Physical disability

Introduction to Assistive Technology

Thursday, February 17, 2011
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM PST

Assistive Technology is anything that bridges a gap between the goals and aptitudes of people with disabilities. In this training, we will take a look at assistive technology for use in the home, school, workplace, and community environments. We'll move from the simplest low tech through the most cutting-edge high tech, and provide suggestions on how to find solutions to meet any individual's needs.

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E-books and E-reading Software

Electronic books (e-books) are an alternative to print, and may be useful to people who have difficulty reading because of vision or cognition disabilities, or who have difficulty holding a book or turning pages.  However, not all e-books are automatically accessible to blind users.  Libraries and schools should carefully consider their choices when making e-book decisions.

This article covers some of the most popular current choices.

E-book content may be available in different computer formats. Some books and magazines are available as standard text files or Microsoft Word documents. These are easily accessed by the use of screen reading software.

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Accessible Mice

Standard mice may be hard for some people to move or click. There are mainstream alternatives like trackballs, joysticks, and track pads.  There are also specialized mice specifically designed for people with disabilities. Other solutions require little or no hand and arm movement. This article describes a range of alternatives to using the standard mouse.

Try It Yourself:

Several built-in utilities help with moving the pointer and clicking:

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Keyboards for Users with Dexterity Impairments

Some people have trouble hitting the right keys accurately or holding down one key while pressing another.  There are hardware and software solutions that provide accommodations; this article covers the basics and will help you get started.

Software Solutions


All operating systems have two utilities that change how the keyboard works.  StickyKeys lets the user press keys one at a time to get combinations like "CTRL-P" for printing, instead of having to hold one key down while pressing another.  Filter Keys reduces unwanted keystrokes.

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Speech Recognition Software

Speech recognition software converts what you say into text or mouse commands. It benefits people who have physical or cognitive difficulty using a keyboard to create text.

This article explains how speech recognition works and will help you get started.

Basic speech recognition is built into Windows and Macintosh operating systems. 

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Building a Brain-Controlled Wheelchair

Open source software and instructions for a brain-control interface for a power wheelchair are being shared by Emotiv. The system includes an electric wheelchair, a laptop computer, an Arduino, an interface circuit, an EEG headset, and a collection of ready-made and custom software.

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AT in Action: Meet Nick!

In the FCTD's newest AT in Action video, you'll meet Nick, a young entrepreneur with CP, who owns his own lawn-care business. Nick uses assistive technologies, both low and high tech, that aid him in driving and accessing his laptop computer and tablet.

Watch on YouTube

Accessibility of Web Information: Implications for how the Public and Private Sector Conducts Business

ADA National Network has posted an archived webinar on the issues of web-based business, from August 2013.

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