Further Information on What Assistive Technology Is
A.T. helps people learn, communicate and live more independently.
Assistive technology is any product or service that maintains or improves the ability
of individuals with disabilities or impairments to communicate, learn and live independent,
fulfilling and productive lives.
Assistive technology is used in education, employment, healthcare, residential homes
and domestic settings. It may be used by all ages, for a wide range of disabilities
or impairments, and for a wide range of activities.
The range of disabilities AT can help includes:
- autism spectrum disorders
- blindness and low vision
- deafness and hard of hearing
- difficulties with computer/web access
- communication disorders
- mobility impairment
- manual dexterity difficulties
- learning disabilities
- cognitive disabilities
The range of products AT covers (in broad terms) includes:
- low tech like communication boards made of cardboard or fuzzy felt.
tech such as special purpose computers, including those with eye gaze and head tracker
- hardware such as prosthetics, attachment devices (mounting systems), and positioning
devices, pencil holders.
- computer hardware, like special switches, keyboards, and pointing devices.
- computer software such as screen-readers or communication software.
- inclusive or specialised learning materials and curriculum aids.
- specialised curricular and educational software.
- electronic devices to control the living or working environment
Though the following are also examples of assistive technology (as most broadly
defined), ‘architectural products (such as specialized elevators, lifts, ramps or
grab bars), transport products (such as wheel chairs (though devices attached to
them may be) and adapted motor vehicle), prosthetic devices (such as artificial
limbs and eyes), and hearing aids, these are generally outside the range of AT products
of BATA members.
The range of AT offered by BATA members, in more detail, includes:
AAccessible computer input – physical disabilities
e.g., adapted or alternative keyboards and mouse, switches and switch access, word
prediction, speech recognition, symbol based software, text to speech, word prediction
and word banks, phonetic spell checkers, speech recognition, digital voice recorders,
electronic memory aids.
BAccessible computer input – visual impairment
e.g. screen magnifiers and readers, speech recognition, Braille translation software
CFor learning disabilities - symbol
based software, text to speech, word prediction and word banks, phonetic spell checkers,
speech recognition, digital voice recorders, electronic memory aids. Also includes
software etc to assist mainstream learning.
DVisual impairment – low tech e.g.
white canes, talking clocks and watches, liquid level indicators, UV shields protect
and increase contrast, writing aids incl signature guides.
EVisual impairment – high tech
e.g. CCTV magnifiers, reading machines, audio books and audio book players, Braille
embossers, screen magnifiers and readers, speech recognition.
FDeafness and hearing loss – hearing
aids, teletext, close captioning, text messaging (SMS).
GAugmentative and Alternative Communication
(AAC) – low tech (paper or object based e.g. communication books, cards,
charts, PECS, eye gaze frames); light tech (simple technology with recording features
e.g. single message recorders, sequencers, overlay VOCAs; hi-tech (computerised
voice output communication devices VOCA) e.g. dynamic display, dedicated communication
devices, computer based communication devices (and mounting solutions, associated
aids and adaptations as required).
HMobility impairment e.g. crutches,
walkers, wheelchairs, scooters, car adaptations, seating, lifts and elevators, hoists.
IEnvironmental control systems (ECS)
e.g. door openers, curtain and blind openers, remote lights switches, control of
TV, DVD etc, some built in AAC devices.
JDurable medical equipment as used
in the home to aid quality of life e.g. medical ventilators, oxygen tents, nebulizers,
blood glucose and blood pressure monitors. Also includes telemedicine.
KPersonal Emergency Response Systems (PERS)
e.g. electronic sensors connected to alarm system, fall detectors, thermometers
(for hypothermia), unlit gas cooker sensors, incontinence detectors.
LAssistive technology services include:
- the evaluation of the needs of a child or adult identified with a disability, including
a functional evaluation of that person in his or her customary environment or place
- purchasing, leasing, or facilitating the acquisition of assistive
- selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying,
maintaining, repairing, or replacing of assistive technology devices;
and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology
devices, such as those associated with education and rehabilitation plans and programmes;
training or technical assistance for an adult or child (or, where appropriate, the
family/carer of the child)
- training or technical assistance for professionals
(including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers,
or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise involved
in with individuals with an identified disability.
British Assistive Technology Association, UK