Computer Access for People with Disabilities: A Human Factors Approach

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ISBN 9781466553712
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  • Focuses on concepts and principles, rather than specific products or operating systems
  • Draws on research from the fields of rehabilitation engineering, occupational therapy, and human-computer interaction (HCI)
  • Contains a reference section to enhance additional study in each section


Incorporating Compass Computer Access Assessment software, Computer Access for People with Disabilities: A Human Factors Approach provides the information clinicians need to know in order to provide effective alternative computer access solutions to individuals with disabilities. Originally developed for a masters-level course on computer access for rehabilitation engineers and rehabilitation counselors, it provides practical guidance on how to provide computer access services and sufficient background knowledge to allow the reader to interpret the research literature.

  • Presents technology for individuals with physical, cognitive, and sensory impairments, and for older adults
  • Covers text entry devices, pointing devices, switch access, automatic speech recognition, and web accessibility
  • Emphasizes fundamental concepts and principles that remain true regardless of which specific operating system or product is being used
  • Draws on research from the fields of rehabilitation engineering, occupational therapy, and human-computer interaction (HCI)

Table of Contents

How Many People Need Alternative Computer Access Technology?
Importance of Computer Access
The Digital Divide
User Modeling

Keyboard-Only Access
Input Focus
Mouse Keys
Appendix: Keyboard Access to Windows 7

Characterizing Switches
Switch Configuration Options
Switch Interfaces for Computer Use
Switch Positioning
Scanning Interfaces
Morse Code
Modeling Switch Input Methods
Appendix: Choosing the Scan Rate

Types of Pointing Devices
Modeling Performance on Pointing Tasks
In the Clinic
Appendix: Measuring Performance on Pointing Tasks
Appendix: Speed-Accuracy Operating Characteristic (SAOC)

Text Entry
Describing Keys
Describing Keyboards
Physical Text Entry Devices
Keyboard Modifications
On-Screen Keyboards
One-Digit Text Entry
One-Handed Text Entry
Two-Handed Text Entry
Assessment Issues
Appendix: Unconstrained Text Entry Tasks
Appendix: Signal Detection Theory

Techniques for Increasing Text Entry Efficiency
Word Prediction/Completion
Character Prediction
Abbreviation Expansion

Automatic Speech Recognition
How ASR Works
Benefits of ASR
Limits of ASR
Text Entry Rate with ASR
ASR Commands
ASR and Special Populations
Voice Ergonomics
Maximizing Performance with ASR
In the Clinic

Hearing Impairment
Hearing Loss
Computer Access Interventions for Hearing Loss

Visual Impairment
Visual Impairments
Keyboard-Only Access
Interventions for Poor Vision
Screen Magnifiers
Screen Reader
Braille Display

Cognitive Impairment
Learning Disabilities
Developmental Disabilities and Acquired Brain Injury

Computer Access for Older Adults
Increasing Number of Older Adults Online
Obstacles to Computer Use
Effects of Aging
Computer Access Challenges

Web Accessibility
Why Are Websites Inaccessible?
Measuring Website Accessibility

Musculoskeletal Disorders
Risk Factors
The Ergonomics Toolbox
Assessment Issues
Case Study

Assessment Process
Designing Solutions
Obstacles to Good Assessment
Appendix: Decision Making

Legislation Relevant to Computer Access
Americans with Disabilities Act
Telecommunications Act of 1996
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as Amended in 1992 and 1998)
The Technology-Related Assistance Act for Individuals with Disabilities of 1988 (The Tech Act)
Twenty-First-Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act
Appendix: Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates

Author Bio(s)

Richard Simpson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Editorial Reviews

"What I like most about the book is its focus on the needs of the intended readership. The book offers some unique information that is not easy to acquire elsewhere potentially useful for readers outside the target users. Example, all aspects described in the section ‘word prediction/completion’ are of eminent interest for about two-thirds of the world population who use Short Message Service via mobile devices. What I do not like is the missing link to accessibility as a concept and to theory in general. This would help people like me to apply the knowledge of this book for the benefit of people who would never use assistive devices or read books dealing with them."
—Ahmet Çakir, Behaviour & Information Technology, 2013