Making Printers More Accessible to the Physically Impaired

All of us know the importance of printers. We all use them to produce hard copies of our needed documents. For example, we use printers to produce legal documents that we shall have notarized at the local notary public. We use printers to produce copies of our white papers for school. Yet another use for them is to print out application letters and resumes that will be used when one is applying for work.

The use of printers also goes beyond personal. They are also useful for business. There are some people who cannot afford printers and use an Internet café’s printer in order to have their important documents printed. That is just the most common use of printer for businesses. There are other uses as well.

One such use is digital photo printing. Digital cameras are on the rise nowadays. Because of that, there also arises a need for professional printing with these devices in mind. The use of darkrooms to process films and negatives are almost gone. Instead, they are now replaced by digital photo printers that are capable of reading pictures from directly the camera through USB connection or through the memory card. These printers are also capable of connecting to a mobile phone through Bluetooth or infrared. This way, the pictures can be transferred and printed.

Another use for printers in businesses is through variable data printing, arguably the most important use it has for business. The variable data printers allow a business to produce customized marketing materials that can help make the correspondence with the client intimate and personal, something that marketers will recognize as a very useful tool for building a good business relationship with a client and even with a prospect. These printers make it possible for those marketers.

In short, everyone can use printers–everyone, that is, unless you have something that hinders your effectiveness. With that in mind, how can one make printers accessible to the physically impaired?

Who Are the Physically Impaired?

First off, the ones with the greatest physical handicap to using the printers are the blind. The deaf can use the computer to type and to print. You can’t dictate documents to them, but you can write a draft that they can type up and print. People confined to wheelchairs, obviously, still have use of their hand and can still type and print.

The blind, however, cannot see. So how can you make computers and printers accessible to the blind?

The Braille System

The answer is to provide printers and computer keyboards that make use of the Braille printing system. This is a touch-based mechanism used by the blind in order to read documents. Instead of letters, the document will feature a series of dots that only the blind will be able to understand. They “read” documents by touching the dots, a certain configuration of each representing a specific symbol or ASCII character. The Braille system, fortunately, has already been used in some customized printers that spew out Braille symbols that the blind can use. Some computer keyboards also make use of Braille symbols in the keys instead of or together with the ASCII symbols.


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