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All technology users have different needs, preferences, and abilities when it comes to operating and controlling technology devices and perceiving and understanding their output. Some students with disabilities require assistive technology in order to access hardware, software, websites, and other information technologies.
For example, blind students are unable to see the content of the screen, so they might use screen reader software in order to access the content audibly.
Similarly, students who are unable to type or use the mouse may control technology using a speech recognition system, a head pointer, or an eye-gaze detection system.
Often assistive technology is purchased and deployed by those who are most knowledgeable about it, i.e., teachers and/or staff in special education (K-12) and disability services (postsecondary). However, in order for students with disabilities to have access to the mainstream computing environment, information technology staff must also have an understanding of assistive technology, as they are typically responsible for installing, supporting, and maintaining all tools used in the mainstream computing environment.
Also, technology accessibility requires a partnership between assistive technology and accessible information technology. Even when students are provided with the AT they need, they don't necessarily have access to technology, since that requires the additional step of ensuring that mainstream technologies are accessible, including compatibility with AT devices.
The following AccessIT Knowledge Base articles may also be of interest:
For additional information, contact your region's ADA & IT Center at 1-800-949-4232.