Assistive Technology is any device, piece of software, equipment or tool that helps people with disabilities improve, maintain or increase their functional capabilities (Assistive Technology, 2018). Essentially, what tools and software that helps us do, what we want to do more quickly, easily or independently. Although Assistive Technology has traditionally been developed for people with disabilities, the applicability of much of this technology has been found to be useful to almost all of us at some point throughout our lives.
The Technology for Accessibility relates to the following sections of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) (Snow, 2017):
1) Accessible Formats and Communication Supports
2) Training on Accessible Course Delivery and Instruction
Examples of Assistive Technology Tools
AT can be low tech or high tech. AT includes many simple adaptive tools, like highlighters and organizers. A great example of low-tech AT is a pencil grip for a child with writing issues.
Many AT tools are high-tech, though. And because of advances in computer technology, tools are now available on a variety of platforms:
Desktop and laptop computers
Mobile devices (includes smartphones and tablets)
Chromebooks (and the Chrome browser used on any device)
Examples of high-tech AT tools include text-to-speech (TTS), dictation (speech-to-text) and word prediction. But there are hundreds of AT tools available for kids with learning and attention issues.
Assistive technology for reading: Text-to-Speech, Audiobooks, Optical character recognition (OCR), etc.
Assistive technology for writing: Keyboards and touchscreens, Dictation (speech-to-text), Word prediction, etc.
Assistive technology for listening comprehension: Personal listening devices (PLD), Sound field systems, Noise-canceling headphones, Audio recorders, etc.
Some of these AT tools are free. Some tools are even built into the platforms, such as AT that’s built into mobile devices (Haven, 2018).
Augsburg University. Assistive Technology, (2018). Available from http://www.augsburg.edu/class/groves/assistive-technology/
Haven, Shelley (2018). Understood. Assistive Technology for Kids with Learning and Attention Issues: What You Need to Know. Available from: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/assistive-technology/assistive-technologies-basics/assistive-technology-what-it-is-and-how-it-works
Snow. Technology for Accessibility (2017). Available from https://snow.idrc.ocadu.ca/node/143 Assistive Technologies