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The idea of Universal Design is that in an ideal world, students with a disability can enter a classroom and have instant and equal access to ALL information. By using Universal Design assistive technology, lessons can be completed easily by everyone including those with disabilities who are using assistive technology.
Here are some examples of Universal Design already in action: automatic sliding doors, adjustable tables, bigger washroom stalls and doors, texting, e-books, cuts in sidewalk curbs, lever handles and motion lights. In those cases everyone’s life became easier not just the person with a disability.
Assistive Technology for Hearing Impaired
For those who have hearing difficulties or those that are deaf, Videophone services like Sorenson uses remote interpreters via videophone. The individual and the interpreter can be indifferent locations, even different states.
There is also CART reporting for the hearing impaired. The CART reported makes an exact transcript of a lecture via a microphone worn by the hearing impaired student.
The FM system amplifies sound from room to room for those with hearing impairments. One person wears the transmitter and the other the receiver. The individual with the receiver can hear what the other person is saying just like if they are next to each other. FM systems are employed at museums, theatre performances or at movie theaters.
For those who are visually impaired, braille technology called PacMates is available on PCs that let the blind make notes using a Braille keypad. Tactile diagrams and maps are also avilabe for science and geography. Textbook and tests are also available for those who need them in Braille.
Students with disabilities can now access E-Text textbooks and non-academic publishers. Google and Project Gutenberg have thousands of e-books available for free.
Physical Disabilities/Wheelchair Users
Wheelchairs are now available to take part in activities such as bowling and soccer and athletes can compete at international competitions in wheelchairs specially designed for sporting activates. Disabled individuals with limited upper body movement can access computers using large trackballs, sip and puff controllers, foot mouse, head controlled mouse and even by blinking the eye.
PC today all have the option to zoom in for those with low vision. There are numerous other software and devices available to help increase vision for those with low vision.
Speech-to-text technology like Dragon Naturally Speaking can be use by those who have low vision or very restricted hand movements. Most computers also have built in speech to text software in the ease of access area of the computer.
Some of these software are free others are paid. ReadPlease is a free program that reads text and is an ideal tool for those who are blind or have very low vision. There are many other technologies that convert text to speech, even into other languages.
Technology has leveled the field for those with disabilities and you can find a tool that helps anyone even with the most restricted disability.