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What is Assistive Technology?

Posted by on September 3, 2020 in Technology with 0 Comments

Assistive technology refers to software, equipment, or system that can be used to enhance learning and daily living for people with various challenges. It can be low-tech equipment such as communication boards, or high-tech, such as modified PCs. Assistive technology also includes prosthetics, mounting systems, and positioning devices. It can be computer software such as communication programs, text to voice software, and speech-to-text. Assistive technology is also used to help people with learning challenges.

There are tools for reading, writing, math, and listening comprehension. Many computers and mobile devices come with assistive technology tools to help people who have challenges with typing, writing, speaking, pointing, remembering, and other things. There are different tools for people with different disabilities. In this article, we’ll look at the types of assistive technology that help people use computers or access the web.

  1. Screen Readers: This is a software used by visually impaired people to help them read the content of their computer screen. Examples of these include NVDA, JAWS for Windows PC, and Voiceover for Mac.
  2. Text Readers: Text readers are used by people with various forms of challenges that affect their ability to read text on a screen. Through the text reader software, they can listen to text instead of as the software reads the text with a synthesized voice and some may highlight the text being read to emphasize the words. Text readers are different from screen readers in that they do not read everything on the screen such as menus or elements, they only read the text that is being displayed.
  3. Screen Magnification Software: This is similar to a handheld magnifier on a screen as it allows users to adjust the size of the text or graphics on a screen. It is quite different from the zoom option as the software allows users view the enlarged text or graphics in relation to the rest of the screen.
  4. Speech Input Software: This is used by people with difficulty in typing on a computer. It provides an alternative means to control the computer and input text. Users can perform mouse actions by giving some limited commands.  For example, they can instruct the system to open a menu item or click a link.
  5. Alternative Input Devices: For people who cannot use a keyboard or mouse on a computer, there are alternative input devices such as head pointers, motion tracking or eye tracking, and single switch entry devices. Head pointers are placed on the user’s head and can be used to press keys on the keyboard. Motion tracking is an assistive technology that works by tracking the eyes of the user or a target to determine where the user intends to place the mouse pointer. The motion tracker then moves it after. Single switch entry devices can be combined with other alternative input devices or used by themselves. They are mostly used with on-screen keyboards as it allows the user to press a key by clicking the switch when the key comes into focus.

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