No matter your age, going back to school as a person with a spinal cord injury, especially if you have limited upper-body mobility, has its real concerns. School accessibility and classroom accessibility, will the teacher/professor work with your disability, how will you take notes? But when it comes to the technology you’ll be using, this is the fun part. There’s so much to choose from.
The technology that’s now available is astounding. From e-pens that record everything to the best voice dictation software available, this “adapted” tech is enticing to all. To check out the products out there, please peruse our top 11 tech items for 2016 below.
1) BlueSky Mount ‘n Mover: Using a screened device in your wheelchair can be tricky. Even if you have an able upper-body, you can strain your neck in minutes if you look down at your lap too long. This is why the Mount ‘n Mover is so popular with people who use wheelchairs. It’s the perfect holder for iPads, phones, laptops and more.
What’s great is that the mount can be moved so you can angle whatever you’re using exactly where you need it. This is just the thing for getting from class to class safely without dropping your device as well. Darrel “Chill” Mitchell from NCIS: New Orleans, a well-known actor and paraplegic, frequently uses a Mount ‘n Mover on the show in his role as the tech guy. Check out the mount in action here
2) Echo SmartPen: The Echo SmartPen may look like your typical big black shiny pen, but it is much more. It’s an e-pen to that records everything you hear or say. It records everything you write too, so if you struggle with taking notes but still like to attempt to take them, this is the perfect writing instrument for you.
The Echo SmartPen is so cool it even plugs into your computer so you can transfer your notes and audio recordings to your computer instantly. This saves a ton of time and gives you the ultimate in independence when it comes to note-taking. The lowest price for one is $130 and it could be covered by your state’s rehab department. Please contact your state to learn more. See the pen here
3) Dragon Naturally Speaking: When it comes to voice recognition software, Dragon Naturally Speaking is the software most turn to. Dragon was one of the first software companies to create quality voice recognition software and they remain one of the best to this day. It can be a bit spendy (usually around with $50 plus), but your state’s rehab department should cover this expense as well. Using Dragon can change lives. It cuts down on typing time immensely, giving you loads of time (and your life) back. Check it out here
4) Automatic Page Turner: If you have difficulty flipping the pages of a book and you can’t get an e-version of a book for school, your best solution is getting the Automatic Page Turner for Books created by Broadened Horizons. This electric page turner handles books that are from 4″x 6″ to 9″x 12″ to 1.3 inches thick (up to 500 pages) and it turns up to 10 pages (front & back) providing reading of up to 20 pages. Check it out here
5) Wheelchair Accessories Wheelchair Water Bottle Holder: When you’re in school, staying hydrated is something you have to stay on top of. But as a wheelchair user, this can pose a problem if you don’t have the right equipment. We’re talking about getting a proper wheelchair cup holder, or in this case, a wheelchair water bottle holder. This low-cost water bottle holder was made for the rigid frame on the front footrest of a wheelchair. It has one of the best clamping systems on the market today and it is made out of stainless steel. Cost is only $20. Check it out here
6) The Urban Wheelchair Messenger Bag: Another must when going back to school is finding the right bag or backpack. While you can make many backpacks work for your wheelchair, the Urban Wheelchair Messenger Bag made by Wheelchair Gear was made specifically to sit on the back of a wheelchair. It is fully lined too so you can safely hold your laptop, tablet, books or anything else you may need in it during the day safely. The bag has a padded strap as well so it’s easier to carry. Check it out here
7) FUJITSU Document Scanner ScanSnap iX500: For those in high school and in college, having a high speed scanner is a great idea. This document scanner from Fujitsu easily lets you scan whatever you need from handouts and note-taker notes to any loose papers you come across, so you can digitally access all your paperwork. Check it out here
8) OrangeA Paper Cutter Guillotine Paper Cutter Trimmer Machine: If you need to scan an entire book and don’t have time to wait for your school’s disability support services help, you can scan the book yourself. The best way to do this is to cut off the book’s binding (so you can safely remove the pages) and then scan them in. With the OrangeA Paper Cutter, you’ll be able to cut off the binding of the book yourself. See the paper cutter here
9) Expert Mouse Wired Track Ball: A must-have accessory for quadriplegics is a Trackball mouse. This style of mouse allows someone with minimal finger movement to to customize the different buttons surrounding the large trackball. Buttons can be programmed click, double-click, right-click, drag, minimize window and many more options with just a click a button. The latest version offers multiple buttons that provide smooth cursor control too. Check it out here
10) Snowflake Ultra-Portable Microphone: When it comes to additional computer accessories, having a high quality microphone is huge. The Snowflake Ultra-Portable High Fidelity USB Microphone is so good you don’t have to put on a headset to use it. It’s small and it’s a clip-on microphone that can be attached anywhere on your computer, your desktop or even your wheelchair. See the Snowflake Microphone here
11) Aidata Mouse Platform Under Desk: If you’re looking for an easier way to access your mouse, the Aidata Mouse Platform Under Desk is just the thing. This platform has sturdy metal plastic clamps that help keep the platform firmly in place, making it one of the most cost-effective ways to position and/or hide your computer mouse. Check it out on Amazon here
Remember, technology is the biggest key to having a successful school year when living with SCI. Most of the products above should be covered by your state’s DRS (Department of Rehab Services) as they are all worth every penny. Have a great school year and good luck!
What technology to help your disability did we miss? Share your favs in the comments below