If you have never heard this term, you are not alone. The textbook definition of assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment, product system, or software that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. Ok, that’s great, but what is it anyway? Let’s start with a few examples:
As these examples demonstrate, assistive technology is often seen as a great equalizer for those with disabilities. It can provide the bridge from can’t to can, changing lives, and opening up a world of possibilities that may not have existed before.
What does this have to do with the STAR Center?
Did you know that the STAR Center was one of the very first assistive technology centers in the US? Assistive technology was a key component in the beginning and has continued to be a part of STAR’s daily services for almost three decades. Assistive technology focuses on innovation and problem solving, making environments accessible for individuals with disabilities. Some of our assistive technology devices at the STAR Center can be as simple as a rubber pencil grip (low tech), as complex as an eye-gaze communication system (high tech), or somewhere in between (e.g., ergonomic keyboard – mid-tech). The Star Center serves over 160 clients every year in our assistive technology department. Take a look at some of the types of disabilities that benefit from the services the Star Center provides.
What are the goals of assistive technology clients?
What must be considered when choosing assistive technology?
When figuring out the best assistive technology for each person, there are several factors to consider. Typically an evaluation is conducted by a team of trained professionals, often including an Assistive Technology Professional (ATP), to ensure that the best fit is made and the most appropriate technology is recommended. We have several Assistive Technology Specialists at the STAR Center who work together in a team approach to figure out how assistive technology can make life easier, or even possible, for individuals with disabilities. When conducting evaluations, we consider factors such as those identified in the Human Activity Assistive Technology (HAAT) Model.
But what does this REALLY look like?
Check out the case study below to see what factors might be considered when choosing the best assistive technology for an individual.
Andy’s depression improved once he realized that losing his vision and having arthritis did not mean that he lost out on life. Assistive technology opened his eyes and gave him a helping hand when he needed it the most.
If you would like some more information about assistive technology or know someone who may benefit from an evaluation, contact the STAR Center at 731-668-3888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This person is a past employee or intern of the STAR Center. Their name and authorship is preserved for posterity.
Allison was the Director of Vocational Rehabilitation Services at the Star Center. She has over two decades of experience working directly with individuals with disabilities, and earned her Ph.D. in rehabilitation counseling and special education from Auburn University. Allison is married with two children; she also lives with her mother-in-law, two dogs, one cat, and a 20 lb rabbit. She enjoys road trips, spending time with her family, ancestry research, and contemporary Christian concerts.