Assistive technologies

What you should know

  1. Assistive technologies: Assistive technologies are technologies that can help you with everyday tasks related to work or learning. They are essential for many people to overcome barriers, but helpful for everyone.
  2. Assistive use of everyday technologies: Many educational and learning technologies assist with work and learning. They are not assistive, but can be used in assistive ways.

Although things like wheelchairs, lifts or automated doors are also technologies that assist people, they generally don’t come under the heading of ‘assistive technologies’.

In what areas are assistive technologies helpful?

There are many assistive tools, but they generally help in one of these areas:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Maths
  • Organisation

What barriers can people overcome with assistive technologies?

The typical barriers or difficulties assistive technologies can help people overcome include:

  1. Sight: People having trouble with their sight will use technologies to help them magnify text on the screen, increase contrast, or read out text to them.
  2. Decoding text: Some people find it much more tiring to decode written letters. Often, they are best helped by technologies that help them listen to text instead of reading. But they also benefit from larger text and removed distractions. The same difficulty also makes it harder to write. Dictating text is a great solution.
  3. Distractability: Some people find it much more difficult to focus than others. They will benefit from tools that help remove distractions. Speeding up or shortening long lists of tasks with productivity shortcuts will also make it much easier for them to get things done.
  4. Organisation: Keeping everything organised is much more of a struggle for some people than others. There are many tools that can help, such as to do lists, notes apps or calendars. But many also find tools such as mind maps very helpful for organising information.
  5. Physical limitations: There are many people who find it difficult to control the computer in usual ways. They may benefit from navigating by keyboard instead of a mouse or even by voice.
  6. Hearing: People who cannot hear clearly (or at all) benefit from technology that can add captions to voice. There are also many technologies that make sound clearer and louder to help people with limited hearing.

Many people experience very similar effects and can benefit from these technologies.

Typical solutions

The difficulties often have very similar solutions.

  1. Remove distractions from text
  2. Listen to text instead of reading
  3. Dictate text instead of writing
  4. Create automated and shared to do lists
  5. Use mindmaps and other visual ways of representing information
  6. Combine audio and text
  7. Use a productivity shortcut

Assistive Technology Officer

Dominik Lukeš is Assistive Technology Officer at the CTL. If you would like to learn more about how technology can help you or those you work with you can:

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