Frequently Asked Questions
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive Technology is any item, piece of equipment, product or system, whether acquired commercially, off the shelf, modified or customized that helps make life easier for a person who has a disability. Assistive technology devices may range in complexity from a strip of velcro purchased over the counter to a customized voice-activated computer.
What is an Assistive Technology Service?
According to the Assistive Technology Act, Assistive Technology Services is defined as any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition or use of an assistive technology device. Assistive Technology therefore encompasses a broad spectrum ranging from wheelchairs and home modifications to communication devices.
What is an Assistive Technology Device?
Assistive devices help someone perform a given task. For example, a picture board used for communication would be an assistive device.
What is adaptive software and hardware?
People with disabilities meet barriers of all types. Computers, however, are helping to lower many of these barriers. Although people with disabilities face a variety of challenges in terms of providing computer input, interpreting output and reading documentation, adaptive hardware and software have been developed to provide functional alternatives to standard operations.
Equipment tat provides flexibility in the positioning of monitors, keyboards, documentation and table tops is useful for many individuals with special needs. Some adaptive hardware and software assist individuals with little or no use of their hands in using a standard keyboard. Individuals who have use of one finger, the mouth or head stick, or some other pointing device, can control the computer by pressing keys with the pointing device. For those with more severe mobility impairments, keyboard emulation is available, including scanning and Morse code input. Voice input provides another option for individuals with disabilities.
What is voice recognition?
Voice recognition is an access system designed to replace the standard keyboard as the method of input. The system is “trained” to recognize utterances that are spoken into a microphone. The utterances are translated into computer commands or sequences of alphanumeric characters and used to operate the computer and software.
What is an augmentative communication system?
Any system that aids individuals who are not independent verbal communicators is known as an augmentative communication system. The system can include speech, gestures, sign language, symbols, synthesized speech, dedicated communication aids or microcomputers.
What is an environmental control unit?
An environmental control unit is a system that enables individuals to control various devices in their environment with single or multiple switches. The control unit may be mounted on a wheelchair for ease of access. Target devices include lights, door openers, televisions and telephones.
What are rehabilitative devices?
Rehabilitate means to train. Rehabilitative devices are used for testing, exercising and training. A balance beam, for example, is a rehabilitative device used to improve coordination.
What is a joystick?
A joystick is a manual device with a movable control lever that can be tilted in various directions to control a computer, wheelchair or other target system.
What is a headwand or head stick?
This is a pointer or extension device that is mounted to a headpiece and extends from the center of the forehead and angles downward. It is usually used in direct selection of an object such as a key on a keyboard or a symbol or word on a board. It is used by persons with good head control and limited upper and lower body movement. If the pointer extends from the chin, it is referred to as a chinwand or chin sticks.
What is a mouse emulator?
A mouse emulator is a device that imitates the function of a mouse. In some instances, software may be used to alter the function of a keyboard to serve as a mouse emulator.
What is a trackball?
A trackball is an input device which contains a visible sphere mounted in a stationary container. It functions similarly to a mouse, however, the sphere is rotated with the fingers to move the cursor to any position on the screen.
What is a touch screen?
A touch screen is an input device which allows access to a computer by directly touching the screen.
What is TDD?
TDD is a telecommunication device for people with deafness that allows a person to transmit typed messages over the phone lines to another person with a TDD. Most TDDs include a keyboard for typing messages to send and a display and/or printer to receive messages.
What is a speech synthesizer?
A speech synthesizer is an electronic device that converts text characters into artificial speech. They most frequently use pronunciation rules for translating text to speech. The quality of synthetic speech ranges from close to lifelike to robotic sounding speech found in lower end speech synthesizers.
What are some other resources that offer more information about Assistive Technology?
The Dreamms for kids site
AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association)