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Tech Firms Tout Assistive Technology, Accessible Features

A new partnership between Microsoft and Dell is intended to make it easier for teachers to take technology they're already using and make it more accessible for students with disabilities, as well as locate new products the companies market as accessible, all in one place.

There are lots of free tips and videos here. Some of them demonstrate the many features already built into the PCs and software schools already use, such as screen magnification, enlarging the size of the mouse pointer, and helping students take notes faster.

"We know it's critical to get these tools out there and make sure these tools are not only built into our products but easy to find and discover," said Anthony Salcito, a vice president at Microsoft who oversees the Worldwide Education division.

And Dell recently hired a special education teacher who now helps shape the company's assistive technology work, said Mark Horan, vice president of Dell Education. "We really haven't had the focus on [assistive technology] before now," he said. "We've always been a technology provider to ed; This gives us another opportunity to provide a full solution to schools."

Dell's new assistive technology service guides teachers to Dell and non-Dell products, Horan said, simplifying the ordering process.

If you're wondering, I've heard a lot of love for Mac products among special education teachers and parents of children with disabilities, and I've written about the possibilities of iPads and other tablet computers in the past. You can read about many of the assistive features built into Apple products here.

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