Volume 26I 2021
Monthly Focus!
Magnifying glass
This month's focus is on
AT to Support Employment!
AT Supports for Writing Tasks
There are many AT tools available to help support individuals with disabilities in the workplace specifically in the area of writing. The advances in equipment and software are allowing more employees with various impairments to be more productive and efficient while performing job tasks.

Speech recognition software like Dragon Naturally Speaking continues to improve, enabling individuals with motor impairments and difficulties using a keyboard and mouse to access their computers to use their voices for anything like creating spreadsheets and reports to searching the Web.

Digital Recorders can helps support individuals who require extra time or information to be recorded to process it later. The ability to document impromptu spoken instructions or other audio, and then download and/or type it later can be an effective strategy.

Word Prediction Software can aid in spelling and typing and can also decrease the amount of time when creating written text.

Spell and Grammar Check is a helpful tool for individuals who require assistance in these areas. Many computers operating systems have these features built-in and are easily accessible for all.

Computer Accessibility Features are available through the operating system of the computer. The features can be customized to fit the learning needs of the individual. Adjusting the keystrokes and mouse controls can be helpful to support the writing process.

Adapted Keyboards and Mice are available through many retail stores. Careful consideration is recommended when creating workstations to support an individual so that they can maintain optimal positioning and accommodates functional performance.
Use of Smart Home Technology in the Workplace
Echo devices
As technology continues to grow, so do the demands at the workplace and for individuals with a disability this can make it even hard to perform work related tasks in an efficient manner. While the utilization of smart home technology isn’t typically thought of as an adaptation that can be used in the workplace, there are many useful applications that can help an individual with a disability increase their work performance. Amazon Alexa devices could be used as a desktop assistant to set reminders for work tasks, display to-do lists, set timers and even allow drop-ins to provide assistance if needed. The drop in feature allows for Alexa devices to communicate with each other and create a “phone call” from one device to another. Smart home technology also gives individuals control over their work environment for things such as lighting. Smart home technology in the workplace can be used to increase an individual’s independence which will increase their productivity. As technology continues to evolve, we can leverage it to help people reach their full potential as a person and a professional.
AAC in the Workplace
iPad with AAC app
Successful employment leads to many positive outcomes: financial independence, increased self-esteem and sense of accomplishment, as well as social interaction. These are potential benefits available to all working individuals. 

What about people who may be non-speaking? What employment opportunities are available for individuals with complex communication needs? The good news is that complex communication needs are not a barrier to successful employment. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an accommodation that can support individuals with complex communication needs in seeking and maintaining employment. 

AAC techniques and devices can range from low technology communication displays and single-message voice output devices to very complex dynamic display systems capable of supporting complex expressive language output. They can be used to support every communicative function required in the workplace. 

If you think AAC may help you or someone you know seek/maintain successful employment, an AAC evaluation will help make that determination. If an AAC system is already in place, a technology implementation plan is required to support the integration of AAC into a new or existing employment setting. TechACCESS is available to help with all of the above. Contact us today!
AT Supports for Vision/Reading Tasks
Individuals with low vision have several options for Assistive Technology for reading and visual tasks while on the job. Each job has its unique visual demands but accessing information from screens is a common requirement. 

Options include screen magnification software that can magnify the text and images and be installed on most computers. Screen reading software is compatible with most computers and programs and can read text on the screen with synthesized speech. In addition, this software offers various voice options and rates. Another option is Voice Recognition software which allows for voice commands in place of the mouse and speech-to-text entry. If instead, you have a PDF or document that can be scanned into a computer, then Optical Character Recognition (OCR) can be used to turn the document into text. Once converted to text, it could be used by a screen reader or screen magnifier.

Zoom Text- screen magnifier
JAWS- screen reader
Dragon- voice recognition
OpenBook- OCR and read aloud
Dolphin SuperNova- screen magnifier, screen reader, and OCR
Workplace Accommodations
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, "A job accommodation is an adjustment to a job or work environment that makes it possible for an individual with a disability to perform their job duties. Accommodations may include specialized equipment, modifications to the work environment or adjustments to work schedules or responsibilities. Not all people with disabilities (or even all people with the same disability) need the same accommodation".

These modifications enable an individual with a disability to have an equal opportunity not only to get a job, but successfully perform their job tasks to the same extent as people without disabilities. The use of assistive technology can be included in requests for accommodations.

The Job Accommodation Network (or JAN) is a robust resource on the subject! Check out their website for more information!
AT/AAC Evaluations for Adults to Address Employment Needs
The word evaluation written on a post-it note
Did you know that TechACCESS can provide AT and AAC evaluations for individuals on-site at their place of employment? This allows us to address the specific needs of the individual as it relates to the tasks they need to perform.

Individuals should contact the Office of Rehabilitation Services (ORS) in RI or the Vocational Rehabilitation agency in their state for more information on funding these services.

If the individual is not eligible for these services, there are alternative ways to get funding. Check out the TechACCESS website for more information.
Assistive Technology Conference of
New England
ATCNE 2021-2022 will feature 16 half-day presentations that will take place between November of 2021 and May of 2022! The full session list is available at the Conference Website!

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Mention of any product, service or event in this newsletter does not constitute any endorsement or recommendation by TechACCESS.

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TechACCESS of RI | 401-463-0202| techaccess-ri.org