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Assistive Technology

People with disabilities use rapidly changing technology to enable them to overcome barriers in educational and intellectual pursuits and in the built environment. Technology that makes tasks easier to perform is known as Assistive Technology.

Assistive Technology is any assistive, adaptative, or rehabilitative device that a person uses to perform everyday tasks. These devices are changing as rapidly as technology improves, opening up new opportunities to people with disabilities and making many barriers to their participation in society obsolete.

Throughout history, people have used devices to adapt to life with a disability. Cochlear implants and hearing aids evolved from early ear horns, and rolling invalid chairs have evolved into sophisticated sport wheelchairs for athletes. People with disabilities have utilized these and innumerable other technologies to access education and employment and to improve their health.

Click on a part of the body to learn about assistive technologies that relate to its function. Note that many of these technologies are not just for use by people with disabilities. Many of them can help make life easier by improving accessibility for all people.

Head Body

Driving hand controls

Using a wheelchair does not disqualify a person from being able to drive. Hand controls installed in a vehicle make it possible for people with physical disabilities to operate a car. As long as the user has upper-body or wrist muscle control they can manipulate the “push-right angle-pull” mechanism and control the vehicle. The best option is often an adapted minivan, which is easily fitted with powered ramps and hand controls so the user can enter and exit and control the vehicle independently. Watch how hand controls work

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In their own words

Those with disabilities share their personal stories.

View the videos

View the videos

Opening more
than doors

Browse images and artifacts.

View the images

View the images

Missouri History Museum exhibition

Americans with Disabilities Act: 20 Years Later.
June 26, 2010
to Jan 8, 2012

Visit the exhibition

Visit the exhibition