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.
Prosthetic limbs have come a long way from the time of wooden legs and hooks for hands. Basic modifications such as locking knee mechanisms, hinges, and sophisticated attachment pieces led to a major overhaul in prosthetic technology after World War II for veterans who had lost limbs in battle. Computer design and new materials have contributed to advances in the sophistication of prosthetic limbs; many are now computer-controlled and customized to work with the movements of the user. Watch a bionic prosthetic hand