Assistive Technology – A Definition
Assistive Technology (AT)
The term assistive technology refers to a broad range of devices and services and has a number of definitions, the ones used within this guide are taken from the Assistive Technology Act. United States Congress (2004) and acknowledged by the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Bank in 2011 in the publication World Report on Disability.
An Assistive Technology Device is defined as:
“any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.”
An Assistive Technology Service is defined as:
“any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition or use of an assistive technology device.”
While the definition uses the term “device”, it is important to recognise that assistive technology also includes software.
Electronic Assistive Technology (EAT)
The term electronic assistive technology has no clear definition; it tends to be used in two different ways:
- The term electronic assistive technology can be used to describe an item, product, or system that is electronically powered (mains electricity and/or battery), often described as high-tech assistive technology, that fall within the definition of an assistive technology device.
- Electronic assistive technology is often used as a “catch-all” generic term to describe a service provision (e.g. EAT Service) that incorporates one or more of the following service examples:
- Environmental Control Service
- Wheelchair Service (incorporating powered wheelchair control systems)
- Communication Aids Service
- Computer Access and Control Interface Service
- Telecare/Telehealth Service
The list of services above are just examples, an EAT service may include any number of assistive technology categories that incorporate high-tech AT.