Can you imagine living without the Internet? If you’re under a certain age, probably not. The digital world offers convenient life solutions that didn’t seem possible to previous generations. But it also creates obstacles for the world’s largest minority group: people with disabilities and their assistive technology. Approximately 25% of the world population has one or more disabilities–and that number increases to 46% of people over 60. 

Unfortunately most websites are still inaccessible to many people with disabilities despite the ever-increasing need and demand for inclusivity. It’s also why knowledge about assistive technology is critical for any organization that wants to provide an accessible website to consumers, support disabled employees with accommodations, and give students what they need for their education. 

This blog covers tech tools and strategies that solve challenges for people with various disabilities. But before that, let’s learn more about assistive technologies. 

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology enables people with disabilities to use and enjoy the digital world to its fullest extent. Assistive technologies are any device, apparatus, or software that supports or expands someone’s digital experience. And assistive technology is becoming more and more prevalent as our worldwide population ages–the World Health Organization (WHO) even estimates 3.5 billion people will use at least one assistive technology by 2050.

7 Assistive Technology Examples 

1. Screen readers and braille displays

Properly coded websites can be translated to audio or braille. It’s a common assistive technology for people with vision disabilities or for people who process content better via audio.

2. Screen magnifying software

People with low vision use software that magnifies digital screen content.

3. Content tools

People with learning disabilities, attention issues, difficulty with problem solving and executive functioning, color blindness and more can modify text sizes, the space between text lines, and website colors.

4. Voice recognition software

People with restricted fine motor function, slow-acting muscles, or tremor and twitches use speech-to-text assistive technology that converts their speech into digital text.

5. Writing and reading assistants

There are numerous software and apps that provide assistive technology for people with dyslexia, dysgraphia, or reading and writing disabilities.

6. Cursor-enlarging tools

Significantly expand the standard cursor so the pointer is always visible to people with vision disabilities. They also simplify and expedite overall website navigation. 

7. Switches and eye trackers

People with fine motor disabilities can use large switch buttons to navigate online, while people who are non speaking and also do not have control over parts of their body can use eye tracking technology to communicate.

8. Closed Captioning and Transcripts

Deaf and hard of hearing individuals need a video alternative for equal access.

As we explore in the next section, assistive technologies also play a big part in education. 

Assistive Technology in Education

Assistive tech plays an increasingly critical role in educating current and future digital citizens. In-person and virtual classrooms use the following tools to accommodate learning experiences for students with disabilities. 

Audio Recorders

Classroom lessons and discussions are recorded for students with auditory processing and cognitive disabilities.

Color Overlays & Line Readers

Physical objects and software-based tools support students with vision disabilities, ADHD, and more.

Graphic Organizers (Paper & Digital)

These tools simplify processes for students with learning disabilities and executive function disorders.

Listening Devices

Capturing a teacher’s voice using a microphone connected to a speaker or earpiece through FM radio waves, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth is invaluable to a variety of students.

Specialized Keyboards

Even keyboards are assistive technology! Different keyboards accommodate everything from braille for people with vision disabilities to alternative design schemes for physical and cognitive disabilities.

Speech-To-Text Software

Students who struggle with writing or typing due to physical or cognitive disabilities can speak what they want to record in text.

Text-To-Speech Software

Students with speech disabilities can convert their typed text to be spoken aloud.

Digital Accessibility is Woefully Behind the Times

Did you know that only about 3% of the Internet accommodates people with disabilities? It’s not great, especially considering the rapid progression of global technology. It’s even more striking that most websites don’t meet the most common WCAG requirements–for example, countless websites don’t even provide alternative text, including Threads.

HTML 2 and alt text were released together in 1995. Web connections were glacially slow back then, and alt text described images that hadn’t loaded on pages yet. Nearly 30 years later, many website owners still don’t offer this basic functionality.

How Websites Worldwide Fall Short of Accessible Technology

  • 86.3% of home pages have color contrast that’s too low for WCAG 2 AA standards
  • There’s no alternative text for 22.1% of homepage images
  • 60% of screen reader users think accessibility is declining 

Compelling Statistics On Users with Disabilities:

With all this said, it’s important to note that it takes more than assistive technology to achieve digital accessibility. You still need website coding and content that works seamlessly with assistive devices. 

UserWay: Assistive Technology Solved

The Internet should be an equitable environment for everyone, including people with disabilities. That’s why UserWay’s AI technology offers numerous assistive technology tools to help you reach digital accessibility and meet the required compliance guidelines.

Start by meeting with an accessibility expert today. 

Answers to Common FAQs

How do I prepare for incorporating assistive technology services?

Start by using all resources at your disposal to meet WCAG compliance. American lawyers, web admins, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) increasingly rely on the WCAG, particularly concerning ADA compliance. Meeting these standards will make your site more digitally accessible, prevent unnecessary lawsuits, and help boost your eCommerce sales.

What Are the Four Primary WCAG Content Guidelines? 

Perceivable: Your information must be equally available to all users, such as with alt text.

Operable: Users need to have the ability to navigate your website interface.

Understandable: Users must be able to comprehend your website content.

Robust: You must provide content in numerous ways for various kinds of users.

How Do I Formulate a Digital Accessibility Plan?

Assistive technology is an integral part of many disabled people’s lives. According to the WHO, 2 billion people will use it by 2030. This makes a digital accessibility plan both a legal and a moral imperative today. 

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Learn about WCAG accessibility standards
  • Garner collective support from key leaders and staff members
  • Provide the latest technology tools to appropriate personnel  
  • Partner with a reputable third-party provider 
  • Lean on disability expertise and organizations 
  • Plan for and embed accessibility into your organization