I few years ago I ordered a custom computer for my son from a company known as Troll Touch, which specializes in touch sensitive screens for direct access without a mouse or keyboard. The computer and touch screen have operated flawlessly for years, but the add-on cost was around a $1000 over the base cost of the computer. I think Troll Touch offers very good products and service; the pricing
puts their products out of reach for many needy consumers with
disabilities. It is the basic principle that small market specialty items, especially for the disabled, just cost more. The only real solution is for the mass market to recognize the appeal and ease of touch screens and mouse-less access.
Well that day is about to dawn and in some ways has dawned with Tablet PCs and other touch sensitive devices on the market. This trend is about to take on larger dimensions in every sense of that word. Microsoft is getting ready to release a touch sensitive computer that is the size of small coffee table; just don't spill the coffee. It is not meant for the small market of the disabled, so even its initial price of $5000 although expensive seems relatively cheap to a consumer of products for the disabled. Of course, as with all such products once it catches on the price will drop dramatically.
I can soon see a desk top surface that will operate as a computer. The advantages are:
- No longer will my students with learning disabilities have to feel so self-conscious about having a lap top on their desk since the desktop will be the desk;
- Students with low vision will benefit from the size as the text and graphics can be enlarged to a great dimension;
- Given the heft and built in nature of desktop in the desk, children with behaviors that involve throwing objects are perhaps less likely to throw the entire desk;
- Increasing access through touch as opposed to mouse will mean that software will be developed with this kind of hardware in mind increasing access for all and especially for the disabled like my son who rely on direct touch access.
Keep it coming Microsoft and Apple, we need it !