Assistive Technology: What Is It?

Assistive technology is any adaptive tool or technology that allow people with disabilities to access their social and digital environments. It is a broad category of technology that includes everything from a pair of eyeglasses to a text to speech synthesizer. Assistive academic technologies, created to address the access needs of students with disabilities, can be helpful for all students.

Below is a summary of common assistive technologies to support three academic tasks: 1) Reading; 2) Writing; and 3) Note-Taking.

Assistive Technology: Where to Start?


Audio texts allow access to content for readers with visual disabilities, physical disabilities, and reading disabilities. For sighted readers, pairing the visual and audio text can reinforce the reading and help to maintain focus.

Common Reading Technologies


Many devices have built-in speech-to-text or speech recognition that allow you to dictate texts, emails, and longer documents. Dictation and voice commands allow users to express their ideas and to complete tasks through another kind of engagement with their technology.

Common Writing Technologies


Note-taking technology can be useful as a digital platform to take and to record your notes. It can also provide additional features, like recording or transcription, to provide access to the academic environment for students with disabilities.

Common Note-Taking Technologies