Computer and Web Resources for People with Disabilities
By The Alliance for Technology Access
Hunter House Publishing, (2000)
Genre: Reference, Computers
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - October 21, 2001
Computers have become so commonplace that it is hard to go through a day without interacting, at some point, with a computer. For most people, computers are simply useful tools, but for many individuals with disabilities, they can have a huge impact on their quality of life. Computer technologies can give a voice to those who cannot speak, they can read for those that cannot see, and they can enable individuals to work and explore a world that was once closed off to them.
Without doubt, computers and computer related technologies have been a boon to many disabled individuals. Yet while these technologies are a great and varied, their shear numbers create their own problems. For example, how do you decide what technologies are best adapted to meeting your needs? What does each thing do? Where can you find out information about a product? The Alliance for Technology Access has tried to answer these questions, and many more, in their phenomenal resource guide, Computer and Web Resources for People with Disabilities. This is an unsurpassed guide to available assistive technologies. It is a must read for anyone looking for assistance in discovering what computer resources exist, and what computer related products might help them to function more fully.
This book is divided into three sections. Part one will help you to define your needs. This is done by assisting you in setting goals for yourself, and then identifying the tools that you will need to meet those goals. Perhaps most importantly, this section also offers sage advice on how to fund the purchase of any tools that you need, and the various funding sources available such as loans and grants. This section also covers such important topics as how to select equipment, how and where to buy it, and tips on learning how to use the equipment once you have it in you possession. Although perhaps not directly related to computers, this section also includes information about the importance of joining or building a support group for yourself as well as providing an overview of current laws and legislation regulations of particular importance to disabled individuals.
Part two, 'The Technology Toolbox' offers an overview of the plethora of assistive technologies that are available. In this section, each tool or product is described in detail. The information provided includes a general description of the tool, what is used for and who might best benefit from it. Advice is offered on salient points to consider when deciding if a particular tool is right for you. Also provided is an estimation of the cost of the item and a list of vendors that sell the product. Many of the listings also include an 'additional information' section that provides information not covered under the other categories.
Part three of this book is entitled "Helpful Resources and References" and that is exactly what it is. This section lists contact information for a variety of information resources. This includes, but is not limited to, state and national resources, internet resources, and a list of technology vendors. While this list is extensive, it is geared toward an American audience and as such provides only a smattering of non U.S. listings.
This is a wonderful resource guide for anyone beginning to delve into the realm of assistive technologies. The information is presented in a clear and informative manner. The text is intuitively organized, and it is easy to navigate. The only drawback to this otherwise invaluable book is that it is only available in standard print. A large print edition would be favorably received by those readers who need, or prefer, a book with a large print size. This is a minor defect, one that can be overcome with the use of magnifier or magnifying device such as a CCTV.
This book also offers numerous personal examples and real life examples of people who use and are aided by various conventional and assistive technologies and the impact that these tools have had on their lives. Throughout, the authors have attempt to provide an unbiased evaluation of each item, and to offer information on as many products as possible. No matter what disability you or a loved one lives with, odds are you'll find a product or tool listed in this book that will be of some use.