For many businesses, the workplace can feel like it’s lagging behind in terms of technology. This is especially apparent when you see how many people with disabilities are struggling to find work because their needs aren’t being met by current workplace conditions.
However, there’s no reason why businesses can’t make some simple changes to become more accessible and inclusive for all employees. One way to do this is by investing in assistive technology (AT).
In this guide, we’ll give you a clear overview of assistive technology for the workplace, before exploring some key assistive technology examples for the professional environment.
Assistive Technology & Tools 101
Assistive technology is any kind of device or software that can be used to help people with disabilities achieve their goals and manage tasks.
This could include something as simple as a voice-activated computer for someone who has trouble using a keyboard, or more complex equipment like an augmented reality headset that can help people with vision impairments.
Assistive tech can be vital for ensuring people with disabilities (including mental health issues) can stay in work, as well as providing an opportunity for businesses to become more inclusive and welcome a wider range of employees.
From mobility aids to computer software, there are many assistive technology types that can be extremely useful in the modern workplace.
Business Benefits of Assistive Technology
There are plenty of reasons why businesses should consider investing in assistive technology for the workplace. First and foremost, it’s the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint. But there are also some very practical benefits that businesses can enjoy by making their workplaces more accessible.
Some of the key advantages of using AT in the workplace include:
- Improved productivity: From mobile devices to more complex technologies, when employees feel supported and have the right tools for the job, they’re more likely to be productive. This is especially true for people with disabilities, who can often find work difficult if their needs aren’t being met.
- Increased staff retention: If your workplace is inclusive and offers support for employees with disabilities, you’re more likely to retain staff. This is because people will feel appreciated and valued, and won’t need to look elsewhere for an employer who can better meet their needs.
- Attracting top talent: By being open to employing people with disabilities, you’ll have access to a wider pool of talent. This could give you the edge over your competitors when it comes to recruiting the best employees.
- Improved customer satisfaction: If your customers see that you’re making an effort to be inclusive, they’re more likely to have a positive opinion of your business. This could lead to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.
What’s more, assistive technology is often much less expensive than many people think. In many cases, the cost of AT can be offset by the increased productivity and retention rates that it can bring about.
Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at some key examples of assistive technology at work and how they can be used.
8 Assistive Technologies Examples For the Workplace
1. Assistive technology for reading and writing examples
Many different types of assistive technology for reading, from screen readers to screen magnification software and on-screen keyboards, can be extremely useful for people with vision impairments or other reading difficulties.
By supporting your employees with visual disabilities, you can make sure that they’re able to participate fully in workplace activities and stay engaged with their work, creating benefits for both them and your business.
Here are some examples of assistive technology for reading that you could consider investing in:
- TextHelp Read&Write (Access to Work Licence): This is a literacy software that supports one’s reading and writing skills via its easy to use toolbar, which runs alongside other applications, allowing users to carry on with daily tasks without interruption.
- ClaroRead v10: This screen reader will proofread almost any text out loud from a PC, including scanned documents and editable PDFs.
- The Echo 2GB Livescribe Smartpen: This device cleverly allows you to record and playback what you write and hear, useful for neurodivergent individuals and allows you to replay your meetings or lectures by tapping on your notes.
- The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard and Number Pad: This ergonomic device has a split keyboard layout that keeps wrists and forearms in a relaxed position, and a cushioned palm rest to provide wrist support.
2. Hearing assistive technology examples
Speech recognition software or voice recognition software, hearing aids and other assistive technologies can be extremely useful for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Some further examples of assistive tech that can be useful for those with hearing impairments include:
- Dragon ProAccess Individual v15 (Access to Work): This software drives productivity at home or work by enabling fast, accurate dictation and transcription with the right level of customisation that aids you to browse the internet and create documents.
- Dragon Medical One Speech Recognition Software: This programme optimises clinical outcomes by providing intelligent solutions to capture, improve, and communicate the patient story across the episode of care. For clinicians.
3. High-tech assistive technology examples
Some examples of high-tech assistive technology include complex, technology-based assistive devices, high-tech prosthetic devices or mobility devices. This could also include alternative input devices and single switch entry devices.
Some examples of high-tech assistive technology include:
- MindView – AT Suite: MindView is a fantastic mind mapping software that allows users to turn ideas into reality via its use of high-tech project management features and powerful MS Office integration.
- Dolphin SuperNova Enterprise: This suite contains a full copy of SuperNova Magnifier and Screen Reader for remote access across Citrix and Remote Desktop Services.
How To Choose the Right Assistive Technology For Your Employees
When it comes to choosing the right assistive technology for your employees, you need to remember that everyone (and every disability) is different. For example, a person with a hearing impairment will likely need a different type of assistive technology than someone with a visual impairment.
Not all assistive devices are suitable for all employees, so it’s important to choose something that will meet the specific needs of each employee.
To assess the needs of your employees, consider a Workplace Needs Assessment.
A workplace needs assessment will help you to identify any potential barriers to inclusion and participation that your employees might face.
Once you’ve identified the needs of your employees with this assessment, you will likely receive a report of recommendations, including any recommended assistive technologies.
You can also talk to your employees directly to find out what type of assistive technology would be most beneficial for them.
If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend getting in touch with a leading Assistive Tech Provider (like us!) who will be able to provide you with expert advice and guidance on choosing the right assistive technology for your workplace.
How We Can Help
At Thriiver, we’re passionate about helping businesses make their workplaces more inclusive for employees with disabilities. We specialise in providing a wide range of assistive technology solutions that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of any organisation.
From Workplace Needs Assessments, to Assistive Technologies, Workplace Mental Health Training and more, we can help you to support your employees with disabilities and create a workplace where everyone can thrive.