November is Assistive Technology (AT) Awareness Month! To celebrate, let’s discuss the impact of various AT devices on the lives of people with disabilities, including some of my personal experiences with AT.
What is Assistive Technology (AT)?
Assistive technology, or AT, is “any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system designed to increase, maintain, or improve the functionality of persons with disabilities.”
AT can be low-tech, like basic communication boards, or high-tech, like special computers. Wheelchairs, walkers, and braces can all be AT too.
My AT Story
As a person with a disability, I have used various AT devices. I rely on AT for both professional and personal purposes. Without these devices, I would most likely not have the quality of life I do.
I have cerebral palsy and use a power wheelchair, so my wheelchair is the AT device that is most essential to my daily life. Without my power wheelchair, I couldn’t get around independently. I would have to rely on someone whenever I wanted to go somewhere.
On the software side of AT, I used AudioNote in college. AudioNote is a voice recording app for iOS, Android, and desktop. Because it is difficult to write, I used it to record lectures (with permission from the teacher). The app also allows you to type notes. When you click on them, the app plays the note for you in audio format.
Kurzweil 3000 is another AT software program that helped me immensely in college. I would have my textbooks scanned onto my computer as Kurzweil files. I could then use Kurzweil to listen to my textbooks as I followed along visually. This helped a lot because I sometimes have difficulty reading a lot at a time.
In my free time, I like to use my Xbox Adaptive Controller to play video games. The Xbox Adaptive Controller has two large buttons that I press with my right hand (which I can’t use as well as my left hand). The Adaptive Controller can be used with a regular video game controller, which is how I use it.
The Adaptive Controller has several ports for plugging in external devices to use with your hands, feet, etc. I like to play video games online with my friends, which would be impossible without the Xbox Adaptive Controller.
Impact of AT
AT has greatly benefited my life, and it helps many people with a wide range of disabilities. AT devices can often be perceived as complex technology, but they can be something as simple as eyeglasses. Without AT, people with disabilities worldwide, including myself, would not be nearly as independent.
Happy Assistive Technology Awareness Month!