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What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive Technology (AT), a.k.a adaptive technology, is any item, piece of equipment, or system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is commonly used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities, as defined by the Assistive Technology Act of 1998. AT is used in the workplace, educational system and at home. This technology is making progress in leaps
Assistive Technology Software
It may be difficult to design optimized course materials and websites without fully understanding the AT that may be used to view the material. Below are some commonly used AT software applications. If you would like to see a demonstration of these programs, please visit the DSP&S office between the hours of 8:00am to 4:30pm or call 818.833.3313 to schedule an appointment that better suits your schedule.
JAWS for Window v. 12
Jaws is a screen-reader program, generally considered to be the industry standard both professionally and educationally. It is used primarily by people with blind and low-vision disabilities. Navigation is controlled by keyboard commands. Output is via speech synthesizer (audibly) or refreshable Braille display (written language). This program allows in-depth access to the Windows operating system and software run on the platform. It can also be used to browse the internet. The Section 508 standards and WAI Guidelines are designed to create a website that can be more readily accessed and read by screen-readers
Some things to be aware of:
- Try to adhere to Section 508 standard (g) & (h) regarding data tables and labeling. Jaws is not yet perfect when it comes to reading data contained in tables and information can at times get confusing for the user. Using Jaws is the equivalent of surfing the internet with the monitor off, without the mouse and using only keyboard commands. Any image to text equivalent should convey the meaning and importance behind it.
For more information visit http://www.freedomscientific.com/ . Jaws 6.0 software is offered for student use in the High Tech Center, located in the DSP&S office in Instructional.Center. It is also available for demonstration.
Magic is a screen magnification program that can increase type and images to a comfortable reading level. This program is aimed at increasing the ease of computer usage for people with low vision. This newest released version features improved support for the Windows XP platform.
Some things to be aware of:
- Low quality images may become badly pixelated when viewed magnified by Magic. Try to use images of reasonable contrast and clarity. Image maps and image links may need text equivalent links so that they are legible. For more information on Magic, visit http://www.freedomscientific.com/fs_products/software_magic.asp
Kurzweil 3000 v.12
Kurzweil 3000 is utilized by those with learning disabilities or reading difficulties. The program scans, reads and writes. It helps increase reading comprehension, as well as looking up definitions in the dictionary and breaking words into syllables. Individual pages can be imported via scanner into the program or an eText file opened, and read aloud to the listener, highlighting text as it goes.
For more information on Kurzweil 3000, visit http://www.kurzweiledu.com/products_k3000win.asp