Minnesota ABE Disabilities Portal

Minnesota Adult Basic Education Disability Specialists

Accessibility Toolbar

Text size:

Color selector:

Assistive Technology is found all around us in the classroom, at work or at home.  Generally speaking, it is a tool that allows us to complete a task or project that otherwise would be impossible or cumbersome. It includes accommodations, devices, software, hardware, and other products that minimize the challenges presented by a disability or the aging process. 

Assistive technology can be high- or low-tech. For instance, a pencil can be considered an assistive technology device because without it, it would be difficult to write notes during class, or write down an appointment in a calendar. Assistive technology is used by everyone.

The United States education system uses the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 to define assistive technology (AT). It is defined as “any item of equipment or product system whether acquired off the shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.”

This definition indicates that assistive technology is more than just devices.  It includes assessment and training required to match a student to a compensatory strategy and its implementation into a classroom environment. It includes the modification of a wheelchair and the development of a new product.  The possibilities are endless.

This website is 100% accessible. It includes a 'Text Size Option' and background 'Color Selector Option'. Various background colors make text easier for some people to read. It can also improve the brain's ability to process visual information. Change the background color to see how color can help you!

Why is it Important?

Assistive technology is a vehicle that drives a student to compensate and accomplish goals otherwise not obtainable. A person with a learning disability may become gainfully employed after completing a GED program in an ABE setting when books on tape are provided, or a person with a physical disability may become more independent and able to control their environment through simple electronic devices. Solutions are available for all types of disabilities, physical, mental or emotional.

What Does It Take?

The field of assistive technology is broad. Therefore, it is important to be aware of resources to assist the professional and learner through the maze of options available. 

Disability Resources Are Available On All Computers:

Windows users: www.microsoft.com/enable/products/default.aspx

Mac users: www.apple.com/macosx/accessibility/

Computer accessibility options include:

The On-Screen Keyboard is a virtual keyboard that appears on the computer screen that types by clicking the letters with a trackball, head pointer or mouse.  People who are unable to use a standard keyboard may find this technology an option.

The Magnifier enlarges portions of the screen making it easier to view text and images and to see the whole screen more easily. You have the choice of viewing with Magnifier using the full screen, or just a portion, and you can move Magnifier where you want it on your desktop—whatever fits your needs. You can magnify up to 16 times the original size and choose to track what you magnify by movement of your mouse, the keyboard, or text editing.

Narrator is a voice output program that follows the mouse cursor and reads information on the screen.  

The narrator is available in English (United States, United Kingdom, and India), French, Italian, German, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin (Chinese Simplified and Chinese Traditional), Cantonese (Chinese Traditional), Spanish (Spain and Mexico), Polish, Russian, and Portuguese (Brazil).

Voice Recognition (VR) lets you control your computer with your voice alone, without needing a keyboard or mouse.  There's a wizard to help you get started.  Just plug in your microphone, and then, in the search box on the taskbar, type Speech Recognition and select Windows Speech Recognition.

StickyKeys (when turned on) StickyKeys is designed for people who have difficulty holding down two or more keys at a time. When a shortcut requires a key combination such as Ctrl+P, StickyKeys allows you to press one key at a time instead of pressing them simultaneously.

Filter Keys are useful when an individual has a tendency to hold down a key too long causing it to repeat multiple times.  It gives options to adjust the sensitivity of the keyboard.

Toggle Keys is designed for people who have vision impairment or cognitive disabilities. When ToggleKeys is turned on, your computer will provide sound cues when the locking keys (CAPS LOCK, NUM LOCK, or SCROLL LOCK) are pressed. A high sound plays when the keys are switched on and a low sound plays when they are switched off.


Section Navigation

Minnesota Dept of Education Logo