April 6th, 2022, was National Assistive Technology Awareness Day! Congress 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 Housing?
AT is evolving rapidly to support individuals with disabilities and older adults to live at home independently and with a higher quality of life. Smart home devices, including televisions, lights, thermostats, and security systems now provide extraordinary environmental control opportunities for residents with mobility limitations. Devices that support memory and cognition assist older adults and others to stay current with medications. Home modifications, such as ceiling track systems, can lift persons with paralysis and move them between rooms. Service providers can even remotely monitor the routines of residents using sensors and then drop in via video to provide assistance, support, and companionship. However, most AT for housing continues to be simple devices such as threshold ramps, grab bars, and transfer poles, assisting individuals to avoid falls and save thousands of dollars in healthcare costs
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 story from Connecticut
When Joshua moved into a cluster apartment, his primary goal was to be as independent and safe as possible in his new home. To help support him, ATECH, a CT AT Act partner agency, demonstrated a variety of supports for daily living and assistive technology tools. Joshua has trouble remembering to take his medications. ATECH demonstrated the MedMinder because of its unique features, such as automatically locking medication compartments. Only the meds he needs to take are available to him at the appropriate time and day. For when Joshua needs more general assistance at home, ATECH demonstrated the Claris Companion. This video chat device allows Joshua to reach pre-programmed contacts only, an additional safety feature. Other devices ATECH staff demonstrated include the Ring Peephole Video doorbell, the CookStop, and the Microwave Safe-T Sensor. Joshua enjoyed each of these devices, and the team put them into place at his new apartment. Now he is thrilled to be achieving his goal of living independently and safely. His picture is worth a thousand words! Read Joshua’s full story.
Looking for an accessible PDF that explains AT for Housing and the services provided by AT Act Programs? Download Assistive Technology Is A Part Of Everyday Life: Housing.