What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. It can be a piece of hardware or it can be software, it can be built in to the operating system of a device or can be a third-party product.

Types of Assistive Technology

The following outlines several types of AT and the populations which commonly utilize them. 

User PopulationAssistive Technology Commonly Used
Without visionScreen readers, braille output
With limited visionScreen readers, screen magnifiers, color and contrast modification
Without perception of colorColor and contrast modification
Without hearingCaptions (including live/CART)
With limited hearingCaptions (including live/CART)
With limited manipulationAlternative pointing devices, adaptive keyboards, switch devices, voice control
With language, cognitive, and learning disabilitiesText to speech software, reading and study aids

 Assistive Technology Built into Operating Systems


  • Accessibility Support for Windows: Information about the Windows Ease of Access Center options including Magnifier, Narrator, High Contrast, Speech Recognition, etc.



Third-party Assistive Technology


  • An exhaustive, categorized list of current assistive technologies is maintained on the Accessible Technology Software Trello board by Joshua Hori at UC Davis.
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