Assistive technology is any technology, software, equipment or device that helps somebody overcome any challenges they face. Assistive technology is hugely important in the disability community. It ensures many disabled people can continue to work, live independently, socialise and learn despite any challenges they face due to their disability.
Due to different learning and communication styles, visual and aural impairments and physical differences, not everybody can process daily life in the same way. Assistive technologies use creative ways to ensure that whatever a person’s needs and abilities, they can participate in life and work in the same way as others.
If you are disabled or have a long-term health condition, there may be ways to make your work life easier by utilising assistive technology. And if you are an employer, you may not be allowing your staff to reach their full potential by offering appropriate assistive technology.
Five types of assistive technology to help disabled people at work
Text to Speech Technology (TTS)
Text to speech technology enables a person who has a visual impairment to listen to the words on a screen or page being read aloud rather than reading them themselves. These are also known as screen readers and can be hugely helpful for people who have any severity of visual impairment. JAWS is a popular screen reader.
Speech to Text Technology
The opposite form of technology, speech to text, enables people who have difficulty writing to turn their voice into text on the screen automatically. This is great for people who have mobility issues, meaning they can’t physically hold a pen and paper or type on a keyboard and those who have learning difficulties and find communicating through writing challenging.
Voice recognition devices
Voice recognition devices are becoming extremely popular all over the world for people of all abilities. For the disability community, they are a vital way to get around the home and work without being held back by physical impairments. At work, having a computer, phone, and other devices such as lights, which you can activate via voice, is hugely helpful for those who may struggle to use their hands and arms. It can be relatively easy and inexpensive to install too.
Spelling and Grammar technology
For those with severe learning difficulties such as dysgraphia and dyslexia, spelling and grammar can be a real challenge and can mean that simple tasks take much longer than they should. As well as the built-in spelling and grammar software to most standard text processing software, there are some more niche and tailored spelling and grammar technologies. These can pick up on more mistakes and improve the overall readability and engagement of text.
Screen magnification software
Finally, for those with a visual impairment, screen magnification software can be the difference between doing their job and not. This simple technology allows employees to alter the size of the text and images on their screen to suit their needs. It is a straightforward and effective way to ensure your workplace is inclusive to those with visual impairments.