Glossary of Terms: Assistive Technology (AT)

People with disabilities may use assistive technology to navigate the web, but they aren’t the only users of assistive technology. Users who do not live with a disability may sometimes opt to use certain assistive technologies for tasks like note-taking or consuming content online. These tools provide many people with support in daily living, and provide a greater sense of independence online and offline. Below is a list of some commonly used AT devices.

Illustration of brunette woman wearing a yellow t-shirt.

Amber Knabl, Customer Success @ Fable

The assistive technology a person uses can depend on many factors, including their disability type, personal preference and cost.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking: A speech recognition software package for Windows (Dragon for Mac is also available) that allows speech to be transcribed into written text, recognizes spoken commands, and can speak text content of a document (text-to-speech).

Dwell Clicker: A Windows application that allows users to a mouse or other pointing device without clicking buttons. It is ideal for people with repetitive strain injury and people who use alternative pointing devices such as a joystick. 

JAWS (Job Access with Speech): A commonly used screen reader for Microsoft Windows, produced by Freedom Scientific. JAWS is an expensive program, so many screen reader users have shifted to NVDA. 

KeyStrokes: A full-function, advanced on-screen keyboard providing people with physical impairments as well as graphic tablet and touch screen users full access to the computer.

NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access): A free, open source screen reader for Microsoft Windows developed by the blind community. 

On-Screen Keyboard: An accessibility utility that displays a virtual keyboard on the computer screen, that allows people with physical impairments to type data by using a pointing device or joystick.

Screen Magnification:

 Software that interfaces with a computer’s graphical output to present enlarged screen content. Ranges of 1 to 16 times magnification are common with screen magnifiers.

Screen Reader: A software application that attempts to convey what people with normal eyesight see on a display to users via non-visual means, like text-to-speech, sound icons, or a Braille device.


 A screen reader developed by Google that is built-in to many Android devices.

VoiceOver: A built-in screen reader on Mac operating systems that supports refreshable braille displays.

Zoom: An inbuilt zoom feature in Android devices.

Fable community members, Sam and Ka, talk about the different speech synthesizers available to assistive technology users and how they chose the one that works best for them.