There are many areas in the world where people have to overcome major obstacles in order to have access to information. There is technology that people use that makes it easier for them to do just that. Assistive technology includes devices which help users navigate their environment, interface with computers, connect with others, and read text. This article will provide an overview of assistive technologies and their uses outlined by Afrohi Storama .
Many times when someone has a disability there is no way around barriers they face on a day-to-day basis due to how inaccessible their environment or surroundings are. The use of assistive technology can make life more accessible for these people by providing custom solutions for their disabilities rather than adapting an entire area or building up an entirely new one. Access to technology is important for independent living. Assistive technology will allow the person to overcome these access barriers by making their environment more accessible.
Several types of disabilities
There are several types of disabilities that make it difficult for an individual to access information in their surroundings. Perhaps the one that affects most people is a visual impairment. To help visually impaired people there are assistive technologies including screen magnification, speech or braille output, screen reader, or refreshable braille displays that are used for accessing computers and other digital tools. Other disabilities that can be helped using assistive technology include physical disability, cognitive disability, hearing impairment, learning disability, intellectual disability and language-based disability.
Individuals with disabilities
There are several different types of technologies that are used to help individuals with disabilities access their world. A few examples include alternative keyboards, alternative mice, special software, switches and scanning laser pointers. These tools will help people to overcome the barriers they face in everyday life. There are also technologies that can aid people with physical disabilities by making it easier to move through their environment. Some options for physical disability include automated doors and switches to open them, stairway detectors, automatic teller machines (ATMs), computer pointing devices designed for people who have limited use of their hands, smart phones with large buttons or touch-sensitive displays or headphones that are compatible with sound cards or screen readers.
Some people may have disabilities that help them to use technology, but their disability may make it difficult for them to communicate verbally. There are several assistive technologies for this type of disability including e-readers, screen magnifying software for computers, speech synthesizers, and sign language translators.
There are assistive technologies that are used to help deaf or hard of hearing individuals communicate. Some devices include “screen readers”, sign language translator packages, webTVs with built-in closed captioning systems, and telephones with both TTYs and text telephones. Also there are other technologies that can be used in the same manner.
People who have a cognitive disability will benefit from using assistive technology. There are many different concepts that people with cognitive disabilities may need help understanding. Devices such as “screen readers” and “speech synthesizers” will help people who have difficulty reading and understanding verbal instructions. This technology can provide verbal instructions for individuals with cognitive impairments to perform even the most complex of tasks. Some other technologies used for cognitive disabilities include video magnification, closed captioning, and assistive web browsers such as JAWS (Job Access With Speech). People who use screen readers or other audio-based technologies can use an alternative keyboard which provides an audio output of each keystroke made to a computer.
Refreshable Braille displays
There are technologies that allow people who are blind or who have low vision to read. A few examples include refreshable Braille displays, reading machines, and portable text-to-speech products. These technologies help people who are visually impaired. The refreshable Braille displays allow users to read an electronic device like a personal digital assistant or a portable media player by connecting to them via Bluetooth or USB connection. A reading machine allows the user to scan printed material into text format on their computer. Portable text-to-speech products can be used with computers and portable media players to listen to books on the go.
Language based disabilities
There are many assistive technologies that help with language based disabilities such as dyslexia or autism spectrum disorders. These technologies include screen magnification, speech synthesizers, alternative keyboards, alternative mice, refreshable Braille displays (R Braille), and assistive software.
There are many different types of assistive technology devices that are used to help individuals with disabilities. Some of these tools include computers, computers with built-in accessibility features or built-in software that can be used by disabled users, tablets or touch screen devices designed for people who have disabilities that cause them to have limited control of their hands. Other devices people can purchase include telephones with TTYs pre-installed in the phone itself, special equipment used by people who are hard of hearing or hard of vision such as closed captioning systems or sign language translators for telephones.
Other tools include large buttons or touch-sensitive screens for people who lack use of their hands. Larger buttons make it easier for people with limited use of their hands to reach the keys on a keyboard. Touch-sensitive screens will allow a user to control the cursor on a computer by touching or tapping on them. This can be very helpful for people who have difficulty using a mouse. Many devices designed for people who have disabilities also include a stylus that a person may use to type on a keyboard.
Many assistive technologies are used in conjunction with one another rather than being used independently of each other.