Assistive technology refers to devices that are used by children and adults with intellectual and other developmental disabilities that provide supports to promote an individual’s independence, mobility, communication, environmental control, health and wellness, life skills management, employment skills, and choice. Assistive technology helps the individual with daily life functions and facilitates inclusion in the community. Assistive technology also includes direct services and training that assists the individuals with selecting, acquiring or using such devices and the software applications which are most appropriate and available.
It is The Arc New York’s position that:
- It endorses the Coleman Institute’s Declaration on The Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access and encourages passage of this declaration in New York State.
- Assistive technology must be readily available and affordable throughout the life span of individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
- We encourage that the term “assistive technology” should be considered to include everyday personal technology like smart phones and tablets, which are universally accepted in society, thereby lessening the stigmatization that may come from the use of more disability-specific and more costly traditional AT devices.
- Technological innovators, designers and manufacturers must be educated to the needs of individuals with intellectual and other developmental disabilities to ensure the design and development of useful products. The best method of this education process is to include people with intellectual and other disabilities in the identification of their needs and to include them in the design and testing of assistive technology devices.
- Much of the focus of traditional assistive technology has been applied to the sensory and motor needs of individuals. We now believe there needs to be new research done on developing assistive technologies that address the complexity of cognitive disabilities that prevent many individuals to be fully included in the daily activities of life in their community.
- People with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, their families, educators and support professionals must be educated about the benefits of assistive technology.
- Individuals knowledgeable about people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and familiar with current technology must be also become well-versed in person-centered approaches and practices, so that their technology assessments take into consideration the global lifestyle needs of the person to ensure the selection of the most appropriate and comprehensive technologies.
- Professionals in the field must be well informed of funding and resources for assistive technology. It is essential that information and assistance in how to acquire and sustain assistive technology be provided to persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities and their families , especially through life milestones, as in the transition of an individual from school to adult systems, where the ensured portability and transferability of personal technology is critical.
- There should be relevant public policy for funding access to technology as well as training and support.