This wiki focuses on the software and hardware products that assist students with physical disabilities. These tools can increase learning and assist students with thier productivity (Scheffel, 2003). There are three main components of physical disabilities:

  • Visual
  • Mobility
  • Auditory

The following technological resources work with the ISTE standards of both teachers and students with helping integrate technology in the lives of their students. Please take the time to review each section and the hardware and software that can assist your students to be able to learn to the best of their ability. Additionally, there are related links that offer more information to their respective areas.

Visual Disabilities


Visual disabilities are any type of problems limiting the ability to see and read. These disabilities range from low vision to legally blind to color blind. People with visual disabilities are unable to see aspects due to their sight being less than 20/70 (Greater, n.d.) or the inability to see several colors or being able to differentiate shades of colors (Scheffel, 2003). Fortunately for people with visual disabilities, there is a wide array of hardware and software tools that can aid them in seeing better. Please review some examples of common hardware and software widely available to people with visual disabilities.



Liberty Color Portable Magnifier is a portable CCTV magnifier with a high contrast, 16:9 TFT display. It can be powered by either the main adapter or the integral, user exchangeable, rechargeable battery which allows over 2 hours of mobile use. An ergonomic reading position of the user is achieved by the combination of an adjustable display angle and the light mouse-camera. An overview mode enables easy orientation, while the text-stretch™ mode produces more readable text. This combined with the easy to use controls and VGA output which can drive a standard VGA monitor, makes the Liberty Color a discrete, flexible magnifying system for people on the move (Ash, 2003).

This is a great product for magnifying just about anything; with the easy to use magnifying mouse and the color screen, increasing the visibility of objects could not be more efficient. This tool is a must-have for anyone with low or limited visibility.

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AlvaBraille Displays:

ALVA 544 Satellite (Classic) Braille Display is a high-tech functionality and ease-of-use that is often associated with a fine, precision instrument. The Satellite is the most ergonomically designed Braille display on the market. The Satellite's slim case design combined with thoughtfully placed control keys, results in an exceptionally comfortable and effective user interface. Innovative twin satellite keypads provide fast and easy access to speech and Windows functions. Including Double Touch Cursors (for cursor routing and font information) and ergonomically shaped navigation keys, the ALVA Satellite is simply a pleasure to use. By offering maximum control directly from the Braille display, hand movement between the Braille display and keyboard is significantly reduced. The Satellite's innovative design/features increases the navigation and operational effectiveness of most popular screen readers (Optelec, 2006). This Braille translator is great for anyone that is legally blind of has limited vision and requires electronic information to be turned into Braille.

A travel version is available for notebooks with the same features as the desktop version. ALVA 544 Satellite (Traveler) Braille Display:

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Braille Sense Notetaker is a personal digital assistant (PDA) that uses a Braille keyboard for inputting information and refreshable Braille dots for reading. It also functions as a wireless Braille display, connects to the Internet, reads email, writes email, and composes word processing documents. Braille Sense provides enhanced functionality for Internet audio streaming, playing MP3s, DAISY books, and features a built-in digital recorder.

The Braille Sense is the first notetaker to offer true multi-tasking, with the ability to perform up to seven tasks simultaneously. With the Braille Sense, a user can listen to his or her favorite MP3s while writing email, surfing the web, and even using the word processor (GW, 2006). Braille Sense Notetaker takes reading Braille one step further than traditional Braille translators; not only can blind or limited vision users use this tool to translate electronic information into Braille it can also store information. This a great tool for on the road travel but also robust enough to use at home or in the office.

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JAWSScreen Readers:

JAWS Screen Reader works with your PC to provide access to today’s software applications and the Internet. With its internal software speech synthesizer and the computer’s sound card, information from the screen is read aloud, providing technology to access a wide variety of information, education and job related applications. JAWS also outputs to refreshable Braille displays, providing unmatched Braille support of any screen reader on the market (Freedom, 2006).

This is a great tool for people that are blind or have limited vision. Having the ability to hear electronic information in real time from emails, the web, while typing, or other resources is an outstanding method of breaking technology barriers for people with disabilities.

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ZoomTextScreen Magnifiers:

Zoom Text Screen Reader makes seeing and hearing everything on your computer screen clearer than ever. The new xFont magnification displays high-definition text that you'll recognize effortlessly. With our new NeoSpeech synthesizers, your applications and documents are read aloud by friendly, human-sounding voices - right through your computer's speakers (AI, 2006). This ability to increase the size of on screen text exponentially is a great advancement for those with limited and low vision.

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DuxBraille Translators:

Duxbury Braille Translator supports grade 1 and grade 2 translation in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Arabic, Malaysian, Swedish, and other languages. Produces contracted and uncontracted Braille, mathematics, and technical Braille. This program makes it easy to produce Braille for textbooks, letters, ADA-compliant signs, and more (Enable, 2006).

This is a great tool for writing just about anything and turning it into a Braille hard copy file whether you are blind or not. Imagine being able to print Braille to help students that are blind with a click of a button or being able to write in Braille to a friend or colleague. This is a great innovation to traditional hand punched Braille documents.

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Mobility Disabilities


Mobility disabilities are any type of problem that limits people from managing and navigating their environment due to physical constraints. These constraints can range from loss of limb, paralysis, limited movement, cerebral palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury and a variety of other issues. Fortunately for people with mobility disabilities, there is a wide array of hardware and software tools that can aid them in seeing better. Please review some examples of common hardware and software widely available to people with mobility disabilities.


TouchScreenTouch Screen Monitors:

Elo Touch Screen Monitors are designed to address the key needs of touch applications requiring a large, visually appealing display. Elo touch screen monitors can truly be called "designed for touch" with features such as a stable tilt base, OSD controls on the side with lockout feature for public use, speakers, and flexible input/output connectivity, including extra USB connections. It has a unique combination of performance, reliability, installation and ease-of-use, all with distinctive new styling (Elo, 2006).

Having the ability to use touch screens to control a persons computer is a great alternative to having to use a traditional mouse for those with limited mobility. This could even work for limited damage to the human body such as carpal tunnel or the inability to control a mouse due to arthritis.

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IntellikeysAlternate Keyboards:

IntelliKeys is a programmable alternative keyboard for students or adults who have difficulty using a standard keyboard. Having the ability to use on screen keyboards to type is a great alternative to having to use a traditional keyboard for those with limited mobility. This could even work for limited damage to the human body such as carpal tunnel or the inability to control a mouse due to arthritis. It plugs into a computer’s USB port, providing computer access to individuals with physical, visual, or cognitive disabilities (IntelliTools, 2006).

Unlike the keyboard on your standard computer, the IntelliKeys keyboard can be customized in appearance and functions when you slide in special printed overlays. The Standard Overlays that come with IntelliKeys feature large, well spaced keys in high contrast colors to make it easy for users to locate letters and numbers. Overlays for numbers, mouse movement, and alphabetical and QWERTY keyboard layouts can be slid into IntelliKeys for instant use (IntelliTools, 2006).

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ZeroTensionMouseAlternate Mice:

The Zero Tension Mouse allows all of the muscles of the hand, arm and shoulder to effectively relax as users navigate through their computer resources with its ergonomic design which is perfect for those with limited mobility. This USB driven device has a built in left and right mouse button and a scrolling wheel making using a computer mouse even easier to use (Am Can, n.d.). Having the ability to use this alternative mouse is a great solution to those that have difficulty using a traditional mouse due to mobility issues.

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TouchPadTouch Pads:

The Cirque Smart Cat® sets the standard of comfort plus performance in computer control. With intelligent software, one-touch scroll and zoom, and distinctive sounds for each operation, Smart Cat® combines all the power of a top-of-the-line mouse with the unrivaled comfort and durability of a touchpad. Programmable software allows you to go from fast on-screen movements to pixel-point control. Along the same idea as touch screens, this is a portable touch mouse pad that can be connected to a computer to avoid using a traditional mouse for those with limited mobility.

Quickly activate vertical/horizontal scrolling as well as magnification tools by gliding a finger along the touchpad edges. Right-clicks are accessible by tapping a finger in the touchpad's upper right corner. A GlideExtend® feature makes it easy to keep moving the cursor after you've run into the touchpad's edge. Virtual buttons, sounds, speed, sensitivity and orientation settings can be customized via Cirque's driver (Cirque, 2005).

This is a great device for students that are unable to use traditional mice or alternative mice. Due to the USB connection this device is portable, extendable, easy to use, and easy to connect.

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DragonDictation Software:

Dragon Naturally Speaking enables students to speak at a normal pace and the speech is transcribed immediately on the screen and in reports, letters, e-mail messages, chat rooms, Instant Messaging windows and the Internet. Students can revise documents by voice and use the Select and Say editing and convenient Dictation Playback and Text-to-Speech to speed editing and proofreading. Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred enables the user to launch applications and drop down menu commands by voice and is fully integrated with programs like Microsoft Word and Corel Word Perfect. Dragon Naturally Speaking is a wonderful option for those who are unable to type on a traditional keyboard or onscreen keyboard due to mobility restrictions. Simply speak and the document is written in real time (Nuance, 2006).

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CowriterWord Predicting:

For struggling writers, translating thoughts into writing can feel overwhelming. Their writing often suffers from phonetic or inventive spelling, lack of richness, limited detail, and incoherence. These students need the word prediction program that has empowered more written self-expression than any other tool.
Co:Writer is the only word prediction program to use Linguistic Word Prediction™ intelligence. For students who struggle with translating thoughts into writing, there is no other tool that more accurately interprets what they intend to say. Co:Writer's ability to improve writing coherence, richness and detail goes far beyond any imitator (Don, 2006).

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On Screen Keyboards:

SofType is a software utility which replaces the functionality of a standard keyboard with a full featured on-screen keyboard. This is a great companion for the touch screen monitors mentioned above. Students can simply press the key they wish on the monitor if they are unable to use a standard keyboard due to mobility restrictions (Orion, 2005).

SofType can be accessed using a mouse or mouse emulator such as the HeadMouse. SofType has a built-in dwell selection feature called AutoClick. When AutoClick is enabled, clicking functions are performed by holding the pointer motionless (dwell) for a programmable length of time (Orion, 2005).

Additionally, the Dragger is a toolbar integrated into SofType which allows AutoClick and single-switch users to perform all of the common clicking functions of a two-button mouse. Specific buttons on the Dragger toolbar are associated with the common clicking functions. Dragger also has an AutoClick Rest (On/Off) button, which enables and disables AutoClick's dwell feature (Orion, 2005).



Auditory Disabilities


Auditory disabilities are any type of problems limiting the ability to hear and speak. These disabilities range various degrees of hearing loss and others. Speech disabilities are stuttering, impaired articulation, voice impairment and others. Fortunately for people with auditory disabilities, there is a wide array of hardware and software tools that can aid them in learning with this disability. Please review some examples of common hardware and software widely available to people with auditory disabilities.


EZcomProTTY Devices:

EZcom Pro Portable TTY enables students to enjoy wireless telephone access just about anywhere! Call for help in an emergency or stay connected to the family and friends no matter where you are. This a great communication tool for breaking the language barrier for those who are hearing disabled and those that have the ability hear. Just connect a new EZcom Pro/C TTY to a compatible cellular phone, and enjoy the convenience of cellular calling anywhere, anytime.

  • Easy to connect with a simple cable
  • Uses the hands-free headset jack in cellular phones
  • Direct cabling eliminates background noise
  • Long-lasting TTY batteries for hours of portable use
  • Includes built-in 2.5mm audio jack and cable. (Earlink, 2005).

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AmplifiedNLAmplification Devices:

ClearSounds CLA7 Amplified Powered Neckloop addresses the needs of students who wear hearing aids with t-coils. The battery-powered CLA7 works with cell phones, cordless and corded phones, audio device or iPod. A great accessory for the ClearSounds 40XLC Amplified Freedom Phone. Conveniently hangs from your neck with the built in next strap. This is a wonderful tool for students with limited hearing to be able to participate in class and events without having fear of not being able to hear what is happening.

  • Powerful 30+dB amplification
  • Built-in microphone
  • External amplification control dial
  • 2.5mm connector
  • 3.5mm adapter needed to use with phones that have a headset jack or the SoundWizard II
  • Two AAA batteries (not included)
  • Approximately 1-1/4" x 2-1/2" x 3/4"
  • Lightweight, stylish design (Harris, 2005).

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KurzweilAssistive Writing Technology:

Kurzweil 3000 is the premiere reading, writing, and learning software solution for struggling students. It is widely recognized as the most comprehensive and integrated solution for addressing language and literacy difficulties. The software uses a multi-sensory approach presenting printed or electronic text on the computer screen with added visual and audible accessibility. As Kurzweil 3000 reads the text out loud to its user, the text is highlighted adding a visual connection to the auditory support.

The product incorporates a host of dynamic features including powerful decoding, study skills, writing and test taking tools designed to adapt to each individual’s learning style and to minimize frustration for both the learner and educator (Kurzweil, 2006).

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BoardMakerAssistive Writing Technology:

Boardmaker® is a communication and learning tool containing over 3000 Picture Communication Symbols™ (PCS™) in vector format. It is designed to enhance the language and learning process for students of all levels. This graphic database is the perfect tool for educators and SLP's. It includes over 100 templates for creating schedules, worksheets, custom-made games and activities, and much more. This is an impressive tool for those that have a hard time getting started in their writing or have difficulty communicating. By adding pictures to assist in communicating is a excellent way to jump start the writing process for learners (Mayer, 2006).

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Learn More

Assessment Questions

Question 1: What are the three main areas of disabilities addressed in this wiki?

Question 2: What are two pieces of software used to assist auditory disabilities?

Question 3: What are two pieces of hardware used to assist visual disabilities?

Question 4: What is the name of the company that owns the rights to Zoom Text?

Question 5: What is the web address to the United Cerebral Palsy?


Complete Wiki


World Wide Web:

Ai Squared Technology. (2006). Zoom Text. Retrieved February 18, 2006, from:

AmCan International. (n.d.) Zero Tension Mouse. Retrieved March 16, 2006, from:

Ash Technologies. (2003). Liberty Color Portable Print Magnifier. Retrieved March 15, 2006, from:

Cirque. (2005). Cirque Smart Cat. Retrieved March 16, 2006, from:

Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program. (2006). Assistive Technology. Retrieved February 18, 2006, from:

Don Johnston. (2006). Writer:Outloud. Retrieved March 4, 2006, from:

Don Johnston. (2006). Co:Writer. Retrieved March 4, 2006, from:

Duxbury Systems. (2006). Duxbury Braille Translator. Retrieved March 15, 2006, from:

Earlink. (2005). EZcom Pro Portable TTY. Retrieved March 16, 2006, from:

ELO Touch Systems. (2006). Touch Screen Monitors. Retrieved March 16, 2006, from:

Enable Mart. (2006). Assistive Technology Products. Retrieved February 18, 2006, from:

Freedom Scientific. (2006). JAWS for Windows. Retrieved February 18, 2006, from:

Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities. (n.d.). Students With Disabilities - A Handbook for Faculty. Retrieved March 16, 2006, from:

GW Micros. (2006). Windows Eyes. Retrieved February 18, 2006, from:

GW Micro. (2006). Braille Sense Notetaker. Retrieved March 15, 2006, from:

Harris Communications. (2005). ClearSounds CLA7 Amplified Powered Neckloop. Retrieved March 16, 2006, from:

IntelliTools. (2006). IntelliKeys. Retrieved March 4, 2006, from:

Jeon, Young. (2006). Assistive Technology. Retrieved February 18, 2006, from:

Kurzweil Educational Systems. (2006). Kurzweil 3000 for Windows. Retrieved March 4, 2006, from:

Mayer-Johnson. (2006). BoardMaker. Retrieved March 16, 2006, from:

Nuance. (2006). Dragon Naturally Speaking. Retrieved March 15, 2006, from:

Optelec Tieman Group. (2006). ALVA 544 Satellite (Classic) Braille Display. Retrieved March 15, 2006, from:

Origin Instruments Corporation. (2005). SoftType. Retrieved March 16, 2006, from:

Schwab Learning. (2006). A Parent’s Guide to Helping Kids with Learning Difficulties. Retrieved March 4, 2006, from:

United Cerebral Palsy. (2006). Assistive Technology. Retrieved February 18, 2006, from:

Widgit Software. (2006). Writing with Symbols. Retrieved March 4, 2006, from:


Scheffel, Debora L.; Agnew, Jo. (2003). Full Computer Access for People with Disabilities: The Goal of Transparency. Colorado: Disabilities and Gifted Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED481557)

For Reference:


Roblyer, M. D. (2003). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (3rd ed.). Ohio: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Zmuda, Allison; Kuklis, Robert & Kline, Everett. Transforming Schools. Virginia: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

McKenzie, Jamie. How Teachers Learn Technology Best. Washington: FNO Press.

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