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Assistive and adaptive technologies

Assistive and adaptive technologies

[graphic of words:  hearing, vision, mobility, memory, writing, typing, pointing, walking, learning]

Assitive Technology

The term “assistive technology” is used for products, software, or equipment used to improve or maintain the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. Examples of assistive technology include hearing aids, prosthetic devices, and reading glasses. Assistive devices range from low- to high-tech and can be off-the-shelf products or customized to the individual. They include products that support:
  • hearing
  • vision
  • mobility
  • memory 
  • writing
  • typing
  • pointing
  • walking
  • learning

Adaptive Technology

A subset of assistive technology is adaptive technology, which adapts existing technology specifically to meet the needs of users with disabilities.

Adaptive technologies include:

  • screen enlarger software that makes text bigger on a computer screen and allows the user to zoom into specific parts of the screen;
  • screen readers that turn the text on a computer screen into synthesized speech;
  • voice recognition software that responds to voice commands to create documents, browse online, or open and navigate computer applications.

The Adaptive Technology Centre at Queen's

The Adaptive Technology Centre (ATC) at Queen’s provides technology and services that enable students with disabilities to study, research, and access library and course materials. Located on the ground floor of Stauffer Library, the centre contains Library Accessibility Services, an Adaptive Technology Lab, the Technology Support Office, and the Adaptive Office of the Queen’s Accessibility Coordinator.

Opened in 1991 with funding from an anonymous donor, the Adaptive Technology Centre has assisted thousands of students in achieving academic success. Library Accessibility Services ensure that students have access to library and research materials, including textbooks in alternate formats, such as large print, mp3, or Braille.

The Adaptive Technology Lab provides equipment and software that enable students with disabilities to access library and course materials. A loan program is available for students registered with the ATC so they can try out adaptive devices in their classes or while studying at home.

A future issue of the Review will explore disability and accessibility issues at Queen’s in more depth.

[cover of Queen's Alumni Review, Issue 2, 2017]