Source: Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 (29 U.S.C. Sec 2202): https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-102/pdf/STATUTE-102-Pg1044.pdf
Assistive technologies can be low-tech, mid-tech, or high tech. Some assistive technologies are mainstreamed and others are exclusively used by people with disabilities.
The Right Tool for the Task
Not all solutions fit all students but some solutions may be commonplace on campus. Featured in these tabs are tools that many students on campus already use as well as context for how students use them to engage in your course materials.
The HAAT Model
There is an abundance of specialized hardware and software products on the market available to people with disabilities. For college students, determining the kinds of tools that would be appropriate for supporting their learning is a very personal decision. A framework exists for understanding the place of assistive technologies for students with disabilities called the Human Activity Assistive Technology (HAAT) model (Cook & Hussey, 2002, as cited in Cook & Polgar, 2008). There are four components: the human, the activity, the assistive technology, and the context in which all three exist.
With this model, there are many considerations when determining appropriate assistive technology solutions for a college student:
Source: Cook, A. M., & Polgar, J. M. (2008). Assistive technologies principles and practice. Missouri: Mosby Elsevier.
Gain understanding of screenreaders and access challenges through simulation:
Test it out for yourself to gain perspective of how learners use screenreaders to engage in your content.
They can be handheld, wearable, foldable, digital, bulky, part of computer software, etc. They can have lights and speech built-in too.
For all magnifiers, as the strength of the magnifier increases, the lens of the magnifier has to decrease. Smaller lenses have less focal area for viewing. Therefore, students using small-sized, high-powered magnifiers have a narrow scope of what they can view all at once. This also applies to students using video magnifiers or screenreaders with magnification built-in. Be mindful of how your content may look (such as fonts, colors, layout, etc.) when viewed by someone who has to either zoom-in very closely on screen or use a magnification device.
Windows OS has magnifying options built-in, hold down the Windows key on your keyboard and the + (plus sign) key. More controls are available under Ease of Access Center by holding down the Windows key and the letter "u."
CCTV can be personalized to a student's viewing preference and allow for continuous reading. Documents, photographs, labels, etc. placed on a tray beneath a stand with a camera connected to a computer monitor will be magnified by the camera and displayed on a screen. It can display true color, change the color contrast, invert to negative, and more. It allows for students to provide a signature or other means of writing by looking at the enlargement on the monitor display.
Remember back to The Basics guide on accessible PDFs. Files that are scanned appear as an image on the computer screen until the text has been rendered by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). Text-to-speech allows for the ability to have text on a computer screen read audibly or by refreshable braille.
When documents are created in Microsoft Word and saved as a PDF, the text is still live and readable by text-to-speech software. The issues arise when documents are scanned, like a digital copy for distribution, they appear to be an image on screen which is only accessible to sighted users. You can check whether a document is an image or has readable text by trying to highlight a line of text.
Also called Voice Recognition software, it converts speech into text on a computer screen. To work properly, the speaker must be in a quiet room to reduce the microphone picking up on unnecessary noises. Training is required to get the software to follow commands and get to know the voice of the speaker, although the software has improved over the years for a more out-of-the-box experience. Still, quality of the voice can determine how long this kind of training requires.
In addition to training the software to the speaker, the speaker must learn dictation skills and verify for punctuation and flow of words. This may require editing and proofing but less often than what was required in earlier released of voice recognition software.
Some of these accessories are mainstream but are extremely helpful to students with disabilities. See the MDTAP Virtual Library tab to learn more.
Frederick Community College prohibits discrimination against any person on the basis of age, ancestry, citizenship status, color, creed, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, genetic information, marital status, mental or physical disability, national origin, race, religious affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status in its activities, admissions, educational programs, and employment.