Assistive Technology

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Definition

Assistive or Adaptive Technology commonly refers to "...products, devices or equipment, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that are used to maintain, increase or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities..."Assistive Technology Act of 1998

Assistive Technology Services support people with disabilities or their caregivers to help them select, acquire, or use adaptive devices. Such services include functional evaluations, training on devices, product demonstration, and equipment purchasing or leasing.[1]

Types of Assistive Technology

Includes No-Tech, Low-Tech and Hi-Tech solutions


Software

  • Screen enlargers (or screen magnifiers) work like a magnifying glass. They enlarge a portion of the screen as the user moves the focus—increasing legibility for some users. Some screen enlargers allow a user to zoom in and out on a particular area of the screen. [2]
  • Large-print word processors allow the user to view everything in large text without added screen enlargement. [3]
  • Talking word processors are software programs that use speech synthesizers to provide auditory feedback of what is typed. [4]
  • Screen readers are software programs that present graphics and text as speech. A screen reader is used to verbalize, or "speak," everything on the screen including names and descriptions of control buttons, menus, text, and punctuation. [5]
  • Speech recognition systems, also called voice recognition programs, allow people to give commands and enter data using their voices rather than a mouse or keyboard. [6]
  • Speech synthesizers (often referred to as text-to-speech (TTS) systems) receive information going to the screen in the form of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks, and then "speak" it out loud. Using speech synthesizers allows blind users to review their input as they type. [7]
  • Word prediction programs allow the user to select a desired word from an on-screen list located in the prediction window. This list, generated by the computer, predicts words from the first one or two letters typed by the user. The word can then be selected from the list and inserted into the text by typing a number, clicking the mouse or scanning with a switch. These programs help users increase written productivity and accuracy, and increase vocabulary skills through word prompting. [8]
  • Reading comprehension programs focus on establishing or improving reading skills through ready-made activities, stories, exercises, or games. These programs can help users practice letter sound recognition and can increase the understanding of words by adding graphics, sound, and possibly animation. [9]
  • Reading tools and learning disability programs include software designed to make text-based materials more accessible for people who struggle with reading. Options can include scanning, reformatting, navigating, or speaking text out loud. These programs help people who have difficulty seeing or manipulating conventional print materials; people who are developing new literacy skills or who are learning English as a foreign language; and people who comprehend better when they hear and see text highlighted simultaneously. [10]

Hardware

  • Refreshable Braille displays provide tactile output of information represented on the computer screen. The user reads the Braille letters with his or her fingers, and then, after a line is read, refreshes the display to read the next line. [11]
  • Braille embossers transfer computer generated text into embossed Braille output. Braille translation programs convert text scanned in or generated via standard word processing programs into Braille, which can be printed on the embosser. [12]

See Also

Assistive Technology Suggestions / Resources

Assistive Technology Decision Tree

See Also

References

  1. http://www.rehabtool.com/at.html
  2. http://www.microsoft.com/enable/default.aspx
  3. http://www.microsoft.com/enable/default.aspx
  4. http://www.microsoft.com/enable/default.aspx
  5. http://www.microsoft.com/enable/default.aspx
  6. http://www.microsoft.com/enable/default.aspx
  7. http://www.microsoft.com/enable/default.aspx
  8. http://www.microsoft.com/enable/default.aspx
  9. http://www.microsoft.com/enable/default.aspx
  10. http://www.microsoft.com/enable/default.aspx
  11. http://www.microsoft.com/enable/default.aspx
  12. http://www.microsoft.com/enable/default.aspx


Outline

Assistive Technology Class I. Overview Assistive Technology A. Define Educational Technology give/show examples B. Define AT give/show examples C. Discuss Mainstream Technology and its benefits D. Impact of technology on Education II. Disabilities and their effect on Students A. Vision B. Hearing Impairment C. Hearing D. Learning 1. LD Writing 2. LD Reading E. Communication F. Dexterity III. Software IV. Hardware V. Hands On