Desk Setup for Computers, Specifically for Those with Disabilities

Instead of going off-topic in the thread titled If There Is To Be The Year of Linux Desktop, Accessibility Must Be a Priority, I would like to create a new thread regarding question for @Biky. I want to share my question with anyone although if you want to share your setup, please note that I have seen so many of the people’s setups where the monitor(s) are far away from the chair–I mean, close toward the wall, so I really do not need to see anyone’s setup for those with no vision loss. So anyway…

How close is your monitor to you? My monitor is an LG 32UN500W 32" VA monitor and I average around 5 inches plus/minus a few inches from the screen. Are you using a monitor arm like mine?

Here is my setup in action since January:

This is me when I was participating on the Club TWiT Discord chat room while watching Security Now with Steve Gibson. The main podcast title is called “Log4j Exploit.” The keyboard is below and behind my monitor. I also play games and watch movies, so having the screen as close to me is essentail for my needs.

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I used to have a 49" 4K TV about 3-4 m / 9-12 ft away from myself, laying in bed. I had that setup for about 5 years I think. Then I moved from Europe to the US and I gave the TV to my mom.

Here, I bought myself a 15.6" 1080p portable monitor powered by USB type C. Initially, I had the intention of making myself a portable setup, basically a laptop replacement. Oh, no, I’m going on a tangent. To some extent, I did successfully created battery powered laptop replacement. My main PC is a RPi 4 8GB model, with the rootfs installed on a USB m.2 SSD. I have 2 USB power banks, one can power the Pi, the other the monitor. It works, but it’s a bit clunky. I have a very short HDMI cable, which makes things easier, but I don’t have a way to carry all this safely. I can however throw them in a backpack, but setting it up takes a bit more than a laptop if I disconnect all the cables. And I had this portable keyboard + touchpad combo for maybe 3 or 4 years, which I regretted at first, because with Windows, it was doing some weird stuff, like triggering touchscreen gestures, like Charms bar in Windows 8, or notification bar in Windows 10, but I started to really enjoy this one keyboard when I swapped it on my Linux box. And it uses AAA batteries, so I got lots of NiMH batteries, it wouldn’t have lasted this long with non-replaceable batteries.

Anyway, I haven’t moved my setup since I first put it in place, so it’s on a nightstand near my bed. The monitor is about an arm’s length away at least, with it sometimes being half an arm’s length away. I will try to post some POV pictures tomorrow I think. I kinda needed to take pictures of what I bought and of my setup anyway, to brag on the internet of how ugly my setup is and how poor I am.
:man_shrugging:

I initially really wanted to do a proper desk setup, but the problem is that I sit on my ass all day (literally) at my work laptop. I may sometimes stand or lounge for a minute, but overall, I just sit too much. I can’t sit 1 or 2 more hours than I already do, and I stay on the computer about 4 to 5 hours (at most) after I finish working. So I have to lounge, in order to release pressure from my spine. I’m not disabled, but sitting for 8h a day is pretty bad. Oh, weirdly enough, I’m part of the floor gang, I took the meme too seriously and now I don’t feel comfortable sitting on chairs for very long. I am sitting on the floor on a camp pillow on top of a thin rug (so that I won’t feel the cold hardwood, this house is old).

I wanted to get a spider arm-grab thingy for my portable monitor and a VESA arm mount to put on my table, so that I can easily remove the monitor if I need to, and to sit at the table. I have no chairs in my room, the table is adjustable, so I just put it to the lowest size (actually that is a feature meant to fold it, not to keep it like that, but it works wonders). I keep my ARM SBC lab in there, along with batteries and other junk that I should probably clean up on the other side. The laptop has an adjustable laptop stand, that I change from time to time, to make it taller or shorter depending on how I feel, but I don’t change it too often, maybe every couple of days or so.

I think the above makes sound disabled in other ways. Eh, whatever.

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You could get something that raises and lowers your computer setup, but keep in mind that according to the Q&A on Amazon’s website, the max weight capacity is around 33 pounds.

However, you can get a good one that is electric if you have enough room; however, anything electric is going to set you back $250 or more. In the flip side, it’s suppose to hold up to 2 monitors and a laptop according to the Q&A, so you should be fine if you can afford one.

I hope I can be of help. This will help you when it comes to standing up. And if you buy flip flops and keep it warm, it should keep your feet warm as well. And thanks for the write-up about your setup. And don’t worry. My setup can be a mess as well.

I could probably afford one, but I’d rather have a compact setup, just in case I need to move. I really enjoy the flexibility of not needing to get a U-Haul. Also, I highly doubt these things go down close to the floor, I would also need to buy a chair. Maybe I could grab something like a very low stool, as low as those that you use as a step to grab items you can’t reach. But then, I wouldn’t really need an adjustable setup, unless maybe I want to stand. That may not be a bad idea now that I think about it.

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Yeah, so here’s my work setup, nothing fancy:

And that’s what I sit on.

And my personal setup, daily driver:

My keyboard looks dustier than it actually is. Also, that’s not my daily driver, I use the one that you see the USB extender coming on top of the keyboard.

And being it is what powers everything.

Thankfully both the Pi brick and my 2A Asus brick work with 110v, so I only needed an adapter for them.

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Oh, so you have the keyboard between you and the screen. Well that is interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Nope, not my main keyboard. I have a wireless keyboard, the one with the white cable USB extender. It’s a Rapoo E2710 with a touchpad. I move it around myself, usually keeping it in my lap. If I stay on my side, it’ll probably be in a weird position, like one side on the bed, one side on my lap at around a 60 degree angle. That’s how I’m interacting with my PC.

image

I have somewhat small hands, so typing on it isn’t bad at all.

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My monitor is fairly close, about an arm-length away. I wonder if it appears further away in my videos than it actually is.

I think it also depends on screen resolution, scaling, etc, that makes the most difference. If you pay attention to your body and any potential eye strain, headaches, shoulder or neck aches, you should be fine. But if you experience any of those symptoms, you should figure out if your setup is causing it.

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I’ve never had any issues at all since my monitor is about 3" to 5" away from me. I make use of the magnifier in my Mac Mini as I type.

I bet the Mac has the best accessibility features?

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Mac sure does have the best accessibility features, but hey, if it isn’t for my visual impairment, Linux would still be an awesome platform as I could see myself switching to tiling managers such as i3 and see what it’s like by getting away from GNOME. Of course, GNOME’s accessibility is better than any desktop environment that I have tested a few years ago compared to KDE and XFCE, but the accessibility in Linux in general does not compare to the Mac’s accessibility.

While using my Mac, I am using a horizontal split screen mode where the top shows the unmagnified area of the screen and it moves up and down and the bottom part of the screen shows a magnified view and the screen moves as I type, which is very nice as I don’t have to move my mouse left to right. Plus, the split screen can be adjusted so that I can see more of the magnified view of the screen.

For GNOME desktop in Linux, I can set the magnify portion to show at the bottom of the monitor, but I cannot adjust the split to show more of the magnified view at the bottom. Plus, the top unmagnified screen does not move according to the mouse position in relation to the bottom screen, so the top part of the screen only shows the top portion of the desktop only.

For a Mac, At least I do not have to deal with quirks such as quitting Firefox, starting the Orca screen reader, start Firefox, quit Orca screen reader, and then use the GNOME magnifier to track what I’m typing as part of my Internet browsing activities, but because the GNOME Magnifier is still flaky at best by jumping towards the lower-right corner of the screen, it does not know where to focus in a web page. GNOME Web does do better, but with no Bitwarden and NoScript extension, I would still use Firefox.

I would still be running Linux for virt-manager and games, but for general Internet browsing, Mac wins in terms of accessibility features hands down.

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I think you might like i3 better than GNOME or KDE, since you can move between programs with just keys a lot quicker and easier. IDK about how the magnifier would work with it, though.

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I would think, it being xorg, it would work like usual, but with the magnifier being tilled however the user wants it. Unless the magnifier used is one of these weird floating fixed size windows. I would really enjoy a magnifier for sway though. Also, would be nice to have a dual monitor setup, one with a full screen magnifier that shows the magnified content around the cursor you are browsing on the other screen.

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I think GNOME Magnifier requires a compositor for the zoom to work. So does KWin for KDE. If there is a compositor that is focused in accessibility in mind, that would be great to have for i3, bspwm, QTile, or Sway.

I think people use picom as the compositor under i3, but it’s optional so I don’t use it.

I believe compton works on about everything.

Here’s my setup when traveling on a cruise:

And while in the Disney cabin:

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