What is Assistive Technology?

Nearly every American uses technology to make life easier. For people with disabilities, however, assistive technology is more than a luxury…it is an essential tool for independence! Assistive Technology (AT) is any item or piece of equipment that is used to increase, maintain or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of life, including at school, at work, at home and in the community. Assistive Technology ranges from low tech to high tech devices or equipment.

  • Low tech AT are devices or equipment that don’t require much training, may be less expensive and do not have complex or mechanical features. For example:
    • handheld magnifiers
    • canes or walkers
    • reachers/grabbers
    • specialized pen or pencil grips and much more
  • AT devices or equipment that range in the middle of the continuum may have some complex features, may be electronic or battery operated, may require some training to learn how to use and are more expensive than the low-tech devices. Some examples include
    • manual wheelchairs
    • Closed Caption Televisions (CCTV’s)
    • books on CD
    • environmental control units (ECU)
    • alternate mouse or keyboard for the computer and much more
    • High Tech AT refers to the most complex devices or equipment, that have digital or electronic components, may be computerized, will likely require training and effort to learn how to use and cost the most. Examples include:
      • Power wheelchairs or scooters
      • Digital hearing aids
      • Computers with specialized software such as voice recognition or magnification software
      • Communication devices with voices
      • Digi-drive technology (operating a vehicle with a joystick)

How Can I Find AT That is Right for Me?

The Tech Act & Tools for Life

In 1988 Congress passed a law called the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act (known as the Tech Act).  This law provides all states with funds to address assistive technology needs.  In Florida, contact FAAST or your local Center for Independent Living.

Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology

The Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST) FAAST, the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology program