Oklahoma ABLE Tech is the state’s assistive technology program, meaning we assist any Oklahoman in searching for and finding the right solution to gain (or maintain) independent activities.
We get asked a lot: What is all this talk about technology—why do you need it, how can you use it, and what is the difference between some of the terms you hear? At Oklahoma ABLE Tech, we deal with technologies of all kinds.
Different types of technology
- Assistive Technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, or product system (whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized) that is used to increase the functional capabilities of an individual with a disabling condition (or limitation)—allowing them to do something they would not otherwise be able to do. AT helps people who have difficulty with speech, hearing, vision, accessing the computer, daily living (dressing, grooming, bathing, eating), mobility, vehicle access, learning, and even recreation.
- Durable Medical Equipment (DME) is equipment that can withstand repeated use, serves a medical purpose, is appropriate for use in the home, and is likely to last for three years or more.
- Enabling Technologies include sensors, automated medication dispensers, software applications, electronic tablets, smart devices, and other items that enable individuals to gain or achieve independence in their home, community, or workplace.
- Remote Supports (RS) are the use of enabling technology to aid individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in place of physical staff presence. Technology allows a person to monitor the health and safety of the individual without being physically present in the same location. Communication with the remote support staff is through live phone calls or video chat. Emergency response staff are sent to the home or worksite when needed for in-person assistance.
- Smart Home Technology allows individuals to control appliances, thermostats, lights, and other devices remotely using a smartphone or tablet connected to the internet. Smart home technologies may include enabling technologies, assistive technologies, and DME. All of these provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to be more independent in their homes and/or receive remote support from family members or caregivers.
The use of these technologies can help individuals stay in their homes or maintain general independence when their caregivers work or are away from home. These technologies also increase opportunities to use self-determination skills and decision-making skills for an enhanced quality of life.
Making informed decisions
Consideration of technology is an important process. You often hear people talk about their favorite technology and how it helps them, but it is important to consider your specific needs and the goal or outcome you are trying to achieve. Here are a few tips to consider when looking at technology:
- Ensure your selection is based on individual needs and preferences.
- Focus on practical uses of AT – choosing something too complex, or too simple, might not be a good answer all the time.
- Consider technology you are already using and have access to.
- Give yourself time to get familiar with a device! Sometimes, it takes a little while to get accustomed to new technology.
If you are interested in learning more about AT or DME that might make your daily activities a little easier, ABLE Tech is available to provide an immersive, hands-on exploration and demonstration of technology to help you discover potential independent living solutions. Individuals and their families, caregivers, or friends can visit with our staff in person or virtually. Complete the AT Consultation form to get started.