Assistive Technology is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and also includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. AT promotes greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to, or changing methods of interacting with, the technology needed to accomplish such tasks.
 Assistive Technology and Adaptive Technology
The term Adaptive Technology is often used as the synonym for Assistive Technology, however, they are different terms. Assistive Technology refers to “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities”, while Adaptive Technology covers items that are specifically designed for persons with disabilities and would seldom be used by non-disabled persons. In other words, “Assistive Technology is any object or system that increases or maintains the capabilities of people with disabilities”, while Adaptive Technology is “any object or system that is specifically designed for the purpose of increasing or maintaining the capabilities of people with disabilities”. Consequently, Adaptive Technology is a subset of Assistive Technology. Adaptive Technology often refers specifically to electronic and Information Technology access.
 Mobility impairment and wheelchairs
Wheelchairs are a prosthetic devices that can be manually propelled or electrically propelled and that include a seating system and are designed to be a substitute for the normal mobility that most people enjoy. Wheelchairs and other mobility devices allow people to engage in daily MRADLs (Mobility Related Activity of Daily Living) which include Feeding, Toileting, Dressing Grooming and Bathing. The devices comes in a number of variations where they can be propelled either by hand or by motors where the occupant uses electrical controls to manage motors and seating control actuators through a joystick or other input devices . Often there are handles behind the seat for someone else to do the pushing or input devices for caregivers. Wheelchairs are used by people for whom walking is difficult or impossible due to illness (physiological or physical), injury, or disability. People with both sitting and walking disability often need to use a wheelchair or walker. Prescription for walkers,wheelchairs, complex rehab chairs, and other equipment follow Medicare’s MRADL algorithm.
 Mobility impairment and walkers
A walker or walking frame or Rollator is a tool for disabled people who need additional support to maintain balance or stability while walking. It consists of a frame that is about waist high, approximately twelve inches deep and slightly wider than the user. Walkers are also available in other sizes such as Pediatric or Bariatric. Modern walkers are height adjustable. The front two legs of the walker may or may not have wheels attached depending on the strength and abilities of the person using it. It is also common to see caster wheels or glides on the back legs of a walker with wheels on the front.
 Personal Emergency Response Systems
Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), or Telecare (UK term), are a particular sort of Assistive Technology that use electronic sensors connected to an alarm system to help caregivers manage risk and help vulnerable people stay independent at home longer. An example would be the systems being put in place for senior people such as fall detectors, thermometers (for hypothermia risk), flooding and unlit gas sensors (for people with mild dementia). Notably, these alerts can be customized to the particular person’s risks. When the alert is triggered, a message is sent to a caregiver or contact center who can respond appropriately.
 Accessibility software
In human–computer interaction, computer accessibility (also known as Accessible computing) refers to the accessibility of a computer system to all people, regardless of disability or severity of impairment. Examples include Web accessibility a set of guidelines  and two accessible web portals designed for people developing reading skills are peepo.com  — try typing a letter with your keyboard for more — and peepo.co.uk  with enhanced graphics, unique style controls and improved interactivity (requires an SVG supported browser).
 Assistive Technology for visual impairment
Many people with serious visual impairments live independently, using a wide range of tools and techniques. Examples of Assistive Technology for visually impairment include the Canadian currency tactile feature, which a system of raised dots in one corner, based on Braille cells but not standard Braille. For general computer use access technology such as screen readers, screen magnifiers and refreshable Braille displays has been widely taken up along with standalone reading aids that integrate a scanner, optical character recognition (OCR) software, and speech software in a single machine. These function together without a separate PC.
 Augmentative and alternative communication
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an umbrella term that encompasses methods of communication for those with impairments or restrictions on the production or comprehension of spoken or written language. AAC systems are extremely diverse and depend on the capabilities of the user. They may be as basic as pictures on a board that the are used to request food, drink, or other care; or they can be advanced speech generating devices, based on speech synthesis, that are capable of storing hundreds of phrases and words.
Modern use of AAC began in the 1950s with systems for users who had lost the use of speech following surgical procedures. During the 1960s the use of manual sign language grew greatly, but it was not until the 1980s that AAC began to emerge as an area in its own right. AAC is now used for a wide variety of speech impairments. Studies show that AAC use does not impede the development of speech, and may even result in a modest increase in speech production.
A great diversity of diagnoses, including cerebral palsy, intellectual impairment, autism, and many others, cover varying degrees of communication impairment. AAC interventions are highly individualized, taking into account specific abilities of language comprehension, social-relational characteristics, learning strengths and weaknesses, and developmental patterns for specific types of intellectual disabilities. AAC can be used to aid both spoken and written language, and can supplement or replace speech and writing as necessary. AAC can be a permanent addition to a person’s communication or a temporary aid. The systems used in AAC include gestures, hand signals, photographs, pictures, line drawings, words and letters, which can be used alone or in combination to communicate.
Aided AAC makes great use of symbols, particularly for non-literate users, as well as a large variety of input methods. The specific access method will depend on the skills and abilities of the user. Body parts, pointers, adapted mice, joysticks, or eye tracking could be used, whereas switch access scanning is often used for indirect selection. In many cases, rate enhancements methods may be used to speed up the generation of messages. Clearly, an evaluation of a user’s abilities and requirements is necessary to match a user with the most appropriate AAC method, input approach, and vocabulary. This evaluation requires the input of family, particularly for early intervention. Respecting ethnicity and family beliefs are key to a family-centered and ethnically competent approach. Adult AAC users generally have satisfying relationships with family and friends and engage in pleasurable and interesting life activities.
 Assistive Technology for Cognition
Assistive Technology for Cognition (ATC) is the use of technology (usually high tech) to augment and assistive cognitive processes such as attention, memory, self-regulation, navigation, emotion recognition and management, planning, and sequencing activity. Systematic reviews of the field have found that the number of ATC are growing rapidly, but have focused on memory and planning, that there is emerging evidence for efficacy, that a lot of scope exists to develop new ATC. Examples of ATC include: NeuroPage which prompt users about meetings, Wakamaru, which provides companionship and reminds users to take medicine and calls for help if something is wrong, and telephone Reassurance systems.
A prosthesis, prosthetic, or prosthetic limb is a device that replaces a missing body part. It is part of the field of biomechatronics, the science of using mechanical devices with human muscle, skeleton, and nervous systems to assist or enhance motor control lost by trauma, disease, or defect. Prostheses are typically used to replace parts lost by injury (traumatic) or missing from birth (congenital) or to supplement defective body parts. Inside the body, artificial heart valves are in common use with artificial hearts and lungs seeing less common use but under active technology development. Other medical devices and aids that can be considered prosthetics include hearing aids, artificial eyes, palatal obturator, gastric bands, and dentures.
Prosthetics are specifically not orthotics, although given certain circumstances a prosthetic might end up performing some or all of the same functionary benefits as an orthotic. Prostheses are technically the complete finished item. For instance, a C-Leg knee alone is not a prosthesis, but only a prosthetic part. The complete prosthesis would consist of the stump attachment system — usually a “socket”, and all the attachment hardware parts all the way down to and including the foot. Keep this in mind as nomenclature is often interchanged.
 Assistive Technology and sports
Assistive Technology and sports is an area of technology design that is growing. Assistive Technology is the array of new devices created to enable sports enthusiasts who have disabilities to play. Assistive Technology may be used in adaptive sports, where an existing sport is modified to enable players with a disability to participate; or, Assistive Technology may be used to invent completely new sports with athletes with disabilities exclusively in mind.
An increasing number of people with disabilities are participating in sports, leading to the development of new Assistive Technology. Assistive Technology devices can be simple, or “low-tech”, or they may use highly advanced technology, with some even using computers. Assistive technology for sports may also be simple, or advanced. Accordingly, Assistive Technology can be found in sports ranging from local community recreation to elite Paralympic games. More complex Assistive Technology devices have been developed over time, and as a result, sports for people with disabilities “have changed from being a clinical therapeutic tool to an increasingly competition-oriented activity”.
 Computer accessibility
One of the largest problems that affect patients with disabilities is discomfort with prosthesis. A new computer program is used to create the most comfortable and useful prosthetics. An experiment performed in Massachusetts utilized 20 patients with various sensors attached to their arms. The patients tried different arm exercises, and the sensors recorded their movements. All of the data helped engineers develop new engineering concepts that for prosthetics.
Alternatively, Assistive Technology may attempt to improve the ergonomics of the devices themselves such as Dvorak and other alternative layouts, which offer more ergonomic layouts of the keys.
 See also
- Braille technology
- Design for All (in ICT)
- Durable medical equipment
- Matching Person & Technology Model
- OATS: Open Source Assistive Technology Software
- Occupational Therapy
- Transgenerational design
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