Tens of thousands of Iowans use computers every day, but many of us are on-line despite being blind or having the ability to only move one finger. The University of Iowa has opened a center devoted to helping students with disabilities and students who will be working with the disabled.Robert David Dawson is director of the Iowa Center for Assistive Technology and Educational Resources, or I-CATER. Dawson, too, has learning and cognitive disabilities. He says students in his Assistive Technology class at the U-of-I have to “walk a mile in the shoes” of a disabled person, or more appropriately, sit in a wheelchair.If they’re learning to use the equipment designed for people who are visually impaired or blind, they’ll have to do it with the monitor switched off. Dawson says another gadget, which looks sort of like a frisbee, is a computer-input device linked to an on-screen keyboard designed for paralyzed people who can only use one finger.Dawson says one priority of the center is to make technology accessible to people with disabilities. October is National Deaf and Disability Awareness Month.
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