Many who are unfamiliar with the acronym AT may not know that it stands for Assistive Technology. But even when one learns what AT stands for it may still be a mystery what Assistive Technology is. The simple answer I often give is AT is any device that can assist an individual with a disability to complete a task or function. AT includes any item, equipment or software used to improve the abilities of individuals with disabilities. While this is how I usually explain it, the IDEA defines Assistive Technology as “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 the functional capabilities of children with disabilities” (IDEA). This definition of course can be applied to adults as well. Once the basics have been covered questions such as what AT is used for, what types of devices are available and how those devices are beneficial for individuals with disabilities begin to emerge. These are not always easily answered as there are a great variety of AT devices that perform many functions. However, there are a few categories that AT will typically fall into. It is important to remember that AT does not have to be a high-tech electronic device to qualify as being Assistive Technology. Devices that require no electronics to function such a mount or manual lift system are still Assistive Technology. Devices such as a simple printed and cut out communication board, pencil grip or an easy grasp mug still qualify as being AT. The umbrella of AT certainly covers electronic devices such as computer hardware and software like switch access or eye tracking systems. Specialized educational systems whether using paper materials or computer software also qualify as being AT. Wheelchairs, braces and walkers are also considered AT. While it is a large umbrella, once someone becomes familiar with what AT is, it becomes easy to identify devices that act as Assistive Technology even if they not specifically billed or marketed as such. The most important thing to remember is that everyone with a disability is unique and may require different types of AT to enable their abilities.
I would love to hear more about your thoughts on AT, let me know in the comments section below.
IDEA. (n.d.). Retrieved June 18, 2018, from https://sites.ed.gov/idea/regs/b/a/300.5
“Assistive Technology” by San José Public Library is licensed under CC BY 2.0