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 Transportation?
For persons with mobility limitations, AT can make the difference between being stuck at home and getting out into the community, attending medical appointments, work, school, and recreation opportunities. Individuals who use power chairs frequently require a lift-equipped vehicle since their mobility equipment cannot fold and fit in a trunk and the accessibility of public transportation is often unreliable. Assistive technology can also make vehicles operable by persons with gross motor disabilities; and simple AT gadgets can make getting in and out of automobiles accessible for older adults and others with mobility limitations. AT for transportation is AT for living well.
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 Transportation story from Washington
For years, Roxanne has not been able to travel easily. She has a spinal cord injury that impacts her ability to walk or stand and she uses a wheelchair. She drives, but her wheelchair did not fit in her sedan and so there was little point in going anywhere. Then her children saved up to buy her a van with updated safety features. Still, she needed an expensive conversion kit to accommodate her wheelchair. While researching these modifications, she learned of the Northwest Access Fund, the state financing partner for the Washington Assistive Technology Act Program (WATAP). With a loan from the Northwest Access Fund, she installed a VMI Northstar conversion with an in-floor ramp and tie-downs. Now she can visit her grandchildren and explore Washington state. Roxanne reports that the modified van has exceeded her expectations, improved her mental health, and “will probably extend my life.”
Looking for an accessible PDF that explains AT for Transportation and the services provided by AT Act Programs? Download Assistive Technology Is A Part of Everyday Life: Transportation.