Free Assistive Technology Software for Persons with Motor Disabilities

Free Assistive Technology Software for Persons with Motor Disabilities

Alexandros Pino (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7230-7.ch027
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Free assistive technology software can be an answer to various problems of the market, most importantly the products' high cost. The focus of this chapter is on open source software and freeware available at online repositories like Raising the Floor, EmpTech, Adaptech, ATHENA, OATSoft, and Project:Possibility. The most important features and suggested information fields for each included application are presented, followed by a comparison of the repositories in the context of these features. Finally, brief descriptions and prominent examples of free AT applications are given in the following categories: augmentative and alternative communication, click helpers, content simplification, eye control, games, head control, joystick control, media players, mouse enhancers, on-screen keyboards, scanning, shortcuts and macros, stylus control, switch control, talking browsers, text entry, text readers, voice control, and word prediction.
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Users’ Needs

Physical impairment refers to a broad range of disabilities which include orthopedic, neuromuscular, cardiovascular and pulmonary disorders. Often, people with these disabilities must rely upon assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, canes, and artificial limbs in order to obtain mobility. While some people with physical disabilities have no problem to access computers, there are people with motor limitations that could face serious problem using conventional input devices. The motor limitations apply to those with difficulties in moving, controlling, or coordinating movements of the body. Motor disabilities can include weakness, limitations of muscular control such as involuntary movements, lack of coordination, or paralysis, limitations of sensation, joint problems, or missing limbs. Some physical disabilities can include pain that impedes movement. These conditions can affect the hands and arms as well as other parts of the body. Causes of such disabilities can be traumatic injuries like spinal cord injury and loss or damage of limb(s), and diseases and congenital conditions like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), arthritis, Parkinson's, essential tremor, etc.

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