Adaptive Options for Windows

While I have access to a Mac, I primarily use a Windows machine, of which I have two. One is the Lenovo Yoga 510-14ISK (no longer made or in stock), and I’ve owned that one four or five years, and the other is the Surface Pro 5 which I have with the type cover. The Lenovo is very bulky and heavy but far more powerful than the Surface Pro 5, which is good because I absolutely hog tabs. I use both, but usually the Surface Pro 5 because it’s smaller and lighter, even though it can get very slow.

I sometimes mount the Surface Pro on the Meru Flexzi, but usually use this Rehadapt Mount. I have both the floor mount and the chair mount, and I have both a table surface and the holder for the surface pro (which is also designed to hold the Tobii PCEye Mini).

If I’m working at the desk, I use an Actiforce Electric Desk, with Ergorest mobile arm supports, a Evoluent upright mouse, an Accuratus keyboard, and a Lavolta laptop desk. I got these and the Surface Pro through Disabled Students’ Allowance when I started my MA.

I’m going to go through some problems you might have with accessing your Windows machine, and some potential solutions. These aren’t all things I use for myself,  but they’re things I’ve had experience with either personally or out of research and interest.

“I can type on a keyboard but it needs to be light touch”

I found the Surface Pro keyboard was actually quite light-touch, though I struggle with it more now, but Accuratus does a good light touch keyboard as well, the 500 K82D, though it was advertised as Mini and still turned out to be a bit too big for me. It has a trackerball which some people find easier than a mouse to use.

“I can’t type on a keyboard but I can use an onscreen/touchscreen keyboard”

This article open in Windows with the on screen predictive keyboard covering the bottom of the screen

Windows’ built in onscreen keyboard has predictive text, massively increasing the speed at which you can type, especially because I’ve found it to be very accurate

“I can’t type on a keyboard but have hand control and can use a mouse”

The Evoluent wireless vertical mouse has different pointer speeds, meaning it can be effectively operated even if you can’t move your hand very far at all. It has 6 buttons  but these can all be programmed to behave differently in different programmes (e.g. to undo something in Word, and open a new tab in Chrome). You can also use button 6 and one of the other buttons 1-4 to activate a secondary function, making 9 different options at my count.

“I have to use my mouse to input text”

There are two key ways I’ve trialled for this

The first is using the on-screen predictive keyboard shown previously, only with a mouse.

A moving gif from the Dasher website showing someone typing “hello, how are you?”

The second is to use an app called Dasher, which allows you to type by moving your mouse. It’s quite complicated to explain, but basically you  move your mouse towards a letter, and it gives you that letter, then the next letter is easier to get to if it’s a likely letter, and harder to get to if it’s a less likely letter. It is a bit like playing an arcade game

The only mouse I can use is my phone screen

A page from the Unified Remote website, showing it installed on Android, Apple and Windows phones

There are various apps that you can use to control your computer using your phone as a mouse. Unified Remote sets up a server then lets you use your phone to control your computer like a mouse trackpad

I can speak clearly enough for dictation software

A blue screen in Windows, with Dragon Dictation open, the bar is across the top of the screen

I’ve used Dragon dictation since I started my Undergraduate degree almost a decade ago, and it’s come on in leaps and bounds since then. If I’m not using my NIPPV it’s now pretty accurate, but it doesn’t work well with the NIPPV. Others have told me it is possible to make them compatible but you have to train Dragon well

You can use Dragon to control a lot of your computer, not just to dictate documents – anything with menus, dialogue boxes, and a window you type text into can be controlled using Dragon dictation

I can’t speak clearly enough for dictation software or touch a keyboard, phone screen or mouse but have good head control

The settings for Camera Mouse 18 overlay this article being written. You can see my face in the mouse box

Here I’ve only tried free versions, and they rely on you being still and in a well lit area, but CameraMouse and Enable Viacam both let you do this, and are quite effective under perfect conditions

I’ve seen good things about Smyle Head Mouse but not tried it

I can’t speak clearly enough for dictation software, or touch a keyboard, phone screen, or mouse, I have poor head control and the above options don’t work for me

Here your best bet is an Eyegaze system. There are many, but the one I know is Tobii. You can get dedicated eyegaze speech tablets, or you can use something like the PCEye Mini to control your laptop. It works wonderfully with the Surface Pro, but also works with other laptops. I have used the EyeMobile Mini (which is a PCEye Mini, with Windows Control and a bracket that holds it and the Surface Pro, which mounts to my rehadapt mount). The 4C is another eyetracker but designed for the gaming market, and far cheaper which people have used with Windows Control. This seems to have been discontinued and replaced with the Eyetracker 5.

I have used EyeMobile Mini a couple of different programmes for this – Smartbox’s Grid 3, and Tobii’s own Windows Control.

Windows Control settings and the Windows Control sidebar on the right overlay this article being written

In brief Windows Control was more fully featured and integrated into Windows itself. It was a computer access method primarily

The Grid 3 sidebar overlays a page with this article being written

Grid 3 was simpler to use, and didn’t rely quite so much on you having perfect lighting conditions. It felt more like it was primarily an AAC method.

There are lots of eyegaze systems out there, so do your research before deciding on one.

Hopefully this will be helpful for somebody. If you have any questions, contact me on @jamierhale on Twitter

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