Disabilities Availability of Assistive Technology/Modern Challenges A-Level Outline Answer

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¶ … Disabilities

Availability of Assistive Technology/Modern Challenges

Although great strides have been made in recent years with respect to assistive technology (AT) in school and the workplace, challenges still remain. As pointed out by Stumbo, Martin and Hedrick (2009), AT must be "affordable, reliable, maintainable and of sufficient quality that the AT device will enable the intended assistance." The need for AT will increase in the future, since Americans' life expectancy is longer, as is the life expectancy, in general, of individuals with disabilities. The National Council on Disability (NCD) released a study in 1993 that provided evidence for the efficacy of AT for children, working-age persons and older persons, enabling these populations to participate more actively in the experiences of their peer groups (Stumbo, Martin and Hendrick). For this reason, too, the use of AT has increased in the United States.

A study by Driscoll et al. (cited in Stumbo, Martin and Hendrick, 2009) noted that employees with disabilities and their employers and co-workers agreed that AT was most successfully integrated into the workplace when all parties were involved in the selection and implementation of AT and were positive and proactive in their attitudes towards AT and persons with disabilities. Also important were training and service with respect to AT devices and some flexibility in the workplace with respect to job tasks. One can thus reasonably conclude that challenges faced with AT selection and implementation are related to lack of education and supports.

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Stumbo, Martin and Hendrick raise several important questions about the future of AT. They wonder why people with disabilities remain uninformed about devices that may help them. To a large extent, an individual's school experience plays a role. People who had the benefit of a strong, knowledgeable special education team will be more likely to know about devices that could help them and they may have developed the skills needed for self-advocacy.

TOPIC: A-Level Outline Answer on Disabilities Availability of Assistive Technology/Modern Challenges Although Assignment

Although it is illegal to discriminate against individuals with disabilities, employers may opt to hire non-disabled persons if all other factors are equal. Employers may be ignorant of AT resources and failure to hire individuals with disabilities make this issue self-perpetuating. Education is once again the key. Fear and ignorance are dispelled with education. The more employers know about options, the less reluctance they are likely to feel about hiring the disabled. As more people with disabilities demonstrate their successes in school and the workplace, the more non-disabled persons will appreciate what can be accomplished.

Hedrick, Papge, Heinemman, Ruddell and Reis (2006) point out there is not much information available to the general public about what AT devices are available, how they can help in terms of workplace productivity, and how much they cost. Employers, especially small ones who may not have a trained human resources staff and little or no experience with the disabled, may be worried about the cost of AT and financial responsibility. Driscoll, Rodger, and deJonge (2001) note that while many sophisticated technologies exist, AT also includes simple low tech options that are generally inexpensive. Once again, individuals with disabilities who have knowledge and experience can self-advocate and, in so doing, educate employers and co-workers. "Lack of knowledge of available services is a significant barrier to ensuring successful integration [of AT solutions" (Hedrik et al.).


Driscoll, M.P., Rodger, S.A., and deJonge, D.M. (2001). Factors that prevent or assist the integration of assistive technology into the workplace for people with spinal cord injuries: Perspectives of the users and their employers and co-workers.

Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 16(1), pp. 53-66.

Hedrick, B., Pape, T.L.B., Heinemann, A.W., Ruddell, J.L., and Reis, J. (2006).

Employment issues and assistive technology use for persons with spinal chord injury. Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development 43(2), pp. 185-198.

Stumbo, N., Martin, J.K., Hedrick, B.N. (2009). Assistive technology: Impact on education, employment and independence of individuals with physical disabilities. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 30(2), pp. 99-110.

Task 2: Beard et al. And Self-Advocacy

In Chapter 8, Beard, Carpenter, and Johnston (2011) describe a rural school district in which one specially trained educator must serve the needs of students in multiple buildings. This is one example of resources stretched thin. As the authors point out, the two students whose cases are described have low-incidence disabilities, meaning they occur relatively infrequently in the general… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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