presented by Donna Case
What is assistive technology? It is a broad range of devices, services, strategies, and practices that ameliorate the problems faced by individuals who have disabilities (Cooke and Polgar, 2015). Or, as defined by federal law, assistive technology encompasses any kind of process, system, or equipment that maintains or improves the capabilities of people with disabilities of any kind: physical or cognitive. This course will address determination of appropriate technology as it relates to the strengths and weaknesses of the individual, the specific task required, the environment(s) in which it will be used, and the tools required to remove specific barrier(s) to an individual's participation in meaningful occupations.
Donna Case, PhD, OTL, began her work with assistive technology more than 30 years ago when working with adults with significant multiple disabilities who had been removed from Michigan’s State Institutions. She received a master's degree in Interdisciplinary Technology from Eastern Michigan University to facilitate her students' ability to interact in meaningful ways with their environments and community. She received an Individual Interdisciplinary PhD in Industrial Engineering and Occupational Therapy, looking at improving employment options for individuals with severe disabilities using assistive technology. Donna has been teaching courses in assistive technology to occupational therapy, engineering, and special education students for more than twenty years. She has written chapters and articles on assistive technology for a variety of publications.
This chapter will define Assistive Technology as it pertains to individuals with disabilities.
This chapter will discuss the ways in which assistive technology allows individuals with disabilities to do things they were formerly unable to do, do things more efficiently, and/or improve the quality of tasks attempted.
Successful selection of assistive technology is dependent on determining the individual and his or her support team’s strengths and barriers to access. Occupational therapists are uniquely qualified to address the factors that impact how successful an individual will be in utilizing a specific assistive technology.
Determining appropriate technology is a mixture of science and art. The worst outcome in determination of assistive technology is abandonment. Careful planning and preparation is required for facilitating successful implementation of assistive technology.