Recently, I was on the phone reserving a shuttle ride to an appointment. This is low-cost transportation available where I live for people with disabilities—there may be something like that available where you live, too.
Part way through, the operator commented about my lucidity. I explained my disability is physical and under federal and state guidelines, I am disabled. That led her to comment about how sometimes she wondered which would be a worse disability, physical or mental. I know about living with physical disability; I hope I never find out about living with mental challenges.
She asked me whether I would need to bring any assistive equipment with me—wheelchair, walker, anything like that. I don’t use any assistive technology, but her questions got me thinking about assistive technology.
You guessed it—this piece of writing is about assistive technology.
Assistive technology (AT) is defined by the Assistive Technology Industry Association as any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.
In short, assistive technologies exist to enable people with disabilities to improve their capabilities, but are not necessarily mechanical or high tech.
Some examples of assistive technology are crutches or wheelchairs, large print reading materials, walkers, leg braces or specialized computer programs or keys. These aids are available to anyone in need of certain kinds of assistance.
Assistive technology may be as simple as grab bars in the shower, or detachable shower heads.
Complicating matters is what’s called adaptive technology, which is technology intended for people with specialized needs, and is a kind of subcategory of assistive technology. The two can overlap, making it more difficult to know which is which.
A definition I found for adaptive technology is adaptive technology refers to special versions of already existing technologies or tools that provide enhancements or different ways of interacting with the technology. The adaptation helps individuals with a disability or impairment accomplish a specific task.
In other words, adaptive technology refers to special versions of already existing technologies or tools that provide enhancements or different ways of interacting with the technology. The adaptation helps individuals with a disability or impairment accomplish a specific task.
Examples of adaptive technology are prosthetic limbs, large print or Braille books and digitized text.
Each helps improve the quality of life for the user and helps them to more actively participate in their own lives.
Technologies can and do cover a range of equipment like wheelchairs or motorized scooters for those who have mobility issues Special computer hardware and software like voice recognition programs and screen enlargement programs help people who have issues with vision problems.
The list of assistive/adaptive technologies is quite long. No matter the physical disability, there is a good chance there is a high tech or low tech device that can help improve the quality of life.
The Technology Related Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 described an assistive technology device as 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.
Every state has an AT program. These programs are available to provide assistance in selecting and acquiring assistive and adaptive technologies. Your physical or occupational therapist may be able to give you information to help you locate or get in touch with your state’s program.
Assistive/adaptive technologies are a lifesaver. They may make the difference between needing to be in an institutional facility or a nursing home and living in a person’s own home and environment.
They may also help make the lives of family, friends and caregivers a bit easier too.
|Isaac Peterson grew up on an Air Force base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, he embarked on a career as an award-winning investigative journalist and as a semi-professional musician in the Twin Cities, the place he called home on and off for 35 years. He doesn’t mind it at all if someone offers to pick up his restaurant tab and, also, welcomes reader comments. Email him at email@example.com. Read more articles by Isaac here; https://www.brainenergysupportteam.org/archives/tag/isaac-peterson|