Disabilities and Assistive Technologies
As defined by the Americans
with Disabilities Act, (ADA), 1990, a disability is:
"Having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of
the major life activities of an individual, having record of such an impairment, or being
regarded as having such an impairment."
Ten out of every one hundred people has a disability. In the United States alone more than 68 million people have a disability that affects their daily lives.
Disabling conditions include:
- mobility impairments
- blindness and vision impairments
- deafness and hearing impairments
- speech and language impairments
- mental and learning disabilities
Broadly defined, assistive technology includes any device or piece of equipment that increases the independence of a disabled person.
Assistive technology can be broken down into the following categories:
Example: eye-gaze systems
- Adaptive Toys/Games
- Augmentative Communication
- Cognitive Aids
- Computer Access
- Environmental Controls
- Home Modifications
- Learning Technologies
- Mobility Positioning & Seating
- Robotics Self-Care
- Sensory Aids
- Work site Modifications
Common Problem areas for the Disabled in Computer Access
- Power Switch
- Screen display
Not always disabled persons friendly!
Assistive technologies include:
- mechanical, electronic, and microprocessor based equipment
- non-mechanical and non-electronic aids
- specialized instructional materials, services and strategies
Examples of Existing Assistive Technology
The NoHands Mouse
Tongue Touch Keypad
Environmental control systems
Large screen monitors
Assistive Technology Software
- Wheelchairs and walkers
- Buttoners and zipper pulls
- Shoe fasteners
- Adjustable eating utensils
- Adaptive Designs Apparel produces a line of clothing for wheelchair users.
[Link to the full background paper]
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Last updated 2002/03/25
© Leonard Pham, Scott Hampton, Sangwon Lee, Joshua Kneas, 1997.
Edited and maintained by J.A.N. Lee.