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Assistive technology for independent living

Assistive technology for independent living

Assistive technology to help you live more independently

21 assistive technologies for independent living

Whether you’re getting older or you’re living with a disability, one of your core goals is probably to live as independently as possible. All of us want the freedom to make choices in life and have the support to make these decisions.

Assistive technology can play a crucial role in improving your independence. These tools and devices range from simple aids to advanced equipment, and they’re all designed to help you in daily activities, communication and mobility.

Here we explain what assistive technology is and look at some devices that might help you become more independent at home.

What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology (also known as AT) consists of a wide range of devices, software and tools. According to the World Health Organisation, “assistive technology enables people to live healthy, productive, independent, and dignified lives, and to participate in education, the labour market and civic life.”

People with disabilities, older people, those with noncommunicable diseases, mental health conditions or gradual functional decline could all benefit from assistive technologies to help improve independence.

They’re usually broken up into three groups – low complexity, mid complexity and high complexity technologies. Regardless of your challenges, there will be an assistive technology that can help you live a more independent life.

What are some low-tech and low complexity AT devices or tools?

These are simple, easy-to-use devices or tools that need minimal training. You can often buy them in retail stores and are usually quite easy to set up.

Some examples include:

1. Canes: They can help you balance and increase stability for walking, improving your mobility and confidence to get around.

2. Magnifiers: They enlarge text and images for people with low vision. They can be handheld devices or a digital screen magnifier.

3. Adaptive eating utensils: If you’ve got limited hand strength or coordination, you can get weighted or angled handles to make eating easier.

4. Grab bars and handrails: You can install these in bathrooms or other areas of the home to prevent falls and help your mobility.

5. Closed captioning: If you’ve got a hearing impairment, you can add closed captioning to audio content so you can watch TV without someone interpreting.

What are some mid-tech and mid complexity AT devices or tools?

These technologies may require some training or adaptation. They might cost a bit more and you may need an assessment from your healthcare provider to access them. Once you master them, they can offer you significant support and independence.

6.Hearing Aids: If you have a hearing impairment, a hearing aid can help amplify sound so you can communicate and have better awareness of your surroundings.

7. Adaptive keyboards: There are lots of adaptive keyboard varieties that can help you type on the computer more easily. These include different layouts, high contrast for visual impairments, braille keyboards or keyboards with larger keys.

8. Walkers: Similar to canes, walkers can help you feel more confident on your feet so you can get around more easily.

9. Memory aids: There are a variety of apps and devices that can provide reminders for appointments, tasks and medications.

10. Medication reminders and dispensers: Making sure you have proper medication management is crucial for maintaining your health and independence.

11. Text-to-speech software: This can convert written text into spoken words which can help with your reading and comprehension.

12. Adaptive switches: These make it easier to use electronic devices when you have limited mobility. It could include bigger buttons or a switch that can be powered by your tongue or breath.

13. Video calling apps: Using a video calling app can help you communicate with loved ones, even when you’re homebound or have limited verbal communication.

14. Screen readers: These are designed for people with visual impairments and can convert digital text into spoken words.

15. Voice recognition software: Specialty software that can translate spoken words into text or commands, which is very helpful if you have mobility challenges.

What are some high-tech and high complexity AT devices or tools?

These are advanced technologies that may require a lot of training, customisation, or professional installation. They are generally more expensive and may take some time to get used to.

16. Wheelchairs (especially motorised): They provide mobility and independence for those who can’t walk. Motorised wheelchairs can provide even greater independence, as it means you can get around without physical exertion.

17. An electronic Braille display: a tactile device that can be connected to a computer or smartphone device and helps you read online content using Braille.

18. Speech-generating devices: If you have difficulty speaking, you can use these hand-held devices. You press buttons or keys and the device will either speak the words or type them on the keyboard.

19. Stair lifts and ramps: If you can’t climb stairs, a stair lift or ramp can help you access different levels of a home or building.

20. Smart home devices: With devices like Google Nest or Amazon Alexa and smart home automation, you can close doors, turn on lights, open blinds and even turn on your smart kettle with your voice.

21. Transportation aids: This might include various modifications to a car so you can drive when you have a disability.

How can you find out more about assistive technology?

If there is a particular type of assistive technology that you’re interested in, think about whether it might help you achieve your independence goals. For example, the NDIS might ask:

Does the assistive technology relate to your disability? Is the assistive technology right for you? Is the assistive technology you need value for money? Is your assistive technology funded or provided by someone else?

They define:

  • Low cost assistive technology as being under $1,500 per item.
  • Mid cost assistive technology between $1,500 - $15,000 per item
  • High cost assistive technology that are over $15,000 per item

Talk to us at Five Good Friends about whether there’s an assistive technology that might be right for you.

If you’d like to learn more how we can help you become more independent, get in touch. Our goal is to help our Members live happy and healthy lives in their own homes.

Learn more: What can NDIS funds be used for?

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