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."

Monday, May 4, 2009

Alternative and Augmentative Communication Camp, June 8-12

"Advancing Adventures in Communicating" AAC Camp presents a wonderful opportunity for AAC users between the ages of 5 and 20 to experience the thrill of traditional summer camp activities. Rock climbing, swimming, and arts & crafts are just some of the highlights that create an unforgettable experience, while expanding the social communication skills of campers.

Trained Idaho State University students in the area of Augmentative Communication and Licensed Speech Pathologists will help foster improved social communication in a 1:1 counselor to camper ratio.

A collaborative partnership between St. Luke's/Idaho Elks Rehabilitation Services and the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Education for the Deaf, ISU-Boise center hosts this camp.

Dates: June 8-12
Time: 9AM-3PM M-Th; 9AM-12PM Friday
Location: Idaho State University Boise Center,
Bridger Building 12438 W. Bridger Drive Boise, ID 83713
Fee: $70

For more information or applications, contact Anne Kuhlmeier at 208-706-5775 or email akuhlmeier@ierh.org.

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