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Assistive technology is technology used to provide equal access to information or services. DSS offers UAB students with disabilities the opportunity to use computers, software, and other assistive technologies to allow for the completion of tasks that otherwise be difficult or impossible.

Assistive Technology Service include:

  • Accessible Computer Workstations
  • Adaptive Software & Equipment
  • Alternative Format Materials
  • Equipment Loan

 

Although most of the adaptive technology made available to students is used outside of the classroom setting, there are a few technologies that may require an instructor's participation or awareness. Like:

FM Audio Systems

This device is used by students with hearing impairments. It is made up of a transmitter (microphone with a battery pack) worn by the instructor, and a receiver (headset or FM loop attached to a battery pack) worn by the student. The auditory signal is transmitted wireless using an FM frequency. Since the device amplifies only the instructor's voice, the hearing impaired student may ask that the instructor repeat any questions asked by other students in the room. For discussion based classes the student may need to pass around the transmitter with a handheld microphone attachment or use a conference table adapter.

Alternative Formats for Print Materials or Exams

Some students may require materials in an alternative format to be able to access the information. Alternative formats include but are not limited to: audio books, large print, Braille and text-to-speech software (TTS).

A student or DSS staff member may contact an instructor prior to the beginning of a semester to verify the list of required readings in order to begin the process of obtaining or converting materials into alternative formats. During the semester, instructors may be asked to submit their exams and any supplemental materials handed out in class to DSS for conversion to alternative format. When possible, electronic versions (PDF, Word, etc.) are preferred over hard copies.

 

Other AT examples an instructor may see being used in class include:

  • This device looks much like a small laptop computer. It is used by students with visual impairments to take notes by typing them and later converting the notes into Braille or audio format.

  • Students that are low vision may use a variety of optical equipment or devices to facilitate their ability to read standard print handouts or to view items at the front of the room (overhead, board). A student may ask for preferential seating or lighting adjustments to improve visibility with their equipment.

    Some examples of optical devices include:

    • Monoculars - hand held telescopes that allow a student to see better at a distance
    • Portable Video Magnifiers - consists of a camera and a screen (or a cable that links to a computer screen) that enlarges items on a table top. Some models also allow enlargement of items at a distance.
    • Prism glasses/optics - attachments to standard glasses to improve long distance visibility
    • Handheld magnifiers
  • Some students may require the use of adaptive software or hardware to be able to access computer workstations during computer lab classes or to gain access to the computer based content and facilitate interaction with the computer workstation.

    If a student needs access to special software or hardware, the ATS staff will need to coordinate with the computer lab manager to obtain, install and test the software and or hardware as soon as possible to ensure the student has access.

    • Many Open Access Lab classrooms already have computers available that have adaptive software available and are wheelchair accessible.
    • Labs hosted by specific departments may need to obtain the appropriate software, equipment or may need to modify the room layout to make their labs accessible. ATS staff will consult with departmental lab staff to make these arrangements.
  • Canvas courses and other online course websites or materials should be accessible. If you have any questions about what steps to take towards making your course more accessible contact the DSS office.