Solution for a blind therapist
Vic Fanberg, October 25, 2018
At the recent AUCCCD conference, one counseling center director approached me to ask if I could provide a solution that would allow a blind therapist to work in a Ti* environment. He had a senior staff member who had worked for him for years and was going progressively blind to the point where he had trouble using the mouse inside Ti* and soon would be unable to use other portions of the software. The user was already using screen magnification software and his vision was getting to the point where that was also failing him. My mind immediately went to traditional solutions to such a problem, which would require access to the source code that Ti* was written with. Since I do not have access to the source code, my answer was there is nothing I would be able to do to help that situation.
In the quiet of driving the 14 hours home from the conference, I considered that problem more closely. Actually, the solution is very simple and I do not need access to the source code for Ti* to solve this problem. My solution would allow a sighted user to turn off their monitor and still have enough access to the Ti* environment to be able to function as a therapist. Therefore, such a solution would also work for a blind individual since the user doesn’t have to see the monitor to use Ti*.
There is already software available that allows blind users to create/edit/read documents. I already write queries that can verify user credentials/rights and read or insert documents for the Ti* database. The only thing that is missing is a menu system that would allow a blind person to navigate to the point of reading/editing/creating information in a client's file.
My solution uses the traditional computer capabilities for blind (such as voice commands and touch typing) and adds a menu specific system specific to the software. The menu system doesn't have to (and actually shouldn’t) identically match Ti*'s mouse controlled menu system. In fact, there are more efficient menu commands than using the same design as one would use when navigating with a mouse.
Finally, similar solutions exists and can be integrated into my menu system to handle data forms, retrieving CCAPS scores, scheduling appointments, etc. What I am proposing here is general enough that it could enable a blind front desk user to successfully use the Ti* environment.
If you would like further information on how to allow a therapist to continue working when they are no longer able to see the screen, or would like software designed to enable this, please contact me using the contact link above. Even though my extensive experience is with Ti*, the actual underlying system may not matter.