Assistive Technology

assitive technology
I own a Macbook Pro and it’s currently running Mac OS X Yosemite. In system preferences, it has an accessibility option which comes standard with assistive technologies that help people with disabilities. It includes accessibility features for those with:

  • Vision disability– There’s a Display option that allows users to adjust their display preferences, such as inverting the colors on-screen, using grayscale, increasing the contrast and reducing transparency. These options help users better see what’s on their displays. There’s an option that allows users to increase or decrease the cursor size and there’s also a Zoom option which acts as a built-in magnifier that lets you enlarge your screen up to 20 times, that helps you better see what’s on the screen These preferences can give support those affected by different types of vision impairment and low vision in academic areas. VoiceOver is another option that provides spoken and braille descriptions of items on the computer screen and provides control of the computer through the use of the keyboard. It’s essentially a screen reader that tells you exactly what’s happening on your computer. This would be an ideal accessibility tool for those that are blind.


  • Hearing disability- There’s an Audio option that allows you to flash the screen when an alert sound occurs. Once it’s enabled any alert sound will be replaced with a brief flash of the screen. This is very helpful for those that have hearing loss. The flash now becomes an indicator for sound and serves as a visual beep. There’s also an option to play stereo audio as mono. This can be helpful for those that are deaf or hard of hearing in one ear. The fact that stereo recording usually has left and right channel audio tracks. This preference can help by playing both audio channels in both ears. Mac OS X also has Closed Captions for those with hearing impairments to watch movies, tv shows, videos, and podcasts.


  • Physical disability- Mac OS X Yosemite offers Dictation Commands. This allows users to edit text and interact with the computer by speaking to it. You can turn on Dictation and tell the computer to bold a paragraph, delete a sentence, or replace a word. Also offered are preferences to customize keyboard, mouse and trackpad functions. The mouse keys allow the mouse pointer to be controlled using the keyboard number pad and the speed of double-clicking can be adjusted to the user’s liking. The OS also offers a Switch Control option that allows the computer to be controlled using one or more switches like gamepad buttons or dedicated devices. This helps anyone with significantly impaired physical and motor skills. It gives users the ability to navigate onscreen keyboards, menus, and the dock, which makes this a powerful accessibility technology.

According to the article on  “All these Mac disability support resources are included by default in the Mac operating system, plus there are several online tutorials and websites to help users understand how to use the assistive technology.”


  Accessibility – OS X – Apple. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from

  5 Best Resources for Mac & Apple Device Users with Disabilities. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from


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1 Response to Assistive Technology

  1. Janice Kane says:

    Hi Jerry,
    This was great to read because I’m pretty Mac ignorant. We are a PC school and I’m a PC person out of school. It looks like the Mac has some of the same built in accessibility options as the PC. I love the magnifier. I’m going to try that with my younger kids and use it as an investigative tool, like a detective. Even though these are meant for people with disabilities, they can also be used as tools to spice up a lesson.


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