The Accessible Setup

What do people with disabilities use to get stuff done?

AJ Brockman

AJ Brockman

Artist, designer

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is AJ Brockman and I am a Digital Artist, Designer, and Positive Thinker. I graduated valedictorian from Digital Media Arts College in Boca Raton Florida with a bachelor of fine arts degree. I am also the head honcho of Single Handed Studio where I create retro inspired, satire laced, and all out bad ass digital paintings and other fine art. I also happen to have Spinal Muscular Atrophy but I view myself as being "differently enabled" rather than "disabled" and I live life to the fullest!

What hardware are you using?

I am one of those who have not converted to the "dark side" as I like to refer to it as — a designer NOT using a Mac! I have been taught on both platforms but I just find that Windows-based OS works better for my workflow. I have a 17" HP Pavilion DV7 with an Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000 Quad Core Mobile Processor. I have completely maxed out the upgrades including a total of 8 GB of RAM and a second internal hard drive with a total memory capacity of over 1.5 TB. I am also running Windows 7 professional. This is the second laptop I have owned for my designing and digital painting and it has been great to be able to upgrade the technology as I have needed without having to do a complete system overhaul (a dreaded nightmare for me). I have too many external hard drives to mention as consistently backing up my work is a lesson I have learned the hard way.

I do have an Android cell phone that I rarely use as I have recently discovered the incredible power of soft phones (VoIP). This means I can access my office phone directly from my computer! It is a great tool to be able to instantly use with the click of a mouse and not having to physically dial. I use Nextiva as my provider and the x-lite software. My headset is a Cyber Acoustics AC-840 USB. I also use this to do my voice dictation as I will explain later. Finally, I have a set of Allen & Heath: Xone XD-53 Headphones when I need to shut out the world and get in my "design groove".

Probably my most important piece of equipment is my Permobil Chairman C500 wheelchair. I am able to recline, completely lay flat, and raise my chair to eye-level for the all-important face to face conversation (not all conversations are had on Facebook, contrary to popular belief). As well as a brand-new joystick called the MicroPilot from company Switch It. It is about the size of a dime and requires almost zero effort to drive. Lastly, I am riding dirty in a 2000 Chevy express conversion van, gun metal gray, and rims that are ready for the coming zombie apocalypse! (Ricon lift and EZ Lock)

And what software?

As I have a commercial art background I am proficient in almost every program of the Adobe suite. I spend most of my time in Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver. But Adobe doesn't get all the spotlight. I am totally in love with Corel Painter X and do the majority of my digital painting in that program, using Photoshop mainly for color correction and composition layout. I use a built-in trackpad (flat mouse area on laptop) and literally paint with my finger. I also have it configured so certain areas of the pad trigger either the left or right click function. If you would like to know more about my creative process and software please visit my online tutorial on YouTube.

I currently do all of my browsing on Chrome but I am still partial to Firefox for stability and development testing. I always have Pandora running in the background for my music and the only Mac-related contraband I use is iTunes.

I am a social media nut and constantly use Facebook and Twitter to connect with individuals from all over the world for both personal and business development.

Inspiration is key for me when it comes to creating new work and I frequently visit the following websites and fellow artists for the creative boost I need: Hydro 74, David Uhl, Malcolm Farley, Jeff Finley, Dan LuVisi, Pinterest, deviantART, Abduzeedo, and many more! This keeps me fresh and always pushing the limit with today's trends and proven classics.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup would be something straight out of X-Men. An entire set up just like Prof. X. where I could telepathically control the computer and perform tasks without physical limitation. Far-fetched? Not really. Technology is already on its way! No matter what, I will always be using a laptop because I enjoy the portability of being able to work anywhere. It allows me to pick up inspiration wherever I am and work directly in that environment.