15 Assistive Technologies for People with Disabilities
The Differently Abled
A disabled person, or as the politically correct term goes: a ‘differently abled’ person is as much capable of succeeding in life if provided with the requisite resources. Differently abled children need to be facilitated from a young age through assistive technology, which comprises of products and services to improve their everyday functioning. This can have a significant impact on a child’s physical and psychological well-being; along with her/his family’s emotional development. Assistive technology can facilitate in different facets of life and improve the overall quality of life for the child and its family.
Here is a list of 15 assistive technologies that can greatly aid in helping a disabled person achieve his/her full potential.
Wheelchair & Ramp
Facilitates mobility and makes getting around so much easier for someone who has difficulty in walking. Instead of being confined indoors, or having to be carried about everywhere, a wheelchair provides the freedom of moving about with ease and independence.
This can make the world of a difference for someone who is hearing impaired. It facilitates communication and improves every aspect of life as learning, interacting and engaging becomes so much easier.
A fantastic learning tool for children who have difficulty in expressing themselves. It works just as well for adults too and improves communication.
Text-to-Speech software is relatively advanced software designed to help children who have difficulties reading standard print. Someone with visual impairment, dyslexia, autism or other impairments can reap great benefits. Children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or an intellectual disability have also shown positive results with TTS.
This is a specialized tool for those with mobility challenges, such as paralysis and fine motor skill disabilities. The child controls the system via his/her mouth for using a computer. Similar to a joystick, a child uses the controller and selects different navigational tools by either a sip or a puff; hence replacing the function of a keyboard or a mouse.
Braille has been around for some time to assist those with visual impairment. The next step in the digital era is to facilitate blind people in easily accessing information online through software programs that allow blind or visually impaired users to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer or braille display. More advanced functions such as locating text displayed in a certain colour, reading pre-designated parts of the screen on demand or reading highlighted text can also be performed through this software interface. Screen readers are currently available for use with personal computers running Linux, Windows, and Mac, IOS, Android, and more.
For those prone to seizures and epileptic fits, this is a crucial tool for their health and safety. This should not be confused with a helmet as it is more softer and designed for lesser impact. Headgear is often made specifically for special needs and developmental disabilities and improves the social participation of those with epilepsy by allowing them to participate more actively in social gatherings without fear of incurring fatal damage in case of a seizure.
Also known as walking rails, these greatly assist in developing balance and strength in case of an injury. Anyone looking to regain mobility after an accident or to strengthen the upper body can use these for post surgery physical therapy. These are also beneficial for those recovering from stroke and paralysis. In case of children, those born with a hunchback or exhibiting signs of stunted growth – especially in specific limbs instead of the overall physical structure – parallel bars can help in building strength and maintaining balance.
Another advanced learning tool for those with dyslexia or other learning disabilities that impede in development of writing skills. It features the ability to learn from the user’s past mistakes, personalizing suggestions for spelling and grammatical errors. It also comes with an integrated dictionary which allows users to look up a word conveniently and accessibly.
As understood by the name, this is a speech recognition software program for math that can help students with a range of disabilities. It is an excellent mathematics learning tool that allows students to perform math problems by speaking into a microphone on their computer via voice-to-text functionality programs. Students who struggle with fine motor skill disability or even those with blindness or vision disabilities (through the integrated braille translator) can derive immense learning benefit.
GPS-based Navigation Device
This is a highly-beneficial tool for improving mobility and building self-dependency for blind or visually-impaired people. Using digital code signals from satellites, a person’s longitudinal and latitudinal location is determined, along with the location of their destination. Navigation across streets, allow the user to understand the street layout before travelling to a new city by means of the ’virtual explore’ mode, and alert you when nearing an intersection or bus stop or train station greatly increases the ease at which a blind or partially sighted individual can live and travel as an independent.
Adjusted Cooking Utensils
Children troubled with hand-eye coordination due to weak fine motor skills or even adults with arthritis or someone recovering from a hand/arm injury can utilize these tools for their convenience. These utensils come in a wide variety with weighted, angled or built-up handles to facilitate the user.
Different equipments are available for assisting with dressing tasks like putting on socks, stockings or shoes; fastening buttons and zips or for pulling up trousers or skirts. Available in a wide variety for facilitating a wide range of dressing tasks, this is a smart tool for disabled children and older people to manage daily tasks independently.
Adaptive Toys & Games
These are greatly beneficial in improving hand-eye coordination in children and contain control panels for adjusting the parameters of the game to match the ability of the players. They range from simple board games to arcade and computer games in order to improve physical education and recreation opportunities for disabled children.
Picture Cards or Visual Aids
These combine learning with recreation for children with autism or other learning and cognitive disabilities. They come with easy-to-understand introduction to visual supports and the ways that parents and other caregivers can begin using them to boost their child’s confidence and accelerate their learning process.