"Assistive technology is technology used by individuals with disabilities in order to perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. Assistive technology can include mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, as well as hardware, software, and peripherals that assist people with disabilities in accessing computers or other information technologies." (University of Washington, 2002).
In my own words, assistive technology aids in engaging in occupations for people who are unable to. This definition covers a wide range of technology from computers, so simple play toys that aid in the cause and effect.
In a recent class I had, taken by Trev from Star Mobility, we were introduced to a wide range of products he sells in his stores. It covered a very wide range of disabilities and we were able to play with a see how these aid.
A particular piece that was introduced was the switches, particularly soft switches. In my first placement I saw a lot of children with disabilities which could benefit from plugging these into their play computers to use instead of struggling with a small mouse.
I was a palm sized red circle which was soft an squeezable, and when squeezed, it was like a mouse clicker. The approximate price of these were around $170. Trev informed us that the prices of his products are high due to the low production of any of the assitive tech. Companies make less of products and therefore have to charger more to cover costs.
These are great for stimulating occupational engagement because by squeezing it, there is an effect. Trev also introduced the cause and effect idea to us in the tutorial, explaining that if a patient sees the effect they make by squeezing the clicker, it will encourage them to continue to do so. It can then escalate from there by adding clickers and getting a patient to press of squeeze the right one and eventually this could turn into math equations or choosing the right colour/ animal etc.
It can also be for simple communication such as 'yes' or 'no'.
I couldn't find any examples of using specific soft switch which was in class, but heres another type of switch which is beneficial:
This is a baby, it obviously realizes that it gets a reaction from pressing the switch, which could be a big step for her. It could mean that later on in life she will not be as occupationally disrupted by her illness.
University of Washington. (2002) What is assistive technology. Retrieved from http://www.washington.edu/accessit/articles?109