Regarding Assistive Technologies
Here are some questions to think about that will help you or
your family members make better decisions about using an assistive
technology device. They were compiled by the Illinois Assistive
Technology Project in Springfield, Illinois (Web site: http://www.iltech.org/.)
Since so many of us have a difficult time choosing an appropriate
assistive technology device for ourselves or our loved ones,
I have listed some helpful guidelines put together by the Illinois
Assistive Technology Project in Springfield, Illinois, http://www.iltech.org/.
It was reprinted from Chicagoland Assistive Technology Home
(two good resources to bookmark.)
Deciding on Assistive Technology That's
Rght for You
Figuring out what device will work best for you can be easier
if you follow these steps.
Conduct your own AT needs assessment; get a better understanding
of what AT can do for you. By answering these questions, you
will be able to effectively communicate your AT needs to a health
- Why do you want to use AT? Examples: To increase independence;
to improve quality of life; to increase productivity at
work or in school; to enhance function; to save energy;
- For what activities will you be using AT? Examples: complete
homework for school; use database at work; transportation;
answer the telephone; eating; communicate with others; other.
- How are you completing these activities now? Consider:
any technologies you're using to complete these activities;
the different types of equipment that could be used to complete
them; your level of independence in completing them and
the amount of assistance required; as well as the amount
of energy you spend.
- Consider your daily routine. When and how often would
you use AT throughout a typical day Examples: 1-3 hours;
3-6 hours; 6-9 hours; 9 + hours.
- What goals do you plan on achieving by using AT? Examples:
Use computer to surf the Internet or check email; drive
car to work; communicate independently; other.
- Consider where, as in what environment you'll be using
AT. Examples: home; workplace; school; community; other.
Are these environments accessible for AT? Consider: Whether
assistance is required for setting up the AT; whether the
AT can be easily transported to the desired environment.
- Picture yourself using AT to complete your activities
in your environment(s). Consider: How you will feel about
the equipment aesthetically; how you will feel using this
equipment with family, friends, coworkers and others; if
you can realistically see yourself using the AT.
Physician's referral. You must have a physician's referral
before you can be evaluated for AT by an Occupational or physical
therapist for medical purposes. You may not need a physician
referral for other types of evaluations.
Evaluation. You may be asked several of the questions
listed in the needs assessment (above). In addition the evaluator
may test range of motion, strength, endurance, coordination,
positioning, vision, hearing, communication skills, cognitive
skills, psycho social issues, or other areas relevant to you
and your specific AT product.
Intervention. The intervention phase may or may not be
a part of the evaluation. In this phase, the professional will
arrange for you to try some equipment. During an AT trial, the
professional is looking to see how functional you are with the
use of the equipment and whether or not you like using it.
The professional may adjust the equipment or modify your positioning
to find out what works best for you. After you and the professional
determine the appropriate piece of equipment for you, the professional
writes a report and letter of justification for funding. The
report, letter of justification and prescription (if necessary)
are forwarded to the funding source.
Training/Modification. Once the equipment arrives, the
evaluator or the equipment vendor usually provides the training.
A Rehabilitation Technologist may be present as well to make
anyequipment modifications. During the training session, the
professional may adjust the equipment, arrange for follow-up
visits and indicate who should be contacted for questions, repairs
and servicing. The amount of training provided varies according
to the type of equipment, your individual abilities and the
amount of training covered by your funding source(s).
Hope this gives you a good beginning.