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Assistive Technology: More Than Meets the Eye

Going into tonight’s presentation I thought that I had a good idea what assistive technology was, but boy was I wrong! Originally my thoughts of what classified of assistive technology was very realted to my own personal experiences and what I have witnessed directly around me. Some examples of assistive technology that came to my mind were:

  • Speech to Text Programs – We use these alot at our school to support students. Programs like google read and write are used daily by students in my classroom.
  • Listening Aids– This includes many things such as hearing aids, microphones (I have used ones in the past that connect direclty to specific students as well as my own personal classroom assigned microphone to help with voice issues). I would also say this could cover the tools that help students such as by reading to them when they are on webpages etc.
  • School Tools – I am not sure the “category” for this but there are many tools at school such as special chairs, desks, fidgits, pencil grips etc. that students have used that could be considered assistive technologies.
  • Driving Assistance Tools – My mom had a friend she went to university with who had no legs, he would use a skateboard to get around and had special tools in his car so he could break and accelearte with his hands instead. It was very neat and allowed him to live a very independent life.
  • Things in the Community – Other AT tools and serivices I have seen around me include braille, large print menu options, ramps, lifts/elevators, accessible parking, closed captioning, and items to help people move around such as walkers, wheelchairs etc.

However, the presentation tonight definitely showed that there is MUCH more. For example, I had no idea that glasses/contacts were considered an assistive technology. But I guess it makes sense as without them I would not be able to drive.

So What Other Tools Exist?

  1. Vision – magnifiers, talking devices, screen reading softwares, braille, enlarged buttons and large print items.
  2. Hearing – personal amplification systems, closed caption systems, specialized apps, and amplified phones.
  3. Speech Communication – communication boards, speech output softwares, speech generating divices, voice amplication systems and even artifical larynxs.
  4. Learning, Cognition, and Developmental – memory aids, note taking and reminder systems, audio books and text to speech tools (that aren’t related to vision issues).
  5. Mobility, Seating, and Positioningitems such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, scooters and crutches.
  6. Daily Livingdressing aids (such as long handle shoe horns and zippers), adapted kitchen tools and eating utensils, bags designed to fit onto walkers, and switch adapted applicances
  7. Environmental Modifications – these are often items in the community such as ramps, automatic door openers, remote controlled appliances, and lifts.
  8. Vehicle Modification and Transportation – car lifts and ramps, raised roofs, adaptive seatbelts, tools for driving (such as using hands instead of feet).
  9. Computers and Related Peripherals – items like alternative keyboards and softwares like voice reconition and magnification programs.
  10. Recreation, Sports, and Leisure – some examples include playing card shuffler, camera mounts and adapted sports equiptment.

Benefits & Challenges

Although these are all great positives of assistive technologies, I believe that the biggest positive in that they enhance the quality of life as this can have numerous impacts on peoples’ physical well being, mental health, employment possibilities, successes at school and feeling fufilled.


Although it can be difficult, time consuming, and sometimes expensive to procure and utilize some of these technologies, the assistive technologies that exist now are improving peoples’ lives for the better. I have really enjoyed seeing just how many different things can be considered assistive technologies, and I am hopeful that many new tools and technologies will emerg in the future to continue to improve many aspects of numerous peoples’ lives.


4 thoughts on “Assistive Technology: More Than Meets the Eye

  1. First off, I love a good 80’s Transformer reference when I see one! It ties so well with the concept that assistive tech. is constantly around us, but often beyond our notice unless we personally require it. I would never think of a shoe horn as assistive technology, and yet (as you outline) it fits because it’s an invention created to assist different needs. I, too, hope that the commercialization and commodification of AT can be overcome so that everyone gets the help they need. As I look at the current prices of glasses and hearing aids, however, my hope dwindles. I suppose the silver lining is the abundance of grant bursaries available….if one has the determination and literacy skills to pursue them.


  2. I often feel that we are leaning too heavily on non-profit organizations and charities to provide services that should be available to everyone. Don’t get me wrong I think the work that these organizations do is incredible (and the people who volunteer and work at them are wonderful human beings), but I don’t understand why they should be necessary in the first place. Why do people need to turn to charity when we have so many resources at our disposal in Canada? I think it is a convenient way for our government to turn a blind eye. I understand that money is finite and governments can be all things to all people all the time, but isn’t assistive technology a priority? Why would someone have to pay for a wheelchair? Given some of the costs our presenters pointed out for these technologies it seems like too much of a burden for all but the wealthiest individuals.


  3. Great read! The visuals you provided about the benefits and disadvantages really put things into perspective. As much as I try to be consistent with things in my classroom, there are different things that get in the way. Asssitive tech is definitely one of those things that for it to be implented in a meaningful and benefical way you need to have a clear understanding of how it works. Especially in order to show those students that require it to be successful/complete tasks how to use it. And even though some of these things are accesible at school, it may not be in other spaces and that also creates a barrier.


  4. The entire article is actually an excellent and detailed description of assistive technology. You have provided a lot of information in your article, which gives a good idea about this technology. You also make an excellent point about how technology can be very useful as an aid to education, driving, or community benefits. like it.


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