What is the Difference between "Assistive Technology" and "Accessible Technology"?
Assistive Technology creates access for people with disabilities by adding access features to a device through specialized additions (either software or hardware). Accessilbe Technology includes any mainstream technology that is already usable by people with disabilities, and also encompasses assistive technology solutions.
Computer adaptations can be critical for children with disabilities to succeed in schools and for adults with disabilities to be employable.
These adaptations can be hardware and software, and take a variety of forms.
For people with literacy difficulties, many solutions exist that can assist them in achieving success. For example, word prediction software helps people who have language based difficulties. Mind mapping software assists those who have difficulty organizing their thoughts. Speech output programs give feedback as the user type, so they hear the words they’ve typed spoken aloud (as well as see it on the screen).
For people with disabilities these solutions are critical – but anyone with language difficulties can benefit from these programs. The phrase “Assistive Technology” (AT) covers both hardware and software solutions.
Many companies are now designing their products, services and websites while keeping in mind how people with disabilities will use those products. For example, many Apple products now have screen readers, enlarging programs and other adaptations for people with disabilites built in to the operating system.
Companies that consider how people with varying abilities will use their products, websites and services are at a competitive advantage. Products designed with Universal Design in mind (designing for the broadest range of human ability) are products that are not only more usable by people with disabilities, but more usable by everyone. For example: a website that has good color contrast is more usable by people with limited vision - but everyone will appreciate a site where the text is easy to read.