Using Technology to Enable OccupationBy Polgar, Jan Miller; Occupational Therapy Now,
Publication Date: September/October 2002
Article defines assistive technology, outlines the role of the occupational therapist in choosing appropriate assistive devices or products for individuals with disabilities, and discusses major barriers to the acquisition of assistive technology in Canada. Assistive technology is defined as any device or product which augments people’s function or reduces an environmental barrier. It can be either low-tech, such as communication boards, or high-tech, such as powered wheelchairs. The occupational therapist assesses the needs of the disabled client, recommends particular devices, and follows up with fitting and training. Issues in assistive technology in Canada outlined are (1) a rate of device abandonment varying between 30 and 70 percent of users; (2) funding programs varying across the country; for example, computer access devices may be funded in one province but not in another; (3) access limited by Canada’s geographical diversity; and (4) stigma; for example, older adults may not want to use a cane because it signals vulnerability. The author contends that it will take a combination of government policy, financial support, research, and a change in societal attitudes for the full value of assistive technology in the lives of persons with disabilities to be realized.
Published by: Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (Website:http://www.caot.ca)
Link to text: http://www.otworks.ca/otworks_page.asp?pageid=753