What is assistive technology?
Assistive technology is any type of mechanical aid or modification that helps people with disabilities perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. Assistive technology ranges from low-tech items such as pencil grips, adapted spoons, and curb cuts in the sidewalk to high-tech devices such as computers and voice synthesizers.
Assistive Technology can help people with disabilities gain access to programs and activities where participation may otherwise be difficult. Technology should support normal social and professional interactions with peers and improve quality of life.
Who needs assistive technology?
There is no age requirement to use assistive technology. Assistive technology can often enhance the development of infants and toddlers and help with the tasks of daily living for people of all ages. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) students with special needs have a legal right to access technology that assists them with learning. To learn more about assistive technology and its role in education please view the Family Guide to Assistive Technology at http://www.pluk.org/AT1.html#1.
How do I get assistive technology?
Funding is available from an array of private and public sources. Some insurance plans cover medical-related devices. Civic groups and foundations also provide funds for members of the community. A listing of civic organizations for each town within Prince George’s County can be found at http://www.prge.lib.md.us/Community/CountyCities.html. Government funding sources may also pay for assistive technology. Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) funded programs often have provisions for assistive devices.
School-aged children have the right to access technology that assists their learning, but the technology must be written into the child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). Parents should actively engage in the process of creating the IEP to ensure that necessary technology is written into the plan for their child. Many school curricula are now building assistive technology (such as audio CDs, computer programs, and large print versions) into the basic framework of each lesson. Parents should discuss their child’s needs, the current curriculum, and assistive devices with the IEP team.
For more information about assistive technology in Prince George’s County Public Schools contact the assistive technology department at 301-567-8494. Contact the PGCPS Parent Center at 301-431-5675 for a schedule of trainings on assistive technology.
The Maryland Assistive Technology Co-op offers trainings and discounted purchasing for assistive technology. Visit their website at www.matcoop.org.
What is out there?
Assistive technology devises range in complexity level and can be as simple as bumped handwriting paper or as complex as a Braille printer. Multiple types of assistive technology are currently on the market. A small sampling is included here:
- Alternative keyboards
- Alternative curser controls including eye tracking and breath systems
- Touch screens
- Braille output printers
- Voice to text programs
- Screen magnifiers
- Screen readers
Durable Medical Equipment
- Wheeled mobility products
- Walking products
- Seating products
Resource Directory – Assistive Technology and Adaptive Equipment
Devices used by children and adults with disabilities to compensate for functional limitations and enhance learning are known as assistive technology.
Abilities Stair Lift
Installs wheel chair lifts and stair glides in your home.
An extensive database of assistive technology and rehabilitative equipment.
Augmentative Communication Consultants, Inc.
A resource that helps individuals, school systems and businesses identify and choose assistive devices and educational software solutions.
Choice Marketing and Sale
Accepts Maryland Medicaid for adaptive equipment, wheelchairs, scooters, stair lifts, hospital beds, van conversions and communication devices.
Toys for Special Children, Inc.
Develops affordable learning and assistive devices for people of all ages with disabilities, helping them to better communicate, learn, work, and play.
Haverich Special Bikes for Special People
Offers Special Bikes for Special People, with a wide range of adaptive equipment.
Provides ramps essentially free of charge for people who rent and who meet the HUD income requirements. Funded by a Community Block grant, they also provide grab bars and other equipment to make a home more accessible.
Learning Independence Through Computers (LINC)
Computer resource center that assists children and adults in using computer technology to maximize independence and productivity.
Personal Emergency Call Service
MD Assistive Technology Co-op
Offers trainings and discounted purchasing for assistive technology.
MD Technology Assistance Program (TAP)
Provides information on services, products, devices and links to other disability and assistive technology web sites; offers the Assistive Technology Guaranteed Loan Program.
Mobility Solutions Inc.
Offers scooters, powered and manual wheelchairs, beds, vehicles, stair and porch lifts. Does not accept Medicaid.
Power Up: Guide to Apps for kids with Special Needs and Learning Differences
Volunteers for Medical Engineering (VME)
Volunteers create or modify devices to help clients perform daily living activities, participate in recreation activities, communicate through augmentative devices or control their environment. VME services are provided for a small fee for completed devices.
912 Thayer Avenue
Silver Spring, MD
Provides free or discounted wheelchairs to people in need.
Wishes in Wheels
Provides electric power wheelchairs to non-ambulatory seniors and people with disabilities if they qualify.
Adaptations by Adrian
Moderately priced sportswear for the seated figure. Customized clothing for special needs.
Note: These providers are not endorsed or approved by The Arc of Prince George’s County. This contact information is provided as a service; families must determine for themselves if these providers are able to support the needs of their family member(s).