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Assistive Technology for the Disabled

Updated on June 23, 2011

Speak with anyone that is disable and you will find that there are obstacles that still hinder them from doing all the things they are capable of doing for themselves. Assistive Technology for the Disabled reveals some of the assistive technology that is available to smooth over some obstacles and allow the disable to have a better quality of life.

Unlike what some believe a disable person can learn to become mobile, speak, write, and so much more when provided the right tools that can enable them in doing so. Assistive technology is opening the doorway for the disabled to do what their counterparts of years ago could not even imagined could be done. Just as proper wheelchair access would enable the below individual to continue on his journey; the proper assistive technology allows other disabled individuals to become more interactive with their surrounding world.

Photo courtesy of:
Photo courtesy of:

Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities

Assistive Technology (AT) can be defined as a device or service that can benefit people with disabilities. Any piece of equipment, product system, or any device that can be used to improve, increase, and or maintain a disabled person’s functional capabilities is defined as an assistive technology device. According to the AT Act of 2004, an assistive technology service is defined as any service that helps a disabled individual acquire, select, and or use an assistive technological device.

These technological tools benefit people with intellectual disabilities by:

  • Enabling an individual to have a level of accomplishment and or normal fluency that could not be achieved without these devices and or services.
  • Reducing the labor required or increase endurance when attempting to complete routine tasks.
  • Enhances some individuals’ opportunities for learning or employments tasks.
  • Supporting normal social interactions with their environment be it work and or social events.

Various types of assistive technological devices can enable some disabled individuals to live and work independently.


Individuals with intellectual and or developmental disabilities can use this technology for:

Mobility - Can become mobile by using sophisticated computer controlled wheelchairs

Communication – Augmentative and alternative communication (ACC) may involve technology ranging from low-tech message boards to computerized voice output communication aids and or services.

Control of Environment – AT can help people with disabilities to control audio/video equipment, turn on and off lights and or electrical appliances; lock and unlock doors; and successfully complete everyday tasks of self-care that years ago was not feasible to do.

Dr. Bob’s story below demonstrates the benefits I’ve listed so far…

Adult with cerebral palsy using intellikeys- usb

Intellikeys can help a writer that maybe handicapped

Intellikeys USB and Disabilities

Dr. Bob Segalman, an adult with cerebral palsy is an excellent example of how IntellKeys USP and other assistive technology devices can help an individual function at one’s best. Dr. Segalman flows through a daily routine and has accomplished many successes that numerous individuals without physical disabilities have not attained.

Dr. Bob Segalman has received two doctoral degrees; is a successful business owner of Speech –to-Speech (a telephone access service for people with speech disabilities); and, he is also the author of his own book, Against the Current, that is an autobiography describing his journey. Speech to Speech is a service that provides a communication assistant that revoices what the person with the speech disability is attempting to converse over the phone (like order a pizza).

Ben – the college student

Neater Arm Support to assist in Eating Neatly

Other uses of assistive technology are to enhance one’s ability to reach goals of:

Education - Ben is able to be a college student completing his degree in sociology because of the assistive technology software that is used in cohesion with his education to aid in having the capability to communicate.

Computer-assisted instructions that are built specifically to meet Ben’s needs assist him in the area of word recognition, math, spelling, as well as enhance his social skills by helping him to speak.

Handling activities of daily living - Self care can be a difficult task for the disabled; however, this technology offers lots of support in this area. There are audio prompting devices that can remind a person to complete certain tasks at certain times if the individual has memory difficulties and or maybe blind.

Video-based devices can provide instructional materials to help with things like grocery shopping, paying bills, and there is now some software that is equipped with GPS to help an individual find their way to a destination. Computerized devices like the one in the second video can make one’s dining experience more pleasant by providing assistance at mealtime to anyone desiring to eat more independently.

Barriers of assistive technology used by people with intellectual disabilities

As with most innovative ideas there are barriers of assistive technology that must be overcame. My research revealed that the development of this technology so far has not been able to incorporate the principles of universal design. If my comprehension of this barrier is correct it would be like attempting to run Mac software on a PC.

In other words, many of the AT devices are hand made by small companies and are manually adapted software programs and other devices to inter act with each other. Many small companies are open to having a universal design, however it has not been accomplished as of yet. Universal design would mean that it could be used by all individuals without the need for specialized design or adaptation.

Of course, the main barriers are the high costs, and the lack of information about the availability of the devices to the general public. Individuals with intellectual disabilities are very unique people that have a range of learning and processing abilities, making it difficult to develop assistive technology solutions that are appropriate for everyone. Limited training on a device, device complexity, and unavailability of assessment information are also barriers to assistive technology. However, despite all the barriers this technology is helping to make dreams come true.

Assist in Dreams coming True

Photo courtesy of:
Photo courtesy of:

Achieving Dreams and Goals

Sports and recreation – Mobilized wheelchairs allows individuals to play sports like shuffleboard or basketball. Computerized games to develop cognitive and hand-eye coordination skills; in addition, there are toys adapted with switches to encourage even the young cerebral palsy child to learn to play.

Employment – As Ben stated above once he completes school he wants to have a successful job. While his mother seemed to be a little doubtful; Ben's dream just might be achievable with the continuous improvement of technology.

Adaptive assistive technology has enabled more of the disabled to be able to function within a work environment. There are assisted training videos that can be used for job training and skill development. Services that can teach job behavior and social interaction skills; as well as computerized prompting systems that help in scheduling and time management.

AssistiveTechnology Enabling Dreams

Photo courtesy of:
Photo courtesy of:

Ending note…

In conclusion, the purpose of this hub was just to attempt to let everyone know that there are options that can assist if you have a love one that has a disability. Unfortunately, it may require a lot of research and numerous questions to find the answers you need. Nevertheless, thank goodness because of technological innovations and Disability Acts the world has began moving towards embracing this group of people rather than just shutting individuals in a room like a hidden secret.

Statistics from the Disabled World revealed that there is about 10 percent of the total world’s population, or roughly 650 million people are living with some type of disability. Disability is the world’s largest minority group and it affects hundreds of millions of families throughout developing countries. It has only been recently that assistive technology advanced enough to begin to allow many members of this group to seek and attain the best quality of life that they can attain. However, there is still a lot of work to be accomplished within this area of innovation of technology. I hope you have found this hub useful and informative; please feel free to share your thoughts and or experiences in the comments below...




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    • childgadgets profile image

      Brett Diffley 

      8 years ago from Washington state

      My dad was a paraplegic so I can relate. Good article! Thank you.

    • Rusti Mccollum profile image

      Ruth McCollum 

      8 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

      I loved this hub.You are right about technology. I have had multiple back surgeries and could barely walk.I started putting on weight,not good from being unable to walk at all. I have a caregiver two days ago i told her,I needed help.I lose the feeling in my right leg and fall(i have even tumbled down the stairs at my drs office!i was trying though. My caregiver who lives with me because of the horrid pain even unloading the dishwasher brings on.She is a wonderful help to me and yes all of my drs agree ,I fall so much I need someone here with me. she told me she would walk with me and hang on to me so if I fell she would be there to stop me from hitting the cement. yesterday we were talking and I was wobbly,my right leg also makes me look drunk.I became a hermit because of that we walked and talked and i made it 45 minutes ,even though I almost fell numerous times.I became a hermit because I was in a grocery store right after an operation and I heard some lady Jeffie had his arm around me so I would fally but I was wobbly and needed him to make sure I didn't fall,He was a teenager. say "That's so sad that poor boy has a drunk for a mother".I didn't leave my house anymore except to my dr.s office.I was terribly hurt because even though I had an accident and do need help, by all acccounts I have been a great mom and raised a nice young man. We tell eachother we love eachother all the time. I set a goal yesterday to try to get better.I won't lie it hurts real bad. I am doing it tho.I have been approved for a mobility chair which is a wonderful invention.Technology is so far advanced I can get educated by taking on line classes in criminal justice.Due to medication ,my injuries and I throw up alot everyday almost.I am on medications that are for my spine and heart.I can't get a normal job until my dr and I can figure out why I throw up so much.I'm taking classes in hopes I can help by working at home in that field. You wrote a great hub for disabled people.It's a wonderful hub .Thankyou.

    • sethslosberg profile image


      9 years ago

      This is another great technology offered by an Australian company safetyandmobility dot com dot au/ which helps people get their disabled loved ones off the stairs very easily. I love technologies that help people improve their lives. Thanks for sharing the post though :) .

    • torkinhedd profile image


      9 years ago

      Superb hub, cram packed with great information. Really exceptionally well done.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Angela Lethbridge 

      10 years ago

      It's amazing how technology has empowered the lives of so many people. Things that we do every day and we take for granted can be a real struggle for the disabled without the help of technology.

      This is a good example of technology that can help those with arthritis who cannot hold and manage a book yet an ebook reader is so light, and doesn't have pages to turn.

      Technology has given improved life to people who must live with a disability every day.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      Thanks Teddletonmr for stopping by to comment and share your thoughts. May you and your family be blessed during the holidays. :)

    • Teddletonmr profile image

      Mike Teddleton 

      10 years ago from Midwest USA

      Thanks for taking the time to write your hub, Assistive Technology for the Disabled. I found it interesting, well written and informative.

      I am dealing with vision loss, and can tell you there are a great many things we take for granted until we wake up one day and the world has changed. Seeing or should I say not seeing things in a different light is a bit vexing to say the least.

      The adaptive technologies help a great deal however the simplest things are still a bit overwhelming at times.

      Thanks for the great hub, merry Christmas, happy new year and God bless. Mike

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      I've never been physically disabled however, I would think that a kind word, a helpful hand, or any other assistance would mean a lot to anyone that is so used to so many people looking the other way. Thanks Matthew for stopping by for a read.

    • matthewjason profile image


      10 years ago

      Very helpful and informative hub!totally well researched and helpful for the physically disable persons.

      Its really very hard to live in such extreame conditions and reading this hub i will try to help some one who is actually physically disable. Thank You for making this hub!

      I will definitely use this information for some one!


    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      Thank you Teresa for stopping by and sharing your insight on assistive technology for the disabled. And I agree that the devices does add a better quality of life for many that are disabled.

    • Teresa Schultz profile image

      Teresa Schultz 

      10 years ago from East London, in South Africa

      These various types of assistive technological devices are well discussed here, well done. The devices surely help a great deal of people with disabilities live a more independent life. I became more aware of how many people are disabled a while ago while doing some writing and web research work for a personal injury lawyer, on topics mostly related to spinal cord injury and brain injury.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      You are correct TheMMAZone there are a lot of advances in assistive technology for the disabled today that many people maybe unfamiliar with. I felt it was important to provide info on the research I found in one location. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

    • TheMMAZone profile image


      10 years ago from Kansas

      Wow this hub could be a whole website. There are so many advances today with technology that can help people who are disabled. Thanks for bringing this to our attention it is a subject we should all pay attention to.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Katiem. :)

    • katiem2 profile image

      Katie McMurray 

      10 years ago from Ohio

      Great topic, I enjoyed reading your hub on assistive technology for the disabled. Bravo! Thanks and Peace :)

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @TattoGuy - Thanks for the kind comments moi friend. This one was challenging because a lot of the info was either technical and I didn't understand what it meant or a little vague. But, I'm glad to see that I was able to provide at least enough info to be of interest in an area that really needs more attention. Thanks for stopping by and providing your support. :)

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @kvmstuff - Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      As Pamela so rightly says a really well researched hub, I used to think I cud write about anything but no way cud I write on Assistive Technology for the Disabled. I applaud you MG for such a helpful hub, you moi friend just get better, am proud of ya ; ) x

    • profile image


      10 years ago from Cleveland

      This post is dedicated to people who r working so hard for the betterment of humanity. Nice post MG.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @Duchess OBlunt - Thanks for stopping by for a read, Duchess! And thank you for confirming that I accomplished writing the hub in an informative compassionate way. :)

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @Cheeky Girl - Thanks for passing it on to others that might benefit from the info, I've found. I too, found a lot of the information fascinating, for one that there were so many individuals enduring various types of disabilities. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 

      10 years ago

      Not only is this well done, you have approached the subject itself with clarity and compassion. Good information with some helpful links for those who are looking for this type of information.

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      10 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      This is a great hub, Money Glitch! I am bookmarking this. I want to show this to some friends of mine, I think they will benefit from it, as people they know have disabilities and this is worth reading! I find it fascinating even myself! You explain it all so well! You research your hubs very thoroughly! Glad I found this hub! Cheers! Have a great weekend, moi friend! : )

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      Hi Cari, My heart goes out to you and your family, because you are right when it comes to finding out information & finding funds to support the high cost of assistive technology; it is not something that you can just easily find.

      Thank goodness some of the small companies like the Neater Eater have started advertising on YouTube, and other sources to get the word out. Hopefully, as your daughter grows older some of these obstacles (like high cost, lack of universal coding, etc.)will be eliminated. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. :)

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 

      10 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      This is a great hub and with all the information out there on assitive technology, you put it all together very well so that it's easy to read and understand.

      My daughter who has CP is six and we are just beginning to look into some of the assistive technology - it can be so overwhelming. But it's all so amazing as well. It's great that this technology can make a disabled person's life easier to live. I love the Neater Eater! I may have to look into that for our daughter - thanks!

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      Hello, Kabir, I take pride in providing numerous sources to all my work, hence through out the article there are "more information" sections (mid-way the hub & below the comments). Also, within the text of the hub the blue highlighted words are reference resources. I hope this helps your concerns. :) Thanks for stopping by. :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      The Hub is very informative and I personally appreciate the effort of the author. However I would like to request the author that it would be great help if some sources of information could also be included. Kudos to the great work.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @Pamela99 - Hi Pam, Thanks so much for your support and commenting. :)

      @anglwu - Hi anglwu, I agree that assistive technology has definitely improved the quality of life for many, and it appears to be continually striving to improve the devices it has made. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @VioletSun - I can only imagine the frustration of not being able to hear spiritual and motivational videos for those are what helps to keep me inspired as well. It is unfortunate that the communication media still needs to improve on providing closed captioned for the hearing impaired.:( Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts. :) Namaste!

    • anglnwu profile image


      10 years ago

      Again, another very well-researched hub. It's amazing how technology can be used to provide assistance to the disabled. We read of people who have competed in sports and resume normalcy with the help of these tools. This hub offers promise and hope and hopefully, in the near future, even better and more evolved assistant tools will be made to better the lives of the disabled. Rated it up.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      10 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I think this is a very informative and well researched hub. It is wonderful to know there is so much help for the disabled as it is such a difficult life for them. Thanks for a great hub.

    • VioletSun profile image


      10 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Very thorough and informative hub! Being hearing impaired, for me the Internet opened doors in terms of being able to communicate without any struggles in my former corporate career, as in a business setting using a Relay Service for phone work, would be a little awkward for the average person, and also to stay connected to my friends and family. I find it very frustrating that many videos and movies do not have close caption, and they are produced by Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Joe Vitale, Deepak Chopra, etc, all conscious teachers (I am attracted to motivational and spiritual videos) and I believe its not expensive if the program is added during production; it would not only enable millions of hearing challenged folks to benefit from the movies but once the caption feature is available, it can be translated into various languages, which would add value to the movie. Maybe one day, someone will take the lead and others will follow.

      Thanks for writing this! :)


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