Patrick Cokley’s Top Five Assistive Technology (AT) Devices

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Written By: Patrick Cokley, Administrator, the Lead On Update


In addition to a repository of cat photos, the Internet is often a resource for telling about products and services that we cannot live without. Though many of this information goes toward keeping Amazon and Pinterest afloat, there are often times where this advice is super helpful. As disability is a factor in my household with me being low vision and my wife and kids  having dwarfism, I am often on the lookout for new solutions that will help me and my family manage our day to day. Here are some of the AT tools and resources we cannot live without.

1) Screen Magnifier Software


A pink desktop background. There are small icons seen on the desktop. There is a rectangular magnifying box over 'Calculator" showing that icon magnified.

The AT that I use the most is screen magnification software. Being low vision magnifier software is integral to managing work, but also equally important during play. I use ZoomText Reader/Magnifier for most of my work functions. It’s a great program that allows magnification contrast changes and limited text to speech, which is what I need. ZoomText is a great peripheral but I love that Apple products have screen magnification integrated into their OS. Microsoft has also made my gaming experience much better by having a magnifier integrated into their Xbox controls. This and the voice operation from Cortana keep me functional at work and at play. (Image Source)

2) Monocular Telescope

A small black monocular telescope. It looks like an adjustable camera lens and is on a silver keychain.

Even though accessibility is becoming a bit more standard, there are still times at restaurants or presentations, where I just need to be as close a possible to see what is going on. For this I find that a monocular scope works best. Sure they are not as classy as opera glasses, but modern day scopes tend to be water resistant and have pretty high factors of magnification. For me they are a big help in reading menu boards and PowerPoint presentations.

3) Ride Sharing Apps

There is a white iPhone. The screen is black and has a pink logo. The logo is round and has a car in the circle.

Not being able to drive, the advancement of ride sharing apps has significantly changed how I get around my city. Even though I live in a town that is big enough to have its own mass transit, the ability to use ride sharing apps has allowed me to take more responsibilities with carting around the kids and running errands. This has been crucial especially as being a person of color I have often had difficulty in getting cabs. Through I love the ride sharing apps and the freedom they offer, we must insist on their accessibility and ensure that all of our friends with mobility devices and service animals have access to them as well.

4) Velcro

There is a red background. A black roll of velcro partially unrolled lays on top.

Though it is definitely a low budget solution, Velcro continues to be the AT device that is used most for me and my family at work and at school. I use it to hold on to things that often seem to walk away or don’t have a set place (e.g. remote controls) that I would never find if they were not in the same place. For my wife and kids with dwarfism, Velcro can be used to make lower pulls for drawers and doors as well as holders for other AT devices like potty seats and grab and reach tools. (Image Source)

5) Pull Out Drawers and Under Lighting

man sitting in manual chair in front of a pantry with pull out shelves

This last one is more of a wish than something that I have regular access to right now. My current kitchen is, shall we say, “quaint.” Now that we can put LED lights anywhere I find myself wanting all areas to be well lit, especially drawer and pantry spaces. Having a pull out version does even more for my family as it makes physical and visual access easier – a necessity for family functions, cleaning and even OCD related tidiness.

black and white photo of Patrick Cokley with quote: "The next step is changing the culture of how disability is perceived in America." The background features an African print tapestry in red, gold and green.

If you are daring enough to “stomach more of Patrick’s particular brand of foolishness,” (as Patrick puts it) OR his words (not Ability Tools’) you may also follow him directly at @Angry_Negro on Twitter or his personal blog, Tales of the Angry Negro.


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