Computer Access & Connectivity refers to the ability of a high-tech communication device to use features that are typically reserved for computers and smart devices. These features include the ability to access a computer-screen, to browse the web, to open, create and save Microsoft applications like Word and Excel, connect and engage with social media sites, send emails and much more.
The device achieves this connectivity via the internal computer within the device or through access to external computers through a wired or blue-tooth connection.
The significance of computer access cannot be overstated for some individuals. In this day and age, being able to engage with computer-based programs can open up a world of opportunity socially and vocationally that previously was unattainable.
There are a number of barriers that computer access, through AAC devices, can overcome:
- The ability to physically access computers for those with severe physical impairments is extremely difficult. However, with an alternative access method such as head pointing or eye gaze, an individual is able to use their device and their unique access method to engage with & control many computer programs.
- The necessity to read & interpret multiple commands, prompts & labels when interacting with most computer programs has often been a hurdle for many individuals with disabilities. The simple desire to email a family member may be unattainable if the individual doesn't have strong literacy skills. Yet, text generation employing precise meaning, plus good grammar, can be achieved through the symbolic language system an AAC device provides. Individuals, though, still have to navigate & control a complex sequence of actions in order to construct messages and then copy these into emails, word documents or SMS messages.
The value of having computer access through high-tech devices can be immeasurable for many people who would otherwise be far more isolated & excluded. The question remains, which devices are able to deliver this?
Devices that are Windows-based have the capacity to enable computer access as they are essentially tablet computers with hard drives. Within the Liberator range, Accent devices all have the capability to access internal and external computers. See below for some screen shots highlighting what this looks like.
In addition to computer access, certain high-tech communication devices are able to connect to Bluetooth devices, this is referred to as connectivity. The connectivity of high-tech devices to phones via Bluetooth enables a user to receive and answer phone calls and text messages. Bluetooth is often channelled through a USB plug-in dongle allowing wireless control of a switch like the "Freedom".
Similar to the benefits derived from computer access, the ability to interact with others through mobile technology truly promotes independence and participation. Below you can see an example of how this looks on Accent devices.