How to choose the right assistive technology
Assistive technology can come in the form of either low-tech or high-tech devices, a simple pencil grip or a bluetooth device to access a smart phone hands free or a wheelchair. No matter the complexity, assistive technologies provide infinite solutions for people with disability to increase functional capabilities and perform daily tasks independently.
With so many on the market, it’s important to look at all the options to narrow down the one or ones that suit your needs. We’ve outlined 3 steps you should take before investing in an assistive technology to make your search less overwhelming.
Click each of the steps to view more information.
Step 1: Use Google or other search engines
Step 2: Assistive technology assessment
Depending on the expertise within the team, you may seek the services of an outside AT specialist to conduct specialised evaluation and training, recommend specific assistive technologies, and coordinate the needs assessment process, but the inputs and involvement of the entire team are what produce successful results.
A proper AT assessment also considers necessary supporting services such as training for you and/or staff, integration of the AT into school, work and home life, and technical support issues. It also provides a plan for implementation and for evaluating progress with the AT.
NOTE: Because understanding the individual’s learning weaknesses and strengths is such an important part of the AT assessment process, it is often helpful to obtain a diagnostic or psycho-educational evaluation from a qualified professional prior to conducting an assistive technology needs assessment.
Step 3: Ask the right questions
Before investing in the device of your choice, ask yourself several questions about the product including those from the list below from Understood.org.
- Does this tool address you or the individual’s specific needs and challenges?
- Does it utilize strengths?
- Is there a simpler tool that would work as effectively?
- Will it be easy to incorporate into everyday life?
- Is it portable?
- Are you or the individual willing to use it?
- Are you able to use it? (Try a demo if you are unsure.)
- How easy is it to learn to use the tool?
- Will you have support or training in how it works?
- Is the tool compatible with the existing technology you use uses? (e.g. will the software work on your smart devices?)
- If it is for a child, can they use it both at home and at school?
- How reliable is it?
- What technical support is available?