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What Are the Different Types of Assistive Technology Software?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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The different types of assistive technology software include programs and devices designed for visual impairments, those for hearing impairments, and those for a range of learning disabilities. Assistive technology is also available for people with various physical disabilities. Visual impairment software allows alternative techniques of navigating computer operating systems. The types of assistive technology for the deaf and hard of hearing offer alternate ways of communicating and working with electronic devices. Using assistive technology software in the classroom can often make the material easier to understand for students with diagnosed conditions such as dyscalculia, dyslexia, or attention deficit disorder.

Assistive technology software for the visually impaired can incorporate both audio and braille for the use of computers and other electronic devices. Many blind users who are proficient in braille work well with a standard keyboard that has had adhesive braille letters applied to each corresponding letter key. They usually type on this keyboard with the guidance of a screen reading program that gives them spoken cues of precisely where the cursor is in a given program such as a word processor. Users often report that the trickiest part of using this type of screen reader is learning to accurately manipulate the cursor and to switch active windows of different open software programs. Since visually impaired users are generally unable to see the arrow icon associated with a computer mouse, screen reading software is designed with keyboard shortcuts as a substitute for this kind of screen navigation.

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People with hearing impairments use assistive technology software to help them learn sign language and to facilitate communication with other people. They also use transcription software that renders recorded audio words into text on a computer screen. Some assistive technology devices for the deaf are engineered to render playbacks of clear speech for users whose spoken words can be difficult for others to understand. Some of the most popular assistive technology software for the deaf are video playbacks of a sign language interpreter who can translate words that hearing users speak into a connected microphone.

Various software programs can help users with learning disabilties by converting written text to audio with the use of a computer's speech synthesizer. Other types of assistive technology can help with correct word selection when writing. Some of these programs also have tools for highlighting text and for typing notes next to each paragraph of an electronic document. These types of assistive technology programs in the classroom can also assist with number recognition and with keeping track of problem-solving steps in mathematics.

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