What is Assistive Technology?

This is Wikipedia‘s definition of assistive technology:

Assistive technology (AT) is a generic term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them.

This is true, right? Yes, but AT goes so much further than that!

While working at Easter Seals Crossroads, we see first-hand how AT helps the lives of individuals with or without disabilities.  That being said, let’s take a brief overview of just one type of assistive technology.

Person operating a CCTV
Person operating a CCTV

Many of you are probably wearing AT right now and you don’t even know it!  Glasses, contact lenses and other eyewear are considered AT.  Why? Because they help you see!  For people with low vision there are CCTV (closed-circuit televisions) that can magnify text and images to high degrees.  While CCTV’s can sit on your desk or be handheld models, similar magnification software can be added to your computer to allow a person to see everything clearly.

Handheld Magnifier
Handheld Magnifier

This technology not only improves a person’s living situation, it can greatly impact their lives in other ways.  For instance, a person who has very low vision or is blind cannot pick up a piece of paper and read it like someone with sight can.  How many times does someone at your work hand you a paper you need to read or sign? What about the mail you receive at home? In many instances, this assistive technology gives a person the ability to read.  Can you imagine your own living situation if you were not able to read? It would be extremely difficult, right? Well, now there is AT that can help anyone read either for the first time or again after losing vision.

As said above, CCTV’s and hand-held magnifiers are only one of the many kinds of AT available to people with low vision.  How do you know what is right for you? That’s where INDATA comes in! We have a loan library database with over 1200 AT products.  If you live in the state of Indiana and have a disability, we can loan you an AT product for 30 days.  During that time you can use the equipment in your home, workplace, school or wherever applicable.  This gives you the opportunity to try out equipment before you buy it.  Why pay for a product if you are not sure it “fits” you, especially if you cannot try the equipment in the place in which you would normally use it!  It’s easy to sign up for an account on the database, and better yet, it’s free! For more information about this service, visit the AT Equipment Library page on our Web site.

It’s inspiring stories such as the examples above that make Easter Seals Crossroads such an amazing place.  Is there something in your life that you think could be improved with assistive technology? Read the entries or visit the INDATA Web site. Stay tuned in for more information about assistive technology for other types of disabilities.