Assistive Technology (or AT) is the term used to describe the tools and devices that assist you to perform a task that could otherwise be difficult or impossible to accomplish. Its key role is to enable a person to use and enhance their own abilities, and in doing so, encourage and facilitate their independence. Assistive Technology may be something as simple or “Low-Tech” as a copy holder or wrist support, or more complex and “Hi-Tech” as screen-reading software which reads text aloud.
AT works best when a good match is reached between the user and the technology. The AT Officer can provide individualised Assessment, Training, Continuing Support and Alternative Formats for students.
We utilise a range of Assistive Technology hardware and software with features that include:
- Screen reading
- Text to Audio
- Advanced Spelling and Comprehension assistance
- Recording Devices
- Note-Taking Aids
- Deaf Loop
- CCTV and Screen Magnifiers
- Electronic Dictation
- Online Assignment and Study Tools
- Format Conversion
Click any of the links below to jump to the related section:
- What is Assistive Technology?
- Software Accessibility
- Assistive Technology Blog
- Assistive Technology Presentations
- Assistive Technology Smartphone/Tablet Apps
- How do I avail of Assistive Technology in DIT?
- Where can I avail of Assistive Technology in DIT?
- What AT is available in DIT?
- Equipment & Loans
Assistive Technology (or AT) is the term used to describe the tools and devices that assist you to perform a task that could otherwise be difficult or impossible to accomplish. Its key role is to enable a person to use and enhance their own abilities, and in doing so, encourage and facilitate their independence.
Assistive Technology may be something as simple or “Low-Tech” as a copy holder or wrist support, or more complex and “Hi-Tech” as screen-reading software which reads text aloud. AT works best when a good match is reached between the user and the technology; as such it is vital to evaluate the specific needs of a student, their challenges and capabilities, in order to provide them with the most suitable tools to assist them with specific tasks.
Training is very important. This can be ongoing and is tailored to meet the needs of the individual or group of students as they move through their academic career.
As AT is a tool, a means to an end, it is not an end to itself. As such, user-friendliness is essential. The user should be able to get on with the task in hand and not become bogged down and hindered by having to learn very complicated or indeed unnecessary procedures in order to avail of the technology.
AT is not a “stand-alone” support, and is used in conjunction with other supports and services.
Many computer operating systems and smartphone/tablet systems have built-in accessibility features, to assist users who may have a visual, hearing, or other disabilities. Click on the links below for more information on these.
Android (e.g. Samsung): https://support.google.com/accessibility/android/?hl=en#topic=6007234
iOS (Apple): http://www.apple.com/accessibility/ios/
The Assistive Technology Service also operates a blog, which details new and interesting developments in the field of AT, as well as providing information on open-source (i.e. free) Assistive Technology software. Click here to view our AT blog.
Assist Ireland have a repository of useful smartphone and tablet apps for Android and iOS, available here.
Please note: whether you choose to avail of the apps listed in the above link is at your own discretion. The Disability Support Service accepts no responsibility for the content/usage of the apps listed above.
The Assistive Technology Service runs a Tumblr that has lots of useful presentations for students:
How to get the most out of your student Gmail account
Making a bibliography using Read & Write Gold
Introduction to Read & Write Gold
Free Assistive Technology
Click here to view these presentations.
You should first arrange to register with the DSS. For more information on how to register, please see our Frequently Asked Questions page. As part of the registration and needs-assessment process, you may be referred for an AT assessment.
- AT cannot be allocated to students who have not registered with the DSS
- AT cannot be allocated to students who do not attend an appointment with an AT Officer for an assessment of AT needs.
- AT software or hardware will only be recommended for a student if the results of their assessment indicate that this is necessary. AT will not be allocated on an “on-demand” basis.
- Only Assistive Technology software will be allocated by the AT Officer. Programme-specific software, such as CAD or Photoshop, etc cannot be provided by the AT Officer and should be sourced separately by the student.
Once a student is registered and has been assessed by both his/her Learning Support Officer (LSO) and the Assistive Technology Officer (ATO), they are fully entitled to use the facilities in the AT rooms and can avail of the AT officers support and training.
The registration and needs assessment process is necessary for two vital reasons:
- To acquire the necessary information from the student to apply for funding for their individualised support.
- To conduct a needs assessment to ascertain how the DSS can best serve the student’s specific needs.
Applications are made by the DSS for funding based on the student’s registration data and documentation. If funding is approved the student will be provided with the Assistive Technology equipment and software that was recommended for them by their AT Officer.
Students should familiarise themselves with DIT's Assistive Technology Policy, which is available on our Policies & Guidelines section of the website.
DIT has two Assistive Technology Officers, providing AT training and supervision of the AT Rooms for North Side and Southside Campus students. There are two Assistive Technology rooms:
- Aungier Street Library
- Mountjoy Square, Room 230
The Assistive Technology Rooms are always open to DSS registered students during library opening hours. Training and one-to-one appointments with your AT Officer are available by appointment. Please see our Contacts Page for details of our AT Officers.
AT and Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs)
Dyslexia is a blanket term and manifests as a spectrum of learning disabilities. It primarily impacts reading, spelling and writing abilities; however, other difficulties have been reported including challenges in processing spoken language.
Areas of difficulty for students with dyslexia include:
- Oral Language
Here at DIT of we have a significant number of students with Specific Learning Difficulties. A variety of tools are available to assist these students, including:
- Dictaphones or ‘Livescribe’ Pens
- Electronic dictionaries
- Specialised software
Texthelp’s Read&Write Gold is the primary software package designed to provide help to computer users with reading and writing difficulties. It can read text aloud and help you construct words and sentences.
Other features include advanced spell checking, document scanning, screen reading, Internet tools, pronunciation facilities, and saving text as an audio file. For Read&Write Video Training guides please visit the TextHelp website here: https://www.texthelp.com/en-gb/support/training/feature-videos#RW11
Read&Write Gold is also available on many of the computers in DIT’s libraries. Training in Read&Write Gold is available by appointment from our AT Officers.
It is essential to remember why Assistive technologies are being used, that is to Aid the student with accomplishing tasks and achieving greater independence. Facilitating and encouraging dependence on a particular technology or facilities that do a job that is well within their own personal abilities is neither desirable nor advantageous to the student.
AT and Visual Impairment
A range of equipment and software is available for visually impaired students:
- Reading can be facilitated with the aid of JAWS screen reading software and the use of texts translated into Braille.
- Software such as Kurzweil 1000 is used to scan text onto a computer for students to access. This software reproduces the text aurally for the student to listen to.
- ZoomText software is also available; this allows the magnification of text for the visually impaired student.
- Other software and hardware are available, depending on the needs of the student; this can include (e.g.) CCTV.
Students can also avail of in-house scanning and editing of materials and texts. Content can also be converted and reproduced as a Braille printout for students via our Braille printer.
Students may be allocated a particular piece of equipment as a result of their AT assessment. Any student who receives a piece of equipment from the DSS must sign an equipment loan form, and adhere to our Equipment Loan Policy (below).
Students who are allocated a recording device must also agree to and sign our Recording Lectures Guidelines Document (you can read more about our policies on recording lectures on our Policies & Guidelines page). It is not always possible to record lectures, for example in cases where personal and confidential information is being discussed.
Equipment & Loans Policy
- The provision of equipment is based on the specific AT needs of the individual student and is contingent on their Needs Assessment, supporting documentation, and funding status.
- If computers are supplied we do so purely to facilitate the Assistive Technology needs of the student, not course specific software.
- Computers remain the property of DIT. Thus, students are bound by the DIT Acceptable User Policy which prohibits the use of the computer to access or distribute offensive, obscene or threatening material plus any infringement of copyright or the proprietary rights of software.
- Any damage or breakages to the equipment must be reported to the Assistive Technology Officer as soon as possible. If the fault is due to misuse by the student, then the student must bear the cost of repair.
- It is the student's responsibility to make backup copies of all important files.
- All final year students given equipment by the Disability Service and funded by the National Access Office must return the equipment by July 31st.
- All student files must be removed from computers before they are returned. All machines will have the DIT image reinstalled so the Disability Service cannot be responsible for any files lost.
- Only software needed by students for their courses can be installed on Disability Service computers. If students require specific software they must inform the Assistive Technology Officer. The Disability Service can only provide Assistive Technology software; course-specific applications are not available and if the hardware is supplied it is only intended to support the AT software recommended in a student's needs assessment.
- All equipment is intended to support the education and Assistive Technology needs of the student and should not be used by other people.
- While using laptops with a power lead students should remove the battery.
- Laptop batteries need to be charged and discharged at least once a week. This is essential to maximise battery life.