Assistive technology (AT) refers to any tools, devices, software, or equipment that are designed and used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities or limitations. These technologies aim to support individuals in various aspects of their lives, allowing them to perform tasks, engage with the environment, and communicate more effectively.
The main goal of assistive technology is to promote independence, accessibility, and inclusivity for people with disabilities. Assistive technology plays a vital role in design by enhancing accessibility and usability of products. In the context of design, incorporating assistive technology involves creating products, services, or spaces that are accessible, inclusive, and user-friendly for everyone.
- Mobility Aids: Designing mobility aids requires careful consideration of the needs and challenges faced by individuals with mobility impairments under various medical conditions. These aids aim to enhance the user's experience, comfort, and safety while facilitating their movement and daily activities. These include devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, and other supportive products which assist individuals with mobility impairments in moving around and navigating their surroundings.
- Visual and Hearing Aids: These devices help individuals with visual and hearing impairments access information. Examples of visual aid devices include screen readers, screen magnifiers, Braille displays, and audio-calculators. Hearing assistive technology includes hearing aids and cochlear implants, which enhance sound perception for individuals with hearing impairments.
- Prosthetics and Orthotics: These medical devices used to support and enhance the function and mobility of individuals with various musculoskeletal impairments, or other physical disabilities. Prosthetics are artificial devices designed to replace or augment missing or non-functional body parts. These devices help individuals regain mobility, perform daily activities, and improve their overall quality of life. Orthotics are devices designed to support, align, or correct musculoskeletal deformities or imbalances. They are primarily used to improve posture, provide stability, and reduce pain.
Assistive technology is continually evolving, with ongoing advancements in technology and design. It is essential to tailor the solutions to individual needs, preferences, and specific disabilities to ensure their effectiveness and usability. Integrating assistive technology into daily life can greatly enhance the independence, experience, productivity, and overall quality of life, allowing them to participate in possibly every aspect of life.
Faculty: Prakash Kumar, Vikash Kumar, Subhajit Chandra