The Accessible Setup

What do people with disabilities use to get stuff done?

Alex Landis

Alex Landis

Designer, creative

Who are you and what do you do?

Alex: designer, type-A, creative, and seriously organized. I’m a walking contradiction – except I don’t walk, I roll. I am a graduate of the University of Florida (go Gators!). I have a degree in Advertising, a minor in Business Communication, and a concentration in Fine Arts. I am the owner/operator of alandis design, a design firm offering services in web design, graphic design, print marketing and social networking.

What hardware are you using?

I do all of my work (and play!) on a 15” MacBook Pro, fully loaded with a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7 processor and 8 GB of memory. This is my third Apple laptop and I can’t imagine having anything else! I also have a 2 TB Time Capsule for hourly Time Machine backups. I love not having to worry about performing backups!

I have an iPhone 4S (recently upgraded from a first generation Android) for use whenever I am away from my Mac. My iPhone makes it possible for me to stay on top of my business from anywhere, whether that means corresponding with clients or updating their Facebook pages. I use a Platronics Bluetooth headset with it.

Is a power wheelchair considered hardware? I mean, I would be lost without it. And it certainly costs more than all my other hardware combined. I have a Permobil C300. I also have a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan with a Braun Entervan conversion.

And what software?

Adobe Dreamweaver, Illustrator, and Photoshop are the core of my business, along with the rest of the CS5 Design Suite. I do most of my FTP transfers in Dreamweaver, but I also use Filezilla. Sparrow is my primary email client for Gmail, but I use Mac Mail for my AOL and other accounts. Another contradiction – I’m equally devoted to Google and Apple. iCal helps me keep my life organized, iCloud keeps it synced with my iPhone, Spanning Sync keeps it synced with Google Calendars. DropBox is great for collaborating, as is Google Docs. I can’t work without music, so I alternate between MOG, Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes (I bounce). 1Password is a lifesaver – it stores all my login information in a secure “vault.”

Other software I use that doesn’t need much explaning: Microsoft Office 2008 and iWork; iPhoto, Chrome, Firefox, Safari (in that order); Mac Address Book; Twitter (the app).

Other resources I use for business: Moo.com for all business card needs; MailChimp for email marketing; Screen Capture extension Chrome.

What assistive technology equipment are you using?

I really don’t use any technology specifically designed as assistive technology. I do use Apple’s onscreen keyboard viewer when I’m having trouble reaching a key. The iPhone is super accessible; I am not able to press the lock button, but by turning on “assistive touch” in the accessibility settings, I am able to lock my phone by pressing a button on screen. My Bluetooth headset enables me to answer my phone easily, and there is also an accessibility setting to make the headset default for incoming calls. I find that the more I can setup wirelessly, the more independence I have. My Time Capsule is wireless, so I am able to do backups without needing someone to plug in for me. My printer is plugged in to my my Time capsule so I can print wirelessly.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream setup would be a home office where my MacBook Pro is still my workhorse, but I also have a large (at least 30”) HD display that I can use as a dual monitor. I would also have a laser printer and professional scanner. I love making invitations and print materials, so my dream home office would also include a large craft table along with a letterpress kit and organizational system stocked full of a variety of paper, ink, ribbon, hole punches, embossing kits, etc. The perfect blend of crafty meets techy – just another rolling contradiction.