What Is Assistive Technology?

Assistive Technology (AT) sounds pretty scary at first. Initial impressions may conjure images of high tech solutions like computers that track your eyes as mouse input (eye gaze) or power wheelchairs that include a hydraulic system to help the user stand up. The truth about AT is much simpler and less intimidating. AT is any modification (mod) or accommodation created for the purpose of assisting individuals with disabilities in accomplishing a task or tasks.

AT can come in many forms. It is often categorized in no tech, low tech, medium tech, or high tech solutions. No Tech solutions are those that use existing items in the environment without the need for a special device or equipment. For example, using a communication partner as an interpreter. Low Tech solutions include less sophisticated technology. I also include quick or simple modifcactions to existing devices in this category. For example, using a larger pen or pencil she help an individual with manual dexterity challenges to write. Medium Tech solutions include relatively complicated mechanical devices and some basic electronics. I also include medium modifications to existing devices in this category. For example, wheelchairs are considered medium tech solutions. High Tech solutions involve sophisticated electronics and computers. For example, eye gaze technology which allows individuals to control a computer with their eyes.

For a deeper definition the University of Kentucky’s National Assistive Technology Research Institute (NATRI) has a pretty good definition on their site: http://natri.uky.edu/resources/fundamentals/defined.html

Here at AT Dad’s Place, I will be discussing all levels of AT. I hope to provide examples of each.

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