……….I’m thinking about applying to University, but I struggle to sit at a computer or type. What equipment is out there to make this easier?A question I was asked at a conference
Sometimes on this blog I review equipment designed for disabled people, e.g. my wheelchair reviews. However, what I really enjoy is highlighting equipment on general sale, that I benefited from as a disabled person, and that others might not know about.
When I went back to University to do my Master’s, I was a lot less able to sit at a desk and work than I had been when I finished me Undergraduate degree. While I can use voice dictation software, I struggle with this, especially when it comes to editing work. This meant that I needed an equipment setup that would let me work. While I received this equipment through Disabled Students’ Allowance, it is all available to purchase, and none of it was explicitly designed for disabled people.
I also received a computer, height adjustable desk, and height adjustable over-the-bed table, but this review focuses on the smaller pieces of equipment I received.
They were all really helpful, and I’m glad to have received them.
I was told I would be receiving a mini keyboard, and when this Accuratus keyboard was delivered for me, I did not believe at first that it was the mini keyboard I had been promised.
Once you allow for the tracker ball on the and taking up a considerable amount of space, then the sizing on this keyboard becomes more reasonable however I still would not describe it as really, and I do find that it requires both hands, I cannot get enough reach using just one hand, which disappointed me. It is mini because it doesn’t have number keys, not because the keys it has are smaller.
I had also hoped that the keys would be easier to press than they turned out to be. While the keyboard is light touch, I had been hoping for something easier than the Surfacebook Pro keyboard is. In fact this keyboard is notably harder. Its main advantage is the trackball. This allows me to very easily move the mouse around the screen, and works well in conjunction with the aforementioned Evoluent mouse.
I do find myself using this keyboard a bit but it isn’t what I would overall dream of. My ideal computer setup would probably involve a keyboard I could use easily one handed, with chorded typing, and a series of buttons and switches for mouse functions. However we rarely get our dreams.
I didn’t have high hopes for these, as I couldn’t see what they would do for me. I usually work from my bed, and I fundamentally didn’t understand the point of these forearm rests, especially when not using a desk. Or at least I didn’t understand the point until I started using them – and now I always use a desk in order to use them. I have trouble holding my arms and fingers over a keyboard for any length of time, and this massively impedes any typing I might try and do.
The Ergorest forearm support allows my hands to glide across the keyboard with minimal input from me. It only takes a small motion and relies far less on muscle strength. They clamp to a desk surface and you can easily set the height on them by twisting a screw. They substituted for an ability to stretch easily over the keyboard in a way I found very useful.
These have become essential to me and I am now looking at whether there is a way I could mount them on my wheelchair, so they can support me in using my arms in a day to day manner. I have benefited from them enormously and recommend them to everyone.
In contrast, I had high hopes for this mouse. This was because it is not just a mouse, it’s a programmable multifunction device! As a mouse, it can be incredibly sensitive to the slightest movement, and it has six programmable buttons.
This means I can program functions such as undo, redo, cut, copy, and paste to respond to touches of a single button on the mouse. Having this capacity is really useful, and the mouse can also be trained for use with different programs. If I want buttons to function differently in a word document and a browser, all I have to do to is change the button press associated with that function. The mouse even allows me to program different functions again if two buttons are pressed at the same time. It feels like the mouse is almost too clever for me, I haven’t yet gotten used to using all the functions on it let alone memorising all of the buttons, but I’m getting there.
I almost wished this mouse was simpler, but one huge advantage it has is that it can be used alongside a different mouse. I quite often do this with my keyboard, where I use the tracker ball to move the mouse around the window and then the buttons on the Evoluent mouse.
I am very grateful for having had the experience of trying out all of these different types of input device, in an effort to find something which works ideally. Overall if I was recommending one product, it would be the Ergorest armrests or the Evoluent mouse as I ultimately found that the Accuratus keyboard was not everything I had hoped for. However, if you are slightly better than me with keyboards that are slightly stiffer, you might have a different experience with it.
What adaptive (or non-adaptive) office equipment have you found most useful?
If you have any questions about these, or any other product, (or have recommendations of your own) just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @jamierhale
To see the other reviews in this series, go to Adaptive Product Reviews
If you make or sell a product you want me to review, drop me an email on email@example.com