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, November 17, 2009

North Idaho Device Library Update

If you are a user of Idaho's assistive technology device libraries, you can appreciate how important it is to keep track of the thousands of items that are available for loan to teachers, professionals, and families. We just went through the North Idaho AT device library and threw away everything that either no longer works, or is too old to be useful to anyone. For example, no one seems to want to borrow keyboards or mice with 15-pin connectors or PS2 jacks anymore!

A new inventory is done, and if you want a copy, you can make a comment on this posting and I'll get it to you. Be sure to leave your email address.

Christmas came early, as we just received some of the new items from IATP for this year. We have replaced the special access keyboards and mice with USB models and now have an integrated touch screen monitor so you don't have to use the clip on touch screens to test those applications. We've also updated our software collection so that you and try a more current edition of Dragon Naturaly-Speaking or even Kurzweil thumb drive edition.

I'm still waiting for the new toys, but there should be one or two if each kind of modality for trials with the smaller kids. The old toys have served well, but most of them had to go to toy heaven.

So nice to be able to demonstrate a working product instead of showing a broken one and doing it "pretend"!!

The North Idaho A.T. Device Library is located within Coeur d'Alene Hand Therapy & Healing Center at 2448 Merritt Creek Loop in Coeur d'Alene, in the Riverstone Development. You can reach the office at 208-664-2901.

Keep Looking Up,

1 comment:

Gray said...

An alternative software to Kurzweil and Dragon Naturally-speaking would be WORDQ / SPEAKQ .These software are easier to use with a very small learning curve and may be better suited for many who need AT .Both can be downloaded as a free trial from WORDQ.com .