In the past I have thought of assistive technology as extras or add ons that must be purchased and could possibly be expensive to maintain and update, after some brief research this week I now know how wrong I was. Assistive technologies according to Amy Borovoy are "simply tools to help people with learning or motor disabilities complete everyday tasks. In schools, assistive tech can mean the difference between a student falling behind or being able to successfully work alongside other kids in an inclusion model". In education specifically, the options out there are staggering. I found the database TechMatrix to be particularly intriguing. It is a database of over 400 accessibility tools available to help make education accessible to all. The search features allow you to narrow by grade level, subject, and disability. If you have not had a chance to look at it, it is definitely worth checking out.
For this blog entry I have chosen to focus on the accessibility tools that come standard with Windows 10. Let me say that I was pleasantly surprised at the number of options available and how easy they were to understand and use. Microsoft's website provides a comprehensive overview of their tools and the different applications for them. To find the accessibility tools it is as simple as typing in Ease of Access into the Windows search bar. You are then taken to a control panel that allows you to customize your computer. I will be focusing on three areas of disability and the accessibility tools available to help: vision, hearing, and physical disabilities. The video below offers a great overview of the accessibility features in Windows 10. I particularly like how the narrator discusses that at times we may all "be disabled" or need assistance if for example you are cooking or holding a baby. Accessibility features are not only for the disabled, but also to get the most functionality out of your device or computer.
For people with vision impairments Microsoft offers features such as:
Windows 10 offer several options for the hearing impaired.
Borovoy, A.E. (2014, January, 17). 5-Minute Film Festival: The Power of Assistive Technology. Retrieved from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/film-festival-assistive-technology