If you are considering setting up a computer hub, internet café it’s essential to consider the people who will be using it. It’s a great way to share ICT resources but they need to be inclusive so all can benefit from it.
As these computers are generally shared, you are likely to have different individuals of various abilities using them at each session. With lots of variations of both keyboard and mouse styles you may ask the question “how do I set the computer hub/internet café up so that it will be inclusive for all to use?” Certain keyboards or mice may be suitable for some but not ideal for others!
There is a good argument for keeping the standard computer keyboard and mouse setup on most of your computers, as for the majority the standard setup may work well. Also a standard computer keyboard and mouse is what will be already familiar to many.
It’s hard to make general recommendations for specific groups of users as every individual will have their own different needs and preference for using particular technologies. It’s best to be equipped with a range of alternative keyboards and mice or other solutions. Then whenever anyone experience problems you have to tools to go through alternative options with the individual user. As you get to know the users you could leave some computers with a particular setup.
Some examples of alternative options you could consider are below.
If a user has difficulty with a standard keyboard or mouse there are a number of changes that you can make to make them more accessible. Accessible features are available on most desktop/laptop PCs. They are built-into the operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, OS X, and on Linux based operating systems.
On Microsoft Windows the accessibility features are located within the Ease of Access Centre. It’s very worthwhile to consider these tools within the Ease of Access Centre first, as there are many useful features that adapt the way the keyboard or mouse will work without the need of additional hardware. For the keyboard there are features such as Sticky Keys, Toggle Keys, or Filter Keys and for your mouse you can change the pointer size, pointer speed or turn on Mouse Keys to use your keypad to move the mouse. There are also options to make the content easier to see on your screen, such as Magnifier or high contrast mode, etc. Try playing with the features to see the effect it produces.
On windows 10 to get into these options select the Start button, then select Settings, then Ease of Access
If you have an older Windows based operating systems see Windows 7 Ease of Access instructions
If a user finds it hard to see the letters and symbols on the keyboard then keyboard stickers may provide a solution. However, on a regularly used keyboard these stickers may come off over time.
They are available from a range of online sources. One supplier can be found here
Hi-visibility keyboards can be similar to regular keyboards apart for the extra-large or high contrast symbols on the keyboard keys. They offer a solution for users with a visual impairment and may be a better option than keyboard stickers. Again there are various online sources. The following is an example which is a relatively low cost standard layout keyboard with extra-large text on the keys.
Compact keyboards are like standard keyboards with the Number pad section taken away. They have the benefit that they have a reduced number of keys and they allow you to have the mouse closer to the user which can be good for users who have a restricted hand reach. The compact keyboard below can also be supplied with a keyguard.
A “keyguard” will allow the user to rest their hand on the keyboard and target the keypress to a single key. May be suitable for someone who needs to support their hand so that they can press a single key on the keyboard at a time. They can typically be detached from the keyboard when required.
BigKeys keyboards have lettering about 1/2 inch tall on the large keys. They also tend to have a more simplified layout and reduced number of keys. They are suited to people who do not have the fine motor hand control for a standard keyboard or for those who need a much more simplified keyboard layout. However these keyboards are not suitable for touch typing.
As well as the QWERTY keyboard layout there is the option of an ABC layout. For a new computer user it will be an easier way to learn the layout of the keyboard, however the user may come to rely on this layout which will make it difficult to go another computer which doesn’t have a similar keyboard layout. For someone continually struggling with finding the keys this may be a suitable option.
Learn Touch typing
The benefits of gaining touch typing skills should not be underestimated. As well as significantly improve your typing speed, touch typing teaches you to rely on motor memory freeing you up to direct your focus on the screen instead of the keyboard. You can also adopt a more healthy posture, provide increased comfort and reduce the risk of injury. There are many good free and commercial typing tutors available.
As for the computer mouse, again finding what suits the individual user is necessary. That may be using the standard mouse, or making adjustments on the Ease of Access Centre or using some of the mouse alternatives below.
Trackball mice stay in one place and save you valuable desk space. The Kensington Orbit Optical Trackball is a nice low cost option. There are many trackball variations, some are even build into keyboards. May be suitable for someone who has a limited hand reach.
With a joysticks it can be harder to control the mouse pointer compared to using a standard mouse, however if someone has a significant physical disability, it may provide a good option.
Inclusive Technology have sourced a range of various options that are worth considering.
Mouse and Keyboard combined
There are also combined keyboard and mice options that allow mouse and keyboard control within a compact area which may be suitable for a user with limited reach.
Such as the Rapoo Wireless Touch Keyboard
Voice recognition can be a really effective way to input text. It requires knowing exactly what you need to type before saying it, which can be hard. It doesn’t work for everyone and there is a steep learning curve with this software.
Eldy is software that turns any standard PC into an easy-to-use computer for people that have never used a computer before.
Provides into an easy six buttons interface email, Internet, chat, videoconferencing, documents, pictures, skype. Free Download
Similar to predictive text on a mobile phone, word prediction is also available for typing text on computers. The software program works in the background and “predicts” the words the user intends to type. Can help users who have slow typing speeds, poor spelling or have limited vocabulary. Some commonly used predictive text program are below.
If you have tablets in your internet cafe/computer hub bear in mind keyboards and mice can be connected to tablets.
For iOS (e.g. iPad device)
You can connect a Bluetooth keyboard but not a mouse.
You can connect either a mouse or keyboard. To connect a USB device to your Android device, you’ll need a USB on-the-go cable. A USB OTG cable is an adapter that plugs into the Micro-USB port on your device and allows you to connect full-size USB peripherals. Important Note: Not every Android device supports peripherals with a USB OTG cable. When you connect a mouse to your Android tablet you get a mouse cursor. Keyboards can also be connected via Bluetooth.
Here are a range of suppliers below.