What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive Technology (AT) includes tools or equipment used to improve the capabilities and productivity of persons with disabilities. AT can help students with disabilities participate in education and help staff perform their job tasks at MU. Here is a list of technologies commonly used to ensure people of all abilities can use computers and mobile devices to access the web:

  • Screen Readers
    Applications like JAWS (Job Access With Speech) for Windows, NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access), and Voiceover for Mac are used by blind and visually impaired people to hear the content that sighted users see on the screen.
  • Screen Magnification Software
    Those with low vision use screen magnifying applications to increase the size of text, mouse pointers, and graphics that are displayed on the screen of a computer or mobile device.
  • Text Readers
    Text readers, also called Text-to-Speech (TTS), allow users to listen to the text aloud while they follow along visually (e.g., highlighting the words as they are read out loud on the screen).
  • Speech input software
    Speech input capability is conversely called Speech-to-Text or speech recognition and is a common alternative to typing text on a computer or mobile device. This technology can also help users browse the web and perform tasks using voice commands. Such programs include Dragon Speech Recognition, Windows Voice Access, and Apple Voice Control.
  • Alternative input devices
    These devices offer alternatives to the keyboard and mouse for users with mobility impairments. Such devices include head pointers, motion or eye tracking devices, and single or multiple switch access methods.

More people are continually using assistive technology, for example:

    • A person with a vision disability needs to use the zoom feature to enlarge text on a tablet. An accessible website allows for customizable text to ensure usability.
    • A person with a learning disability such as dyslexia uses a more accessible font or a tool to read content aloud.
    • A person with a hearing disability requires captions to understand the information provided in videos.

To create a digitally accessible campus, we want to ensure everyone has access to the technologies they need to succeed and that we produce accessible digital content. For more information on assistive technologies available on campus or to request a demo of how your website works with a screen reader, visit the Adaptive Computing Technology Center.

Meet Darren

Darren Gabbert works for the University of Missouri Division of IT’s Adaptive Computing Technology Center. Darren demonstrates in this video the switch-access assistive technology that he uses daily.