Assistive technology, as it relates to information and communication technology, includes special tools or software to help people use computers, software, the Internet, telephones, or other technology used in education. Examples are: special keyboards; software to magnify a computer screen or audibly read the text on a computer screen; text telephones (TTYs) to help people who are deaf communicate using the telephone.
Information and communication technology may be inaccessible to people if it provides only one way to access the information. For example, those with visual impairments cannot read documents presented only in a visual format; people who are deaf cannot understand content that is only presented orally; people who have limited use of their hands or arms may not use a computer mouse; and people who use wheelchairs may not be able to operate a fax machine if the controls are impossible to reach.
Many of these barriers can be reduced or eliminated when the principles of “universal design” are used to design and develop the information technology. The decision to plan ahead for accessibility can reduce the need for special accommodations.
Assistive Technology Project’s (ATP) Accessibility User Guides
- Download Idaho ATP’s Accessiblity User Guides: PDF Best practices for creating accessible content in Microsoft Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word; Adobe Acrobat and InDesign; as well as Social Media. The User Guide also contains common keyboard shortcuts for moving around in Outlook and Windows.
Creating Accessible Documents
- Get detailed how-to information from Adobe on using Dreamweaver to create accessible forms.
- Accessify has a quick form builder that combines two older tools: a form builder and a form element generator.
- Review these best practices from Adobe on making accessible PDF files.
- Here are step-by-step instructions for creating accessible PDF files from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- The Texas HHS Accessibility Center offers checklists for PDF documents and forms.
- PAC provides the freeware program – PDF Accessibility Checker – as a fast way to test the accessibility of PDF files.