Low Tech and Low Cost Assistive Technology
Sometimes Assistive Technology solutions can be engineered and sourced at very little expense.
Three-dimensional tactile models
Blind students sometimes use tactile models in education.
For example, on courses where graphic representation is required for, tactile graphics can play an important role in presenting an explanation of some task. Mechanical drawing output in Engineering courses for example will have this requirement as well as Maths, Physics and Chemistry.
2D and 3D tactile graphics can be constructed from materials such as wood, paper, plastics, cardboard and metals to construct models – see pictures below.
Geometric shapes can also be constructed using “strips and pins” on a mat to create a 3D model. The base can be made of wood or cork or any material that you can press or push pins into. Raised line graph paper is also used to fix coordinates and points can be connected using rubber bands, string or light wire.
An overview of tactile aids can be found here
Ergonomic Pens pictured below are low tech and low cost AT solutions available to anyone with a handwriting difficulty. Their unique design gives the user more control over the handwriting function.
Convert Text Files to MP3 – NaturalReader
NaturalReader is a software package that converts any text into high quality, natural sounding voice. It is integrated with One-Click technology and can read text directly from many applications without having to copy and paste.
It can convert large text files into MP3 or WAV files that can be played on portable devices such as iPods, CD players and PocketPCs.
There are two versions available NaturalReader is a free download and NaturalReader Pro that can convert text to MP3 costs approximately 30 euro.
Free Windows Screenreader – Readplease 2003
Readplease 2003 is a screen reader that will read any text on your screen. It is available as a free download at www.readplease.com
- Microsoft voices: Mike, Mary, Sam
- Customize font and background colour
- Reads text via Windows clipboard from any program (copy/paste)
- Control reading from system tray
- Reads e-mail emoticons such as :) or :(
- Adjustable voice speed (rate)
- Low vision colour option
- ReadPlease Enable your website
Talking email program – IcanEmail
ICanEmail is a simple, but powerful, full-screen, talking email program. For the user, it operates in a sequential manner, where it asks one question at a time, such as "Who would you like to send this to?" or "If you'd like to speak your message, you can do that here."
The email 'partner' (the recipient or sender) sends and receives mail without any special software at all!
ICanEmail can also let the user send/receive mail from other users on their system, without even using the Internet.
There is also an option to operate ICanEmail by voice, any voice including an Augmentative Communication device. It costs approximately 70 euro.
There are many gaming options for people with disabilities. These range from adapted controllers to adapted playing modes.
In 2006 a single switch game, Strange Attractors, was a finalist for an award in a major games industry competition
Many of these are free.
Below are links to some good games sites.
This great site has information on the history and current state of single switch gaming.
And also plenty of good games free to download.
Here are links to a BBC site about accessible gaming.
And here is an award winning game playable by both sighted and sight disabled.
Audyssey the online magazine for sight disabled gamers.
There is a wealth of free software on the internet from games and voice reader, to typing tutors.
A good website for these is tucows.com. here you will find hundreds of free programs, ranging from fun educational programs and media players to colouring books and video editing software.