Accessibility Lab: Physical

Welcome to the Physical Space to experience how we make Brightspace more easily operable by everyone. Here we introduce you to some digital access constraints faced by people with reduced or no fine motor skills (use of their hands and fingers) and demonstrate how Brightspace is designed to work with the adaptive input technologies they use. We have also crafted some hands-on exercises for you if you want to learn by doing today.

Digital Access Constraints

Fingers and hands are necessary to operate the keyboard and mouse, which are technologies most widely used for navigating and operating a computer interface. Fine motor skills (aka dexterity) could be lost progressively, like with arthritis or suddenly, like with a spinal cord injury. There is a need in such cases to augment existing capabilities or find alternative/adaptive technologies for navigation, selection, and submission on a digital interface.

Adaptive Input Technologies

Learners with reduced fine motor skills might resort to adaptive input methods for augmenting their typing experience with a keyguard for their keyboard to manage trembling fingers. The large key keyboard shown below is ovelaid with a hard-plastic keyguard that enables users to touch the key they want without accidentally touching nearby keys.

BigKeys LX Large-key keyboard with keyguard

BigKeys LX keyboard with keyguard

Learners with permanent damage to their motor abilities due to conditions like quadriplegia use alternative equipment to a conventional mouse for navigation and selection such as sip-and-puff switches, joysticks and scanning switches.

Sip-n-Puff Joystick Mouse Jouse2

Button switches like the Jelly Bean switch shown below help users perform click and selection by moving specific parts of their body such as hitting it with their head.

Ablenet Jelly Bean Switch

The video that follows shows Carolyn from Fable Tech Labs using a sip-and-puff equipment with her mouth and a switch with the back of her heard along with a head-mouse and an on-screen keyboard to navigate Brightspace and submit an assignment. Carolyn is quadriplegic.

Video duration: 6 minutes 09 seconds

A sip-and-puff equipment, together with Jouse2 interface and a button switch is connected to the laptop in the Physical Space. Feel free to interact with Brightspacea11y sandbox with that equipment using instructions given in the hands-on exercise file.

A joystick could also be used as a mouse. The Traxsys Roller II Joystick Mouse shown below is available on the table with instructions for your hands-on experience with Brightspace.

Traxsys Roller II Joystick Mouse

Vu is another member of Fable Tech Labs who is quadriplegic. In the video that follows, Vu demonstrates another input modality called speech input. He uses the software called Dragon Naturally Speaking that helps him interact with his computer and with Brightspace using only speech.

Video duration: 2 minutes 54 seconds

ReadSpeaker TextAid also provides a dictation capability for clients who have a license. There are some free tools that allow us to dictate to create documents, the most popular of them being Google voice input. You can try that out as part of the exercises.

Hands-on Exercises

The laptop in the Physical space is equipped with a number of adaptive input devices. Open a new browser window to start Brightspace and do some hand-on exercises with those devices using instructions in Accessibility Lab – Hands-on Exercises – Physical. An iPad and a Tecla-e switch are also available at the table to try out.