skip to content
Primary navigation

Types of Assistive Technology

Types of Assistive Technology (AT)

Assistive technology isn’t new. In fact, it has been a part of the human experience since Ancient times. It is believed that eyeglasses were invented in Italy between 1268 and 1289; and, the first recorded use of a wheelchair dates back to 5th Century China. 

Assistive technology can range from no and low tech solutions to high tech solutions. For example:

  • using paint to help with wayfinding (“to get to the elevator follow the blue line on the floor”)
  • homemade grips (wrapping duct tape around a pencil or pipe insulation around a spoon handle)
  • speech generating devices that can be activated using eye gaze

Assistive technology solutions may be store bought, such as speech recognition software; modified such as placing tennis balls on a walker to make it easier to glide over carpets; and, even custom made such as creating a prosthetic hand using a 3D printer. 

It may not surprise you to learn that AT may fit into more than one category depending upon the person’s needs as well as how and where the person uses the AT. 

Throughout this site, we will use the following ten categories below to group AT solutions. 

Vision

Products for people who are blind or visually impaired, including AT used for daily living activities, accessing computers, wayfinding, and other needs. Examples include:

  • magnifiers, 
  • talking devices such as a talking thermostat, 
  • Braille displays, 
  • screen reading software, 
  • text-to-speech systems using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), 
  • large print materials, and 
  • phones with large tactile buttons. 

Want to know more or explore a sampling of products? Here are a few resources to get you started. 

Hearing

Products for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, including AT used daily living activities, communication, and other needs. Examples include: 

  • personal amplification systems, 
  • wireless TV listening systems, 
  • vibrating alarm clocks, 
  • doorbell with flashing light alert, 
  • portable closed captioning system, 
  • face-to-face dual keyboard communication system, 
  • amplified telephones, 
  • phone with captioning, and 
  • mobile devices with texting or specialized apps.

 Want to know more or explore a sampling of products? Here are a few resources to get you started. 

Speech communication

Products for people with speech disabilities who need assistance with speaking including face-to-face communication.  Examples include: 

  • voice amplification systems, 
  • stuttering aids, 
  • artificial larynx, 
  • communication boards, 
  • speech output software, 
  • symbol-making software, and 
  • speech generating devices. 

Want to know more or explore a sampling of products? Here are a few resources to get you started. 

Learning, cognition, and developmental

Products for people who need assistance with learning, attention, memory, and organization. Examples include: 

  • memory aids, 
  • text-to-speech systems to support learning (not related to vision needs), 
  • reminder systems, 
  • notetaking systems, 
  • mobile devices with specialized apps, and 
  • audio books.  

Want to know more or explore a sampling of products? Here are a few resources to get you started.

Mobility, seating, and positioning

Products for people who need mobility assistance. Examples include:

  • wheelchairs, 
  • walkers, 
  • canes, 
  • crutches, 
  • scooters, and 
  • power chairs as well as products designed to provide postural and pressure management. 

Want to know more or explore a sampling of products? Here are a few resources to get you started.

Daily Living

Products for people with disabilities and older adults with functional limitations due to aging. These products increase independence when performing activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, eating and other basic home/life activities including shopping and money management. Examples include: 

  • dressing aids such as zipper pulls and button hooks, 
  • long handle shoe horn, 
  • Reacher, 
  • adapted kitchen tools and eating utensils, 
  • walker carrying bag, 
  • wheelchair cup holder, 
  • book stand, 
  • automatic soap dispenser, 
  • vacuum robot, and 
  • switch-adapted appliances. 

Want to know more or explore a sampling of products? Here is a resource to get you started. 

Environmental Adaptations

Products designed to increase access to homes, businesses, and other buildings by people with disabilities and include systems to open/lock doors, control lighting, temperature and other environmental needs. Examples include: 

  • door openers, 
  • lifts, 
  • ramps, 
  • systems designed to remotely control appliances, 
  • electronics, and 
  • other products using a switch, voice or other method of activation. 

Want to know more or explore a sampling of products? Here are a few resources to get you started. 

Vehicle modification and transportation

Products that promote safe access to transportation and increase independence through vehicle adaptations. Examples include: 

  • hand controls, 
  • tie and lock downs for securing a wheelchair to the floor of the vehicle, 
  • ramps, 
  • lifts, 
  • raised roofs, and 
  • adaptive seat belts. 

Want to know more or explore a sampling of products? Here is a resource to get you started. 

Computers and related peripherals

Products that help people with disabilities access and use computers.  Examples include: 

  • specialized software such as screen magnification software for people with low vision, <</li>
  • alternative keyboards and input devices, and 
  • voice recognition.

Want to know more or explore a sampling of products? Here are a few resources to get you started. 

Recreation, sports, and leisure 

Products that help people with disabilities participate in sports, recreation, and leisure activities. Examples include: 

  • switch adapted toys, 
  • playing card shuffler, and 
  • adapted sporting equipment.  

Want to know more or explore a sampling of products? Here are a few resources to get you started. 

back to top