Assistive Technology Services
Types of Assistive Technology (AT)
LifeScape therapists are trained to recommend specific equipment that allows individuals access to all aspects of their environment, and to complete daily tasks with safety and independence in mind. LifeScape has five therapists certified as Assistive Technology Professionals (ATP) by the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Association of North America (RESNA). The ATP certification recognizes demonstrated competence in analyzing the needs of consumers with disabilities, assisting in the selection of appropriate assistive technology for the consumers' needs, and providing training in the use of the selected devices.
Assistive technology can range from no- and low-tech solutions to high-tech solutions.
Assistive technology solutions may be store bought, such as speech recognition software; modified such as placing tennis balls on a walker to make it easier to glide over carpets; and, even custom made such as a power wheelchair with custom features.
It may not surprise you to learn that AT may fit into more than one category depending upon the person’s needs as well as how and where the person uses the AT. At LifeScape, our therapists are trained to evaluate an individual to determine the equipment that will best meet their needs and promote independence.
Here are ten categories for AT solutions:
Products for people who are blind or visually impaired, including AT used for daily living activities, accessing computers, wayfinding, and other needs. LifeScape and its subsidiary, RISE Custom Solutions does not vend AT for vision impairments, but may evaluate and provide recommendations as well as potential referrals to other providers specializing in visual impairment. Examples include:
- Talking devices such as a talking thermostat,
- Braille displays,
- Screen reading software,
- text-to-speech systems using Optical Character Recognition (OCR),
- large print materials, and
- phones with large tactile buttons.
For details, check the South Dakota Rehabilitation Center for the Blind: https://dhs.sd.gov/servicetotheblind/sdrc.aspx
We can make recommendations for products for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, including assistive technology for daily living activities, communication, and other needs. Additionally, children with ADHD or other diagnoses may also benefit from certain AT that targets auditory stimulation. Examples include:
- Personal amplification systems
- Wireless TV listening systems
- Vibrating alarm clocks
- Doorbell with flashing light alert
- Portable closed captioning system
- Face-to-face dual keyboard communication system
- Amplified telephones
- Phone with captioning
- Mobile devices with texting or specialized apps
Options for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) range from very low tech, like picture cards, to high-tech devices utilizing eye-gaze technology. AAC products benefit people with speech disabilities who need assistance with verbal speech, allowing them to make requests, ask and answer questions, greet others, initiate and participate in conversations, communicate medical needs, gain attention from others, even tell jokes. Examples include:
- Voice amplification systems
- Stuttering aids
- Artificial larynx
- Communication boards
- Speech output software
- Symbol-making software
- Speech generating devices
LifeScape is a regional leader in evaluating and training individuals in the use of AAC. Our clinicians work to identify the most efficient and effective mode of communication for all people with communication needs, then follow-up with training in programming and using the device.
We can make recommendations for products for people who need assistance with learning, attention, memory, and organization. Examples include:
- Memory aids
- Text-to-speech systems to support learning (not related to vision needs)
- Reminder systems
- Note-taking systems
- Mobile devices with specialized apps
- Audio books
LifeScape Seating & Wheeled mobility services are provided by a highly trained and experienced staff of occupational and physical therapists, equipment specialists, and equipment technicians. Our goal is for the client to get the right equipment and the right fit, the first time. We also provide the service and modifications to ensure that your seating system meets your ongoing needs, for the life of the equipment. Mobility products are our specialty, and we provide evaluations and fitting for the following:
- Wheelchairs (manual and power)
- Adaptive car seats and alternative safety restraints
- Custom seating components designed to provide postural and pressure management, including pressure mapping evaluations and custom molded seating components
Our seating team has the experience and compassion to address current and future mobility needs. We have four therapists certified as Seating and Mobility Specialists (SMS) by RESNA. The Seating and Mobility Specialist is a specialty certification for professionals working in seating and mobility. The SMS certification recognizes demonstrated competence in seating and mobility assessment, funding resources, implementation of intervention, and outcome assessment and follow-up.
Products for people with disabilities and older adults with functional limitations due to aging, injury, or other diagnoses. These products increase independence when performing activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, eating and other basic home/life activities including shopping and money management. Examples include:
- Dressing aids such as zipper pulls and button hooks
- Long-handle shoe horns
- Adapted kitchen tools and eating utensils
- Wheelchair cup holders
- Book stands
- Automatic soap dispensers
- Vacuum robots
- Switch-adapted appliances
Thanks to Bluetooth, WiFi, and smart home products, there are a growing number of commercially available resources allowing more independence and safety for individuals of all abilities. Products designed to increase access to homes, businesses, and other buildings by people with disabilities and include systems to open/lock doors, control lighting, temperature and other environmental needs. Many of these components can also be operated through high tech AAC devices. Examples include:
- Door openers
- Systems designed to remotely control appliances
- Electronics, lighting, and other products using a switch, voice, or other method of activation
Although we don’t have modification controls for purchase, our staff can recommend products that promote safe access to transportation and increase independence through vehicle adaptations. Examples include:
- Hand controls
- Tie and lock downs for securing a wheelchair to the floor of the vehicle
- Raised roofs
- Adaptive seat belts
Products that help people with disabilities access and use computers. Examples include:
- Specialized software such as screen magnification software for people with low vision
- Alternative keyboards and input devices
- Voice recognition
Want to know more or explore a sampling of products? Here are a few resources to get you started.
Products that help people with disabilities participate in sports, recreation, and leisure activities. Examples include:
- Switch adapted toys
- Playing card shuffler
- Adapted sporting equipment
Six-year-old Caleb Chase is unable to move most parts of his body due to the neuromuscular disorder and congenital joint contracture he was born with. Read Unlocking Worlds: The Miracle of Assistive Technology to see how Caleb is utilizing novel technology to open up the world around him.