Types of assistive technology

Screen magnifier software displayed on a screenAssistive technology is a generic term that describes tools used by people with disabilities to accomplish tasks. In order for the following applications to work, you must create your content with the accessibility features required by WCAG.

These technologies help people use computers to access the web:

  • Screen readers: Software used by blind or visually impaired people to read the content of the computer screen. Examples include JAWS for Windows, NVDA, or Voiceover for Mac.
  • Screen magnification software: Allows users to control the size of text and/or graphics on the screen. 
  • Text readers: Software used by people with learning disabilities, eye fatigue, or other conditions that affect their ability to read text. This software reads text with a synthesized voice and may highlight the words being spoken. These applications do not read things such as menus or buttons - they only read the text.
  • Speech input software: Provides people with an alternate way to type text and control the computer. Users can give the system commands to perform mouse actions. They can tell their computer to click a link or use a menu item. One example Dragon Naturally Speaking. 
  • Alternative input devices: Some users may not be able to use a mouse or a keyboard to use computers. Instead, they may use:
    • Head pointers: A stick or object mounted directly on the user’s head that can be used to push keys on the keyboard. This device is used by individuals who have no use of their hands.
    • Motion tracking or eye tracking: This can include devices that watch a target or even the eyes of the user to interpret where the user wants to place the mouse pointer and moves it for the user.
    • Single switch entry devices: These kinds of devices can be used with other alternative input devices or by themselves. These are typically used with on-screen keyboards. The on-screen keyboard has a cursor move across the keys, and when the key the user wants is in focus, the user will click the switch. This can also work on a webpage: the cursor can move through the webpage, and if the user wants a to click on a link or button when that link or button is in focus, the user can activate the switch.