What is Assistive Technology?

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Assistive technology (AT) is an umbrella term which covers the systems and services related to assistive products.

AT increases the independence of users with disabilities and reduces the need for outside support. The AT a person relies on varies depending on their disability.

Both people with and without disabilities may use AT. For example: SMS texting was invented to help deaf people communicate, now it is a common tool for most people.

Types of Assistive Technology

The most common assistive technologies for accessing digital content are:

  • screen readers: software applications that reads aloud digital content. They are essential for people who are blind, but are also useful for people with vision impairments, low literacy or learning disabilities
  • screen magnifiers: software applications that increase the size of text and graphics on your computer screen. They are used by people with low vision or vision impairments.
  • voice recognition: systems that enable users to interact with technology by speaking to it. They are used by people with poor or limited motor skills but are also useful for people with learning disabilities and vision impairments.
  • keyboard navigation: allows users to navigate through content using only their keyboard. Keyboard navigation is one of the most important aspects of web accessibility. It allows people with motor disabilities or who are blind to navigate content.

Other examples of assistive technology include but are not limited to:

  • mobility aids such as wheelchairs, scooters and walkers
  • hearing aids
  • canes
  • prosthetics

Additional Resources