Thread Subject: Accessible utility keys
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From: Randy Marsden (Home)
Date: Thu, Mar 01 2007 11:45 AM
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I wanted to open a discussion item that we havenÂ¹t addressed yet, but that
is important to people with physical and mobility impairments. It relates
to the use of Â³utility keysÂ² on hardware Â things like the on/off button,
reset button, volume keys, display brightness keys, and so on Â with a
special emphasis on the Reset key and ON/Off keys. These are controls that
canÂ¹t be accessed via software.
On/Off Button: Many people with mobility impairments canÂ¹t access these
keys, yet they become a critical part of the operation of the device. AT
canÂ¹t really help in the traditional sense, because the device may be hung
(requiring reset) or simply turned off. In the old days, when the On/Off
control was a toggle switch, special AT devices were developed that turned
on and off the AC power to the computer (like a power bar), thus effectively
turning the computer on and off. But now, with laptops and the momentary
On/Off key, these solutions are no longer effective. Some AT manufacturers
have gone to the extent of kludging solenoid actuators over the On/Off key
and provided alternative access to that. But it is far from ideal.
Reset Key: these are becoming more and more prevalent (and necessary) on
portable devices, such as PDAÂ¹s and Smartphones. ItÂ¹s a reality of many of
these devices that sooner or later it will lock up and youÂ¹ll need to press
the reset button. These are usually recessed and require actuation by a
stylus, paper-clip, or something else small. I believe most manufacturers
view this as a necessary evil (or they wouldnÂ¹t put a user-controlled reset
switch there in the first place). You know, Â³if all else fails, press the
reset buttonÂ². I know I have to press the one on my smartphone at least 2
or 3 times a week. But how do people with mobility impairments do this?
These are not simple problems to solve. One suggestion is that if there is
an expansion connector or slot provided on an IT device, that extra pins be
assigned to perform the same function as the On/Off and Reset buttons. In
this way, AT can connect to the device via the expansion connector and
provide alternative ways of Â³pressingÂ² the keys. Since most ports now are
industry standard (USB, PC Card, etc), we may be talking about making
recommendations to those standards groups (outside of the TEITACÂ¹s mandate,
I know, but could possibly be included as non-normative comments). In any
case, I think it should be added as a Â³shouldÂ² item in 508. (I know it
canÂ¹t be a Â³shallÂ² item right now, since most existing IT products donÂ¹t
presently have this capability).
President & CEO, Madentec Limited
ATIA Global Policy Chair
780-450-8926 ext. 223
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