Assistive Technology Glossary
The purpose this glossary is to provide educators, students, and others with the basic legal and technical terminology and abbreviations related to Assistive Technology. For further information regarding the terms defined, we recommend the reader consult the sources listed below each term.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Activities of daily living - Various routine activities that are performed day to day, such as putting on clothes, preparing meals, household chores, working at a job, going to school, using transportation to get from one place to another, etc.
Adapted Technology - "An adaptation is a modification made to a device or to a service or program which renders it usable by or appropriate for a person with a disability. At school, a standard curriculum or lesson may be adapted, for example, to better meet the needs of a special education student. A car may be adapted with hand controls, so a person whose legs are impaired may drive. A computer may be adapted, so a person who has no fine motor control can use the machine. A toy may be adapted so a child with a disability can enjoy and learn from its use. A device, program or service which has been modified is referred to as "adapted." Thus, we have adapted computers, adapted cars, adapted kitchens, adapted toys and games, etc.
Advocacy Services - Services provided to assist individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, and authorized representatives in accessing assistive technology devices and assistive technology services (AT Act of 1998).
Alternative Keyboards - Alternative keyboard layouts and other enhancements allow people who experience difficulty with conventional keyboard designs to use computers. The products available range from keyguards that prevent accidental key activation, to alternative keyboards with differing layouts, sizes, etc. for people who have specific needs, to alternative input systems which require other means/methods of getting information into a computer.
Alternative Pointing Systems - Alternative pointing devices are used to replace the mouse. Trackballs are upside down mice, with the ball on top and several buttons. Many trackballs offer the left and right mouse buttons plus one or two more which can be programmed to be a double click or drag lock.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1999 - A federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability in (1) employment, (2) programs, services and activities of state and local government agencies and (3) goods, services, facilities, advantages, privileges and accommodation of places of public accommodation.
Assistive Technology - "Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially or off the shelf, modified or customized, that increases, maintains, or improves functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities
Assistive Technology Act of 1998 - Legislation that funds the State grant programs and other activities to maintain and strengthen programs of technology-related assistance for people with disabilities.
Assistive Technology Devices - "Assistive Technology devices can be anything from a simple tool with no moving parts (e.g., a toothbrush with a built-up handle) to a sophisticated mechanical/electronic system (e.g., a robotic arm). Simple, mechanical devices are often referred to as 'low tech' devices while computer-driven or complex assistive technology may be called 'high tech.' However, many people in the assistive technology field have argued that this complexity-based classification is not a useful one as there is no clear division between 'simple' or low tech and 'complex' or 'high tech' devices. With the passage of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992 (PL 102-569), assistive technology devices and assistive technology services are now included as part of rehabilitation technology."
Braille Embosser - A Braille Embosser is a hardware device for "printing" a hard copy of a text document in Braille. A Braille translation software program is required to translate the text from the computer into Braille. Most Braille translation software programs can translate material into several grades or versions of Braille.
Client Assistance Program - A program established by the federal Rehabilitation Act, which provides information, advice and advocacy to individuals eligible for vocational rehabilitation services.
Close Circuit TeleVision (CCTV) - A Closed Circuit TeleVision (CCTV) is a video magnification system consisting of a video screen interfaced with a video camera. Video magnification is achieved in two ways - the electronic conversion from the small camera imager to the larger display screen and the optical effect of the cameras zoom lens. The CCTV system provides high contrast, inverse video display, gray scale, false colors, natural colors, and/or control of contrast level and brightness.
Disability - A physical or mental condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities. There are several definitions of disability in the law. Each definition emphasizes some aspects of the condition and is specifically tailored to delineate the scope of a legal right under various public programs.
Discrimination - Unequal treatment of qualified individuals with disabilities as members of the general public. Failure to provide reasonable accommodation may also constitute discrimination.
Equal Opportunity Employment Commission - The federal agency responsible for investigating and prosecuting complaints of discrimination in employment. The EEOC is designated as the entity to enforce the employment provisions of Title I and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Early Intervention Services - A program of activities and services, including assistive technology, required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for children from birth through age two.
Individual Education Program (IEP) - A legal document developed by a team containing a special education student's present levels of educational performance, goals and objectives, special education and related services and placement for each school year.
Independent Living Services - A wide variety of services designed to enhance the abilities of individuals with significant disabilities to live independently, either in the community or with their families, and, if appropriate, to secure and maintain employment.
Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) - A written document stating the employment outcome of a vocational rehabilitation client and the specific vocational rehabilitation services the Department of Rehabilitation shall provide to the client.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) - Federal law that authorizes special education and related services including assistive technology.
Least Restrictive Environment - The term used in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) stating the requirement that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with non-disabled children; and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
Personal Devices - Under the ADA, equipment, aids and supplies used by an individual with a disability primarily for meeting personal needs unrelated to the activities and programs covered by the ADA.
Prosthetic Devices - Devices affixed to, or implanted in, the body to substitute for, or assist the function of, a defective or missing body part or organ.
Public Accommodation - A private entity that owns or operates a place of business to which the public is invited. The place where the entity conducts its activities is referred to as the place of public accommodation. Typical examples of such places include restaurants, retail stores, hotels and doctors' offices.
Public Entity - Under the ADA, public entity means any state or local government; any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentalities of a state or local government; and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation and any commuter authority.
Qualified Individuals with Disabilities - Under the ADA, an individual with a disability who meets the essential eligibility requirements to be considered for an employment position, or for participation in a public program or activity.
Reasonable Accommodation - Under the ADA, reasonable adjustments, modifications or provision of services and equipment necessary to enable an individual with a disability to enjoy equal opportunities in employment. The term is routinely used to include accommodations needed under other circumstances such as those administering public programs or providing private service.
Rehabilitation Act - Federal law entitling individuals with disabilities to vocational rehabilitation and independent living services. This law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by various entities including the federal government, recipients of federal financial assistance and federal contractors.
Refreshable Braille Display - Refreshable Braille Displays are electronic devices that are used to read text that a computer sends to the monitor. The device is connected to the computer by a serial cable and produces Braille output on the Braille display.
Rehabilitation Engineering - Rehabilitation engineering is the systematic application of technologies, engineering methodologies, or scientific principles to meet the need of and address the barriers confronted by people with disabilities in areas which include education, rehabilitation, employment, transportation, independent living, and recreation.
Screen Magnification Software - Screen magnification software are used by people with visual disabilities to access information on a computers screen. The software enlarges the information on the screen by pre-determined incremental factor [for example, 1x magnification, 2x magnification, 3x magnification, etc,]. Most screen magnification software has the flexibility to magnify the full screen, parts of the screen or provide a magnifying glass view of the area around the cursor or pointer. These programs also often allow for inverted colors, enhanced pointer viewing and tracking options.
Self Advocacy - The awareness, motivation and ability of an individual to represent and communicate his or her own interests, to exercise personal choice, and to exert control over his or her environment.
Screen Readers - A Screen Reader is the commonly used name for Voice Output Technology. Hardware and software produce synthesized voice output for text displayed on the computer screen, as well as for keystrokes entered on the keyboard.
Speech Synthesizers - An external speech synthesizer is a hardware device used for speech output. Typically, they are used with screen readers or OCR/scanning software [Optical Character Recognition] programs for people who are blind or visually disabled.
TTY (Teletypewriter)/ TTD (Telecommunication Device for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing- This device 'rings' via flashing light or the more recent vibrating wrist band that resembles a watch. The TTY/TTD consists of a keyboard, which hold somewhere from 20 to 30 character keys, a display screen, and a modem. The letters that the TTY/TTD usre types into the machine are turned into electrical signals that can travel over regular telephone lines. When the signals reach their destination (in this case another TTY/TTD) they are converted back into letters which appear on a display screen, are printed out on paper or both.
Vocational Rehabilitation Service - A range of vocational services including training, counseling, job placement and assistive technology provided by the Department of Rehabilitation for the purpose of maximizing the employability of individuals with disabilities.
Voice Recognition - Voice Recognition allows a user to use his/her voice as an input device. Voice recognition may be used to dictate text into the computer or to give commands to the computer (such as opening application programs, pulling down menus, or saving work). Continuous speech voice recognition applications allow a user to dictate text fluently into the computer. These new applications can recognize speech at up to 160 words per minute. While the accuracy of voice recognition has improved over the past few years some users still experience problems with accuracy either because of the way they speak or the nature of their voice.