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Article: FAQ: Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology FAQ

Table of Contents
  1. Assistive Technology FAQ

What is assistive technology?
Who can use assistive technology?
What is the difference between low tech and high-tech assistive technology devices?
How will I know what kind of assistive technology is right for me?
Am I limited to where I can use these Assistive Technology devices?
How can I pay for assistive technology?
Can I try assistive technology before I buy it?


What is assistive technology?

Assistive Technology is a tool or a service that can be used by a person with a disability to make it possible or easier to do everyday tasks. An example of an assistive technology is a hearing aid used by an individual who is hard of hearing. An example of an assistive technology service is closed-captioning on a television screen for an individual who is hard of hearing.

The following definitions for Assistive Technology are taken from Public Law 100-407, which is called the Technology-related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988:

  1. Assistive Technology Device is defined 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 functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities."
  2. Assistive Technology Service means any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.

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Who can use assistive technology?

Assistive technology can be used by anyone. It helps people to do things they would otherwise not be able to do without the assistance of a device or tool. It also makes accomplishing tasks easier and faster.

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What is the difference between low-tech and high-tech assistive technology devices?

Low-tech assistive technology devices are commonly inexpensive. They are simple and manually operated. An example of a low-tech s device is a jar opener.

High-tech assistive technology devices, on the other hand, may cost more. They are mainly electronic or computer-operated. Examples include:

  • Voice Browsers: assistive technology software used by individuals who are blind to help them use the internet.
  • Augmentative Communication Devices: technology that helps individuals in producing and/or understanding speech.
  • Text-Magnification Software: software that makes the text on the computer screen larger so it is easier to read.

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How will I know what kind of assistive technology is right for me?

There are many things to consider when purchasing assistive technology. The most important things to consider are the strengths, likes, desires, preferences and ability of the individual to use the recommended device. Some questions to ask include:

  • Will the recommended device increase the quantity and quality of time spent with other people?
  • Is the individual using the device able to understand and operate the controls?
  • Will using the device always be a chore or can using it become a habit?
  • Is the device compatible with other assistive technology?
  • How portable is the device?
  • How safe is the device for the individual to operate?
  • What kind of power source does the device require?
  • How long is the device guaranteed to function?
  • What is the life expectancy and average use?
  • Are repair services convenient?
  • Is there regular maintenance that will need to be performed on the device?
  • Will the device work well with the family lifestyle of the individual potentially using the device?

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Am I limited to where I can use these Assistive Technology devices?

No. Assistive Technology (AT) can be used at home, work or school. AT can also be used at the beach, park, theater, and shopping mall. AT can be used anywhere.

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How can I pay for assistive technology?

There are different programs which may help to cover the cost of assistive technology. Eligibility may depend on income, assets and a complex web of other conditions. Private health insurance may also cover some expenses. For more information on funding programs, see Guide to Assistive Technology: Funding Sources.

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Can I try assistive technology before I buy it?

Experts say that you should try out the device before actually purchasing it to make sure it will suit your needs. Since it is important to try out a device before buying it there are many businesses that rent or loan Assistive Technology.

Some companies that sell assistive technology let customers try the device before they purchase it. They may also let the customer return the device after it has been purchased if it does not meet the individual's needs.

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Last Updated on 8/22/2017

Thursday, November 21, 2019