Understanding the different types of assistive technologies for people of all abilities

Understanding the different types of assistive technologies for people of all abilities

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Our daily lives are full of repetitive activities, but many of them are relatively simple tasks, such as taking out the trash and washing dishes. For individuals with physical impairments, however, these tasks can be significantly more challenging because of their condition.

While it’s perfectly fine to help the person under your care with their daily activities, many people of all abilities want to be as independent as possible. If this is the case with the person under your care, you should try to find ways to help them manage their daily activities on their own.

Today, many types of assistive technology available can help individuals with all kinds of impairments get through their day, communicate with their friends and families, travel, and carry out their workplace activities.

Aside from the more standard assistive devices, like wheelchairs and hearing aids, there’s now a range of technology that can help individuals of all abilities with more specific activities, like using the internet and playing their favourite sports.

If you want to help decide which assistive technology best suits the needs of the person under your care, you need to learn about what’s available.

Here’s a look into the various types of assistive technology out there.

Fine motor assistance devices for computer users

These are a range of devices that are designed to help individuals with physical impairments perform physical activities, like writing and personal care.

Some simple examples of these devices include tools that can be used to turn the pages of a book or devices that are worn on the hand to help people grip their pen properly when writing.

Since the internet is now a staple in our lives, there exists a wide variety of fine motor assistance devices that can help the person under your care browse the internet comfortably.

For instance, there are specially designed keyboards that help individuals with limited dexterity to type. These keyboards have raised areas that help a person identify the buttons through touch alone, making them suitable for people with visual impairments.

Individuals with conditions like cerebral palsy (this link will take you to an article about cerebral palsy on the News-Medical website), which can limit the use of their hands, can also use their computers without the need for a keyboard and mouse.

There are even devices that are capable of allowing a person to control their computer by tracking eye movements.

Devices, like sip-and-puff switches, also let people of all abilities control their computers by inhaling and exhaling air. 

For example, when the user wants to click on a particular point on the screen, they only need to exhale or inhale into the device to “click”. These are helpful for people with quadriplegia.

These input devices can be customised according to the preferences of the person under your care.

Fine motor assistance devices will be extremely helpful for students of all abilities, as they can help them with their studies, and people of all abilities who want to join the workforce.

Gross motor assistance devices for people with mobility issues

These are assistive devices that help individuals with physical impairments make bigger movements, like walking and playing sports.

Wheelchairs and walkers fall into this category, along with stair assistance devices that are designed to help people with mobility issues climb the stairs by themselves. 

Similar to electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters can provide powered mobility aid to the person under your care. These scooters are usually battery-powered tricycles and can be a good alternative for people who don’t have the upper body strength to use a manual wheelchair.

For individuals of all abilities who like to be active and partake in recreational activities such as sports, you can find a plethora of adaptive devices to help the person under your care enjoy the activities they prefer.

For example, there are specially designed wheelchairs for people living with paraplegia (this link will take you to a blog post on the Shine SC website about how support groups can help people with paraplegia)  for games such as wheelchair basketball. These wheelchairs are very light but durable and can handle sharp turns and high speeds.

There’s also adaptive fishing equipment that makes it easier for a person with physical impairments to hold the rod and even reel in fish automatically with just the press of a button.

Effective communication devices for non-verbal individuals

Many individuals of all abilities have trouble communicating with those around them. Some people of all abilities need an alternative way to communicate and this is where communication aids can help.

Technology like Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or ACC aids for short, includes a wide range of tools that can help non-verbal people of all abilities, using specially designed software.

Many ACC aids allow people to communicate using tools such as word boards on touchscreen devices, like a tablet computer. Some ACC devices also feature voice outputs.

Some individuals with intellectual impairments have difficulty understanding words and instead rely on pictures and symbols to communicate. Fortunately, ACC devices can also allow the person under your care to form words and sentences using images.

Communication devices are especially important when you have a non-verbal person under your care. These devices can help them with their education and when socialising with their peers.

The types of assistive technology available are growing

Modern assistive technology has revolutionised the way people of all abilities manage their daily lives, study, work, and socialise. These devices have come a long way and we can expect even more innovative and life-changing assistive technology to be developed soon.

Given the kind of impairment the person under your care has, they may require multiple assistive devices. To understand which are most beneficial for them, work with a well-reputed all-abilities service provider in Australia.

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