'AT Hive' - An Assistive Technology Resource.
Friday, 8th January 2021
Welcome to 'AT Hive'. Our aim here is to guide you through various technologies that can help people with disabilities in many different ways. If you are a student or employee then you may require a technology to assist you to learn or work effectively. Technologies designed to support people with disabilities are called Assistive Technologies (AT) and can also be referred to as Inclusive Technologies too.
AT sometimes refers to technologies that are specifically designed for people with disabilities, but increasingly, the term also describes accessibility features in mainstream products like Microsoft Office. Either way, AT can empower people with disabilities to reach to their fullest potential and give them an opportunity to work and learn on their own terms.
Assistive Technology refers to practical tools that enhance independence for people with disabilities and is defined by the WHO as “any item, piece of equipment or product system whether acquired commercially, modified or customized that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” (World Health Organisation & World Bank 2011, p.101).
If we think of it in a learning or working context, AT refers to any tools, devices, applications or features of applications that can support people with disabilities to learn and work more effectively and meet the challenges posed by the impact of their disability or the inaccessible design of environments and materials.
Common examples of Assistive Technology include screen reading software that supports visually impaired people to navigate computers, and speech to text software which turns voice into written text. More familiar examples to most include the growing range of mainstream mobile solutions available via apps on smartphones and tablet devices which can support everything from personal navigation (map apps), organisation (calendar/scheduling apps) and memory aids (to do apps). There are countless AT solutions to help with many different challenges and AT Hive aims to help you explore some of the more common ones.
If you are new to Assistive Technology (AT), think about the types of day to day tasks you may find challenging. An example of one of these challenges could involve reading. If so, would you consider a tool that reads out text from your Computer / Tablet / Smartphone to help you to read more quickly and effectively?
If you do want to explore reading tools then select the 'Reading' category below and see how you have both free and paid options to support your reading.
Equally you may find tasks concerning like organisation, collaboration or communication a challenge and there's plenty of tech examples in those AT Hive categories to help with those too so pick a category that fits your needs and get exploring. Many AT apps and devices provide support in multiple categories so you may come across the same tool twice as you explore all AT Hive has to offer.
Be aware - sometimes it can take a while to find an AT that matches your needs and that's perfectly normal. When you do find the right tool, it can then take time to build up familiarity with the AT and to make it part of your everyday life, so don't sweat it if it doesn't click right away.
Each section below offers some suggested tech tools to explore and each AT page has tips about the tool to give you further insights into using these technologies more effectively.
AT Hive's aim is to create awareness of the types of AT (free and unpaid) but ultimately, you should connect with the appropriate professionals in your education / work setting about Assistive Technology to get advice and support on accessing the right tools for your context.
If you want to explore other international and national resources concerning what AT is and the rights of people with disabilities concerning access to AT, check out the links below.
- The World Health Organisation (International)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (International)
- Association for the Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe (European)
- Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities and Older People (Ireland)
App: An application that is downloaded from an App Store (Google Play or the Apple App Store) on your mobile device.
Browser: A computer based tool that allows you to explore the Internet (e.g. Chrome, Edge, Safari, Firefox).
Closed Captions: one of a series of subtitles seen on a television programme or communication tool.
Desktop Computer: A Computer that is designed to sit on your desk. Not mobile like a Laptop.
Dictation: The same as speech to text - a technology that converts your voice into text.
In-built: A tool that comes as a standard part of a device or piece of software (Smartphone, Computer, Operating System).
MP3: A type of audio file that play sound like music or a voice.
OCR: Optical Character Recognition -a tool that can convert text in an image or handwriting and read it out loud.
Read Aloud: A technology that reads out text in a website, document or PDF.
Screen reader: is a form of assistive technology (AT) that renders text and image content as speech or braille output.
Software: Programs that can be installed on your Computer/Laptop by downloading or by a CD.
Speech to Text: a technology that converts your voice into Text.
Text to Speech: a technology that reads out text in a website, document or PDF.
Transcribe: A copy of a source e.g. an audio recording that is converted into a written file.
AT Hive will continue to grow over time - hopefully with your help. If you have discovered a technology that you think would be useful to share with us and others just go to this webpage to find an AT Write up Word template. Fill in the template and send it to Trevor.Boland@ahead.ie for us to consider including it on AT Hive.
Below we have a number of categories of Assistive Technology (AT). It has been sorted in this way to help you navigate the wide range of AT that is available to people. Just select a category that interests you and browser the web pages to find AT starting points.