Assistive technology products help improve or maintain a person’s functioning and independence. This can help them perform several everyday functions without much assistance from a carer or a loved one.
Some common examples of assistive technology are:
- Hearing aids
- Communication aids
- Memory aids
Other assistive technology solutions are:
- Braille displays
- Text-to-speech systems
- Speech generating device (such as what the famous physicist Stephen Hawking used to speak)
- Audio books
- Reminder systems
- Automatic dispensers
- Lifts and ramps
- Voice recognition
- Screen magnification software
- Adapted sporting equipment
Worldwide, it’s estimated that more than 1 billion people require one or more assistive technology products. However, not everyone has access to those devices. This lack of access limits their functioning and capabilities as well as affects their overall wellbeing (such as they can only do fewer activities or they have to rely more on others every day).
With access to assistive technology devices, children and adults can achieve the following:
- Increased access to education and employment
- Better learning experiences and opportunities (e.g. improved language skills due to better hearing)
- For older people, delay the need for long-term care
Who needs assistive technology products? Often, the following groups can benefit from using such devices in their daily lives:
- People with disabilities (whether because of illnesses or injuries)
- Older people
- Individuals who are experiencing gradual functional decline (either because of age or progressive disorders such as muscular dystrophy)
- People with mental health conditions (e.g. autism, dementia) or noncommunicable diseases (e.g. stroke, diabetes)
Their conditions could be limiting their daily mobility and functioning. This also limits their opportunities and experiences. But with assistive technology devices, they can perform more tasks and functions as well as take part in more interesting activities.
Aside from assistive technology devices, people with special needs might also require specialised or appropriate products for their health and personal care. For example, they might need personal care products made for sensitive skin. They might also require appropriate products to better manage acute and chronic infections.
These are all important in improving the care for and overall well being of people with special needs. With these appropriate products and devices, they can improve their daily functioning and take part in more enriching tasks and activities.