Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Independence: How Can Assistive Technology (AT) Make A Difference?

09/18/2015 | Published by: Cindi Paschall

Assistive technology (AT) helps individuals who have a disability. AT is also known as an adaptive aid. AT is any piece of equipment — no-tech, low-tech, or high-tech — that can help some people with a disability do something they could not do otherwise and  makes tasks easier for some people. AT helps in all aspects of life: education, communication (written and spoken), leisure, work, day-to-day activities and more. AT also increases self-esteem, self-confidence and independence.

The Assistive Technology Act of 1998 defines assistive technology devices and services as follows:

  • Assistive Technology Device: Any item, piece of equipment or product system.  It may be acquired commercially off-the-shelf.  It may be modified, or customized. 
  • It is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
  • Pot stabilizers, adaptive cooking utensils, an electric chopper, can opener and other adaptive tools help people with disabilities prepare meals.
  • Picture prompts and color coded cookbooks offer a creative way for a person with a print disability to read a recipe.
  • Removing buttons, snaps and zippers and replacing them with Velcro can help with independence in dressing. 
  • Books on tape, reading with pictures instead of print, and screen readers help a person with a print disability access information. These tools are often helpful for people with a learning, physical or visual disability or who cannot read print.
  • Word prediction and speech to text software, graphic organizers, an adaptive keyboard, a pencil grip or head pointer help struggling writers.
  • Alarms, visual timers and picture schedules help a person who struggles with the concept of time.
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) gives a voice to people who do not use words to communicate a voice. Software, electronic devices and picture boards are a few examples of AAC that help a person express her thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas.

Assistive Technology Service: Any service that directly assists an individual with a disability to select, acquire or use an assistive technology device.

AT does not have to be a computer, expensive, or prescribed. AT can be simple or complex. AT allows us to be creative and use imagination and problem solving-strategies. Be sure to check out the Center on Technology and Disability for more AT ideas and information. The Rehabilitation Technology Resource Center (RTRC) of the DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) keeps track of the latest equipment and engineering services designed to help people with disabilities. Check out RTRC to learn more.  And, don’t miss Assistive Technology and Adaptive Equipment for Children with Disabilities on this website.

The question is not “Can my child do ________?” but “What support is needed in order for my child to do _____?”  AT technology can enhance your child’s life. 

Ask the question and let your ideas, creativity and problem solving-strategies flow.  Remember - there are no limits.