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Assistive Technology - Past Present and Future

  • Published: 2009-01-17 (Rev. 2009-10-15) - Contact: RehaDesign
  • Synopsis: Many people equate assistive technology with sophisticated electronic devices this report dispels the confusion around assistive technology.

Main Document

Many people equate assistive technology with sophisticated electronic devices. This report dispels the confusion around assistive technology and encourages the reader to share their vision for the future of assistive technology in a new website.

Assistive technology, sometimes known as Adaptive Technology, includes devices or equipment used to maintain, increase or improve the abilities of individuals with disabilities.

Assistive technology is NOT only computer programs or electronic devices.

Since many people think of computers when thinking of technology, this is a common mistake. Assistive technology doesn't have to be high-tech, but it should serve the purpose of "assistance" and can include anything from a stick one uses to reach for something to a walker or a wheelchair, or more complex items such as environmental controls or adapted vehicles.

This means that assistive technology has existed since the first homosapiens picked up a branch to help himself over rough terrain.

Sophisticated forms of assistive technology date back for centuries as well, as the 6th century saw an image of a wheelchair being carved in stone on a Chinese sarcophagus. Today, assistive technology is available to support many common disabilities. For example assistive technology may:

Provide help with communication, such as speech, writing and typing aids

Help people with difficulty accessing a computer with the standard keyboard and mouse. They include software programs such as a screen reader or on-screen keyboard and hardware, such as a head operated mouse.

Provide exercises that stimulate train and assess cognitive functioning.

Assist with daily living such as cooking, dressing, toileting, bathing, eating

Provide assistance with hearing or visual limitations such as flashing light system for the doorbell, hearing aids and closed caption decoders for TV.

Provide assistance with mobility such as wheelchairs, walkers and canes.

Help with missing or disabled limbs such as artificial limbs, braces, supports

Allow disabled individuals to take part in sporting or leisure activities.

Support the muscular-skeletal systems and maintain positions needed to perform desired activities, such as molded seats, lumbar supports, and modifications to wheelchairs would fall into this category.

Improve access to print materials such as Braille devices and translators, and large button telephones.

What is the future of assistive technology

A new website has been created at newdisability.com which is meant to be a platform for communication between the disabled community and the assistive technology industry.

There is a forum where users, manufacturers and distributors can express feedback about all kinds of innovative assistive technology. Visitors can not only express the products that they like and already know, but also what they would like to see.

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