Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Tutorial Eight- Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology is defined by Cook and Hussey (1995) on page 5 as being
“Any item or piece of equipment or product system whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized that is used to increase or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.”

For me this means that assistive technology is any kind of device that helps someone to function better at any task. I think that this definition includes all technology, including electronics (e.g. a Jelly-Bean) and non-electronics (e.g. a shoe horn).

An example of a type of assistive technology is a Jelly-Bean Switch.
The above picture above shows the simplest version of a Jelly-Bean switch.
This switch can be used with almost any electronic device that has a simple on-off application.
This device can help people who have limited movement in their hands, they are able to just place their hand, elbow, arm or maybe even foot on the switch to turn the thing that it is connected to on or off.
I have seen a jelly-bean switch in use for a home phone. The man had a spinal cord injury and was in a wheelchair, he had limited movement of his arms and hands but was able to move them up and down onto the switch to answer the phone when no one else was home. The switch and the phone would be set up on his lap and when the phone rang he could just press the jelly-bean switch and the phone would be answered on speaker phone. When he wanted to hang up he would just press the switch again. This meant that he could  independantly use the phone while at home by himself.

Star Educational (2011) say that a jelly-bean switch can be used to operate battery operated games, computers and electrical appliances. These devices do however need to be modified to respond to the jelly-bean switch.

I think that the jelly-bean switch empowers clients to be independant in most areas of electronics.

I will not be advocatin the jelly-bean switch in my assignment because it can not be applied in the setting that I have had fieldwork experience in. Instead I have chosen a setting that I have had experience in and will be applying a piece of assistive technology that can be useful in that setting.

Reference List

Cook, A. M. & Hussey, S. M. (1996). Assistive technologies: Principles and practice. USA: Mosby

Star Educational (2011). Retrieved April 13th 2011, from http://www.star-educational.co.nz/view_details.php?detail=true&cat=4&subcat=15&id=13 

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