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Assistive Technology Doesn’t need a Computer Chip!

March 2, 2017
In this picture are two identical salt ’n’ pepper shakers with a rubber band around one of them.

In this picture are two identical salt ’n’ pepper shakers with a rubber band around the pepper.

Do you see the Assistive Technology (AT) in this picture? If you guessed the rubber band, you are correct! This little “high tech” piece of rubber can help an individual with vision loss detect the right condiment, shampoo from conditioner, etc., and even though it doesn’t “plug in” or have electricity, it is still AT.

The word “technology” in the title of our profession is unfortunately a misnomer, as it gives the public the impression that in order for something to be called assistive technology, it has to have a computer chip and/or require power.  Take a look at the federal definition of AT:

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.”

If you notice, within that definition, the first couple words say it all, “any item”! As long as the device/solution is used to “increase, maintain, or improve the functional” capabilities of an individual with disabilities such as a rubber pencil grip or a long plastic light switch handle, it is still considered AT.  Even if we can buy it “off the shelf” at Target, it is still AT. Even if the device is a convenience for people without disabilities,  such as a Smart Home device or Velcro, yep you guessed it… still AT.

So my hope for you after reading this article, is that you will never look at the devices in your world the same again and open your minds to the possibilities of the “technology” around you for people with disabilities to live safe and more independent lives at school, work and home.

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