RampWEB, a web and software accessibility company

What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology, also known as adaptive technology, is the use of a piece of equipment or a software program. These devices and programs help a user with a disability interact with their computer applications and web sites by performing tasks or enhancing the existing information in some way.

A recent study by the Nielson Norman Group found that people with disabilities did not use the accessibility features built into their browsers. Instead, the users relied on assistive technology to access web sites.

In order to meet the requirements of users with disabilities it requires awareness of those needs and how these people use their assistive technology for web sites usage.

Each disability presents different problems. It is important to understand the barriers that people face on a web site. Most people are familiar with modifications in our physical environment designed to remove barriers to those with functional limitations, such as curb cuts and ramps for wheelchairs. It is more difficult to spot or to even think of the barriers in the virtual world and what we can do to tear them down when we take our abilities for granted. By understanding the barriers that people with a disability face and how they use the Internet is the first step in designing a web site that will accommodate all users.