Are you looking for laptops suitable for the visually impaired and disabled community? Well, you have come to the right place. We have designed this article keeping in mind the need for disabled people that fits into various categories.
Computer accessibility in the early days was very limited in functionality and only offered basic support to help with day-to-day activities. But since then, a lot has changed in the technology space. Modern-day laptops have opened up a whole new world of opportunities for disabled people who wants to more comfortably go about their daily activities, do jobs, or attend college to complete graduation.
Disabled students, in particular, enjoy greater benefits from having laptops. Using assistive technologies, they can conduct research, complete assignments, contribute to discussions, and do a lot more that wasn’t feasible before.
Below, you will find our recommendations for the six best laptops for disabled users. In the later sections, we have also listed some assistive technologies that are compatible with our laptop suggestion. These laptops can also be purchased in used conditions at a lower price. However, before purchasing a used laptop, know the pros & cons of buying such products.
1. Dell Latitude 7424 Rugged Extreme Laptop
Dell Latitude 7424 is an easily recommendable laptop for people with mobility challenges. The laptop comes with a sturdy handle that makes it easy to carry around with one hand. It uses a resistive panel for the touch screen, which can be used even if the display is wet or if you are using gloves. Plus, it comes with a stylus that is tethered to the laptop. So, there’s no fear of losing it even by mistake.
The laptop is designed to withstand physical impact and be water-resistant. You can drop it from three feet height, splash water on it, and throw hard objects. Additionally, having multiple USB-C ports on both sides is essential for disabled people as it increases the ease of use. This laptop comes with plenty of options for different types of ports, and you can also customize it at ordering time. It has ports on both sides, including the back part of the laptop. The battery also runs for 13 hours with a single charge, which reduces the need for recharging frequently.
- 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-8350U Processor (Quad Core, 6M Cache, 1.7GHz,15W, vPro)
- Windows 10 Pro English, French, Spanish
- 8GB, 2x4GB, 2400MHz DDR4 Non-ECC
- M.2 128GB PCIe NVMe Class 35 Solid State Drive
Where to buy
You can purchase Dell Latitude 7424 Rugged Extreme directly from Dell’s official site. However, discounts often are found on Amazon.
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2. Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch is one of the most accessible laptops for people with visual impairments. It comes equipped with various assistive features to help people with visual, hearing, or mobility issues. For starters, the built-in screen reader outputs the contents on screen via audio prompts. It speaks the text from documents, webpages, and windows.
With voice assistance, you can control the Mac using a keyboard, touchpad gestures, or by attaching a braille display. People with farsightedness can use the mouse or trackpad to larger the entire screen or zoom into specific areas. MacBooks are also compatible with assistive accessories available in the market. By combining the built-in features and additional third-party accessories, you can have a completely hands-free experience.
- 2.6GHz 6-core 9th-generation Intel Core i7 processor
- AMD Radeon Pro 5300M with 4GB of GDDR6 memory
- 16GB of 2666MHz DDR4 memory
- 512GB of SSD storage
- 16-inch Retina display with True Tone
- Touch Bar and Touch ID
- Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
Where to buy
You can get MacBooks in personalized configurations if you purchase directly through Apple’s website.
3. Panasonic Toughbook 55 14-inch
Panasonic Toughbook 55 14-inch is a suitable option for handicapped people. It is very durable, supports easy user upgrades, and can be mounted to a desktop docking station. This laptop comes with Windows 10 OS, which has all the essential features for a completely hands-free experience. On top, its unique Tetra-array microphones allow for more refined speech recognition capabilities and up to 3-times the accuracy in noisy environments.
Modularity and durability are two of the key features of Toughbook 55. The laptop features six expansion areas that allow users to upgrade memory, storage and add additional ports. It also comes with a magnesium alloy design which is IP53 rated and MIL-STD-810G certified to 22 different tests.
- Intel i5-8365U @ 1.6GHz, Touchscreen Sunligh Viewable 1920 x 1080.
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Emissive Backlit Keyboard, Windows 10 Pro.
- Available upgrades: dGPS, Serial, VGA, DVD, Blue Ray, Finger Print, 4G LTE
Where to buy
Panasonic Toughbook 55 is available on both Amazon and Panasonic’s websites.
4. Dell Latitude 5424 14-inch Rugged Laptop
Dell Latitude 5424 14-inch Rugged is a lower-budget option for semi-rugged laptops you will find in the market. Similar to our previously suggested Latitude 7424 Rugged, this model (5424) is also suitable for people with mobility challenges.
Dell Latitude 5424 is rated to withstand a 3-foot drop and can be placed on untraditional surfaces where normal laptops might crack or get dented badly. This laptop can also be mounted on a docking station, which will give more flexibility to disabled people during use.
- Intel Core i7-8650U Processor (Quad Core, 8M Cache, 1.9GHz,15W, vPro)
- AMD Radeon RX540 Graphics
- 14″ FHD WVA (1920 x 1080) 16:9 Anti-Glare Non-Touch display
- 8GB RAM DDR4, Qualcomm QCA61x4A 802.11ac Dual Band (2×2) Wireless Adapter+ Bluetooth 4.1
- 3 Years Warranty
Where to buy
Discounts are often available on this product if purchased directly from Dell’s web store.
5. HP Zbook 15 G5 Mobile Workstation
HP Zbook 15 G5 Mobile Workstation is suitable for hearing impaired people. Tactile feedback is very important for such people, and this laptop offers more buttons and keyboard shortcuts to aid the process. It features a full-sized keyboard, so you get a separate section for the number pad. Plus, the trackpad hosts buttons on both top and bottom sides, which helps improve the ease of use.
HP Zbook 15 G5 borrows the Sure View privacy filter from HP’s premium model laptops. This feature can be activated by pressing the F2 key. It will narrow the display’s legibility only to the user seated directly in front of the display. It refrains anyone from peeking into your confidential information. This laptop also supports a wider selection of ports on both sides. So, using third-party accessories won’t be an issue.
- Intel Core i7-8850H vPro 8th Generation Processor
- 16GB RAM
- 1TB 7200rpm SATA
- Windows 10 Pro
- NVIDIA Quadro P2000 4GB GDDR5 Dedicated Graphics
- 3 Year Warranty
Where to buy
Here’s the Amazon link for HP Zbook 15 G5 Mobile Workstation.
6. Dell Inspiron 14” 5481 (2-in-1 Laptop)
Dell Inspiron 14” 5481 (2-in-1 Laptop) is more focused on the education market. This laptop can be used in traditional laptop mode or converted into tablet mode for better ease of use. It has Amazon Alexa Built-in, which will enable you to control the laptop and other connected Alexa devices at your home using voice commands. This greatly facilitates hands-free use.
This laptop also features a 7+ hours battery life, high-resolution touch display, and a good audio experience. Unlike other modern slim and light laptops, the Dell Inspiron 14” 5481 doesn’t compromise on the port selections. It offers an SD card slot, 1 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, HDMI, and a universal audio jack.
- Intel Core i3 8th Gen 8145U (2.10 GHz)
- 14.0 -inch HD (1366 x 768) LED-Backlit Touch Display
- 8 GB, 1x8GB, DDR4, 2666MHz
- 256 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive
- Windows 10 Pro 64-bit English
- Intel UHD Graphics 620 with shared graphics memory
Where to buy
Dell Inspiron 14” 5481 is available in a few different configurations on Amazon.
Assistive Technology for Visually Impaired People
Software to support visual impairment has significantly improved over the years. Current generation smartphones and computers are equipped with better hardware and specialized software to help overcome the challenges of people with visual disabilities. The following are the most common technologies compatible with laptops for the vision impaired.
Refreshable Braille Displays
Braille Displays are electro-mechanical devices that display braille characters, usually by moving round-tipped pins in and out through a flat surface. These are useful for indicating the cursor location, reading text, and operating the computer through a series of commands.
Popular Refreshable Braille Displays:
Screen Reading Programs
Screen readers are software developed to help computer users who are blind or who are visually impaired. It renders text and image as speech or braille output and helps navigate the screen using a mouse. Usually, these are built-in into all the mainstream operating systems. But third-party paid and free alternatives are also available.
Screen Magnifiers are a wonderful tool for people with farsightedness. You will find various magnifiers online, and all do the same thing – enlarge whatever is on the screen. The difference lies in the additional features offered and how easy they are to use. Below, you will find some of our picks for screen magnifiers.
Assistive Technology for Visually Hearing-Impaired People
Assistive technologies play a major role in helping hearing-impaired people to function properly in their day-to-day life. Both hardware and software solutions are available depending on the type and level of hearing loss an individual faces. Below are the most commonly available software technologies for hard of hearing people.
Speech-to-text apps convert what’s being said on the mic into written text. All of the mainstream operating systems currently offer some form of speech-to-text feature. However, many third-party alternatives are also available for download that offers additional features and convenience.
Sound Volume Measurement
These apps are used to measure the volume of the surroundings. Such apps will be useful when you are in restaurants, bars, halls, or similar environments. Note that these apps may not generate 100% accurate results. Consider these as just an approximation.
Sound amplifiers are designed to make the sound louder and clearer. Such apps are by no means a replacement for hearing aids but can come in handy during conference calls or when listening to music.
How to Get A Free Laptop for the Disabled
Access to a laptop can drastically change the lifestyle of a disabled person. Their lives are filled with difficulties that they have to deal with rest of their life. Learning to use a computer can ease their daily activities in this technology-driven environment. To make technology more accessible, both government and non-government organizations are taking various initiatives for the disabled community.
If you are disabled or know someone with disabilities, then there are several ways of obtaining a laptop for free. The following are links to some of the popular websites from where you can apply for a laptop.