Assistive Technology

Assistive technology (AT) are products, equipment, and systems that enhance learning, working, and daily living for persons with disabilities.

  • AT can be low-tech: communication boards made of cardboard or fuzzy felt.

  • AT can be high-tech: special-purpose computers.

  • AT can be hardware: prosthetic, mounting systems, and positioning devices.

  • AT can be computer hardware: special switches, keyboards, and pointing devices.

  • AT can be computer software: screen readers and communication programs.

  • AT can be inclusive or specialized learning materials and curriculum aids.

  • AT can be specialized curricular software.

  • AT can be much more—electronic devices, wheelchairs, walkers, braces, educational software, power lifts, pencil holders, eye-gaze and head trackers, and much more.

Most often, the choice is a decision you make with a team of professionals and consultants trained to match particular assistive technologies to specific needs. An AT team may include family doctors, regular and special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, rehabilitation engineers, occupational therapists, and other specialists including consulting representatives from companies that manufacture assistive technology.

Who pays for AT?  The answer depends on the technology, the use, and the user. Many kinds of AT may cost you little or nothing, even for some very expensive items. Some examples:

  • School systems pay for general special education learning materials as well as technology specified in an IEP.

  • Government programs (Social Security, veteran’s benefits, or state Medicaid agencies) pay for certain assistive technology if a doctor prescribes it as a necessary medical device.

  • Private health insurance pays for certain assistive technology if a doctor prescribes it as a necessary medical or rehabilitative device.

  • Rehabilitation and job training programs, whether funded by government or private agencies, may pay for assistive technology and training to help people get jobs.

  • Employers may pay for assistive technology that is a reasonable accommodation to enable an employee to perform essential job tasks.

 

Other sources of funds in states or communities include private foundations, charities, and
civic organizations. The ATIA’s Funding Resources Guide provides sources and resources to investigate as prospective options.

Additional Resources

See Tracy's Story on how AT enables her in her job.

Click here to read Tracy's story. Image of Tracy at work shown.
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