IDRC - Celebrating 25 Years

1993 - 2018

Continuing Our Work During COVID-19

Read the letter regarding COVID-19 by IDRC Director, Jutta Treviranus.

Supports for complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

How do I make my web site accessible? How do I make my office documents accessible? How do I make information available in alternative formats? Businesses and organizations read our AODA Help.

RT @CoLabCoOp: What better way to spend your Thursday than with @Benetech @idrc_ocadu and us? Exploring how to shift power in tech through…
FluidProject RT @colinbdclark: Join us at the PPIG 2020 workshop hosted by @idrc_ocadu in Toronto to explore the margins of programming. Who has agency…


an image of an alternative keyboard device

This list is for reference purposes only and does not reflect endorsement by the IDRC


Alternative keyboard layouts and other enhancements allow people who experience difficulty with conventional keyboard designs to use computers. The products available range from keyguards that prevent accidental key activation, to alternative keyboards with differing layouts, sizes, etc. for people who have specific needs. Additionally, there are alternative input systems which require other means/methods of getting information into a computer (e.g. on-screen keyboards, switches or speech based input).

Points to Ponder - Questions to consider when shopping for an alternative keyboard

  • Is it compatible with your computer's platform? (and does it require a separate interface to work?)
  • Is it programmable?
  • What kind of connection is it? (USB, keyboard port, PS2, etc)
  • Is it QWERTY, ABC or Dvorak layout? (can it be adjusted?)
  • Is the keyboard design fixed, split or adjustable?
  • Is a keyguard needed? Is it available?
  • Are the keys recessed or do they protrude?
  • Is it handheld?
  • Is the angle of the keyboard adjustable?
  • Does it have its own mount?
  • Does it have different overlays?
  • How much force is required for key activation?

Non-Keyboard Based Enhancements:

Windows 95/98/ME and Windows NT 4.x/2000 (since 1995), as well as Apple operating systems (since 198?), come with accessibility features most people are unaware exist. Not only do they help those people with a disability or injury to access the vast resources of a computer, but they can help anyone interact quickly and more easily.

Windows Operating Systems (Win98-XP): To open the "Accessibility Options" folder : From the Start menu choose "Settings" then select "Control Panel" from the sub-menu, you will be prompted with a new window displaying control panel options. The Accessibility Options folder is represented by an accessibility icon.  With computers using Windows operating systems the Accessibility Options are usually pre-installed. Additional information is available from the Microsoft Accessibility Site.

Windows Vista: The Accessibility Options have been renamed the "Ease of Access Centre". Full instructions on the new accessibility features may be found on the Microsoft Accessibility Site.

MAC (Apple) Operating Systems: Select "Control Panel" from the main menu the "Easy Access" folder is represented by an accessibility icon. As it is the first icon in this Window, pressing the Home key should take you to it if your focus is not already on it by default. Full information on Apple's approach to accessibility may be found on the Apple Accessiblity Site.


Other Free Enhancements - Windows

Other Free Enhancements - Macintosh

• The MAC OS X Physical/Motor Accessibility page has a complete list of OS X keyboard features e.g. Slow Keys, Sticky Keys, Keyboard Navigation and Keyboard Settings.

Alternative Keyboards