What is accessible technology (AT)?
Our constitution promises all Americans their inalienable human rights – liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness. Accessible technology and in particular – accessible websites and computers – actually play a part in assuring one’s human rights. Every visitor to websites needs to be able to find the information they are looking for and perform the tasks they intend to perform (differently abled or not). Accessibility takes what was previously impossible, such as independent access to technology for a person with blindness and makes it possible. It allows he/she to gain self-acceptance of their limitations and attain previous “only dreamed of” human accomplishments.
Accessible websites and computers let people independently conduct such matters as banking, access government benefits, apply for college, shop online, and play online games - access made possible, e.g., through installed software applications such as screen readers and speech recognition software.
Today, persons who are differently abled have the option to contribute and participate in every aspect of life, just as other people do. For example; individuals who are differently-abled visually can go to their computer, turn on their screen reader and listen to formerly inaccessible information. Screen readers are a type of technology that helps people interact with the web and computers by translating printed text to speech. For the first time in the history of the world, accessible websites and computers have made it possible for differently abled visual users to have this much freedom and independence to access information on their own. It can make all the difference between living a "normal" independent life and living a life of limited freedom and independence. Quite a monumental leap for individuals who society historically oftimes viewed as nonentities - yes!