Before the advent of laptop and notebook computer, people with disabilities were tied to their desktop computers without having the freedom to use technology on the go or use devices to improve living conditions around their homes or apartments.
Computer software and hardware vendors have modified their programs and hardware to accept devices that will help the disabled. This concept of auxiliary hardware for laptops and other devices is called "assistive technology."
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Types of Laptops
Through the concept of assistive technology, regular laptops for the disabled are manufactured with computer chips and processors integrated into the laptop to handle external devices for the handicapped. Computer manufacturers, such as Dell, Hewlett Packard and Gateway have developed portals and devices on their laptop computers for assistive technology devices to be integrated into the hardware.
Software and Hardware Integration
Software companies such as Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Linux have joined computer hardware vendors, such as Dell, Gateway, Hewlett Packard and IBM to integrate software for the disabled into their operating systems. Assistive technology companies have benefited from this effort because the software to operate their components, in most cases, are already on the system. For example, The Windows operating systems from the XP, Vista and Windows 7 version all carry specialised software programs to integrate with special hardware for the disabled.
The features of a laptop for a disabled person will depend on individual need. Some individuals may need speech controlled devices and others may need a hardware device that receives voice activation commands.
All laptops are manufactured to address needs of a disabled person. A great example of an assistive technology device is called a "No-Hands Mouse" made by Hunter Digital Incorporation. If an individual has a hand deformity or no hands, this device controls the mouse by use of two footswitches that are placed on the floor controlling the mouse cursor with the foot.
The laptop size will depend on the need of the disabled person. If the individual is the type of person who is on the go, then a small laptop or notebook would be sufficient to buy or use. The main consideration really isn't the size of the notebook, but the assistive technology device that must be plugged in to help operate the laptop. Most of these assistive technology devices are manufactured to be carried with the laptop.
A basic laptop cost between £325 to £1,300+ as of 2009. Considerations must be made concerning what the laptop is for (work or recreation) or what extra external device is needed for the disabled individual to operate the laptop with efficiency. Also, the laptop will need "dual processing" power and a lot of memory to operate the external device that is integrated into the hardware on the laptop.
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