About Assistive Technology:

 

  • The term assistive technology (AT) is broad and includes any item that promotes greater independence.

 

  • Augmentative/alternative communication (AAC) is a field within AT that focuses on techniques used to enhance or replace spoken language.  Multimodal (or total) communication is using more than one way to communicate.

 

  • AT is classified into the following categories:

 

No-tech & Low-tech:  

Anything that does not require a battery (e.g., sign language/ gestures, picture schedule, adapted mouse, dry-erase board, communication book, reacher.)

Mid-tech:  

Items that require batteries and are typically touch-activated (e.g., talking photo album, battery-operated voice output device.)

High-tech:  

Electronic devices that require consistent support (e. g., powered wheelchairs, computers with speech software.)

 

AT is an important tool, but it is the goal that is most important!

 


There are some myths about AT...

 

Myth #1:  A child, teen, or adult must be "ready" to utilize AT and AAC. 

Fact:  There are no pre-requisites for using AT or AAC.  The only requirement is that the user is awake.

 

Myth #2:  Assistive technology is only "hi-tech."
Fact:  Many people with motor or speech challenges do not require a high-tech solution to access their world.  Therapists at ATNW are knowledgeable in all areas of AT from no-tech to high-tech and help determine the best strategies for each individual.  Often times, a plan includes several techniques that can range along the technology spectrum.

 

Myth #3:  Assistive technology is too complicated.
Fact:  Therapists and caregivers can be intimidated by technology, but with proper training and support, everyone can become effective users. Our goal is to provide that support and collaborate with others to help everyone feel confident in their role as a facilitator.

 

Myth #4:  Augmentative/alternative communication (AAC) will inhibit speech and language development.
Fact:
  This is a fear that caregivers often express upon first being introduced to AAC. There have been several studies in the past 20 years that have clearly concluded that the exact opposite is true. Children who have been exposed to AAC strategies have improved speech and language skills compared to those who have not.
Total communication is the best approach!


Myth #5:  Assistive technology only needs to be used in a therapeutic setting.
Fact:  It is essential that AT strategies worked on in therapy also be utilized in a variety of settings (home, school, community.)  This is why we are driven to collaborate with a client's entire team, provide home visits, and facilitate community outings.


Myth #6:  AT is too expensive and hard to acquire.
Fact:  With recent technology advances, AT devices are more numerous, easier to obtain, and more affordable. Although insurance reimbursement can be a challenge, ATNW providers continue to successfully acquire funding for the majority of their recommended equipment. In addition, several charitable organizations exist within the Northwest that provide financial aid so people can receive the tools that they need to succeed.

Assistive Technology NW (ATNW) is our assumed business name, and each therapist is licensed as an individual limited liability company (LLC) and functions separately.