The World of Assistive Technology
Assistive technology (AT) comprises everything, except implanted medical devices, that can be used for improved daily functioning with a disability. AT items range from the most basic cane to the most sophisticated computer technology; and in the age of smartphones and smart homes, the range of possibilities is broader than ever. And continues to expand daily.
Prominent among AT-dedicated organizations is the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), which recently held its annual conference in Orlando, Florida. BridgingApps’ Amy Barry and Amy Fuchs attended this “community gathering” to explore the latest offerings in assistive technology and to present “Tech Tips with BridgingApps,” which featured a demonstration of our App Search Tool.
Workshops: Top Choices
Amy and Amy agree on their two favorite education sessions from the conference:
1. What’s New in Windows 11 Accessibility
The Windows Accessibility Team shared an overview of Windows 11 and its new accessibility features, including:
- Special color themes for people with light sensitivities
- Improved closed captions for people who are deaf or hard of hearing
- Updated voice typing/speech-to-text software
2. What’s New with Apple Accessibility
Janette Barrios and Gus Shitama, Global Accessibility Policy and Social Initiatives specialists, shared ways to use new features for connecting, exploring, and daily living. Apple has a long-standing commitment to accessibility, and the updates deliver unique and customizable tools developed to make the world a more equitable, accessible place.
A couple of example features:
- Live Captions (Beta) converts spoken words to text in real time.
- Door Detection helps users with vision disabilities to navigate unfamiliar settings with an iPhone Magnifier app. The Detection feature describes where the nearest door is and how to open it.
Vendors: Top Choices
“My favorite part is to connect with like-minded people who are really passionate about assistive technology.” “It was also great meeting up with our TTAP (Texas Technology Access Program) friends at ATIA.” –Amy Barry
Besides the education sessions, the ATIA conference hosted over 100 assistive technology vendors from around the world.
Amy Barry’s 5 Favorite App Vendors
- Time Timer is “the original timer to turn the passage of time into something visual and concrete.” You may have seen physical Time Timers with their clocklike red disks that rotate the red away: now, there’s a digital version.
- Avaz is a customizable communications app for users with autism.
- Goodmaps, for users with vision disabilities, provides audio descriptions of immediate surroundings.
- Voice Dream reads digital text aloud to help people with dyslexia practice their reading skills: the newest update is downloadable to Apple Watch.
- Ava is a real-time-captioning app that also features text-to-speech and advanced translation capabilities.
Amy Fuchs’s 5 Favorite Vendors
- Microsoft: Matt Philipenko shared a great demo on Windows 11’s accessibility features for users with low vision.
- East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind: Located in Tyler, TX, the Lighthouse provides virtual technology training for individuals with vision disabilities.
- Scanning Pens Inc.: Developers of the C-Pen, a small tool to scan text and read it aloud for people with vision loss or reading disabilities. BridgingApps has two types of these pens for users to try in our demo lab.
- AssistiveWare: BridgingApps has long shared Proloquo2Go and other AssistiveWare apps, so we made sure to visit AW and tell them about our app database. They were happy to hear about our work helping users find the right communication devices, and offered us codes to download their newest apps.
- Picseepal: A great low-tech AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication) option. Picseepal is a lightweight book with plastic pages for taking printed communication boards everywhere! The manufacturers generously gave us a starter kit to share with parents and caregivers in our AT demo lab.
Follow Us for More!
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing additional demo videos on our social media accounts:
And watch our blog for future posts highlighting favorite apps and devices in more detail!