What is Adaptive Technology?

Adaptive Technology (or assistive technology) is the name for products which help people who cannot use regular versions of products, primarily people with physical disabilities such as limitations to vision, hearing, and mobility. In this section you can learn about the basic kinds of Adaptive Technology that might be used by someone with low vision or blindness.


CCTVs or Video Magnifiers

This is a magnifying aid for people who have eye problems but still have some sight. Printed material and objects can be placed under a camera and the magnified image is displayed on a television screen or computer monitor. They are mostly used for reading, but can also be used for writing and other activities such as sewing.  There are both desktop systems and portable systems available, many systems now also come with the option to use the camera to take pictures of your documents and have them read back to you (OCR), this is especially useful if you tire easily from using magnification. Examples include:

  • Humanware Reveal 16 CCTV
  • Explore 5 Portable CCTV
  • LVI MagniLink CCTV
  • Zoomax Snow 12 Portable CCTV


Screen Magnification Software

This software can magnify the text, menus and icons on the computer screen up to 32 times. Because screen magnification software increases the size of the image displayed on the screen, only a portion of the original screen image can be seen at one time. Normally the magnification will automatically follow the area of attention, for example the cursor. Because of the restriction on the amount of viewable area on the screen, a large monitor is usually used in conjunction with screen magnification software to effectively increase the viewable area on the screen. Examples include:

  • Dolphin SuperNova Magnifier and Speech
  • Windows Magnifier


Large Print Keyboards

Large print keyboards provide an easy to see computer keyboard with extra large key legends for greater visibility and efficiency. Examples include:

  • Supernova Large Print Keyboard
  • Keys U See Keyboard
  • LogicKeyboard


Screen Reading Software

A screen reading program converts displayed text on the computer screen into audible information through the computers sound card. Common features include the ability to speak the full screen, a user defined area of the screen, a line, a word, individual letters or the phonetic equivalent of a letter and punctuation. A screen reader allows menus, dialog boxes, tool tips and system messages to be read back. A screen reader is designed to give a blind person full access to the computer. Examples include:

  • NVDA
  • Dolphin Supernova
  • Voiceover for Mac


Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software

This software is used in conjunction with a PC and scanner to copy printed text to the computer and hold it electronically so it can be read back or magnified for the user.  Examples include:

  • K1000 Scanning Software


Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Portable and Standalone

A portable or standalone OCR device is a singular device that integrates a camera, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Software and speech software. A printed document or book can be scanned and read by the same machine. This option is often popular with those people who don’t have a computer or don’t want to learn to use a computer. Some of these machines allow document storage, these devices scan and read significantly faster than using computer based flatbed scanners. They are light weight and portable. Examples include:

  • LVI MagniLink Voice 2
  • ReadEasy Evolve
  • Orcam MyEye
  • I-Reader 2


Talking Book Players

Traditionally, Talking Books were played on records, and then, as the technology changed, on cassette tapes using specially adapted machines. Now Talking Books are in the process of becoming totally digital. These digital books allow users to skip directly to specific places in the book, insert bookmarks, and more.   There are two types of players for reading digital Talking Books—stand-alone players and software players that are used on computers and smartphones. The stand-alone machines are the easiest to learn to use, and they can be small and portable. Examples include:

  • Victor Reader Stream


Personal Data Assistant

A personal data assistant is a small handheld device that records personal notes, conversations, meetings, or data such as telephone numbers or a shopping list.

  • Digital Recorder



A portable computer with a Braille or QWERTY keyboard that gives speech feedback and allows the user to take notes, make appointments and some are email and internet enabled. They also have an integrated Braille display, allowing users to read without using the speech output. Examples include:

  • BrailleNote Touch Plus
  • BrailleSense Polaris


GPS Solutions

A dedicated personal GPS device utilizes the GPS network to pinpoint a person's position on earth and nearby points of interest and then can direct them to their destination with recorded voice commands, this is useful for the people who travel/walk a lot. Visually impaired people can encode specific important information, everything from sidewalk issues to low hanging beaches also points of interest such as local restaurants.Afterward, they can also create specific walking routes. Examples include:

  • Victor Reader Trek


Braille Display

An electronic Braille display is a tactile device that is placed in front of a conventional computer keyboard, or laptop keyboard and enables the user to read the contents of the computer screen by touch through Braille. Each Braille cell has eight pins made of metal or nylon, which are electronically controlled to move up and down and display a Braille version of the characters that appear on the computer screen.  Examples include:

  • Brailliant BI40X
  • Hims QBraille XL


Braille Embosser or Braille Printer

Embossers print Braille output from a computer by punching dots onto paper. They connect to the computer in the same way as text printers and can also be connected to notetakers and other devices. Used in conjunction with the embosser is Braille translation software that translates printed text into Braille.  Examples include:

  • Index Everest
  • Juliet 120
  • Perkins Brailler


Braille Literacy

Literacy is the foundation of language, learning and a successful life. For people who are blind or vision impaired, literacy through Braille is the key to the world of ideas, literature and written communication. Adaptive technology devices are essential literacy tools for students who read and write in Braille. They are used from the beginning of Braille literacy and right throughout life. Examples include:

  • Mountbatten Whisperer Learning System


Braille Translation

Braille translation software is a program that converts computer text, such as that created in a word processor, to Braille code. This code can then be passed to a Braille embosser (Braille printer) for embossing on paper. Examples include:

  • Duxbury


* Please note that the product examples used here are not a comprehensive list of products for each category.