National Center for Technology Innovation
 

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology can be used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. By using assistive technology in learning, teachers and parents can help students with special needs overcome their challenges and achieve their academic potential.

Browse through the posts below to learn more about assistive technology devices, resources and research by innovators in the field.

The TechMatrix Expands to Help Struggling Students Succeed Through Technology

The TechMatrix is a powerful, free online database to help educators and families find educational and assistive technology resources and help for students with special needs. With the addition of new search features, expert advice, professional development resources, Hot Topic pages and updated product listings, the new TechMatrix is greatly expanded, easier to use, and includes many new implementation resources. See new resources on science and transition.

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Writing Software: Find the Right Match

Learn how to use the enhanced functionality of the TechMatrix. Find appropriate writing tools in several ways: through pre-built Hot Topic pages, keyword searches, or advanced searches by disability category, content area, learning support, national standards, accessibility features and more.

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Science Software: Find the Right Match

Learn how to use the enhanced functionality of the TechMatrix. Find appropriate science tools in several ways: through pre-built Hot Topic pages, keyword searches, or advanced searches by disability category, content area, learning support, national standards, accessibility features and more.

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Math Software: Find the Right Match

Learn how to use the enhanced functionality of the TechMatrix. Find appropriate math tools in several ways: through pre-built Hot Topic pages, keyword searches, or advanced searches by disability category, content area, learning support, national standards, accessibility features and more.

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Reading Software: Find the Right Match

Learn how to use the enhanced functionality of the TechMatrix. Find appropriate reading tools in several ways: through pre-built Hot Topic pages, keyword searches, or advanced searches by disability category, content area, learning support, national standards, accessibility features and more.

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Empowering Transitions for Youth With Cognitive Disabilities

Tom KeatingGet organized! Tom Keating discusses assistive technology and computing to set the stage for the purposes of Picture Planner™, software that allows persons with developmental and cognitive disabilities to conceptualize and manage their own planning and scheduling.

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Alexicom Tech: Augmentative Communication as a Service

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Faridodin Fredi LajvardiThinking outside the box led Alexicom Tech to provide communication device users with an Internet-based, portable, subscription service.

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Revisiting Applied Human Factors: New Approaches

Jim SchroederThrough OneWay and CyberCoach products, Applied Human Factors continues their production of products and approaches that expand the ways individuals interact with technology. Capturing reliable movement in one dimension for cursor control, OneWay provides a new interface. CyberCoach aims to empower a network of support to enable independence.

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Robotic Hexapod Gets a Leg Up With Learning Power

Matt Bunting photoThis robot is capable of analyzing its behavior in relation to its environment, and producing the most efficient walking mechanics for the context, even if an appendage is damaged or lost. What are the implications?

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Expanded Captions Promote Access and Content Learning

See how a Tech in the Works awardee used DVD technology to create interactive, content-rich captions on science videos, offering new instructional access to students with hearing impairments.

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Unleashing the Power of Innovation for Assistive Technology

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Report Cover How do you define state of the art AT? This 2010 Issue Brief offers guidance for current and future investment, development, and research in educational and assistive technology and training.

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Beyond Switches – Literacy, Speech Recognition, and Environmental Control

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RJ Cooper photo RJ Cooper applies his engineering know-how to create assistive technology. Learn how he makes business work one customer at a time.

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On-Screen Speaking Calculator Improves Access to Higher Math

This assistive technology research team knew that a speech-interactive calculator would fill a need for students who are blind or have low vision. Find out how this 2008 NCTI Technology in the Works award-winning team created the VISO Calculator.

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Fraction Sense Software Assists Math Students

Fraction Sense creates an effective learning approach for children and their teachers. This 2008 NCTI Technology in the Works award shows how collaborative research can overcome implementation challenges.

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Basic Assistive Technology Benefits Dyslexic Students

Students with dyslexia may benefit from basic assistive technology such as screen readers, says Michael Matvy, a Tennessee school psychologist and assistive-technology specialist. The technology allows them to practice their writing skills and process written information at a level closer to their peers.
Read the full story from Advance here.

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Augmentative Communication Technology Gets Update

Ron Hu PhotoRon Hu emphasizes affordable, creative new approaches combined with simplicity of design. His recent Da Vinci Award for the KeyboardCommunicator and the successful SmartSpeakers for AlphaSmart systems showcase this approach.

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State-of-the-Art Assistive Technology and Training: Survey Results

What makes AT devices and training “state-of-the-art”? See how NCTI stakeholders responded and add your comments.

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Innovators Win 2009 NCTI Assistive Technology Awards!

Exceptional teams of researchers and vendors have been selected for funding from NCTI to examine the impact of innovative assistive technologies for students with special needs. This year’s winning teams represent a wide spectrum of research interests and approaches.

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Instant Messaging for AAC Users: Cool Heads and Collegiality Promote Assistive Technology Innovation

What happens when you turn AAC platforms into instant messaging devices? These 2008 Tech in the Works winners found unexpected discoveries such as the critical need for chat specific vocabularies.

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NCTI Issue Paper on Globalization — Learning and Assistive Technology: Thriving in a Global Marketplace

Report Cover What do the forces of globalization mean to your business, research, and life? Join NCTI to set an agenda that expands the reach of learning, assistive, and emerging technologies.

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Applying  Social Entrepreneurship to Assistive Technology

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Photo: Stace WillsFind out how Fire and Ice is developing learning, collaborative action, and cultural relationships through web conferencing and social networking technology.

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Understanding Consumer Needs Through Market Research

This article explores how existing market research in the assistive technology (AT) field can be leveraged to create new solutions and to help those solutions reach wider markets.

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WYNNing With Assistive Technology Usability

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Photo-Roberta Brosnahan and Beth ThomlinsonRead about WYNN, the literacy software designed with a graphic interface to accommodate a range of user needs and styles.

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Schleppenbach builds Assistive Technology Company

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Dave Schleppenbach Photogh is an AT business success story. Find out how Dave utlized an incubator opportunity and venture capital to get started and how gh stays involved in standards and ahead of the development curve.

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Are Your Assistive Technology Ideas Made to Stick?

Dan Heath PhotoNew York Times bestselling author, Dan Heath, co-author of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, is NCTI’s featured Innovator. Find out how can AT entrepreneurs make their visions more concrete and real for users.

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Research About Assistive Technology: What Have We Learned?

The purpose of this article is to offer a review of research on the use of assistive technology for students with disabilities and some reflections on the nature of knowledge that is being produced by researchers who are examining these issues.

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Quality in Special Education Technology Research

Historically, the use of technology in special education has been advanced on the basis of marketplace innovations and federal policy initiatives rather than on a compelling research base. This article presents a set of quality indicators that will guide efforts to enhance that base.

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Mind Mapping As An Assistive Technology Tool

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Photo of Elaine KruseSpark-Space mapping software allows users to visualize and organize ideas and documents in a 3-D spatial representation.

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ReadHowYouWant, Assistive Technology Emphasizes Visual Representation

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Photo of Chris StephenAustralia’s ReadHowYouWant company configures text in a variety of formats to assist different types of readers recognize words more easily by manipulating or building new forms of cueing within the structure of text itself. Learn about the science and human story behind Chris Stephen’s entrepreneurial idea.

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The Power of Social Media to Promote Assistive and Learning Technologies: A Collaborative Issue Brief

Report Cover The evolution of social media and collaborative online environment has been rapid and pervasive, and people are struggling to understand and keep abreast of new developments. See NCTI’s Issue Brief for a discussion on the implications.

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ConnSENSE Conference Podcasts Now Available

Web users can now listen to free ConnSENSE Podcasts of sessions from a number of AT-related conferences.

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Ray Schmidt, Vice President, OneWrite Company

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Picture of Ray SchmidtRay Schmidt knows communication devices inside and out – he is the designer of Cyrano, a device built with the HP iPAQ PDA, and is the father of a teenager who has used several communication devices through the years. These experiences give Ray incredible insight into the consumers – service providers and end users – of communication tools. The Cyrano is developed so that users can “build their own machines.”

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Assistive Technology: You Can Take It With You

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NCTI Project Director Tracy Gray provided eSchool News the background for a story on portable assistive technology. This is a trend NCTI has been tracking for the past year. See other recent content related to the trend of portability.

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Andrew Junker, Ph.D., Founder of Brain Actuated Technologies

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Picture of Andrew Junker and his wife, PatriciaAndrew Junker explores the background and possibilities of brain-activated technologies in this Innovator Profile. Brainfingers, an alternate computer access device, allows users to control any computerized technologies without touch, providing new means of feedback to those with even severe disabilities. Post comments and join Andrew online the afternoon of Wednesday, August 29, 2007 to discuss his profile and research.

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Into the Future with Portable AT

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Thanks to everyone who participated in the March 2, 2007 Web Event! At your request, we have made available the individual presentations, including PowerPoint slides, audio/visual recordings, captioning transcripts, and supplemental information that present exciting innovations that make assistive technology portable. Check back regularly as we continue to grow this page!

Featured Technologies and Speakers

Scanning the [...]

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Dialogue Events

NCTI Dialogue Events were forums held in 2004-2005 for experts to discuss timely topics of interest to the field, share information, and network with potential partners. The findings from these lively discussions are presented in the NCTI report, Moving Toward Solutions: Assistive and Learning Technology for All Students.

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Intellectual Property Ownership Issues

Addressing ownership issues regarding your idea as early as possible will help you avoid problems later in the development process. It is imperative to determine the ownership of the idea by the time you have developed your prototype device. For the purposes of our discussion, we will address issues faces by funded researchers/developers (e.g., agencies such as OSERS and NIH, or universities).

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Balancing Universal Design and Assistive Technology

Consumer products and base technologies are increasingly incorporating accessibility and universal design features. The potential exists for innovative applications to be developed as part of mainstream educational and consumer products, opening new markets. Stakeholders are concerned, however, that purchasers with a naive understanding of universal design will overlook customized technologies that are vital to meeting the learning needs of millions of students.

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Tim Lalor, Software Developer, Ai Squared (ZoomText)

Ai Squared produces ZoomText, a premier screen magnification and reading solution for computer access. Tim says that inputs for development come both from internal ideas and external feedback.

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Chuck Rogers, Chief-Evangelist MacSpeech

Chuck Rogers Chuck is intrigued by complexities in marketing speech recognition. He frequently refers to core functionality and the glitz and attraction of relatively new functionality by using the analogy of “the steak and the sizzle.”

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Tom Large, President and CEO / Designer Appliances Incorporated

Tom LargeWhen he had a “real job,” Tom was a clinical biochemist. He began Designer Appliances as a start-up using research on dynamic bio-mechanics of muscle and blood flow. A block of wood helped formulate his first conceptual model, leading to 5 or 6 fundamental iterations before going to market.

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Ron Hu, President / Designer, Afforda Speech

Ron HuRon is a self-described “techno-freak” and has worked with computers and electronics since he was a kid. Until recently, he owned an assistive technology vending company registered with the Canadian government. Through that work, he had a lot of contact with manufacturers of scanners, speech synthesizers, and other technologies that helped spark his desire to get back into design himself. “I was already familiar with the market, so to speak, and when I sold that business, I really wanted to get back into electronics more… this was a very good avenue for me to be able to design and play with new ideas.”

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Robert Chappell, President and C.E.O., EyeTech Digital Systems

Photo: Robert ChappellEye Tech’s hands-free eyetracking software and hardware systems permit alternative access to a full range of computing applications. Three models work with portable or desktop computers and the Eye Science software collects and analyzes gaze patterns.

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Steve Jacobs and The IDEAL Group: Think Globally—And Be Patient!

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Steve Jacobs photoAccording to Jacobs’ analysis, incorporating accessible IT into a range of products can enable those goods to be highly competitive in global markets. This is particularly the case within large developing nations, where these items could improve economies by increasing the flow of capital. In addition, Jacobs holds that the manufacture and marketing of accessible IT by American companies could help to reverse the United States’ trade deficit and enable it to dominate the global IT market, not by selling products that are cheaper, but products that are more accessible, usable, and useful.

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Assistive Technology Collaborators

At the November 2004 NCTI conference, researcher Gaylen Kapperman met representatives from two separate New York-based businesses: Touch Graphics and Bridge Multimedia. He continued conversations with both. In one case, the talk led to an active partnership; in another, despite a productive exchange of ideas, no immediate commitment followed. Both processes, however, were useful and necessary exercises in collaboration.

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Articles and Papers

Technology Assessment of the U. S. Assistive Technology Industry

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, this report includes substantial information about AT markets and future potential, total sales and revenues in the industry, manufacturing and design information, financing, regulation, specific industry recommendations, and many other essential topics.

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Technology Review: Making Deaf Ears Hear with Light

A laser-based approach could make cochlear implants, which currently use electrical signals, more effective. . . . Technology Review reports.

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HomeToys. Com…Alternative USB Keyboard Finds Market in Europe and with Assistive Technology Users

New Standard Keyboards (NSK) recently signed several distribution agreements to make the company’s ergonomic, 53-key, alphabetical keyboard available throughout mainland Europe and to two key assistive technology resellers based in the U.S. . . . HomeToys.com reports.

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Assistive Technology Group Recognized for its Efforts

CanAssist, an 8-year old non-profit assistive technology group partially funded by the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, was recently recognized with a grant of $704k for the over 150 projects it has completed, by request, for members of the differently abled community.

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Family-Centered Decision Making in Assistive Technology

H. P. Parette, Alan VanBiervliet, and Jack J Hourcade
2000, Journal of Special Education Technology (JSET ejournal), 15(1), 45-55

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AT-IT Compatibility Guidelines

2002, Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)

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Assistive Technology

Tamarah Ashton
1999, Journal of Special Education Technology, 15, 1, 57-58

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Websites

Don Johnston, Inc.

is a developer of assistive software and professional development. The website offers information on their literacy devices, implementation support, and services.

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Wisconsin Assistive Technology Initiative (WATI)

aims to ensure that every child in Wisconsin who needs assistive technology (AT) will have equal and timely access to an appropriate evaluation and the provision and implementation of any needed AT devices and services.

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WebABLE

is a Web site for disability-related internet resources. The WebABLE site’s goal is to stimulate education, research, and development of technologies that will ensure accessibility for people with disabilities to advanced information systems and emerging technologies.

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Washington Assistive Technology Alliance (WATA)

a consumer advocacy network that includes the University of Washington Center for Technology and Disability Studies (UWCTDS), and the AT Resource Center at Easter Seals Washington (EATRC). WATA activities include information and referral, consultation, and training related to selection of AT devices, services and funding legal advice and advocacy.

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U-LAM (Universal Language Activity Monitor)

provides resources for people with severe communication disorders who rely on augmentative and alternative communication, their families and friends, professionals, educators, researchers, developers, and manufacturers.

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Trace Center

works to encourage companies to make their standard products more accessible and usable by people with disabilities of all types. Strategies and techniques developed at the Center are sometimes patented and available via licensing through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

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TechConnect

a service of the Illinois Assistive Technology Project (IATP), provides an assistive technology demonstration center, an assistive technology device loan program, a low interest cash loan program, publications, and other resources.

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Tech Connections

is a national information dissemination project to improve the utilization of existing and emerging technology in state vocational rehabilitation programs.

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RESNA

organizes annual conferences and exhibits, publishes the Assistive Technology journal, coordinates a credentialing program for assistive technology service providers, and offers professional development opportunities.

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Rehabtool.com

offers a variety of high-tech assistive and adaptive technology products, augmentative and alternative communication devices, computer access equipment, multilingual speech synthesis and voice recognition software. The site specializes in computer adaptations and builds custom software solutions for children and adults with disabilities.

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Quality Indicatiors of Assistive Technology (QIAT) Consortium

is a nationwide grassroots group that includes hundreds of individuals who provide input into the ongoing process of identifying, disseminating, and implementing a set of widely-applicable Quality Indicators for Assistive Technology Services in School Settings.

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National Assistive Technology Research Institute

(NATRI) conducts assistive technology research, translates theory and research into assistive technology practice, and provides resources for improving the delivery of assistive technology services.

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Lemelson Assistive Technology Development Center

provides students with an experiential education in applied design, invention, and entrepreneurship through the use of assistive technology and universal design. The Center is a project of Hampshire College’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts.

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LD Online

a service of WETA, Washington, D.C., offers information on learning disabilities for parents, teachers, and other professionals through newsletters, first-person essays, and interviews with experts.

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Federal Laboratory Consortium’s Lab/Technology Search

is a resource of the nationwide network of federal laboratories, providing a forum to develop strategies and publicizing opportunities for linking laboratory mission technologies and expertise with the marketplace.

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Equal Access to Software and Information

provides online training on accessible information technology for persons with disabilities through workshops and courses.

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Enable Mart

markets, promotes, and distributes innovative technology-based products and services that promote independence, enhance productivity, and change the lives of individuals with disabilities.

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Disabilities Opportunities Internetworking Technology (DOIT)

serves to increase the success of people with disabilities in college and careers and provides resources for K-12 educators, students with disabilities, librarians, employers, parents and mentors.

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Cyberkinetics, Inc.

supports the creation of direct, reliable and bi-directional interfaces among the brain, nervous system and a computer.

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Consortium for Assistive Technology Outcomes Research (CATOR)

conducts multiple research projects on assistive technology outcomes and impacts and aims to determine the effectiveness and usefulness of assistive technology and the implications for use/discontinuance of these devices.

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Closing the Gap

highlights hardware and software products appropriate for people with special needs, and explains how this technology is being implemented in education, rehabilitation, and vocational settings around the world.

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Assistive Technology Outcomes Measurement System (ATOMS)

is one of two assistive technology outcomes projects funded in the fall 2001 for five years by the The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The ATOMS Project targets the definition and pre-development phases of a next generation assistive technology outcomes measurement system.

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Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA)

fosters a mission to serve as the collective voice of the Assistive Technology industry so that the best products and services are delivered to people with disabilities.

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Assistive Technology, Inc

is a developer of hardware and software solutions for people with physical, cognitive, and speech disabilities. The website offers information on their augmentative communication devices, speech-generating devices, assessment software, and services.

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The Alliance for Technology Access

is a network of community-based Resource Centers, Developers, Vendors and Associates dedicated to providing information and support services to children and adults with disabilities through public education, referrals, capacity building in community organizations, and advocacy/policy efforts.

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Adaptive Technology Resource Center Research and Development

works directly with information technology manufacturers and developers to influence the early design stages of tomorrow’s computer based technology.

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ABLEDATA

provides information about assistive technology products and rehabilitation equipment available from domestic and international sources.

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AbilityHub

purpose is to help internet users find information on adaptive equipment and alternative methods available for accessing computers.

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