Assistive Technology Information
We use assistive technology (AT) devices on a daily basis without even thinking about it. Eyeglasses, AT devices designed to aid those with low vision, are seen on everyone from today’s hottest celebrities to the local librarian. Some wearers require their glasses to improve sight, while others wear spectacles as a stylish accessory.
Items such as curb cuts, first designed so people in wheelchairs could move from the street to the sidewalk with ease, are now used by bicyclists and mothers pushing strollers.
Books on tape, originally developed for people with visual impairments, are now used by rush hour commuters and children alike. Even closed captioning, invented for individuals with hearing difficulties, is used by viewers learning English as a second language and those trying to watch TV while the vacuum cleaner is running.
What is AT?
Assistive technology (AT) 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 (20 U.S.C. §1401 ).
In simpler terms, anything that makes a task easier to complete is AT. AT can range from low-cost, low-tech adaptations such as pencil grips and jar openers to expensive, state-of-the-art devices such as power wheelchairs and computer software.
An assistive technology service is any service that directly assists an individual in the selection, acquisition or use of an assistive technology device (20 U.S.C. §1401 ). This definition means that any services including evaluation, funding, design, customization, maintenance, repair, therapy, training or technical assistance is considered an assistive technology service.
AT devices can be broken down into nine main categories.
- Adapted toys
- Aids for low vision
- Aids for daily living
- Assistive listening devices
- Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
- Computer access
- Seating, positioning, and mobility
- Switches and environmental control units
- Tools for learning