Assistive technology (AT) can be loosely defined as the use of equipment to facilitate independence in a person with a disability.
Both children and adults can benefit from the many types of assistive technology.
Children’s needs can differ greatly from adults due to the nature of their disability and their educational needs.
Here’s what you need to know about high and low tech assistive technology:
• Low Tech AT is usually less invasive and easy to incorporate. Examples include adaptive pencil grips, large print text, line guides for reading, or a picture scheduling system for a child that has a hard time understanding text or numbers. While these changes are simple, they can make a big difference in independence for everyday tasks such as handwriting and reading.
• High Tech AT refers to complex devices that have a power source. For children, high tech devices are often used for communication impairments and include adaptive hardware or software to access a computer, equipment to participate in leisure tasks, and home automation devices.
• Computer Technology: AT for the computer includes adaptations to hardware or software. Keyboards can be made larger or smaller and keyboard letter keys can be given alternate layouts. A mouse can be adapted to a joystick or trackball, or made to be controlled by the head or eyes. On-screen keyboards, voice to text or text to voice software, and word prediction software can all help to make communication easier.
• Alternative and Augmentative Communication: These are devices that enhance or replace speech when a child is unable to make his or her needs known. Devices like iPads can be used as children’s communication tools with appropriate applications. There are also “dedicated” devices; these are meant for communication only but have accessibility built in for use with head movement or eye gaze.
• Home Automation: With the advancement of technology, it’s much easier for a child with a disability to control his or her environment, including lights, TV remote, fan, door locks, etc. With the use of a simple remote, smart phone, or tablet, a child can access all of the electronics at home independently.
The use of assistive technology can greatly improve the life of a child or adult with a disability or mixed abilities, and the inclusion of accessibility options in mainstream technology makes access of the necessary easier for a person with an AT need.
Want to learn more? Join the experts from Rusk Rehabilitation at NYU Langone Medical Center for a discussion on the use of assistive technology to enhance independence of children outside the classroom:
Date/Time: Thursday, February 25 at 5pm
Location: Ambulatory Care Center, 240 East 38th St., 11th Floor Conference Room
To RSVP for this free lecture, click here.