drive. One example: Disk-on-Key.
Cameras that take photos in a digital format can connect and
send pictures directly to a computer. The photos can then
be used in software and presentation programs.
Scanners can be used to digitize pictures and graphics. Simply
place the photo/graphic on the scanner bed and scan it into
your computer! Text from any source can also be converted
into a format readable by the computer. When used with optical
character recognition (OCR) software, the scanned text can
be edited and saved as a word processing file. Often, students
use this peripheral so that text can be read to them for increased
PC? PS2? USB? ADB? Serial?
Knowing what type of connector you need can
be a critical task. Inclusive
Technology website offers great instructions!
Intel Play Microscope (Mattel
+ Intel Play)
QX3 Microscope combines video and still camera pictures offering
three levels of magnification (10x, 60x, and 200x). It detaches
easily so you can zoom in on whatever you like. It even plugs into
your USB port for easy installation. The software lets kids view
a specimen in real time and capture it as a short movie, a still
image, or in time-lapse sequence. Once they've captured an image,
kids can use paint tools to embellish their creations, apply a variety
of special effects, or piece together their creations to build a
slideshow, complete with music.
Intel Play Me2Cam (Mattel
+ Intel Play)
Me2Cam consists of a video camera and Fun Fair software that allows
kids to be IN onscreen games. However, the camera doesn't work with
other software for use as a webcam. No mouse is needed since kids
will use their bodies to make things happen inside the games. You
can print images of the child in action as s/he plays the game.