Dictionary of key assistive technology terms

Advocacy: Writing, speaking, or assisting in support of a consumer.

Assessment: A professional opinion with regard to the types of aids, equipment, or other services within the field of assistive technology that might improve an individual's level of functioning.

Assistive technology device: As defined by ATP: Devices that help individuals with disabilities to function more independently; devices may include wheelchairs, communication devices, environmental controls, etc.
As related to special education: Any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether purchased off-the-shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities.

Assistive technology service: Services include selecting, getting, or using assistive technology devices. This may include evaluation, customization, repair, maintenance, and training on how to use the device.

Augmentative and alternative communication: Also known as AAC; AAC devices are defined as electronic or non-electronic aids, devices, or systems that assist an individual to overcome, or reduce to the maximum degree possible, the communication limitations that preclude or interfere with meaningful participation in current and projected daily activities. Meaningful participation means effective and efficient communication of messages in any form the person chooses.

Consumer driven: People with disabilities are the decision-makers in the design, implementation, and evaluation of services and devices.

Durable medical equipment: Equipment that is most often used to serve a medical purpose, withstands repeated use, and is something that can be used in the consumer's home.

Encoding: A selection technique used to specify items from an individual's vocabulary. For example, an individual may select DW on a communication device to say "I want a drink of water."

Environmental control unit (ECU): A system that enables individuals to control various devices in their environment with single or multiple switches. The control unit may be mounted on a wheelchair for ease of access. Devices that can be operated with ECUs include lights, door openers, televisions, and telephones.

Handy man unit: Any program through care management or senior service centers that helps consumers remain in their homes independently as long as possible through minor home repairs and homemaker services, such as lawn mowing, snow removal, house cleaning, and minor home modifications.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): One-stop healthcare organization that provides for all medical needs and makes referrals for any specialized care required but not available within the main structure of the organization. Most HMO's consists of a large group of healthcare professionals who can provide services in a variety of general areas. The overall operation is managed like a business and the emphasis is on preventive healthcare measures.

IEP (Individualized Education Program): A plan used to document appropriate and individualized education. The IEP puts in writing the child's current level of functioning, annual goals, short-term objectives, and support and/or related services needed to achieve these goals and objectives (including the need for AT devices and services).

Mediation: Negotiation that involves a third party who is neutral on the conflict; facilitated negotiation.

Medically necessary: Items that are needed by the consumer for medical reasons. These items need to be ordered by a doctor or other medical professional.

Orthotics: The selection, fabrication, and fitting of devices used to protect, support, or improve the function of parts of the body. Any device of this type is called an orthosis or an orthotic device (plural: orthoses).

Rehabilitation engineering: A service that uses technology to assist persons who have difficulty doing things independently. Rehabilitation engineers work as team members and may make custom-made devices, adapt existing devices, or make changes in the work site, home, or other environments to increase access and independence for people with disabilities.

TDD/TTY: A Telecommunication Device for the Deaf allows a person to transmit typed messages over phone lines to another person with a TDD. Most TDDs include a keyboard for typing messages to send and a display and/or printer to receive messages.

Transition services: A coordinated set of activities for a student, designed within an outcome-oriented process, that promotes movement from school to post-school activities. These activities can include education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation.

Voice recognition: An access system designed to replace the standard keyboard as the method of input. The system is "trained" to recognize utterances that are spoken into a microphone. The utterances are translated into computer commands or sequences of alphanumeric characters and used to operate the computer and software.