What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology (AT) is “any product or service that maintains or improves the ability of individuals with disabilities or impairments to communicate, learn and live independent, fulfilling and productive lives” (BATA, 2016). It can be used by people of all ages to support a wide range of disabilities or impairments including dyslexia, dyspraxia, visual impairments, physical disabilities and many others.

Types of Assistive Technology

Text-to-speech Software

Text-to-speech software enables your computer to read aloud web pages, text documents, emails and PDF documents in a natural sounding voice. Most text-to-speech software now includes additional tools to support users including spell checkers, homophone support and visual highlighting which can help when producing your own written work.

Note-taking Support

There is a wide range of note-taking support technology, the majority of which help to eliminate the difficulties that are associated with writing whilst listening. Some technology also helps individuals with organising and editing notes that have been made to help them digest the information.

Speech Recognition

Speech recognition software allows individuals to transform their spoken words into digital text. It also enables you to navigate around your computer, create and edit documents, surf the web or send an email, all through the power of your voice. Some speech recognition software is up to 3 times faster than typing.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is an established learning and organisational tool, allowing users to create maps and diagrams to represent their ideas. It can be used in a variety of subject areas and a wide range of tasks, including brainstorming, note-taking, revision, illustrating concepts, problem solving and outlining of essays, projects and presentations. It supports individuals who struggle to get their thoughts and ideas down in a structured way.

 

Ergonomics

Ergonomics can support individuals with physical difficulties, as well as reducing the risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI). This includes assistive technology such as alternative mouse devices, keyboards, desks and chairs.

Reading and Writing Support

There is a wide range of assistive technology to support individuals with reading and writing difficulties. There is software available which supports spelling, grammar, vocabulary, literacy and phonics. There is also hardware which can support reading and writing, including Franklin spellcheckers and thesauruses.

Maths Support

There are both online and stand-alone resources which support individuals of all ages with maths topics, including number sense, scale, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and much more. These applications are designed so that you can easily monitor your progress.

 

Visual Stress

Visual stress can range from blurred letters or words, headaches, or difficulty with tracking across a page. There is a wide range of assistive technology that can help with visual stress including coloured overlays which are placed over text to make reading more comfortable. There are also tools such as coloured paper, tinted reading rulers and software for use on computers or mobile devices.

Typing Tutors

Typing Tutors help individuals to type quickly and accurately when using a computer, which in time can benefit reading, comprehension, vocabulary and spelling skills.

Visual Impairment Software

There is a variety of popular visual impairment software which can help individuals with different levels of sight loss. These products can output to Braille, magnify text, read aloud text and much more.

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