Assistive Technology Provides Access
In order to understand electronic accessibility, it’s important to know how people with disabilities use technology. 8.5% of the population have a disability that impacts their ability to access a computer or mobile device. Like a wheelchair in the physical world, assistive technology provides access to electronic devices and content.
AT helps people who have difficulty speaking, typing, writing, remembering, hearing, or seeing content on their devices. Different disabilities require different assistive technologies. There is a wide variety of AT depending on the task that an individual needs to accomplish. Our focus here is on AT that is commonly used in the context of higher education.
Students and employees with disabilities use AT for a variety of tasks, including:
- Computer navigation
- Writing or typing
- Time management
- Project management
Types of Assistive Technology
“An AT device is any item, piece of equipment, or product system… that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” – Assistive Technology Act of 2004
The following video clip provides an overview of the wide variety of technology tools that are available to students and employees. For more information about AT services, visit the ATRC Website.
A wheelchair goes a long way towards providing independence for a wheelchair user, but still doesn’t solve the problem of stairs, closed doors, or narrow spaces. These are problems in the environment that we fix by installing ramps and door openers, and by ensuring wide enough space for a wheelchair to pass through.
In the same way, assistive technology can’t solve all the problems of the electronic environment on its own. Electronic accessibility is about reducing the barriers that exist in the electronic environment. If content isn’t designed in a way that allows the AT to work with it, the AT is just as useless as a wheelchair without a ramp.
Experiences in Our Community
This website is dedicated to helping our community learn what the electronic barriers are, and how we as a community can reduce those barriers for users of assistive technology. Watch our video series, Stories of Inclusive Technology, to hear directly from members of our community about how electronic accessibility impacts them.