Assistive technology is amazing. It is a terrific aid to anyone, whether they are disabled or not. Students who put in long hours over texts are often slumped over a table, or are propping a book open, or glued to a computer. After I graduated from my last college program, I was bent out of shape from the grueling schedule and repetitive stress caused by the unergonomic use of books and computers. Had I known about a monitor arm, I would have felt so much better! I have two book racks, but they sit on a table and you still have to look down to read. I have an acquired disability that was caused by a workplace accident. It affects my neck, shoulder, arm and hand. Because of it, I’ve had to learn to do things differently than I did before. Thanks to assistive technology, my new computer set-up will be completely ergonomic. I blog my little heart away in comfort! Yesterday, I covered a laptop option and today, I’ll look at the other recommendations made by my occupational therapist, Trevor. Soon, I’ll have to decide which option will be best for my space, aided by Assistive Technology British Columbia.
iMac Option: Trevor has recommended a table top and base, a monitor arm, a slant board, a chair, and voice recognition software. Let’s take a look at what he suggests. The table is made by ISE. According to Trevor’s report, “it is equipped with electronic height adjustments. The height ranges from 27-41″ (from the floor).” The base is an ISE Base E5-1 Lite; the top is an ST-RES-2-2436. There appear to be many top/base combinations; the one he’s chosen for me is shown in the photo above. (The ISE site lists suppliers.) Here, Chairlines carries top and base for $875 plus $100 for installation. Next, is the monitor arm, a Human Scale M8 (shown above), which holds a monitor that weighs up to 42 lbs. Chairlines sells it for $309, plus $30-60 for installation. According to the U.S. comparison shopping site, NexTag, the lowest price that can be found in the U.S. is through ergoLCD, where it can be purchased for $265.99. I like the looks of this monitor arm and imagine the movement to be very smooth. The next item on my list is a slant board for reading. Ergo Desk slant boards go for $175-205 at Chairlines. In the U.S., they sell for $155-184 through amazon.com. This particular slant board is a beautifully designed wooden tool from which you can write or read. It folds for portability and can be placed at angles from 15 to 22 degrees. The Chairlines site states that a “slanted writing surface reduces neck, upper back and shoulder tension by creating an upright, balanced posture.” I can’t tell you what a difference one of these little puppies would make with my ‘feel good’ quotient. From desks, we move to chairs. Trevor has recommended no particular chair because it depends too much on the person. Instead, told me to look for the following: “height adjustment, backrest height and angle adjustments. The back rest should possess a lumbar (low back) pad, height adjustable armrests, and headrest to allow for neck support.” He wants me to make an appointment with an office supply company to test a chair before buying. This chair business may prove to be a bit of abugaboo. Our home is decorated with antiques and a moderistic office chair is going to look terrible. Plus, my cat would zero in on it and scratch up the upholstery. Hmm. I wonder if there are any reproduction wooden banker’s chairs that are ergonomic? The thing I can’t live without, easily, at least, is voice recognition software, which is also included in Trevor’s report. I now use IBM’s ViaVoice. Most voice to text digital recorders use Dragon. If that is the standard, it will dictate what I use to dictate. Trevor suggests I get Dragon for Mac for $200 from Apple. He had mentioned MacSpeech, too. I’ll do some more consumer research before I make a decision. There should be many deals on voice to text recorders about now because students use them. Many decisions. By next month, things will seem different compared to now, what with all the changes. So, an iMac or a laptop? Both set-ups are comprehensive, ergonomically. The iMac monitor would be large enough to have two pages open at once. The laptop is smaller, but takes up less space and is also portable. Comfort will be the key. As a daily blogger, it makes all the difference. But either option will be an improvement over how I am working now. If I’m comfortable at my station, I’m sure to be a better writer to boot!