By now, even Julie Andrews is surely using the Internet and she is definitely not alone. As of May 2002, 580 million individuals have access to the Internet. The number is continually growing, as this data reflects an increase of 20 million users over 2 months.
Many people find the Internet to be an enticing medium, leading to hours of exploration. It holds vast amounts of information, much of which is useful for individuals with disabilities. Yet there are some who feel overwhelmed by it all or just need a few good websites to bookmark as great resources. Here are a few of my favorite sites:
This is a database of 27,000 different assistive technology devices. The user is able to enter a search phrase or look through categories for products. The information given includes product name, description, cost, and contact information.
Courage Assistive Technology Web
The Courage Center website contains a large section of information on assistive technology. There are subsections regarding Services, Frequent Questions, Events and many more. Interested individuals can sign up for an e-mailed newsletter or read it on-line.
When looking for free software, try ZDnet. This website contains useful software of any kind. It also has a variety of assistive technology programs such as screen keyboards, mouse adaptations, and voice output.
This site holds an abundance of information which allows you to perform your own medical research. Some interesting areas include Diseases and Conditions, Healthy Lifestyle, Your Health, and Look It Up.
aHealthyMe! provides a variety of sections dealing with modern and alternative medicine. In addition, there are calculators; a drug database; fitness, nutrition, and disability information; and quizzes. Information can be obtained based on age and category, or by keyword search.
This is an excellent source of information on medications. It includes an on-line searchable database of many drugs and the data given is extensive.
Books and Reference
Skip the bookstore and shred your library card. Audible puts your favorite authors at your fingertips with more than 4,500 audio books and 14,000 periodicals, radio broadcasts, speeches, and performances. You can download selections and listen to them on your PC, transfer them to an MP3 player, or burn a CD.
This site offers free access to thousands of works from hundreds of literature’s best known authors and poets. Search by category or keyword to satisfy your intellectual curiosity with more than 370,000 full-text pages of literary works. There are 86,000 quotations and 10,000 poems.
For reading pleasure, the E-Books website has an extensive list of downloadable books. Instead of reading on-line, the user pays a fee and can download the book for keeps.
Encarta is an encyclopedia, dictionary, and atlas with keyword and drop list search capabilities.
This site features dozens of resources such as almanacs, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, news, weather, and more into one easy-to-access website.
If you can’t handle a standard map, Map Quest is for you. Simply type in an address and a map is drawn for you on the screen. It can be printed and directions from the destination can be given. Note: The directions are not always the most direct path of travel.
Merriam Webster Dictionary
This resource not only gives you definitions but also provides audio pronunciations. Another good dictionary link with ease of use is www.onelook.com.
The Online Book Page
This site contains books in text format. The choices include classics, women writers, and so on. There is no cost to utilize this resource.
Communicating with Others
ICQ allows individuals to communicate live with anyone who has access to the Internet. This is helpful for individuals who are unable to use a standard telephone, but can input information via a computer. It is different than a chat room as it is one-to-one communication.
There are many websites that provide PC to phone communication. Yahoo hosts an easy-to-use version of a PC telephone which turns your computer into a hands-free phone. It does make international phone calls less expensively, but you should still be aware of the price when placing a call.
For many with physical disabilities or vision impairments, a phone book is not user-friendly. The Internet has an on-line phone book that is nationwide. It includes business, residential, and government phone numbers. In addition, there is a section on toll free numbers.
This site offers a functional and free productivity suite with word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software.
The Killer reduces the number of banners and ads that pop up when entering different websites.
Try this if you are looking for a good desktop and screen saver. In addition, there are numerous settings available and a desktop calendar.
Whether you use the Internet a lot or a little, visit a few of these sites to get helpful information and tools you can use. And if you have a favorite website that is a great resource, e-mail the address to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeni Mundl is the Assistive Technology Specialist at Courage Center.