What is AT?
Assistive technology (AT) includes thousands of simple to complex devices that enable persons with disabilities to perform tasks they are unable to accomplish or have great difficulty accomplishing.
These products may be used at home, in the work place, in the classroom and in the community to reduce barriers and empower personal abilities.
Examples include hearing aids, communication devices, computers and specialized software, home or vehicle modifications and more..
AT devices must be accompanied by AT services which assist an individual with a disability in the selection, purchase or use of an assistive technology device.
Types of AT Devices
Speech-generating communication device with keyguard
Aids to Daily Living (ADL): Products used to aid with eating, bathing, cooking, dressing and home care. Readily available and include such items as adaptive feeding equipment, shower chairs, and locating and identifying aids
Sensory Aids: Devices used by persons with visual and auditory disabilities including eyeglasses, electronic magnifying devices, hearing aids, telecommunication aids, adapted software and Braille output devices
Mobility Aids: Equipment that assists individuals to walk, sit, stand or transition from one position to another. These devices include wheelchairs, stair-lifts, three-wheeled scooters, canes, crutches, walkers.
Communication Aids: Devices used as a substitution for the natural voice. These devices are used with persons who are non-verbal or who have limited or distorted speech. Devices include communication boards or pictures, speech generating devices, eye-gaze systems and mobile applications. Also known as Alternative and Augmentative Communication Devices (AAC).
Computer and Information Technology Access: Alternative methods for accessing computers, software, electronic devices and telecommunications equipment. Such AT includes alternative keyboards and mice, headsticks, voice recognition and text-to-speech software including software for literacy and education.
The world of assistive technology also encompasses seating and positioning, ergonomics, prosthetics and orthotics, architectural modifications, environmental control systems and transportation adaptations.
Types of AT Services
AT services consists of a comprehensive process of assessments, strategies, and follow-up provided to the consumer and related to his/her adaptive equipment. A successful technology intervention depends on the provision of appropriate and continual AT services
Services will vary based on the individual's needs, the AT device or system, desired outcomes and by practitioner standards.
Assessment - Evaluation of a person's AT needs based on physical, cognitive and sensory capabilities. Encompasses goals, desired outcomes and environment. Results in a recommendation of technology, a device modification or a strategic plan.
Device Demonstration and Trial Use - Individual becomes familiar with and utilizes the recommended AT in his/her most environment
Implementation: Technology is procured, installed and configured to meet individual needs and environments
Training: Delivered to the AT user and to all involved persons, i.e; family members, caregivers, teachers, service providers. Extremely important for a successful assistive technology intervention
Technical Assistance: On-going troubleshooting; re-integration, refresher training; follow-up as needed
Maintenance and Repair: As needed