The Barnsley AT team works with a wide range of Assistive Technologies and clients. In general the team works with severe physical disabilities to provide the following electronic assistive technologies:
Access methods are the ways in which people control equipment. Access to electronic assistive technology is key and a method of access needs to be established for each person and for each device. Access methods can be very specific if the person has very limited mobility or complex difficulties. Access methods can include customised or specialist switches, joysticks, mice or keyboards. Access methods can vary from a single switch controlled by a blink to cursor movement using an eye gaze system.
EC systems give people control of their home environment – enabling independence and peace of mind. EC systems can aid people who have problems accessing things like TVs, phones, doors and calling for attention.
AAC systems assist people to communicate effectively with those around them. Voice Output Communication Aids are devices that are often used by people who would otherwise not be able to talk (the clichéd example is Stephen Hawking).
Use of computers is now a fundamental part of day to day life for many people and accessing the computer can be a significant factor in someone’s quality of life. Computer access devices allow people who have problems using a conventional keyboard or mouse to access the computer.
Special controls for mobility are appropriate for people who have difficulty using a conventional wheelchair control. Special controls can allow people with very restricted movement to have independent mobility.
Some people use and rely on a range of Assistive Technology devices – this can present a problem if the person is unable to independently control them all using the same access method. An integrated system provides control of all the devices from the same access method.
Definitions of Assistive Technology
“Assistive Technology (AT) is any product or service designed to enable independence for disabled and older people.”
King’s Fund Consultation, 14th March 2001
“An umbrella term for any device or system that allows individuals to perform tasks they would otherwise be unable to do or increases the ease and safety with which tasks can be performed. (World Health Organisation)”
A Glossary Of Terms For Community Health Care And Services For Older Persons”, 2004
- King’s Fund Definition of AT – Foundation of Assistive Technology
- WHO Definition of Assistive Technology
Assistive Technology is a powerful tool for enabling independence and is key to several government initiatives and policy. This includes:
Commissioning Specialised Services (DoH, 2002-2007)
- Assistive Technology considered within the Specialised Services National Definition Set 5 – Assessment and provision of equipment for people with complex physical disabilities(all ages)
- Includes: specialised wheelchair controls; communication aids; Environmental Control and other Electronic AT; Specialised Telecare
- “it is the expertise of the patient assessment process that determines the specialised nature of the service.”
- “it is essential that commissioners look at the whole model of equipment service provision”
- Audit Commission Report ‘Assistive Technology’
“AT can support the aspirations of many older or disabled people by providing them with greater choice. As the average age of the population increases and the pressure on formal and informal carers intensifies, the use AT will become increasingly prominent. Indeed, AT is the key to delivering many public policy initiatives across Government. Future advances in technology will increase this potential and should lead to more AT products being readily available in the high street.”
“The value of AT in alleviating dysfunctions and preventing health and social problems has also been demonstrated in a wide range of studies and literature reviews in the UK and overseas”
“People with longterm neurological conditions are to receive timely, appropriate assistive technology/equipment and adaptations to accommodation to support them to live independently, help them with their care, maintain their health and improve their quality of life.”