What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology includes hardware or software that assists a person with a disability in using the computer to access print and other electronic material.

Types of assistive technologies include:

  • Screen reader software, which provides an oral translation of the information on the screen
  • Voice recognition software that allows people to navigate with their voice
  • Input devices such as large keyboards, mouse pedals, and ergonomic furniture

Kurzweil 3000

Kurzweil is a comprehensive reading, writing, and learning software product designed for any struggling reader, including individuals with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or those who are English Language Learners. It is available on both Mac and Windows platforms.

It is designed to do the following:

Provide access to any curriculum: The software can access virtually any information, whether it is printed, electronic, or on the Web.

Increase reading fluency: It provides the tools students need to improve their reading speed and comprehension.

Help develop study skills: With the aid of visual and auditory feedback, the software helps students keep up with assigned readings, learn critical study skills, and successfully complete writing projects and tests.

Provide decoding support: It reads the words aloud to the student in clear, human-like, synthetic speech, while a dual highlighting feature adds visual reinforcement.

Inspiration Mind Mapping Software

Inspiration is a visual thinking and learning tool those with a learning disability rely on in order to plan, research and complete projects successfully. With integrated Diagram and Outline Views, learners create graphic organizers and expand topics into writing. It is available on both Mac and Windows platforms.

Inspiration is designed to do the following:

Visualize Ideas, Concepts and Relationships: In Diagram View, you can create graphic organizers including concept maps, webs, and idea maps to analyze, compare, and evaluate information. With symbols, links, and a text and multimedia file, Inspiration makes it easy to express ideas, discover relationships, and develop new thoughts and perspectives.

Improve Writing Proficiency: With a mouse click, you can transform your diagram into a hierarchical outline to further organize and develop your thoughts into written reports. Powerful outlining capabilities help refine the writing structure and expand on ideas and notes. Additional tools support more polished written project and streamlined revisions.

Plan, Organize and Complete Projects: You can use Inspiration to successfully plan and organize projects, assignments, and more. Available tools and options support a variety of learning styles and help complete projects, develop thinking skills, and demonstrate knowledge, making Inspiration the essential tool to visualize, think, organize, and learn.

Dictation Software

Speech recognition (also known as automatic speech recognition or computer speech recognition): Converts spoken words to text. The term "voice recognition" is sometimes used to refer to recognition systems that must be trained to a particular speaker, as is the case for most desktop recognition software. Recognizing the speaker can simplify the task of translating speech.

Speed and accuracy: With speech recognition software you can turn your voice into text three times faster than most people type. Just start talking, and the software will recognize your voice instantly, with up to 99% accuracy. It takes only minutes of training to get started, and accuracy will continually improve the more you use the software.

Accessibility: Using speech recognition takes away the mechanical aspects of typing. As speech recognition has improved over the years, more and more people with articulation and pronunciation difficulties can use the software to complete daily tasks.

Other Assistive Technology

In addition to Kurzweil 3000, Inspiration, and dictation software, other very useful assistive software also includes:

  • JAWS (Windows screen reader)
  • ZoomText (Windows screen magnifier)
  • Kurzweil 1000 (Windows text-to-speech for the visually impaired)
  • PCs and Macs with large screen monitors
  • Scanners for capturing text, USB headphones for listening, portable and stationary electronic video magnifiers (CCTV)

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