The UK is home to nearly 12 million disabled people, and nearly half of that number are of working age, meaning the modern day workplace has to ensure that their facilities meet the requirements of all workers.
This doesn’t just mean accessibility but also the tools needed to perform a job – and the contemporary workplace now has more choice than ever before in the technology they install to make working life for disabled employees as comfortable as possible.
Assistive technology products are developed to provide heightened accessibility to disabled individuals, whether it’s physical or cognitive. New technologies are consistently being developed to help the disabled population to realise their full potential, and below is a brief look at just some of the assistive technological options for the workplace.
Touch screens are now a staple part of new technologies, whether it be on a smartphone, computer, or iPod. Touch screens make it easier to select an option directly rather than through a mouse movement or keyboard.
Electronic pointing devices are used to control the cursor on the screen without using the hands. Devices used include ultrasound, eye movements, nerve signals, or brain waves.
Braille embossers transfer computer generated text into embossed Braille output. Braille translation programs convert text scanned-in or generated via standard word processing programs into Braille, which can be printed on the embosser.
Keyboard filters include aids such as word prediction utilities and add-on spelling checkers that decrease the required number of keystrokes. Keyboard filters help users hit the keys they need and not the ones they don’t.
Screen readers ‘speak ‘everything on the screen including text, graphics, control buttons, and menus into a computerized voice that is spoken aloud – essential for computer users who are blind.
Screen enlargers enlarge a portion of the screen and make it easier to see items on the computer. Some screen enlargers allow a person to zoom in and out on a particular area of the screen.
Speech/voice recognition programs allow people to give commands and enter data using their voices rather than a mouse or keyboard and can be used to create text documents such as letters or e-mail messages, browse the Internet, and navigate among applications and menus by voice.