Assistive Technology Devices: What are the Options?
Assistive technology can help people with the activities of daily life. There is a whole range of assistive technology services one can use to help them with learning, bathing, walking, and more. Assistive technology services are good for:
- People with disabilities
- Those with autism
- The elderly
- Anyone recovering from surgery
- Those hard of hearing
- People with ALS
- People with Parkinson’s
- People with dementia
- Those who’ve suffered from a stroke
- Those with arthritis
- Those who are blind or have vision impairments
- Anyone who needs a little extra help
What is assistive technology?
The official definition of assistive technology from the Assistive Technology Act of 2004 is, “Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
The range of assistive technology can include both high-tech and low-tech items. For example, a special computer or software can be considered assistive technology, as well as a walker, brace, or steady spoon. Assistive technology can help people better perform activities of daily living such as going to the bathroom, walking, eating, bathing, dressing, and using a computer.
Research from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics shows that the rate of unemployment for people with disabilities is double that of those without. With the use of assistive technology services, those who are disabled will be more likely to be able to work and live a fulfilling life.
The following are just a few of the many examples of assistive technology devices that are available today.
Assistive technology devices
Safety and health
- Medical alert systems (personal emergency response systems). These devices range from at-home to mobile wearable systems that enable you to get emergency help at the press of a button. Stay at home as you age with a medical alert system. Compare systems to see which one might be right for you.
- Automatic fall detection. Medical alert devices can be equipped with automatic fall detection. Rather than having to press a button, the device can tell if you’ve fallen and automatically contact help.
- Video monitoring. You can use video monitoring to keep your home safe from intruders. Video monitoring and motion sensors are also useful so that loved ones can make sure you are okay when you are alone in your home. Many medical alert systems offer an activity monitoring option that senses your motions and can alert loved ones if your activity level changes.
Devices that use AI (artificial intelligence)
- Inner Voice. This speech pathology app uses AI to help those who are nonbverbal or who have language impairments communicate.
- Equadex. This is a software from France that helps provide a visual representation of language to children with autism. It can convert speech into written sentences, determine intent, and display images to help with comprehension.
- Seeing AI app. This app helps people with impaired vision better navigate daily life. It can recognize people and emotions, describe colors, and identify currency.
Helpful with daily tasks
- Motion-activated faucet. Simply place your hand beneath the faucet to turn on the water. These can help those with arthritis, prevent the spread of germs, and prevent scalding.
- Eye-controlled wheelchair. This is an innovative wheelchair that users can control through eye movements.
- Eye control. A Windows 10 feature in which the user can operate their mouse and keyboard with their eyes.
- Head controlled mouse is a wearable head device wherein you can use head movements, bites, puffs, or a button to control your computer.
- Screen readers. These help the visually impaired read via text-to-speech or braille with magnification. An example is Apple VoiceOver, which can read content aloud in thirty languages.
- Desktop video magnifier. This option magnifies text on the screen with many options for focus, contrast and highlighting.
- Large print and tactile keyboards. These special keyboards feature large letters and bumps to help the user find the right keys.
- Caption phone. This phone has a large 7-inch screen displaying captions of what’s being said.
- Cell phone volume amplifier. This special amplifier turns on and off automatically and can make your phone volume up to three times louder.
- Smartpen. These pens help those with memory problems convert handwritten notes to digital files that can be accessed on many devices.
Paying for assistive technology
There are several options for paying for assistive technology. Here are some of the ways to get financial help:
- If you are in a school setting, the school system will pay for learning tools needed for special education.
- Government programs such as Social Security, Medicaid, or Veteran’s benefits may be able to help as long as a doctor prescribes the assistive technology device and deems it medically necessary. To find out if you can get financial assistance, contact your local Area Agency on Aging. Ask if your state has an Assistive Technology Program that can help you.
- Private health plans may help with payment as long as a doctor prescribes the assistive technology device and deems it medically necessary.
- Rehabilitation and job training programs may be able to help with costs.
- If you are working and need a specific device to do your job, your employer may pay for the assistive technology tool.
With all assistive technology device options, compare products and read reviews before purchasing. Make sure the company you are purchasing from is legitimate and trustworthy. The good news is there are a lot of choices out there to make you life easier to live.