Excerpted from "Everyday Survival, Assistive Technology Connects You to the World," Stroke Connection May/June 2003. (Science update August 2009)
Assistive technology (AT) is connecting the world quickly and easily in previously unimaginable ways, especially through the Internet and e-mail. Many of these advances have been lifesavers for people with disabilities.
- Stroke survivors who have "locked in" syndrome and can communicate only by eye blinks can talk with their loved ones at home and friends across the globe through eye-tracking systems.
- Word-predicting programs can help survivors with severe aphasia type in only the first letter of a word and then choose from the list of predicted words.
- Special keyboards allow survivors to type with one hand.
Assistive technology helps people with disabilities function:
- In school
- At home
Some assistive technology:
- Is high-tech, expensive and requires training.
- Computers have special programs that speak for people with severe aphasia or locked-in syndrome.
- Programs allow survivors to express their needs and wants with greater ease and less frustration.
Other technology is low-tech, less expensive and simple to use:
- Wheelchairs and walkers help survivors get around more easily.
- Tape recorders and books on tape help survivors who have difficulty reading.
- Electronic card shufflers and page-turners help people enjoy games and books.
- Velcro® holds clothing together and is easier to work with than snaps or buttons.
Many types of assistive technology can be funded through:
- State rehabilitation commissions
- Social Security Disability Insurance
- Work Incentives
- Ticket to Work Programs
- Private insurance
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a school or school district must provide assistive technology to a disabled student who needs this technology to participate in school and whose parents can’t provide the necessary equipment. For more information on funding for assistive technology, contact Advocacy, Inc., at 1-800-880-2884.
AbleData is a project funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. Its Web site provides a database of more than 19,000 products for people with disabilities at www.abledata.com.
The Tetra Society of North America is a nonprofit organization that helps find technological solutions for people with disabilities. Tetra recruits engineers and technicians to create custom-made assistive devices for people with disabilities. Volunteer engineers, design technicians and healthcare professionals work one on one with their clients to make the aids or to help them modify their environment for greater independence. An initial request for assistance costs $10.
If Tetra volunteers can help you, they’ll negotiate a price with you for the product they create. Visit their Web site at www.tetrasociety.org , e-mail them at email@example.com or call them at 1-877-688-8762. You can also write them at Tetra Society of North America, Box 27, Suite A304 Plaza of the Nations, 770 Pacific Blvd. S., Vancouver, BC, V6B 5E7 (Canada).
The links on this page are provided for convenience only, and are not an endorsement or assurance of the entities or any products or services.