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April 2, 2020

Laptop computers open up a whole new world for disabled people who want to attend a college or university. They make doing research, accomplishing homework assignments, and connecting with family and friends while on the go a breeze. The good news is that many models are made specifically to address the needs of the disabled community. Depending on his or her disability or health condition, a student can get a laptop that offers features such as screen reading, voice-to-text scripting, and a no-hands mouse. These features are called assistive technology, and major computer manufacturers and third-party ancillary device companies partner to make them available on top-branded computers for disabled persons. Here are some of the best laptops for college students with disabilities.

1. Dell Latitude 7424 14-inch

Assistive Technology Features Supported

The Dell Latitude 7424 is one of the most accessible laptops for students who have mobility challenges. The laptop comes with a sturdy handle that makes carrying it easier for disabled students. We love the tethered stylus that gives mobility impaired students another option to make on-screen selections instead of leaving them to struggle with a traditional mouse. The Dell Latitude 7424 is equipped with a plate that makes it compatible with a desktop docking station. This feature gives mobility impaired students the ability to use the laptop standing up when it’s docked on a raised desk. The laptop has ample storage and processing speed to support assistive technology software such as the hands-free mouse product called Enable Viacom. Enable Viacom is a free, open-source software product that allows disabled persons to make mouse clicks using head gestures and a laptop webcam.

Product Specifications

• Window 10 Pro operating system (OS)

• 16GB RAM

• 7th generation Intel Core i3 processor

• 128GB solid state drive

• HD 1920p x 1080p touchscreen

• Ports: one USB 3.0 Type-C, three USB 3.0 Type-A, two Ethernet ports, one HDMI port, a Display port, and a serial port

Where to Buy

While online resellers such as Amazon consistently dominate the market for computer sales, it’s often best to buy specialty laptops directly from the manufacturer. Laptops for college students with disabilities often require more memory and storage than base model laptops. Dell’s customer support allows students to configure the Latitude 7424 with the features that they want and pass on the ones that they don’t need.

2. Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch

Assistive Technology Features Supported

Our research shows that the Apple MacBook Pro is one of the most accessible laptops for students who have visual impairments. The Apple MacBook Pro has built-in assistive technology features that help visually impaired students perform classic computer functions as normal. The laptop’s built-in screen reader lets visually impaired students know what’s on the screen via audio prompts, and its Hover text function allows students to magnify portions of text as needed. The MacBook Pro is also known for its brilliant display and screen color adjustment that automatically adapts to the lighting in different settings. This automatic screen adjustment feature helps to reduce eye strain whether the student is working from a dimly lit dorm room or a sun-drenched park.
Product Specifications

• MAC OS

• 8-Core Intel Core i9 Processor

• 16GB of RAM

• 1TB hard drive storage

• HD 1920 x 3072 display

• Ports: four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports

• AMD Radeon Pro 5300M 4GB video card

Where to Buy

The Apple MacBook Pro is known for its superior features, Apple’s outstanding support, and a hefty price tag. Amazon has the best deals on the Apple MacBook Pro. You’ll find discounts on models that have base-level hard drive storage of 512GB and ones that have larger capacity hard drive storage of 1TB.

3. Panasonic Toughbook 55 14-inch

Assistive Technology Features Supported

The Panasonic Toughbook 55 is a durable computer that supports assistive technologies for students who have hand injuries. The laptop comes with hardware that allows it to be mounted to a desktop docking station. Its Windows 10 operating system also supports speech-to-text functions that are essential for hands-free computing. A distinctive feature of the Panasonic Toughbook 55 is its microphones. The laptop comes with four Tetra-Array microphones that result in speech recognition processing that’s up to three times more accurate than a laptop that’s equipped with standard microphones. The Panasonic Toughbook 55 also comes with automatic display adjustment that reduces stress on the eyes.
Product Specifications

• Windows 10 Pro OS

• Intel Core i5-8365U vPro processor

• 8GB RAM

• 512GB hard drive

• Ports: one USB-C, two USB-A, one HDMI, one Ethernet, and a Micro SDXC

Where to Buy

Tried-and-true online retailers such as Amazon usually beat out manufacturers on deals and discounts. For this laptop, we found the lowest price at Barcodes.

4. Dell Latitude 5424 14-inch

Assistive Technology Features Supported

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common problem among children and adults. Common symptoms of this brain disorder include a lack of focus, organizational skills, and attention. Kurzweil Education makes a number of multisensory software tools that help students with ADHD to read for comprehension, organize their ideas, and apply their knowledge in consistently coherent ways. When it comes to laptops for students with ADHD, the Dell Latitude 5424 gets high marks from us. The laptop comes with the versatile Windows 10 operating system that supports assistive technology software products such as the ones made by Kurzweil. We know that laptops for students with ADHD must be flexible enough to support many different software programs, and the Dell Latitude 5424 has enough RAM and storage space to accommodate those special learning tools without compromising computing speeds.
Product Specifications

• Windows 10 Pro

• Intel Core i3-7130U processor

• 8GB of RAM

• 500GB hard drive

• 1920p x 1080p display

• Ports: one USB 3.0 Type-C, three USB 3.0 Type-A, one HDMI, one Ethernet, and one serial

Where to Buy

The Dell website is the best place to buy this laptop. You’ll get a custom configuration, and the company offers free shipping.

5. HP Zbook 15 G5 Mobile Workstation

Assistive Technology Features Supported

When searching for laptops for hearing impaired students, the HP Zbook 15 G5 Mobile Workstation tops our list. This HP laptop comes with Windows 10 operating system that supports speech-to-text applications such as Google’s WebCaptioner and Live Transcribe. When assessing laptops for hearing impaired students, we found that choosing a machine that has a variety of ports and slots is best. The HP Zbook 15 G5 Mobile Workstation has standard USB ports and the latest Thunderbolt 3 ports that support connections to headsets and hearing aids.
Product Specifications

• Windows 10 OS

• Intel Core i5-8300H

• 1920p x 1080p display

• 8GB RAM

• 512GB hard drive

• Ports: four USB 3.0, one HDMI, two Thunderbolt 3, one Ethernet, and one SD card slot

Where to Buy

The HP Zbook 15 G5 Mobile Workstation is best purchased directly from HP to get the configuration that’s right for you. HP offers promotional coupon codes that give hundreds of dollars off its retail prices and free shipping.
Conclusion

Independent living is part of the college experience. These laptops help students with disabilities get the most out of their time at college.
References

Resources
itstillworks.com/laptop-computers-disabled-5666272.html
www.mapcon.com/us-en/computer-and-software-accessibility-for-the-disabled

www.disabled-world.com/assistivedevices/computer/
www.computerworld.com/article/2522955/14-tech-tools-that-enhance-computing-for-the-disabled.html?page=2
www.pcworld.com/article/167035/ruggedized_tablets.html
www.disabilityrightswa.org/publications/assistive-technology-special-education-students/
www.thoughtco.com/set-up-laptop-as-a-desktop-1206662