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Definitions and Glossary of Adaptive and Assistive Technology Terms

  • Published: 2016-09-24 : Author: Disabled World : Contact: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Definitions and glossary of terms used to describe adaptive and assistive technology products and aides.

Main Document

"Adaptive computing systems that allow people with disabilities to use computers to complete tasks that they would have difficulty doing without a computer, e.g., reading, writing, communicating, accessing information."

Accessibility features provide various options that exist within products that allow a user to adjust the settings to their personal needs. Products can come with various accessibility features that can adjust to the individual’s visual, mobility, hearing, language, and learning needs. Accessibility features allow individuals with disabilities to use products that may not other wise be useful.

Academic and Learning Aids: Electronic and non-electronic aids such as calculators, spell checkers, portable word processors, and computer-based software solutions.

Adaptive Technologies: A type of assistive technology that includes customized systems that help individuals move, communicate, and control their environments.

Aids for Daily Living: Self-help aids for use in activities such as eating, bathing, cooking,dressing, toileting, and home maintenance.

Ambulation Aids: These devices help people walk upright and include canes, crutches, and walkers.

Assistive Listening Devices and Environmental Aids: Electronic and non-electronic aids such as amplification devices, closed captioning systems, and environmental alert systems that assist people hard of hearing or deaf with accessing information that is typically presented through an auditory modality.

Augmentative Communication: Electronic and non-electronic devices and software solutions that provide a means for expressive and receptive communication for persons with limited speech and language. The system can include speech, gestures, sign language, symbols, synthesized speech, dedicated communication aids or microcomputers.

Bariatrics: Equipment and supplies designed for larger or obese patients. Bariatric Equipment designs cater for the larger person and features increased weight capacities, heavy duty supports and wider widths to fit the persons needs. Bariatric wheelchairs are designed to be stonger, sturdy, and larger to suit the needs of an obese person. Most equipment defined as bariatric has a 300 - 900 pound weight limit - though there is not a specific width or designated weight limit that defines bariatric products - What are Bariatric Aids, Products or Equipment?

Compensatory Tools: Adaptive computing systems that allow people with disabilities to use computers to complete tasks that they would have difficulty doing without a computer, e.g., reading, writing, communicating, accessing information.

Computer Access and Instruction: Input and output devices, alternative access aids, modified or alternative keyboards, switches, special software, and other devices and software solutions that enable people with a disability to use a computer device.

Durable Medical Equipment: (DME) Any piece of equipment that is used to serve a medical purpose, can withstand repeated use, and is appropriate for use in the home.

Environmental Control: Electronic and non-electronic aids such as switches, environmental control units, and adapted appliances that are used by persons with physical disabilities to increase their independence. Environmental Adaptations are modifications or changes made to an individual's environment (e.g., home, work, school, community) to assist in living independently.

Mobility Aids: Electronic and non-electronic aids such as wheelchairs (manual and electronic), walkers, scooters that are used to increase personal mobility and independence in personal transportation.

Pre-vocational and Vocational Aids: Electronic and non-electronic aids such as picture-based task analysis sheets, adapted knobs, and adapted timers and watches that are used to assist in completing pre-vocational and vocational tasks.

Recreation and Leisure Aids: Electronic and non-electronic aids such as adapted books, switch adapted toys, and leisure computer-based software applications that are used by persons with disabilities to increase participation and independence in recreation and leisure activities.

Rehabilitative Devices: Rehabilitate means to train. Rehabilitative devices are used for testing, exercising and training.

Seating and Positioning: Adaptive seating systems and positioning devices that provide people with optimal positioning.They provide greater body stability, upright posture or reduction of pressure on the skin surface. Equipment includes wheelchair cushions, trunk/head supports, modular seating, and seating lifts.

Switches and Switch Software: Switches offer an alternative method of providing input to a computer when it is not possible to use a standard keyboard or mouse.

Universal Design (UD): An approach to the design of products and environments aimed at making them accessible to all people, both those with and without disabilities.

Visual Aids: Electronic and non-electronic aids such as magnifiers, talking calculators, Braille writers, adapted tape players, screen reading software applications for the computer, and Braille note-taking devices that assist people with visual impairments or blindness in accessing and producing information that is typically present in a visual (print) modality.

Adaptive Clothing: Adaptive Clothing is any type of clothing designed or altered to accommodate a particular dressing difficulty.

Back-flap Pants: Designed with fabric that overlaps at the seat and is attached by snaps at the waist to allow for ease in self-toileting for the wheelchair bound person.

Cut-away Garments: Seat of the garment has been "cut away" providing easier personal care by the caregiver and comfort for the wearer.

One-piece Jumpsuits: Have back zipper access to prevent the wearer from disrobing inappropriately and assist in toileting and personal care needs for the individual.

Plus Size Clothing: Also called Outsize in some countries, an extra large or oversize clothing size, especially one for women's or children's clothing.

Rear Closure Garments: Items that open down the back to facilitate dressing people who cannot raise their arms over their head to put on a shirt or dress, or who are confined to a wheelchair or bed.

Side Snap Pants: Feature snaps on both sides of the pants at the waistband providing ample room for care and dressing comfort, and making the waist area adjustable.

Side-zip Garments: Feature zippers down both sides allowing greater ease in dressing and facilitates the transfer process in toileting.


Assisted Living: Communities designed to provide residents with assistance with basic ADLs (activities of daily living) such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and more. Assisted living communities differ from nursing homes in that they don’t offer complex medical services.

Early intervention Services: Provided under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which address needs of infants and toddlers with disabilities, from birth to age 3 years, and their families.

Independent Living Centers (ILCs): Also known as Centers for Independent Living (CILs), ILCs are typically non-residential, community organizations that advocate for people with disabilities. The centers promote full access to housing, transportation, employment, recreation, and other support services.

Personal Assistance Services (PAS): Help people with disabilities complete daily tasks needed for successful participation in school, work, and community living. They include, but are not limited to, dressing, eating, personal hygiene, shopping, and home/office organization.

Stairlift Glossary of Terms: - Stairlift jargon made easier - a complete guide to understanding stairlift terminology.

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