Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ask me: Technology

I know you've talked about using a word board, but what kinds of adaptive technology do you use to write your blog, browse the web, etc.? I'm curious how you write your blog posts (or college essays, emails, etc).. do you get an aide to type for you, or do you use some kind of keyboard equivalent? There must be a million different ways to interact with computers, but you've already mentioned that you prefer to use a letter board to communicate in general. This question also includes general tasks like browsing the web, etc. Do you ever use screen readers or other technologies? Do you like them? What is the most frustrating part of browsing the web for you?

Well I am so lucky because I have found one piece of technology that allows me to use the computer independently. I use a head mouse, which is an infrared sensor that sits on my computer. I wear a reflective sticker on my forehead and the movements of my head are picked up by the sensor. These movements act as the "mouse" and I click on whatever I want by dwelling on a spot for a few seconds. I have an on screen keyboard that pops up so I can type. For long writing (like papers) I prefer to dictate to my aide, since the head mouse is slower. I don't use screen readers because my vision is fine. I really don't have any frustrating parts since I am able to do everything I want with the head mouse. Being on the computer is very freeing to me because I have total control.

What book are you currently reading? Do you enjoy reading? What do you read? As a librarian, I'm interested in your experiences at the library. What accommodations do you use to read? Does someone turn the pages for you? Do you listen to books on tape? Or do you use adaptive technology? Have you ever documented your treatment at the library?

Up until one month ago, I didn't really read for pleasure. When I had to read books for school, I would have an aide turn the pages for me. That worked well, but as you can imagine, I could not snuggle up with a good book and get lost in it because I had to break my concentration (granted for a second) to signal to my aide "Please turn." I have tried page turners but they are waaay worse than asking my aide. Turning one page took 3 minutes with page turner. Talk about interruption of a great story! About a month ago, I found out that Amazon had created a free Kindle for your PC that lets you download books onto your computer (downloading the books is not free-usually around $9). It has a really clean look so you don't get distracted and you can turn pages with the click of your mouse. It has honestly opened up reading for pleasure for me. Since last month I have plowed through 3 books. Most of my library experiences have been at school so people knew me and didn't treat me oddly.


  1. I've tried a head mouse before! I work for a big software company and I had to do some accessibility testing. I got to go to this big lab full of all kinds of computers with adaptive devices on them and play around for a few days.

    I found the head mouse kind of fun, but kind of hard to get used to. Maybe it was because I put the sticker on my nose, not my forehead.

  2. Some of the best books I've ever read are made available for free (out of copyright) at

    I strongly recommend:

  3. Jayajamin, I couldn't get those links to work... I've fixed them:

  4. That is so cool about the kindle and reading for pleasure now! :)

  5. When new technology comes out it's interesting how it can improve lives of many people.

  6. Thank you for answering my questions. I've heard about page turners, and Kindle, but never seen them hands-on. You can be more independent with Kindle, ebooks, and other books on the computer programs. I'll have to check these out. As for computer AT, I played around once with Microsoft accessibility software. Only problem, I couldn't turn it off because I couldn't remember exactly how I had mucked around.

  7. Have you checked out For a yearly fee you get access to their library of accessible e-books, and they make an effort to get the latest bestsellers on there. Totally worth the price.

  8. A lot of good public libraries now allow you to download e-books, and most libraries in the US work within library networks. So even if you live in a small town, chances are it is connected to a big city or two, and there's a decent chance that that library is connected nationally. Between them, you can download any book that has an electronic version.

    Check out your library's webpage!

  9. Have you had any of your aides read to you? I like to listen to books. There is a website called and you can download a book onto your computer and listen to it!

    It used to be really hard for me to read a book in it's entirety because my imagination would always start day dreaming, but i found that i pay more attention when i listen to it. Now i'm so obsessed with finding different books to hear!

    Podcasts are fun too, like "This American Life"

    - Maryann