What is Assistive Technology?
These definitions also appear in the Tech Act Legislation (P.L.100-407) which has been adopted in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA defines an assistive technology device as:
- Any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. [20 U.S.C. Chapter 33, Section 1401 (25)].
This definition is broad and includes a range of devices from low technology to high technology items as well as software. Under IDEA the legal definition of assistive technology services is:
- any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.[20 U.S.C. Chapter 33, Section 1401 (26)]
Specifically, assistive technology services include:
- evaluating the needs of an individual with a disability, including a functional evaluation of the individual in the individuals customary environment
- purchasing, leasing, or otherwise providing for the acquisition of assistive technology devices by individuals with disabilities
- selecting, designing, fitting, customizing, adapting, applying, maintaining, repairing, or replacing of assistive technology services; coordinating and using other therapies, interventions, or services with assistive technology devices, such as those associated with existing education and rehabilitation plans and programs
- training or technical assistance for an individual with disabilities, or, where appropriate, the family of an individual with disabilities; and training or technical assistance for professionals (including individuals providing education and rehabilitation services), employers, or other individuals who provide services to, employ, or are otherwise substantially involved in the major life functions of individuals with disabilities
Assistive Technology, technology for more independent, productive and enjoyable living, can be simple or complex. It includes, Velcro, adapted clothing and toys, computers, seating systems powered mobility, augmentative communication devices, special switches, assisted listening devices, visual aids, memory prosthetics, and thousands of other commercially available or adapted items.
These technology solutions improve an individual's ability to learn, compete, work and interact with family and friends. People use assistive technology to achieve greater independence and to enhance the quality of their lives. Services, such as evaluations, training, or trial use of new equipment are also examples of assistive technology.