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The term assistive technology refers to “any piece of equipment or product system… that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” (Tech Act of 1988) For example, assistive technology can be used to magnify print for an individual with low vision, or to amplify sound for an individual with a hearing loss. Assistive computer technology provides alternate computer input for an individual unable to use a standard keyboard, or alternate output for an individual who is unable to access information easily from a standard computer monitor.

Assistive computer technology can also provide an individual with reading and/or writing assistance. Through the use of specialized software programs, an individual can visually organize ideas prior to writing, have documents read out loud, use speech to complete a written document, or hear what s/he has composed in a word processing program. In this capacity, use of the software may be viewed as a compensatory strategy for accomplishing academic tasks.

These and other types of assistive technology devices and computer software programs are available to students affiliated with the Office of Specialized Services (OSS). Students requiring alternate access to print and electronic information, or software for reading and writing assistance, may use stand-alone equipment as well as hardware and software computer access solutions available in the OSS computer lab.

Assistive technology may be an appropriate accommodation for a student affiliated with OSS to provide equal access to information and/or academic computing. Many students enter Ramapo College already using assistive technology in their academic pursuits. However, students who have never used assistive technology are encouraged to explore this opportunity to increase independence and/or efficiency when completing assignments. Interested students should contact their OSS counselor evaluate their needs and to determine if assistive technology is an appropriate accommodation. A student’s documentation of disability must support the need for a specific assistive technology option.

Following is a sampling of the assistive technology options available through OSS:

“Stand-alone” assistive technology

  • CCTV – Monitor device for magnifying printed materials
  • Personal FM system for assistive listening
  • Alpha Smart word processor
  • Reading machine
  • Tactile image enhancer
  • Taped textbooks through Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic

Alternative computer input devices

  • Standard keyboard overlays
  • Zoom Caps enlarged key labels
  • Alternate keyboard layouts
  • Alternate keyboards (mini, maxi, IntelliKeys)
  • On-screen keyboard with single switch
  • Over-sized mouse
  • Specialized joystick

Alternative computer output software

  • ZoomText screen enlargement software
  • WindowEyes screen reader

Reading and writing solutions

  • Inspiration graphic organizer
  • CoWriter word selection / prediction software
  • WriteOutLoud word processor with speech
  • WYNN reading / writing program
  • DragonNaturallySpeaking Professional voice recognition software