Contact | Charity Care Policy | News | Email Sign-Up | Secure Email Portal

Patients can “test drive” a variety of new technologies to help them transition back to life outside Craig Hospital.

Computer Access

Many people with brain and spinal cord injuries want to be able to use their computers again. They find they can resume the online activities they enjoyed before – emailing friends or using the Internet – but also can benefit from access to information and tools to help them live and work with their disabilities.

Craig Hospital’s Tech Lab can help make this vital connection through:


Speech Recognition

Speech recognition software enables people to use their voice to control their computer. Craig Hospital patients and occupational and speech therapists have worked extensively with these products:

Using speech recognition software, patients use their voices to compose documents, play computer games or use a variety of apps.
  • Windows 7 and Windows 8 Speech Recognition Software
    Windows 7 and Windows 8: speech recognition capability is built into the operating system.You can use your computer to recognize your voice and spoken commands.  Use Speech Recognition to run programs and interact with Windows or dictate into word processing programs, fill out online forms or edit text. View common commands in Windows’ speech recognition.
  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking Speech Recognition Software for Windows.
    Our patients have the opportunity to learn and use speech recognition software. This software lets you speak naturally to create or edit documents, use email, search your computer, find maps, news, images and more.Dragon creates individual voice files and, over time, “learns” how you talk and write. So, as the software becomes more acclimated to your individual style, the results are more accurate.  You can dictate anything: prices, dates, URLs, punctuation, acronyms, etc. or personalize the vocabulary with custom words and phrases. The software comes with a wired headset. Three versions are available.
  • Dragon Dictate for Mac
    You can use your voice to create and edit text or jump to Dragon’s predetermined list of Internet sites. The wireless package comes with the Plantronics Calisto Bluetooth headset.

This patient is using a Kensington Expert trackball to stay connected with her family.

Mouse Options

Some Craig Hospital patients have difficulty using a traditional mouse with their computer. Fortunately, there are a growing number of options available. Here are a few:

  • Kensington Expert (trackball): designed for PCs and Macs, this mouse uses optical technology for smooth, precise cursor movement. It has four programmable buttons for customizing click options. You must download free software from their web site to program these buttons. You can use the side of your hand or your knuckles to operate.
  • Cirque Smart Cat Track Pad: features extra-large touch surface, one-touch scroll, zoom, surf and USB connectivity. It includes four programmable mouse click options for the PC. You must also download free software from their web site to program these options. You can use the side of your hand or your knuckles to operate.
  • TetraMouse 7: designed to be operated with the lips, chin or tongue for those with no upper extremity movement. One joystick positions the mouse pointer and the other performs left, right, middle and scroll functions.
  • SmartNav 4AT: total hands-free mouse alternative. Uses head control with a reflective dot on the forehead or cap and can be adjusted for limited movement.
  • SEMCO QuadJoy: Simply hold the hygienic joy stick with your lips and control the cursor on the screen by moving the joystick. Click by sipping and puffing.


Microphone Options

Microphones are an easy, versatile way to connect to your computer and voice recognition software. Therapists at Craig Hospital’s Adaptive Tech Lab suggest microphones with built-in noise cancellation. Built-in microphones aren’t recommended because they tend to pick up background noises and are less accurate.

Desk top microphones are convenient for individuals in wheelchairs as they can roll up to their microphone without needing a caregiver to set them up. Before buying a microphone, research several before choosing one that works best for you and your needs. Dragon software comes with a wired headset. The wireless package includes a Plantronics Calisto Bluetooth ® headset. View microphones specifically recommended for Dragon. Note: All desktop microphones require a reasonably quiet environment.

Desktop Microphones

  • Logitech Desktop: inexpensive, easy plug-and-play with no drivers to download. True digital quality and noise-canceling to filter some background noise. Includes a mute button. Note, this product can’t be purchased through the manufacturer’s web site. However, you can order it via amazon.com or newegg.com.
  • 15” Insync Buddy Desktop: may be less accurate than a headset microphone, but is an effective alternative; has a mute switch. 
  • 36” Insync Buddy(shown below): accurate dictation in moderately noisy environments. Microphone can be used from 2-6” away allowing for optimum positioning.

Bluetooth ® Microphones

All of these Bluetooth devices offer a multi-point feature that is easy to access for those with physical disabilities. This allows users to access their cell phones and computers through the same Bluetooth (by toggling between the two devices). 
A USB adapter is needed to pair your Bluetooth with your computer.
This is the Plantronics Calisto Bluetooth with a modified button. The patient uses this to access his speech recognition software. See Bluetooth Earpieces for more information about modifications.
  • Plantronics Voyager 520: eight hours of talk time, 180 standby hours, easy to modify the activation button. Does not have ear bud adjustments. Note: the manufacturer is no longer making this product, however you can still order it through amazon.com and newegg.com
  • Plantronics Voyager 510: noise-canceling microphone, up to six hours talk and 100 hours standby time. There are options for ear bud sizes. Note: the manufacturer is no longer making this product, however you can still order it through amazon.com and newegg.com
  • Plantronics Calisto: wideband technology to improve PC use, extended boom, 6 hours of talk time, 60 hours of standby time. Does not have ear bud adjustment.
  • Plantronics Voyager Pro HD: dual microphone, 6 hours of talk time, 5 days of standby time, 3 gel and two foam ear bud sizes.
  • USB Adapter: plugs into the USB port, linking the Bluetooth headset to your computer.

Accessibility Features

  • Microsoft Office 2010: includes many helpful built in accessibility features that make it easier for people with disabilities to use this software.
  • Windows 7: Includes the following features to make it easier to see, hear and use your computer:
    • Ease of Access center
    • Change Text Size
    • Magnifier
    • OnScreen Keyboard
    • Narrator
    • Windows Touch
    • Keyboard Shortcuts
    • Visual Notifications
    • Change Text Size
    • Personalization
  • Windows 8:
  • Mac:  To assist those with cognitive and learning disabilities, every Mac includes an alternative, simplified user interface that rewards exploration and learning. For those who find it difficult to use a mouse, every Mac computer includes Mouse Keys, Slow Keys, and Sticky Keys, which adapt the computer to the user’s needs and capabilities.
  • CogLink: a personalized, simple-to-use, safe email service that comes with automated training and unlimited access to a Help Desk for questions and troubleshooting for a one-time fee. It eliminates visual clutter, is simple and clear, has no hidden menus, and eliminates the need to remember e-mail addresses. You click on the photo or name of a person and the e-mail address will enter automatically. 

Ad Blocking Software:

Pop-up ads can be distracting and confusing, especially to those who have had a brain injury. Ad blocking software can make using the Internet a more productive and enjoyable experience. There are many brands of software available. You can conduct a web search for an ad blocker for the specific web browser you use, but here are some options:


On-screen Keyboards

If you cannot use a standard keyboard, an on-screen keyboard is a virtual keyboard on your computer screen so you can type using a mouse. Windows has an on-screen keyboard built into its operating system. It can be found in: Start/All Programs/Accessories/Accessibility/On-Screen Keyboard or alternatively from Windows key + U.

Here’s a brief video explaining how it works: 

  • ScreenDoors Software
    A leading onscreen keyboard software for Windows is called ScreenDoors. By clicking on the onscreen keyboard, a list of predicted words appears which speeds entry. While not fully compatible to Windows 7, this software can function properly in an administrative account.
  • Comfort Software is designed for Windows 7, Vista and XP with touchscreen. Features word prediction, abbreviation expansion and multiple languages.
  • For Mac Computers
    Click here to learn how to activate your Mac onscreen keyboard.

* The Tech Lab offers these resources for educational purposes and does not endorse any products, including those mentioned on this site. Many others are available. Please check online for additional products, manufacturers and user reviews.