Assistive Technologies For People With Physical Disabilities

Assistive Technologies For People With Physical Disabilities

More than a quarter of the U.S. population has a disability and many of those people have a physical disability. A physical disability is defined as a “physical condition that affects a person’s mobility, physical capacity, stamina, or dexterity.” This can make it difficult to use technology, such as computers, websites, phones, and apps. Assistive technologies can help people with physical disabilities use them more independently. It’s important for business owners to know about assistive technologies, so they can make sure customers can access their products and their employees have everything they need to do their job. Here is everything you need to know about the different types of assistive technologies that help people with physical disabilities.

Voice Recognition Devices

Man using a voice control device on his computer

Voice recognition devices help people with physical disabilities be able to use their phones and computers without having to push any buttons. They can perform commands and write by talking. To be able to do this, ASR (automatic speech recognition) software programs have to be installed into the devices. Most phones and computers already have this software included, but it can easily be installed if it’s not. The most commonly used voice recognition softwares are Dragon, Google Now, Siri and Cortana. All of these softwares, except Dragon, are free and included when you purchase Android, iOS, or Windows devices.

Voice recognition software works by analyzing the sounds you make, digitalizing the sounds so it can “read” them, and then making highly accurate educated guesses as to what you are saying. It can only work if the person is able to speak clearly enough for the software to recognize what they’re saying, but it can be incredibly helpful for anyone who has a hard time pushing buttons and typing on a keyboard. This can help disabled workers be able to perform their jobs more quickly and efficiently. Since it is included with most computers and phones, companies do not have to pay anything extra to accommodate employees with physical disabilities.

Eye Trackers

Image of a woman using an eye tracking device on her computer

Eye trackers are a sensory technology that helps physically disabled people be able to navigate their computer or other devices with their eye movements. The eye tracking system can detect where the user is looking, so they don’t have to worry about pushing buttons or talking. The user can type and navigate their device by looking at control icons or data on a screen. They can either type each letter just like they would on a physical keyboard or choose from a selection of phrases. The price of an eye tracking system ranges from $100 to $17,000, depending on how advanced the technology is. If any of your employees needs it to be able to do their work, the price will be worth it for them to do their work more efficiently and help your business grow.

Adaptive Devices

Image of a man using various devices on his computer

There are a few different kinds of adaptive devices that can help physically disabled people use their computers and phones independently. These include adaptive switches, mouth sticks, head wands, sip-and-puff systems, and alternative keyboards. Some of these adaptive devices can be customized to fit each individual’s needs.

Adaptive switches are switches that can connect to devices and can be activated by pressing them with any part of the body. This makes it easier for people with physical disabilities, so they can use their devices with the part of their body that’s easiest for them. Mouth sticks are styluses that can go in the mouth, so the person using it doesn’t have to hold the stylus and can use it to type or manipulate the mouse. Head wands are pretty much the same as mouth sticks except they are attached to a headband.

Sip-and-puff systems are adaptive tools that can also be used with someone’s mouth. The system is programmed to perform different commands based on how much air pressure someone is breathing into it. Alternative keyboards are customized keyboards that have raised areas in between the keys to make it easier for the user to slide their hands over the correct keys. This is a great option for anyone who has a hard time pushing the keys on a keyboard, but is able to use a mouse. These assistive technologies range from about $50 to $400 and are more commonly used since they are not very expensive. If your employees need any of these adaptive devices, it won’t cost your company that much money and it will be worth it for them to be able to do a better job.

If you have any websites or apps for your company, you will have to make sure they work with all of these assistive technologies, so everyone is able to access them. One of the easiest ways to do that is to put the most important information at the top of your website and avoid having to scroll down too much. To make sure everything else is compatible with these assistive technologies, it would be best to consult with an accessibility specialist. Able IT Pros can help ensure your website and apps work with these types of technology.