Assistive technology is any device that helps a person with a disability complete an everyday task. Assistive technology can be “low-tech” (something very simple and low-cost), or “high-tech” (like a computer).
“I think (assistive technology) is definitely moving towards the (high) tech side of things,” said Paul Spotts, Assistive Technology Specialist for The Independence Center.
For example, people with limited hand function may use a keyboard with large keys, people who are blind may use software that reads text on the screen, people with low vision may use software that enlarges screen content, people who are deaf may use a TTY (text telephone), or people with speech impairments may use a device that speaks out loud as they enter text via a keyboard. However, assistive technology doesn’t have to be high-tech to be effective.
“It can be low-tech too. There’s a back scratcher in the office I use to flip a switch. That’s assistive technology too,” said Spotts.
At The Independence Center, there are countless resources available to individuals with disabilities that need some type of assistance completing certain tasks that many take for granted. A key point that Spotts reiterates is that so many people are not aware of these resources and the fact that there is a wide variety of assistive technology out there for nearly any activity.
“(Assistive technology) can be used for so many different things. Driving a car, getting out of bed, picking up stuff, using the phone, riding a bike,” Spotts continued. “There’s just so much.”
Spotts’ position at The Independence Center ensures all consumers are aware of any technology equipment available to live an independent life. Spotts manages technology resources, performs demonstrations of equipment and provides education and training.
“I help others find things they need that would help them become more independent. Or if they have an idea we can search for it. Usually, someone says they want something and I find it and make sure it fits their needs,” said Spotts.
One common question Spotts receives from individuals is what type of software programs exists to help them utilize the computer for necessary tasks, like writing or typing. Many people do not realize is the extensive capabilities some of this software has.
“(There are programs), like the Dragon Naturally Speaking software, that you talk and if you want to scan the web, you can tell it where you want to go and it does it. You can write with it, as you’re speaking it types. You can make corrections on the fly with it like ‘go back two spaces, get rid of that,’” said Spotts.
According to Spotts, with assistive technology, possibilities are endless.
“See what you can find to make yourself more independent, at living or at recreation too. You name it, it’s all there. Do you want to ride a bike and you’re in a wheelchair? You can ride a bike. It’s all out there,” Spotts said.
If you are in need of assistance in finding adaptive equipment to fulfill your needs, please contact Paul Spotts at The Independence Center at (719) 471-8181 ext.122. Also check out The Accessibility Store for a variety of assistive technology products: http://www.store4access.com/