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The Mac As Assistive Technology

The Mac As Assistive Technology

The value of the Mac as assistive technology.

The Mac has a range of in-built features to make it easier for people with a disability to use technology. This assistive technology isn’t just for people with a disability however. These tools can assist much of the general population as well.

These tools come free with the Mac’s operating system OS X. There are similar tools that are adapted for the iPad and iPhone and form part of the iOS operating system.

People often claim that Mac’s are an expensive option when it comes to computers. Those who have purchased assistive technology programs and apps know that these aren’t cheap either. There is an argument that the Mac as an assistive technology tool can meet the needs of many individuals without the need for costly additions.

The Mac OS X operating system in conjunction with iOS can help those who have trouble with vision, hearing, mobility and learning disabilities.

The Mac as assistive technology to help vision.

For those who are vision impaired or have low vision the Mac comes with the VoiceOver feature. VoiceOver tells the user what is on the screen. It does this with the use of the users gestures. It also talks through different actions like opening a menu bar or an app.

Other Mac features for those with a vision impairment include being able to adjust the display contrast, enlarge icons, increase cursor size and slow down the speed of the mouse pointed. The Mac is also compatible with over 40 braille displays.

The Mac as assistive technology to aide hearing.

For people with a hearing impediment or speech difficulty FaceTime is great tool to communicate nonverbally using sign language and facial expressions.

The Mac as assistive technology to assist with physical and motor skills.

Your Mac and other Apple devices are able to assist people who have physical or motor challenges. AssistiveTouch on iOS devices allows  you to perform gestures like a pinch with just one finger. This feature can also come in handy when the home button on your device starts to lose its functionality. Other Mac features to assist in this area include:

  • Slow Keys
  • Sticky Keys
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • The ability to adjust track pad speed
  • The ability to adjust double-click speed

The Mac as assistive technology to help with learning and literacy.

Guided Access is a feature on iOS that limits the device you are using to a single app. It also lets you control which app features are available. This is especially useful for those with attention deficit issues or who have other cognitive disabilities. The dictation feature is another great feature on the Mac to help with learning. Dictation isn’t just for writing text but also automating commands. For example you can tell you Mac to delete a word or save a document.