#Thanks to the ADA

ADA and Assistive Technology

As part of a year-long celebration of the ADA’s 30th anniversary in July 2020, RCDS will be providing monthly articles about the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA). With the passing of the ADA in 1990, came important civil rights for many, but it also brought forth the many problems with being able to access products, services, and places. Access to public places and buildings, transportation, educational opportunities, housing, and communication led to often creative and very innovative assistive technology. From the simplest ideas to high-tech equipment, there are many devices that enable people with disabilities to lead independent lives.

Low Technology

Low tech devices often make the biggest difference. They include items such as:

      • Canes, wheelchairs, ramps, walkers
      • Office supplies like post-it notes, highlighters, or day planners
      • These “devices” do not require any training and may be found around the house, such as rubber bands for gripping, lazy susans to keep supplies accessible on a table or counter, grippers or grabbers to hold items more securely or reach items up high.
      • These types of assistive devices can include anything that makes completing a task easier and safer.
Medium technology

Mid-tech devices are often electronic and need little instruction.

      • Apps for phones to help those with hearing or vision impairments to “see” or “hear” conversations or enhance understanding. There is an app for everything and most are free or low cost!
      • Magnifiers to assist with reading or identifying items
      • Alexa, Google assistant, or Siri to help provide information or to help automate the home such as turning on lights or televisions, or even vacuuming
      • Devices to sort and track medication, and devices that talk such as glucose monitors and insulin pens
      • Scooters, electric wheelchairs, or even “smart” canes for the vision impaired that can announce barriers or objects
High Technology

High tech devices are sometimes difficult to use, and usually require some training.

      • Even the trainers may need training!
      • Communication devices such as telephones for the hearing or visually impaired
      • Vibrating or talking alarm clocks, watches, or other wearable devices
      • Speech to text software, or text to speech software
      • Devices that alert the user to someone at the door, or the phone ringing, or if a loved one leaves the home and safety is an issue
      • Electronic medication dispensers
      • These devices also require follow-up to ensure the user is using properly or has any questions and sometimes repair and maintenance.

Assistive Technology (AT) is any device, gadget, hardware or software used by a person to do things for themselves that might otherwise be difficult or impossible to do because of their disability. Assistive devices are necessary sometimes in order to take advantage of the many rights the ADA protects for persons with disabilities, such as access to buildings and housing, sidewalks, websites and telecommunications, schools, and employers. For more information on these rights, please visit the ADA website and for employment accessibility visit JAN, the Job Accommodation Network.

In many cases these devices or gadgets are lying around the house or office and it just takes little imagination. Other items may be free or free to try. Florida’s Assistive Technology Program, F.A.A.S.T., provides AT services such as:

  • Information & Assistance
  • AT Training
  • AT Demonstrations
  • AT Device Loans and Financing
  • and More!

Sometimes devices are available for free or low-cost through their classifieds. Many devices can be tried for a few weeks to see if the technology is worth purchasing. In any event, RCDS employees are available to help you find and learn to use assistive devices. Our loan closet has canes, wheelchairs, ramps, grabbers, walkers, commodes, shower benches, and other items, and our staff is available to help you download and register to use the many apps for your phone that are available for hearing or vision impaired, monitoring exercise or medications, meditation and relaxation apps, and others. Training can be arranged for more high tech devices as needed. RCDS is also a distributor of FTRI phones and listening devices for the hearing impaired and Captel phones for the vision impaired, pursuant to Title IV of the ADA.

We are prepared to give presentations to your organization, senior center, residential living facility, or group about assistive technology, including FTRI phones, at any time, remotely or in person. Call our office at (321) 633-6011 or fill in the form located on our website to schedule an appointment, request a device, or schedule a presentation.