April 6th, 2022, is National Assistive Technology Awareness Day! Congress has designated this day to recognize the role assistive technology (AT) and AT services play in the lives of individuals with disabilities. To extend the celebration, each day this week AT3 Center is highlighting AT for different purposes. Please share and consider telling your own story. Help celebrate #ATAwarenessDay!
First, what is assistive technology (AT)?
AT is any item, device, or software used to maintain or improve the independence and functioning of persons with disabilities and older adults. AT devices can be “low tech,” such as a built-up handle on a spoon to improve the ability to grasp, to “high tech,” such as computers controlled with eye gaze. AT includes the services necessary to get and use the devices, including assessment, customization, repair, and training.
How does assistive technology support Community Living?
AT supports community living and inclusion in a myriad of ways. It may be a speech-generating device used to buy coffee, lift-equipped transportation for attending events and appointments, or mobility devices to extend a person’s stamina and participation. It may be braille signage, hearing-loop-equipped meeting rooms, elevators, ramps, and audible crosswalks to make public spaces accessible. There are even virtual-presence robots for touring museums remotely, adapted recreation equipment for joining in family fun, and scenic-overlook binoculars for colorblind tourists (installed in Tennessee!) AT expands horizons.
What role do AT Act Programs play?
AT Act Programs assist individuals with disabilities of all ages (including veterans and older adults) to identify and acquire AT that supports their independence, safety, and personal goals. Programs serve AT-users directly and their family members, caregivers, educators, therapists, and employers. Anyone with a reason to learn about AT is welcome. Find your State or Territory AT Act Program.
A Community Living story from Montana
“James,” a 32-year-old veteran with frontal temporal dementia, visited the Montana AT Act Program (MonTECH) with his wife and caregiver. MonTECH’s team was determined to provide any equipment that might make life sweeter or more comfortable for them. An equipment demonstration in Missoula resulted in loans of simple communication devices, universal cuffs, cup holders, mounts, and a more supportive wheelchair James can use while he awaits funding for a new chair. With MonTECH device loans, James, his wife, and their young son were also able to join their extended family on a camping trip. They borrowed an all-terrain wheelchair and a wide camp cot. James’s participation was important to the whole family, and the MonTECH team was grateful to play a part in their special weekend.
Looking for an accessible PDF that explains AT for Community Living and the services provided by AT Act Programs? Download Assistive Technology Is A Part of Everyday Life: Community Living