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Assisted technology - Essay Example

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Summary
Assistive technology refers to the collective process of design, development and deployment of hardware and software systems, with the intent to facilitate people with disabilities and enhance their functional performance1. There is a considerable amount of research being conducted in this particular field targeted at production of innovative methodologies and devices, which not only aid the impaired with every day tasks, but also help them in the learning and skill development process.
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ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY and Section # of CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 3
CLASSIFICATION 3
EXAMPLE - VISUAL IMPAIRMENT/BLINDNESS 4
Low Assistive Technology 4
Mild Assistive Technology 5
High Assistive Technology 5
CONLUSION 5
REFERENCES 6

INTRODUCTION
Assistive technology refers to the collective process of design, development and deployment of hardware and software systems, with the intent to facilitate people with disabilities and enhance their functional performance1. There is a considerable amount of research being conducted in this particular field targeted at production of innovative methodologies and devices, which not only aid the impaired with every day tasks, but also help them in the learning and skill development process.
Assistive technology finds its application at school in the form of various tools and techniques that assist the disabled students to improve their in class performance including knowledge absorption and personality development. With the advent of assistive technology, it has become possible to a great extent for the less fortunate to overcome the otherwise inevitable impediments in the learning process.
CLASSIFICATION
The available support rendered by the technology can be classified as falling under three categories, depending upon the extent of support required and the available financial resources2. This includes Low, Mild and High assistive technology devices. Low assistive technology devices include support gadgets that do not involve electronics and do not require a battery for operation. Such devices easy to operate and are low in cost. Mild support strategies rely on simple electronics. These devices are not heavily dependent upon technological advancements. High assistive devices are electronically sophisticated. These employ modern day techniques as image processing, signal analysis and logic design to achieve the desired functionalities. Such devices require a processing unit. As a result, these are designed to work on a computer or in conjunction with an embedded processor or a microcontroller. The cost of such devices is significantly high, as is the complexity and effort involved in development process.
EXAMPLE - VISUAL IMPAIRMENT/BLINDNESS
The task at hand is to investigate three assistive technology devices and to explain the impact of the supporting strategy on an impaired student. The student is assumed to be severely disabled - narrowing down to the supposition that the student has complications that render him/her visually impaired. The student has difficulties taking notes as well as taking exams. It is required to select three assistive technology devices to help the student at school. Nisbet et al3 provide the possible solution.
Low Assistive Technology
A low assistive technology that allows for writing is the Braille system . The system is specially developed for the blind or visually impaired, allowing them to write with Braille pens on paper clipped on Braille slates. Text is encoded into raised dots that can be sensed with the finger tips and decoded into text again. The system has been well developed and widely used across the world. The student can easily write Braille on a paper and read it afterwards. Exams can be taken on Braille. However, this requires the teacher to be familiar with the Braille format. Alternatively, the services of a Braille interpreter can be used to convert the raised dots to alpha-numeric data and vice versa for the teacher and student to get along with academics smoothly.
Mild Assistive Technology
A mild assistive technology that allows for taking notes is a simple voice recorder. It might not be possible for the visually impaired student to encode the information as quickly as normal students. Using a voice recorder ensures that no information is lost. The recorded data can be replayed later to prepare notes in Braille. However, the student needs to make sure that the school regulations allows for voice recording inside the class room.
High Assistive Technology
High assistive technologies for the blind or visually impaired include electronic Braille and Speech-to-Text conversion software. Textbooks are now available in the electronic Braille format. The electronic Braille is read by a special tactile display. The tactile display is connected to a computer and consists of several pins arranged in a sequential manner that can be raised or lowered to produce Braille characters. Alternatively, the electronic Braille format can be printed via a Braille printer. To speed up the exam taking process, speech-to-text conversion software can be employed allowing the visually impaired student not to painstakingly type the Braille characters. Commercially available software for speech-to-text conversion includes. Both the facilities allow for the teacher to proceed with the teaching process more effectively.
CONCLUSION
In a nut-shell, Assistive technologies aim to instill confidence and self-reliability in the impaired. With Assistive technologies it has become possible for the disabled to lead their life as normal people. Assistive technologies continue to reshape the disabled student community, allowing them to play their due pivotal role in the progress of human folk.
REFERENCES
Cook, A.M. & Hussey, S. 2001. Assistive Technologies: Principles and Practice. 2nd edition. Publisher: MOSBY. ISBN: 0 323006 43 4
Paul Nisbet, Roger Spooner, Emma Arthur & Philip Whittaker. 1999. Supportive Writing Technology. Publisher: CALL center, University of Edinburgh. ISBN: 1 898042 13 6

Susan Strokes. 2002. Assistive Technology for Children with Autism. Article Funded and Published by Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Retrieved on 15th March 2008 from: www.specialed.us Read More
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