Accessible office: tetraplegia

Andy Crowe works at the Essex Coalition of Disabled People - an organisation providing bespoke support services to clients with disabilities.

Start Quote

After my accident, I don't wish to imagine life without technology.”

End Quote Andy Crowe Essex Coalition of Disabled People

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Andy speaks to many callers every day, and believes that his own experience of living with a disability really helps put people at their ease.

Following a spinal cord injury at the age of 15, Andy has tetraplegia.

For him, this means that he has no use of his legs, limited mobility in his arms, and no finger movement.

Because of these disabilities Andy relies heavily on a combination of gadgets and software to do his job.

He says, "After my accident, I don't wish to imagine life without technology."

Wireless headset

By pressing the headset with his hand a signal is sent to the phone on his desk which then automatically lifts and replaces the receiver as needed.

Head controlled mouse

To move the cursor around his computer screen he uses a device which consists of an optical sensor, which can be mounted on the top of the screen and which picks up movement from a reflective patch on Andy's headset. He uses a piece of kit called a HeadMouse Extreme.

Desktop switch

By pushing a button on his desk Andy is able to create the same interaction as a mouse 'click', giving him access to all standard controls.

Dictation software

Dictation software also allows him to write documents and messages with voice recognition software. Dragon Dictation is one of the most popular brands of this kind of program, but there are many others on the market.

The wonder of wireless

As wireless devices have become increasingly available and affordable, working life with tetraplegia has become easier for Andy. There's no longer the inconvenience of trailing cables as he goes about his tasks.

Assistive technology for the workplace

By law, employers must make what are called 'reasonable adjustments' to make sure disabled workers are not seriously disadvantaged when doing their jobs. You can find out more about this on the government website GOV.UK.

AbilityNet is a UK organisation with expertise in assistive technology and offers a variety of services including workplace assessments for people in work and higher education.

You can also find help and advice relating to a wide range of impairments on the BBC's accessibility website My Web, My Way.

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