What Is AT?
What is Assistive Technology?
"Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities".
Definition taken from the Technology-Related Assistance Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988.
When a person’s capabilities do not match the demands of the environment, the environment may need to be changed to an adaptive environment.
Advances in technology and design engineering have generated interest adapting existing residence environments to provide improved functional support for care, and Activities of Daily Living (ADL).
Categories of Assistive Technology Devices
Independent Living – aids, devices, and methods that allow people to perform the activities of daily living and to live at home independently.
Computer Access – software, hardware, and special instruments that make computers accessible.
Mobility – aids, devices, and methods that help people expressive communication.
Job Accommodation – aids, devices, and methods that help people carry out work-related tasks.
Seating – modifications to wheelchairs or other seating systems that provide greater body stability, upright posture or reduction of pressure on the skin surface.
Education – educational and vocational resources, services, and products for use in assessments and training.
Transportation – register vehicles, accessories, and services that assist people travel.
Recreation – aids, devices, and methods used for recreation, sports, and leisure.
Sensory Aids – aids, devices, and methods to enhance usable hearing or vision and/or provide an alternative.
Adaptive Switches – switches used to control computers, environmental control units, adaptive toys, communication devices, etc.
Architectural Elements – structural adaptations to the home or worksite that remove or reduce physical barriers.
Therapeutic Aids – aids, devices, and methods that assist in therapy treatments.
Orthotics/Prosthetics – aids, devices, and methods that replace or augment missing or non-functioning body parts.
Assistive Technology Services
Examples of Services:
- Evaluation of needs of an individual
- Purchase, lease, or other acquisition of devices
- Selection, design, fit, customization, adaptation, application, maintenance, repair, or replacement of devices
- Coordination and use of other therapies, interventions, or services
- Training or technical assistance for individuals with disabilities and their families
- Training or technical assistance for professions, employers, and other service providers.
Alternative Keyboard: may include enlarged, reduced, varied key placement, one-handed, Braille, or any other device for entering text on a computer.
Augmentative Communication: any device (electronic or otherwise) to enhance communication for a person.
Braille Embosser: a printer for producing Braille output either manually or when connected to a computer. When printing standard text from a computer, it must first be translated into Braille.
Environmental Control Unit: any type of device that an individual may use to control their environment (lights, appliances, TV, telephone, etc). This may include anything from simple reachers or sticks to computers and voice-activated electronic systems.
FM Loop System: a local wireless broadcast system that consists of a microphone and transmitter for the speaker and "walkman-like" receivers with headphones for listeners with hearing impairments or attention disorders.
High Tech: use of devices requiring use of power such as computers, communication devices, and augmentative communication devices.
Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP): the written document which defines the early intervention services provided to the child and family. The program is designed to meet the needs of the child and the family, and is based on family-identified priorities.
Individualized Education Program (IEP): a written plan, specifying instructional goals and any special education and related services a student may need, which must be written and reviewed annually. Included are (1) the present educational levels of the student; (2) a statement of annual goals, including short-term objectives; (3) a statement of specific services, if needed; (4) the programs; (5) the date when special services are to begin and the expected duration of these services; and (6) the tests and other requirements or information used to gauge the student's progress to determine if the instructional objectives are being met.
Keyboard Alternatives: large keyboards, one handed keyboards, ergonomic keyboards, virtual keyboards, big keys, split keyboards, . . . a device for inputting text and commands to a computer.
Keyguard: a plexiglass or other cover for a keyboard with holes for the individual keys. It allows more precise selection of keys for an individual with fine motor difficulties.
Low Tech: indicates use of low cost non-electronic solutions.
Mouse Alternatives: pointing devices used to operate personal computers. Examples include track ball, touch screen, touch pad, joystick, head tracking, mouse keys.
Screen Reader: software for the visually impaired that reads aloud information on a computer monitor using a speech synthesizer.
Speech Synthesizer: computer generated speech.
Speech Recognition Software: software that allows for dictating of text, and controlling the computer using voice commands.
Switch Access: use of a device such a Puff n Sip switch, or JellyBean switch. Switches may be controlled by anatomical sites (head, hand, toe, eye, breath, etc.) to operate any type of computer, communication or environmental control device.
TDD: a text telephone used for communicating in typed text over a phone line. A TDD has a keyboard and text display or small printer. Both parties who are communicating over a phone line must have TDDs.
Touch Window: a computer input device that uses a touch-sensitive transparent window placed on the computer screen. It performs mouse functions with a finger or stylus directly on the screen.
Trackball: another replacement for the mouse pointing device that uses a rolling ball to perform mouse movements.
Tutorial: teaches concepts, presents information as opposed to simple drill and practice.
Voice Recognition: computer software and microphone that allows input and control with voice commands.
Word Prediction: productivity software that increases typing speed for one-finger typists and others by predicting and choosing complete words.
Word Processor: software for inputting and formatting text.
User: person using a computer.
Utility: software for adding function or performing housekeeping tasks on a computer.