Assistive technology (AT) is anything scientifically or technically manufactured that serves to assist or improve normal function. It can include manufactured items that serve humans, ranging from clothing that enhances functioning in cold weather to airplanes that speed movement from one place to another. The term is not restricted to its use by people with disabilities (PWDs) for technological devices or programs that are useful to them. However, the field of rehabilitation of people with physical or sensory disabilities has co-opted the term to some extent to refer to utilization by PWDs without actually defining the nature or the extent of the disability. Thus the term, as used in rehabilitation, includes all types of devices and programs, regardless of complexity or technical level, from eyeglasses to mechanical ventilators and from computer-assisted communications to programmed heart monitors, that may improve the physical and psychosocial conditions of a PWD. According to the U.S. Technology Act, reauthorized in 1998, AT is defined as "[a]ny item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities." While the act refers only to the functional capabilities of AT, the thrust of research by psychologists into AT in rehabilitation has been AT's psychosocial impact.
The interest of psychology in AT is twofold. The first is to study the effects of AT on the life of its consumer, especially the effects on psychosocial aspects such as quality of life (QOL). The second is in outcome research, especially to explore reasons for the adoption of assistive devices and for the high level of their abandonment.
Was this article helpful?
With all the stresses and strains of modern living, panic attacks are become a common problem for many people. Panic attacks occur when the pressure we are living under starts to creep up and overwhelm us. Often it's a result of running on the treadmill of life and forgetting to watch the signs and symptoms of the effects of excessive stress on our bodies. Thankfully panic attacks are very treatable. Often it is just a matter of learning to recognize the symptoms and learn simple but effective techniques that help you release yourself from the crippling effects a panic attack can bring.