Technology is creating gateways to jobs, training and education for people with disabilities. Specialized devices known as assistive technology, together with generic or mainstream technology products and services that have been designed universally can enhance the ability of person with a disability to earn a living.
Helpful electronic tools
People with various disabilities are able to do what many people without disabilities take for granted when access needs are incorporated into mainstream products or when adaptive devices are readily available. Listed below are just a few examples:
In general, an information technology system is accessible to people with disabilities if it can be used in a variety of ways that do not depend on a single sense or ability. For example, a system that provides output only in audio format may not be accessible to people with hearing impairments, and a system that requires mouse actions to navigate may not be accessible to people who cannot use a mouse because of a dexterity or visual impairment. Some individuals with disabilities may still need specific accessibility-related software or peripheral devices to be able to use Section 508 compliant systems.
Assistive and information technology resources
The Trace Center is a research, development and resource center on technology and disability at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The Research Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) provides an alphabetical listing of each state's technology-related assistance project with contact person, phone number, address and hyperlink to the state Web page. Contact the program to ask what services they provide.
The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) works to make Web page formats and protocols accessible to people with disabilities so that Web page creators can build in usability for people with disabilities.
The United Cerebral Palsy Association (UCPA) provides disability policy information (i.e. fact sheets on how to get assistive technology paid for if on SSI or SSDI).
Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has a database of assistive technology products used in making jobs accessible.
U.S. Access Board develops standards for accessible information technology.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has information on disability issues and on the Disability Issues Task Force (DITF).
The Center for Information Technology Accommodation (CITA) is the General Services Administration's technical demonstration and resource center in Washington, DC, that provides federal agencies data about information technology.