By Regi Publico
Assistive technology has made significant improvements in recent years, offering ease to a lot of people as they live their lives. In a world catered mostly to able-bodied and able-minded people, those who have disabilities may have trouble navigating through their day-to-day life independently. Realizing these problems, a lot more assistive technology has been developed to allow people with disabilities to have more freedom to live their lives the way they want to.
What is Assistive Technology?
Over the years, people have designed technology to help make lives easier. From service robots that help minimize the risk of contracting infectious viruses to working towards decentralized healthcare, technology is almost always made to address pain points in people’s lives.
One sector in our community that greatly benefits from the advancements in technology is people with disabilities. Assistive technology is the umbrella term to describe devices and services that aid people with disabilities as they go about their daily life, according to Disability Rights Washington.
Assistive technology devices can be high-tech or low-tech and help people with disabilities to increase, maintain, or improve their functional capabilities. Assistive technology devices a lot of people are familiar with are wheelchairs and accessibility ramps and lifts. Other examples include large-print books, word processing software, electronic note-takers, voice-activated mobile devices, and hearing aids. You might even be using a few assistive techs in your life and you may not even know it, such as the word prediction on your phone when you type out a text and pencil grips. It is worth noting that medical devices that are required to be surgically implanted are not considered assistive tech.
Assistive tech services consist of any direct assistance to people with disability, particularly students, in the selection, acquisition, or use of the assistive technology device. These services include assessing and evaluating the student’s needs, the purchasing or leasing of assistive tech devices, designing these devices, and even training or technical assistance for the student’s family and the professionals who are greatly involved in the student’s major life functions.
How Assistive Technology Helps Patients with Special Needs
Assistive tech can help people with disabilities lead healthier and fuller lives. These devices and services can greatly benefit children with learning disabilities and physical disabilities in their formative years and as they grow into independent adults.
Learning with Assistive Technology
Laptops, tablets, and cellphones are powerful tools for students with learning disabilities. They are lightweight and portable, making them accessible for students practically anytime. Software has been developed to help students either complete class tasks independently or to help them with things like notetaking and participating in class.
Though helpful in theory, some students may find laptops, tablets, and smartphones distracting. To deal with this, teachers, students, and parents need to be trained in the meaningful integration of technology into the academic setting so the devices are of true help for the students with learning disabilities instead of becoming deterrents to effective learning, Learning Disabilities at School advised.
Dealing with Challenging Tasks with Assistive Tech
A lot of challenging tasks children with disabilities face in school have to do with the accessibility and ability to do tasks perhaps other children don’t have as much difficulty doing and this could dissuade them from interacting in class.
Having access to mobile devices can only do so much to help students with disabilities perform classroom tasks with relative ease. While they can take down notes with the help of word processing and speech-to-text software, they still have difficulty doing things like holding a crayon for coloring, holding a book, or even hearing lectures. These can pose as hindrances that can frustrate and even discourage students from learning.
By providing these students with disabilities with access to things such as automatic page-turners, adapted pencil grips, adaptive switches with multiple functions, mobile devices with screen readers, calculators and math software, and even closed captions in videos, learning becomes more approachable. They may move past the struggle they have with the task that challenges them and focus on the discussion or activity.
The key is to be mindful of the student’s needs to suitably address their problems, and hopefully, provide solutions through assistive tech and guide them through the proper use of it. Assistive technology can only be effective when it is paired with quality instruction and the teachers and those who interact with the child daily are trained to support the integration of assistive tech in the child’s life.
Assistive Technology Improving Quality of Life
Assistive technology helps improve a person’s mobility, their accessibility to the world around them, their independence, and ultimately their quality of life. Helping children with disabilities early on helps them develop skills that they carry into adulthood and can help them navigate life with their disability and still live a fulfilling life. Thankfully, there is constant development in assistive technology to help them achieve that. Their disability should not compromise the way they lead their life.