What Is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology (AT) is the application of any technology to a human disability to improve access, function, or independence. This applies to technologies designed specifically for a disability as well as to the application of existing technologies to new uses or populations.

Categories of AT include power wheelchairs, ramps, vans, reading devices, speaking devices, writing devices, educational software, computer access tools, specialized utensils, special bath or toilet equipment, accessible kitchens, hand dexterity aids, environmental controls, door openers, adapted sports equipment, robotic limbs, even sailboat controls for quadriplegics or bikes that blind individuals can safely ride.

Specialists in AT are called Assistive Technology Professionals (ATPs) who adapt and apply existing technology to persons with a disability, or they may specialize in the invention, production, and distribution of devices. ATPs can be therapists, special educators, or engineers before they get involved with AT. Certification is provided by RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America.

AT is important for special education departments in schools and colleges because consideration of the AT needs of a student is mandated by law. AT is important to employers, contractors who build public buildings, and transportation officials because of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. AT is important to the medical community because it is a natural extension of the rehabilitation disciplines to consider when a person receiving services needs special equipment to return to or to maintain independent living.

Finally, AT is great for everyone. We have noticed how much AT designed for people with a disability can help non-disabled people do things too. The idea that a new product or facility should be usable by anyone is called "universal access."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Get Free Stuff!

There is a lot of free stuff for assistive technology on the internet, if you know where to look. Some companies offer free downloads of usable programs in the hope that you will upgrade to the full paid version. Some sites just want to share. To find my list of free downloads, go to ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES in the left column, and click on "Mike's Favorite Links". This takes you to Google Documents to my resource list. Scroll down to the letter "F" and you will see the "Free Download" section.

Keep Looking Up!

1 comment:

Terry said...

What an impressive and wonderful resource for the many who have need as users or as helper! This is the first time that I have heard of your involvement in this,what a wonderful choice that is supported by your years of professional and family experience!

Best wishes, Dad