Access Pack (for Windows 3.0/3.1)


There are many software solutions for providing access to PC-DOS and MS-DOS computers for people with physical impairments. Currently there are access programs that provide features such as StickyKeys (for individuals who type with one finger, a headstick, or a mouthstick), SlowKeys (for individuals who tend to accidentally hit keys), Auto-Repeat Adjustment (for individuals who are slower at releasing keys), MouseKeys (for individuals who cannot use the mouse) and Emulating Interfaces (for individuals who cannot use the keyboard at all but can use a communication aid that has a serial port).

However, none of these software solutions work with Windows applications running under Microsoft Windows. A solution was developed by the Trace R&D Center to provide these features for Microsoft Windows 3.0 and 3.1. This was accomplished by rewriting the keyboard and mouse device drivers--the software routines which interpret signals coming from the keyboard and mouse.

Why Windows Adaptations Are Needed

For computers running PC-DOS or MS-DOS, software solutions for providing computer access rely on the fact that these operating systems allow Terminate and Stay Resident (TSR) programs to exist, and that these TSR programs can hook into the keyboard, mouse, serial port, timer, and/or other software and hardware interrupts. However, when using Microsoft Windows, the TSR approach is not compatible. Windows takes over many of the software and hardware interrupts and replaces them with its own. Windows reinstalls the original interrupts only when exiting out of Windows or when running a non-Windows application from within Windows. Therefore, the special access software TSR's do not work under Windows, when the user is running Windows applications.

The Project

Working versions of the revised keyboard and Microsoft mouse device drivers for Windows 3.0 and 3.1 were created. The features included in the current package are:

  1. StickyKeys: The capability to execute multiple key operation (such as Shift-key) with a single finger or stick.

  2. RepeatKeys: Control over auto-repeat of keys, including the rate at which keys repeat and the duration for which a key must be pressed before the auto-repeat

  3. SlowKeys: Control over the amount of time a key must be pressed before the computer accepts it as input.

  4. MouseKeys: Option of using the numeric keypad on the computer in place of the mouse.

  5. BounceKeys: Prevents double characters from being typed if you bounce on a key while pressing or releasing it.

  6. SerialKeys: Capability to perform all keyboard and mouse functions from an external assistive device (such as a communication aid) connected to the computer's serial port.

  7. ToggleKeys: Produces a "beep" when the Caps Lock, Num Lock, or Scroll Lock keys are activated.

  8. ShowSounds (Sound Sentry feature): Gives a visual indication on the screen when the computer makes a sound; for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

  9. TimeOut: Lets the Access Pack be set to turn off if the computer is unused for a certain length of time (for public workstations).

The new keyboard device driver implements StickyKeys, SlowKeys, RepeatKeys, BounceKeys and ToggleKeys. The keyboard device driver, in conjunction with the mouse device driver, implements MouseKeys. Serial port access or SerialKeys, follows the General Input Device Emulating Interface (GIDEI) Standard, to provide transparent access for communication aids which can transmit serial ASCII characters.

A Windows 3.0 application program, called "access.exe", was also written to allow adjustment of the different parameters within each enhancement feature. You can select the various parameters within each enhancement feature and save them to a disk file which Windows will load each time it boots up. In this way, each user can customize Windows for his or her specific needs. The revised keyboard and mouse drivers, the application program, and an electronic text document (manual which can be printed) together comprise the "Access Pack" Software Package.

To Order or Find Out More

The Access Pack Software can be obtained either by downloading from computer bulletin boards or by calling Microsoft and ordering disks.

The Access Pack for Microsoft Windows is available on the Microsoft Windows Driver Library as ACCP.EXE or ACCP.ZIP. If you want to download the Access Pack using your modem, it is available from CompuServe, GEnie, Microsoft On-line, various user group bulletin boards, including BBSs on the Association of PC User Groups (APCUG) network, and the electronic download service maintained at Microsoft. The phone number for the electronic download service is (206) 936-6735; it is open seven days a week from 2:30 AM to 1:00AM. Modem settings are:

The Access Pack can also be retrieved over the Internet, via Anonymous FTP, from FTP.MICROSOFT.COM. Retrieve the file ACCP.EXE from the /SOFTLIB/MSLFILES directory.

If you wish to order the Access Pack on disk, or if you have further questions about the software, you can call Microsoft Product Support Services at (206) 637-7098. Customers who are deaf or hard of hearing can call the text telephone (TT/TDD) number at (206) 635-4948. Customers outside the United States should contact the Microsoft subsidiary in their country.

The Access Pack software was designed and programmed by the Trace Research and Development Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, S-151 Waisman Center, 2107 Engineering Centers Bldg., 1550 Engineering Dr., Madison, WI, 53706, (608) 262-6966, TT/TDD (608) 263-5408. If you have suggestions or comments about thedesign of the software, please feel free to call.
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