Adaptive software is a type of specialized software that is programmed or created to respond to changes in the needs or desires of the user. Software of this type will also adapt to changes within the operating environment without resulting in a failure of the program. The key element of adaptive software is flexibility. Rather than allowing only one means of operating the software, there may be several possible means of operation that can be employed by a given user.
Sometimes referred to as assistive software, the adaptable software usually runs on specialized hardware that is designed for use by persons with different types of physical challenges. Adaptive software has been developed to meet a wide range of conditions that prevent persons from using computers due to physical limitations. Some common examples of adaptive software include speech recognition software that allows persons who cannot manipulate a keyboard or mouse to execute an order that the system will process. Text to speech software is another common example of adaptive software that allows text displayed on a screen to be produced in voice bytes for persons with limited or no vision.
Other examples of adaptive software are used to control external devices that enhance the experience for persons with limited mobility. An individual with limited use of the hands may be able to enjoy using a computer with the aid of an oversized mouse or a larger joystick that is easy to manipulate. Persons with limited sight may benefit from the addition of a scanner that makes it possible to magnify text displayed on the screen, or possibly interpret a Braille text into voice.
Adaptive software makes it possible for persons who would not be able to enjoy the benefits of using a personal computer for work or recreation otherwise to function in the workplace and surf the Internet along with everyone else. While the cost for many adaptive software products remains somewhat higher than standard software, this is slowly changing as more versions are created and competition among manufacturers becomes more pronounced.