Giving Thanks for AT – A Quick Look at Assistive Technology Research and Development

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the US. Across the country, people will gather with family and friends around tables laden with food. Some families have a tradition where each person at the table says what they’re thankful for. Here at NARIC, we are giving thanks for assistive technology, or AT! According to the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA), AT is products, equipment, and systems that enhance learning, working, and daily living for people with disabilities. Every person on the NARIC team uses some type of AT, such as accessibility settings on a smartphone, closed captions to understand dialogue on TV or YouTube, and mobility devices to help us get out and about in the community.

AT can also help make holiday gatherings more inclusive. Turning captions on TV means everyone can enjoy what’s on, whether it’s a game or a movie. AT can help with meal preparation and dining, so anyone can take a turn at being chef or just enjoy the results of all that kitchen activity. AT can help in planning games or leisure activities, too. Even if you are not an AT user, AT can help make your home more visitable for guests with disabilities.

We’re incredibly thankful to the researchers and developers who are creating the next generation of AT. Here are just a few of the current NIDILRR grantees building some very cool stuff:

  • The Mouth Mouse, under development by KTM, LLC, will give people with upper limb disability a way to control devices using their tongue, from a computer mouse and keyboard to robotic limbs and motorized wheelchairs.
  • Hestia-NextGen, under development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is an app that will help people with disabilities, caregivers, and practitioners to evaluate the accessibility of a home environment and develop intervention plans, including AT for the home.
  • The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center to Support Aging-in-Place for People with Long-Term Disabilities (TechSAge RERC) has several research and development projects around technology-based interventions and strategies for use in the home and community to promote aging-in-place and reduce secondary conditions among people with long-term disabilities.

Explore more AT research and development projects in the NIDILRR Program Database.

Are you looking for AT resources in your community? Visit the National Assistive Technology Act Technical Assistance and Training Center (AT3 Center) to find the AT program for your state and explore AT Device Databases available online.

We wish all of our readers a healthy, happy Thanksgiving!

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