Access to Technology for Individuals with Disabilities: Recent Trends and Issues

Access to Technology for Individuals with Disabilities: Recent Trends and Issues

Hwa Lee
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch071
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Federal Legislations for Technology Access for Individuals with Disabilities

Federal legislations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have been the major force for equal access to technology for all individuals regardless of their abilities or disabilities. According to the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act (Tech Act, 1998) and the IDEA amendments of 1997, AT device is defined as any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability. Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division published “2010 Standards” which has revised regulations for Titles II and III of the ADA in order to provide information and technical assistance for newly designed public and commercial facilities to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. AT devices are typically categorized as low technology, medium technology, or high technology depending on the existence and level of sophistication in the included electronic components (Blackhurst & Lahm, 2000). The intent of these federal laws is that schools, rehabilitation, and health care professionals consider AT as an option for individuals with disabilities. Once the challenge of evaluating individual needs for technology and identifying the appropriate AT items that will increase their functional capabilities in accessing information, these AT items can function as an equalizer, enhancing the independence and freedom of individuals with disabilities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Universal Design for Learning (UDL): An educational framework based on the principles of Universal Design ( ). UDL guides the development of flexible learning environments that can accommodate individual learning differences.

Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC): Any system that assists communication of individuals with communication impairments.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): This federal law requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs.

C-Print: A speech-to-text system developed for individuals who are hard of hearing or deaf in the educational environments.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973): Forbids organizations and employers from excluding or denying individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to receive program benefits and services. It defines the rights of individuals with disabilities to participate in, and have access to, program benefits and services.

E-Learning: Learning system that utilizes materials that are largely made available electronically.

Assistive Technology: Any device or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functioning of individuals with disabilities.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A comprehensive federal civil-rights statute protecting the rights of people with disabilities. This law affects access to employment; public programs and services; access to places of public accommodation including businesses, transportation, and non-profit service providers; and telecommunications ( AU70: The URL has been redirected to Please verify the URL. ).

Communication Access Real Time Translation (CART): A technology that provides the instant translation of the spoken word into English text using a stenotype machine, notebook computer and realtime software for individuals who are hard of hearing or deaf. The text appears on a computer monitor or other display. CART is also often referred to as realtime captioning ( / )

Closed Captioning: A number of systems developed to display auditory information as text on television or projector screen.

Open Architecture: Is a type of computer architecture or software architecture that is designed to make adding, upgrading and swapping components easy. By contrast, closed architectures, if they are expandable at all, have one or two “expansion ports” using a proprietary connector design that may require a license fee from the manufacturer, or enhancements may only be installable by technicians with specialized tools or training. Open architecture allows potential users to see inside all or parts of the architecture without any proprietary constraints. [2] AU71: Anchored Object 1 Typically, an open architecture publishes all or parts of its architecture that the developer or integrator wants to share.

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