Assistive technology is used by disabled individuals to help them complete tasks that would otherwise be extremely difficult or impossible. There are many variations of assistive technology. For example, wheelchairs are a type of assistive technology that helps people move from place to place, usually unaided by another person. A keyboard with large keys is a type of assistive technology that a person with limited range of hand motion can use to type.
Assistive technology has changed life for millions of people. Hearing aids enable people to hear and text to speech programs allow those with voice impairments to be heard. Text to speech programs take the text entered into the speech program and turn that text into speech. For those that can speak, but are unable to use a keyboard, there are speech recognition devices that allow individuals to speak into a microphone attached to a computer and do everything from browse online to write a report.
While many people could benefit from assistive technology devices, not everyone has easy access to them. They can be expensive to purchase and maintain and not everyone has the financial resources to do so. However, there is help available. Schools are required by law to provide any assistive technology device needed if it is written into the child’s education plan. For adults, there are government entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, that help disabled individuals pay for these devices. Some charitable organizations may help, as well.
Assistive technologies, from the simplest to the most complex, have changed the way people live. They have made it possible for many disabled people to work, attend school and meaningfully participate society. Years ago, without the benefit of these technologies, these people may never have had the chance to enjoy the types of lives they are living today.