Assistive technology offers people with visual and hearing impairments the ability to live and work without limitations. The available information shows that 20% of the world’s population has approximately one disability. Various disabilities restrict individuals from a regular lifestyle. Assistive technology (AT) provides these people with independence while performing everyday activities that they are usually unable to perform. There are different methods and tools that help disabled people to perform casual and specific tasks during their interaction with the technology. Web designers use various techniques in order to give access for users with visual and hearing disabilities.
Assistive Technology for Visual Impairments
Reduced vision and sight give limited abilities to explore the environment, and that may affect early motor development. Student with visual and hearing impairments cannot share the same abilities with their sighted peers. Therefore, vision loss may become a reason for their low self-esteem and appropriate social skills. Assistive technology provides students with visual and hearing impairments a perfect ability to develop social interaction skills, visual efficiency, independent living skills, career education skills, and orientation and mobility among others (Cook & Hussey, 2002). As a result, students can learn and live at practically the same rate as other children in a class and have normal relationships with people and objects in their environment.
Due to the Internet abilities, practically everything may be bought over there. A screen reader is a perfect device for those who have visual impairments. Visual technology special software provides the opportunity for blind people to take advantage of the web by speaking what is on the screen. Special browsers may be used in case when users cannot read a web page. Many schools offer various programs for students with visual disabilities. For example, interactive whiteboards and handheld computer devices specifically designed for students with visual impairments have been provided in different specialized schools. Though the loss of sight and vision cannot be fully compensated by the use of assistive technology, they can give an advantage to acquire knowledge by using methods other than sight and vision. Many individuals with the following impairments can feel more comfortable in life due to assistive technology.
Assistive technology gives an access to students with visual impairments through a number of different adaptive devices, computer adaptations and optical devices. Computer hardware and software are constantly changing and advancing (Cook & Hussey, 2002). So-called â€œBraille note-takersâ€ can be connected to the printer and are able to print a copy. Another adaptive device, which can produce Braille and translate it to the text, is an electronic braillewriter. Optical character reader is a proper computer adaption, which helps convert printed text into a file using a special software and equipment. Very often, blind students like to use calculators with voice output. Hand-held and pocket magnifiers, for example, are portable optical devices with special calculated lenses, which provide distortion-free viewing. Positioning of handle makes it suitable for left-handed users. This device must be matched with the individual level of vision. These technologies are very specialized and must be adapted to the individual’s environmental requirements. Telescope is used to view objects for individuals with partial visual impairments in order to see images. By using assistive technology, students may improve their studies in the class and feel independent and proficient.
Assistive Technology for Hearing Impairments
Computer assisted or speech recognition technology is a type of assistive device, which is designed to aid individuals with hearing imparities in classroom activities. The main idea of such device is to type into the computer what is being said. Special speech recognition software converts spoken language into written text. It has proven that this device is very effective in the classroom to study such subjects as physics, chemistry and engineering science. There are different speech recognition programs, which help people with hearing imparities to master a foreign language. Some computer programs include 160, 000 words (Schlosser & Wendt, 2008). Â Some individuals with hearing disabilities may face challenges in case the device is not properly used or selected.
Modern hearing aids make use of different assistive technologies in order to provide students with disabilities to access the educational programming in a classroom setting (Cook & Hussey, 2002). There are some examples of accommodations and assistive devices for students with hearing impairments such as hearing aids, closed captioning, cochlear implants, text telephones, visual alert signalers, and hearing loops. Hearing loop, for example, can be portable or permanently installed. It reduces background noise and amplifies sound. A cochlea implant is a controversial device, which is used in people with severe hearing loss. It is often cold a bionic ear. A cochlea implant helps students to hear sounds, speech, music, and hear better in a noisy environment. Young peers may enjoy music and feel more comfortable; they can even use this device while swimming. Hearing aids is a commonly used assistive device, which is positioned behind the ear or in the ear. Depending upon the level of hearing abilities, individuals may hear sounds and even very loud speech. Modern hearing aids are digital aids that offer individuals with hearing impairments to hear speech and background noise equally.
By using assistive technology, students may improve their studies in the class and feel independent and proficient. Modern hardware and software are adapted to the problems of individuals with visual and hearing impairments in order to make feel them more comfortable in everyday classroom setting. Different methods and tools that help disabled people to perform casual and specific tasks during their interaction with the technology. Web designers use various techniques in order to give access for users with visual and hearing disabilities.