The 5 Steps You Should Think About Before Buying Assistive Technology, Part 1

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

*The following is a guest post from Mark Flores of Handi Enterprises, Inc. In this five part series he discusses assistive technology and the process each person should go through in purchasing it. Come back each week for a new article about buying assistive technology.*

Technology Does Not Always Come First

If you think about it technology drives most of what we do every single day; be it sending an email down the street or around the world, using a cell phone while you are on your way to your next meeting or for coffee with a friend, to using a pair of headphones so you can listen to the latest audiobook bestseller or bring back memories that you associate with that favorite song.  Imagine if you could not easily do these things, if you needed another piece of technology just to be able to use something like your smart phone.  That is what assistive technology does.  Assistive technology evens the playing field for people with disabilities. Because it can do this it is no wonder that some of our clients get so excited when we show them something that can help them become an active part of this electronic age that we now live in.  For a few of our clients that excitement can wane. In this blog post I will explain why and what you can do to start enjoying the assistive technology that you need.

The 1st thing you as a prospective buyer of assistive technology can do is be honest about your need.  What I mean by that is, your search for assistive technology will go much quicker if you are able to fully articulate what you need the technology to do.  When you are thinking of why you need assistive technology, try to ask yourself these kinds of questions: will I need it for work or just for personal reasons?  What parts of my disability do I need to address?  For example, do I need it to type for me or do I just need to transcribe conversations?  Also ask yourself what kind of environment will I be using this technology in?  Will it be an open air environment or a closed environment?  Do I need to take it anywhere or can I just leave it at home or at work?  I find that the best way to answer questions like these is to take an in-depth look at everything you do throughout the day and everything that the piece of technology could help you with.  These questions are just examples.  Your situation might be a little different.  It is important to remember that there are no wrong answers to these questions.  Assistive technology has come so far that questions like these are not meant to keep you from using it they are just meant to make sure you are using the technology that is right for you.

As many pieces of assistive technology are designed to work with specific disability types for example real-time transcription for the deaf and hard of hearing community or computer-based speech recognition for those with mobility impairments, you need to be honest about your own ability level.  Clients often find it frustrating when they are presented with a particular piece of assistive technology that would work great for someone who can push a button but because they cannot, they are often stuck trying to make something that should work seamlessly into something that will only partially work.  When it comes to this type of technology you should never settle for “only partially.”  People in the assistive technology industry are good at adapting particular pieces of technology to work with individual levels of ability.  Assistive technology professionals are here to make your experience the best it can be so never be afraid to let us know when something just is not working for you.

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