Assistive Technology

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive Technology (AT) is a generic term that includes any piece of equipment or product system that is used by a person with a disability to perform specific tasks, improve functional capabilities, and foster independence. Specific assistive technologies can be grouped into four categories of application: Vision, Communication, Mobility and Cognition. The focus is on removing barriers by addressing the application of technology to areas of impact instead of focusing on specific products, thus removing barriers by utilizing low to high technologies in the most effective means possible. Successful use of assistive technology necessitates that training and continued support be provided by an assistive technology specialist.

For example, an individual who has difficulty or is unable to write may need to have another person, a scribe, write down the responses to assignments that were dictated in person or on tape. The scribe would then have to be available for the editing process. Through assistive technology, the person who is unable to write could use a computer with voice recognition software that will translate what the person says into text in a word processing file. The person is then able to edit their statements through voice commands and further dictation. Thus, the technology enables the individual to complete written assignments independently.

read&write for AU Students and Staff


read&write is a floating toolbar that operates on many different devices to provide tools for learning, organizing, reading and writing. for example:

  • colour e-highlight documents
  • extract those highlights to Word
  • text to speech reading aloud
  • make audio files
  • mind mapping to organize/plan papers
  • so much more...

Details about features can be found on the TextHELP website or video links found in this installation guide. You need your Athabasca University email address activated.