What is assistive technology?
Assistive Technology (AT) is any item, device, software program, or product system used to increase, maintain, or improve the functioning of people with disabilities.
AT can be low-tech: communication boards made of cardboard or fuzzy felt.
AT can be high-tech: specialized computers.
AT can be hardware: prosthetics, assembly systems, and positioning devices.
AT can be computer hardware: special switches, keyboards, and pointing devices.
AT can be computer software: Screen readers and communication programs.
DIES can be integrative or specialized learning materials and curriculum aids.
AT can be specialized curricular software.
IT can be much more-electronic devices, wheelchairs, walkers, braces, educational software, lifts, pencil holders, eye gaze and head trackers, and more.
How do you choose the right assistive technology?
Most often, the choice is one you make with a team of professionals and consultants trained to adapt specific assistive technologies to specific needs. An AT team may include primary care physicians, regular and special educators, speech-language pathologists, rehabilitation engineers, occupational therapists and other specialists, including consulting representatives from companies that manufacture assistive technology.
Who pays for assistive technology?
The answer depends on the technology, the use, and the user. Many types of products may cost you little or nothing, even for some very expensive items. Some examples:
School systems pay for general special education learning materials as well as technology specified in an IEP.
Government programs (Social Security, veterans benefits, or state Medicaid agencies) pay for certain assistive technology when a doctor prescribes it as a necessary medical device.
Private health insurance pays for certain assistive technologies when a physician prescribes them as a necessary medical or rehabilitative device.
Rehabilitation and job training programs funded by government or private agencies may pay for assistive technology and training to help people find work.
Employers can pay for assistive technology that is a reasonable accommodation to help an employee perform essential tasks.