Assistive Technology

Definition of Assistive Technology

"Assistive Technology" is defined by the Technology-Related Assistance Act of 1988 as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off-the-shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintained or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities."

Used as a compensatory tool, persons with disabilities may become productive and independent members in school, work and life.  The implementation of assistive technology affords opportunity for the provision of equal access.

How Students Gain Access to the Web

Objective: Know the major disability types

  • Become aware of the perspective of individuals with disabilities
  • Understand how people with disabilities use assistive technologies to access the Web
  • Understand which laws and standards apply to the college
  • Identify Web accessibility myths and misunderstandings

Students who are blind...will be unable to access graphic images, text formatted in complex ways, Java applets, and video clips. PDF documents can be inaccessible if not created with accessibility tags or provided in an accessible html format.

  • Students may use screen reading software with speech synthesis or refreshable Braille displays to hear or feel the content of the screen.
  • Student navigate a website with keyboard shortcuts NOT the mouse.
  • For multimedia components on the web, descriptive narration is used to describe unspoken activity within the video clip.

Students with low vision...may use the limited accessibility features within the browser to increase the font size of the page they are reading.

If increased magnification is required, they may use specialized software to magnify the size of text displayed on the computer screen

If vision is unstable students may use speech output to aid in navigation by "listening" to the buttons.

Students with learning disabilities...may be unable to process large amounts of text information and may use text to speech software or optical character recognition scan and read systems to help with reading difficulties in order to improve reading speed and comprehension.

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing ...will not be able to hear auditory content of the web site displayed through streaming media and will require closed captioning of video clips and down loadable transcripts of spoken activity.

Students with physical impairments...may use speech recognition to "surf" the web by voice.  Voice commands are available within the software to "speak" web addresses, click on hyperlinks, fill out forms by voice and hear the content of the web read back to them.