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Computers & Software

How are computers used for people with a disability?

We all use computers in our everyday life - all of them designed to do different tasks, ranging from the very small to the very complex.

Some are very obviously computers – such as laptops and desktop personal computers. Other computers are not as obvious and include those inside your car engine or inside other everyday devices.

For the disability sector there are computers of many kinds:

  • Powered wheelchairs
  • Speaking aids
  • Adaptive toys
  • Assistive phones
  • Remote control doors
  • Environmental controls
  • Equipment
  • Assistive technologies (such as communication supports: speech generators or PODD communication books)
  • Postural Supports
  • Actual computers (Personal computer, home interactive system, iPads, smartphones)
  • Portable voice recorders and note takers
  • CCTVs
  • Expert mouse trackball
  • Adapted cars, trikes, bikes and mobility scooters
  • Adapted homes
  • Automated or voice controlled household items (such as beds or lamps)

What is the difference between hardware and software?

Hardware includes the physical pieces of equipment in computers.

Software refers to a program or application to be supported on your hardware. Software helps you to achieve what you need, just like when you buy a new computer you need to buy a program like Office to run on it.

To find out more about some of the items listed above:

Independent Living Centre -
Tad WA, Bikes, custom aids and computer services -
Solve, Victoria -
Technical Solutions Australia -
Northcott -
ACU Library -

Can you suggest any helpful software?

Some software we have found helpful:

  • Read & Write Gold
  • Jaws for Windows - text to speech
  • ZoomText
  • Kuweil 1000
  • Dragon Speak Naturally - voice recognition software
  • Ureader
  • "MAGic" screen magnification
  • Prophet Word Prediction software

Also see the Applications page, where there are numerous 'app' recommendations.

What sites offer help with software or applications?

PECS: Using the Picture Exchange system -
Boardmaker -
SymbolSticks -
Using Visual Supports-
Using Signs with children with Down syndrome -
Using signs with babies with and without disabilities -
Microsoft -
Spectronics Australia –

Other Information and Support

Government -
NDIS (about Assistive Technology Suppliers) -
Australian Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology association -
Tech4life blog -
Assistance with cost of assistive technologies (Queensland) -
Victoria Library -
Dr Tim Moore research -