WEB EXCLUSIVE: Assistance on the dot


The silver dot on his forehead was hard to miss.

The dot is part of a special mouse that allows people with disabilities to use a computer. Users move their heads to manipulate the mouse.

The man with the dot, associate professor Joe Drew, works to make online learning accessible to people with physical disabilities. His lab on the second floor of Moulton Hall is full of computer equipment and gadgets designed to make computers accessible. The lab has three stations designed to accommodate people with different needs. There is a station for the blind, those with low vision and people with few motor skills, Drew said.

The computer for the blind features a screen reader, which reads aloud screen content. It also features a printer that can print both Braille and regular text, Drew said.

Two 23-inch LCD monitors make reading the screen easier for those with low vision, Drew said.

The station for the partially paralyzed includes the special mouse and voice-activated software that allows users to verbally train the computer, Drew said. It also features a digital camera for video e-mails, Drew said.

“We want to know who you are in terms of your needs and how we can accommodate you,” Drew said.

—Jessica Dreschel