Assistive technology is for everyone

A young man seated in a wheelchair is stacking a dishdrawer dishwasher. Assistive technology is for everyone.

“Assistive technology” isn’t always high-tech or for a niche group.

You wouldn’t call a dish-drawer dishwasher assistive technology, but that is what it is. People who have difficulty bending, or fill the dishwasher from a sitting position, find it very assistive. The label of “assistive technology” has come about from the old language of “aids and equipment for the disabled”. But all technology is assistive – it just depends on perspective.

One of the problems is the stigma attached to labelling items as assistive technology. For example, no-one thinks of a handrail on a staircase as being assistive technology. But as soon as one goes in the shower recess – suddenly it becomes a disability device bringing the associated stigma with it. And why the stigma?

Stigma arises from the notion that having a disability or reduced capability is something to hide. In many ways we haven’t moved on from last century thinking. Occupational therapists lament the number of devices left collecting dust in a cupboard. Aesthetics have taken a back-seat in many of these designs which doesn’t encourage use.

But assistive technology could be coming of age. An article in The Conversation covers a new report from the World Health Organisation. The article looks at Australia’s performance in this global report. The recommendations are: to better understand real life experiences, set up a national data-set, and improve workforce capacity.

Enabling people to stay home and live independently is one of the benefits of good choices in assistive technology. So home design is another technology factor – it’s not just about gadgets.

The title of the article is, From glasses to mobility scooters, ‘assistive technology’ isn’t always high-tech.

A previous article shows how technology can upgrade the simple walking cane.

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