For week 6 of my EDTECH 521 course, I was asked to do the following.  Below you will find my response.

  • Identify the accessibility features on the computer you use for this class. Try them out to see what they do. Identify the types of disabilities that might be accommodated with each accessibility feature. In your posts discuss the operating system you were using and the accessibility features available. Describe how someone with one or more specified disabilities would benefit from using these devices.

♫ If you’re disabled and you know it, get a Mac!  If you’re disabled and you know it, get a Mac!  If you disabled and you know it, then your life will surely show it; if you’re disabled and you know it get a Mac!

OK, maybe it’s a little pathetic on my part to use a children’s jingle to introduce such a topic, but I hope the point is not lost in the controversy.  As you can probably guess, I use a Mac computer.  When it comes to familiarity with disability features, I will admit that I don’t know a lot of what PC has to offer.  However, I have familiarized myself with these types of features on my Mac, using a couple along the way, and I am very impressed with the accessibility services that are provided by Mac computers.

From the very first set up you become aware of the voiceover feature, which is a default service for the visually impaired.  Since I am not visually impaired I turned it off rather quickly because it was a little annoying, but there is a voiceover utility that can be used to personalize this feature.  For a person that can’t read the screen, this service is very helpful.  Other visual features that I do use because of the convenience are the zoom feature, which basically makes the text bigger, and  the recently discovered display change, which allows a choice of a standard view of white background with black letters or to display the opposite.  I switched it to black background with white letters.  Even though it is very strange to see the screen in that way, for me, it is easier to read the words.  One other feature is to place everything  in gray scale, which could be a feature for someone who is colorblind.

For the hearing impaired there are a couple of features to assist users.  There is the basic volume control and the sound can be switched between stereo and mono.  However, for those who are deaf or extreme hard hearing there is a feature that flashes the screen when there is an alert.  Another feature I have used, especially since starting the EDTECH program is the text-to-speech feature.  It allows you to select a section of text and with a keystroke the computer will read that portion, and I can set the pace that it reads.  Since I am an auditory learner, this feature helps me read and process reading assignments.  I have tried to pass this feature on to my students who use a PC, but I have not found the equivalent feature in that system, and I found the whole experience to not be very user friendly.

There are a variety of settings that could assist people who have a disability with motor skills.  The keyboard settings has many options that can be adjusted to the need of someone who struggles with keystrokes.  There are also some settings for the mouse or trackpad which control the amount of movement and response of the mouse.  When I saw that I can adjust the size of the cursor, I decided to supersize it because it is more prominent on the screen.

These features come standard on the Mac and are well designed to assist people with disabilities or people like me, who prefer the convenience they offer.