What exactly is Assistive Technology (AT) and who benefits from this type of technology? As defined in the Assistive Technology Act of 1998; AT 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. To be clear, everyone benefits from AT. As stated by Mary Pat Radabaugh, Director of IBM National Support Center for Persons with Disabilities, “For Americans without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For Americans with disabilities, technology makes things possible.”
Assistive Technology is widespread and available for a variety of disabilities. For example, individuals with visual impairments may use screen readers, refreshable Braille, and speech recognition systems. Those with mobility impairments may use touch screens, keyboard filters including typing aids such as word prediction, alternative input devices, or basic wands, sticks, joy sticks, trackballs, and even one-handed keyboards.
There are endless opportunities for assistive technology to meld with the workplace and to help employers make reasonable accommodations for their employees with disabilities. There are also a growing number of resources, both locally and nationally, that support efforts to increase technology into daily life as well as on the job.