The use of assistive technology is a crucial factor in the successful employment of persons who are blind. However, according to a 2000 study, only 24% of persons who are disabled own computers, compared to a national average of over 50%. According to a 2003 study, fewer than 30% of persons with dis-abilities access the Internet, compared to more than 60% for persons who do not have disabilities. This gap is the "digital divide." The Commission's assistive technology program is helping to bridge this gap. A blind person must learn the application, as well as the assistive technology that allows access to the application. One-hundred eighty-one evaluations were completed; 185 computers, scanners, printers, and video magnifiers were configured and delivered to consumers state-wide; 143 received hardware or software upgrades; and 118 received hardware and software repairs. Eleven-hundred twenty-seven received personal tutoring.
The Commission's technology specialists provided consumers with screen readers, Braille displays, screen magnification programs, video magnifiers, and Braille note takers. The assistive technology is intended to meet their individualized employment needs. Often only small changes are needed to make the blind person's job much easier and more competitive.