Daily Archives: September 3, 2011

New assistive technology for JSCW: Laptop Option

My options are all lined up for my new computer. Last month, an occupational therapist came to my house, studied the layout, my current set-up, and my needs, and came up with an iMac and a Mac laptop option. Today, I’m discussing the laptop option. An outfit that works will assistive technology will be helping me make the rest of my decisions. Since I have an acquired disability, this is all new terrain for me. It would be one thing to have grown up with a disability and changed my lifestyle to meet my needs as I grew. An acquired disability means you have to leave the ‘old you’ behind, accept the change and become knowledgeable about the ‘new you.’ It is a process that involves grief, moving on and adaptation. The good news is that assistive technology is advancing at a rapid pace and there are many cool ways to aid people with disabilities. My current computer set-up consists of an HP monitor with an Apple stack. More workspace needs to be freed up to make my sitting/standing work surface practical and ergonomic. In addition, my computer is old and I need a new one. I’ve worked with Macs since the early 80s and they still are the industry standard for the journalism field, graphic design, and printing industry, of which I was part and where I learned the skills I use today. I’m comfortable with Macs and like them.

Laptop Option: A monitor arm would be used to hold a Mac laptop. It is an adjustable arm that can be clamped on a stable surface and, in my situation, it would be attached to the bar top between my kitchen and living room. The arm will “provide increased height adjustability (for a laptop) and improve the work space to placement of a keyboard/mouse,” according to the report prepared by Trevor, my occupational therapist.  The recommended arm, made by 3M, is called the 3M Easy-Adjust Notebook Arm and the model number is LX700MB. It will hold a laptop computer that weighs up to 12 lbs and is over 13″ wide. Trevor did caution me to be extra careful about making sure the laptop I choose does fit. If I were to choose a laptop, I would be looking at either a 13″ MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. The monitor arm can be found at amazon.com through Triplenet Pricing. It  sells for 40% off, at $197.63, a price well under what is shown elsewhere. The 3M Canada site gives a link for Canadian sellers. In the Vancouver area, this notebook arm can be found through Chairlines for $250, which is still a good deal. Next in line are the computer peripherals. Trevor said a trackpad would be better for me because “it performs the same functions as the Macintosh based mouse, yet the trackpad results in less upper extremity movement.” He said, “In addition, it sits at the same height and angle as the keyboard, allowing for seamless transitions and ease of use on either side of the keyboard.” Trevor recommended Apple’s Magic Trackpad, which sells for $69 through Apple and a wireless keyboard, which sells for the same price. Having a laptop has obvious advantages. On my recent trip to Montana, I used my in-laws iMac, which is in the living room at the cabin. Often that area was busy, so I had to really concentrate while I was writing. With a laptop, I could have been in the apartment and worked in utter quiet. Tomorrow: iMac Option.

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