2.1 Discuss the role of assistive technology in supporting individuals to communicate

Course: NVQ Level 4 Diploma In Health And Social Care (RQF)

Unit 2: Advanced Communication Skills

LO2: Understand how to support the use of assistive technology to enhance communication

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2.1 Discuss the role of assistive technology in supporting individuals to communicate

Assistive technology supports people with disabilities to access information and engage in occupations that otherwise would not be possible because of their disability. Assistive technology is often divided into three categories: adaptive devices, rehabilitation engineering, and environmental control measures.

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive Technology (AT) is designed to help individuals with a disability or long-term injury. It should be considered as any other piece of equipment used by an individual, such as medical aids and appliances which are used for disability management. AT could be any item that helps the individual to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities. This can include environmental changes or modifications to tasks so they can achieve their goals more easily.

How can Assistive Technology be used to support individuals with communication needs?

There are many AT products on the market which can be used to support individuals with communication needs. These include:

  • Communication Aids – electronic devices that enable people to communicate; these could include computers, phones, and tablets. They may also use sign language and symbols/pictures.
  • Voice Output Communication Aids – external voice output communication aids (or artificial larynx) offer a lifelike alternative for those who cannot speak or have very little speech.
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) – as an individual’s ability to produce speech declines due to aging, disease, or accident, AAC is likely to become more important as a way of enabling them to communicate their needs and wants.
  • Speech Dispatchers – these are electronic devices that enable an individual to make phone calls using their computer or tablet; they use a headset and speaker to contact the call center (Petersen-Morgan et al. 2012).
  • Website Communication – many companies now have websites that offer communication support for individuals with speech, language, and communication needs.

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  • Expert System has produced a free webcam program called Optelec Clearview Chat which allows a user who is nonverbal or minimally verbal to communicate via sign in front of their webcam. Clearview Chat is designed to be used with Optelec’s line of video magnifiers (made by the same company that produces the El-Scout) which also has an integrated camera.
  • Prentke Romich Company has developed iCommunicate, a communication aid for individuals who find it difficult or impossible to communicate verbally or through text. It uses over 1,000 symbols in six categories and the system can support verbal speech, written speech, and text output in order to enable users to “communicate with anyone”. Users can create sentences by selecting symbols on the screen using head pointers or switch scanning. Users respond either verbally or vocally depending on their individual needs.

There are also various tools, apps, and software packages available on the market which can help people communicate online through word prediction software, signing, typing, picture boards, etc.

Technology can be an important tool in the lives of people who are unable or unwilling to communicate with others due to their limitations. It allows them independence, allowing for increased confidence and self-esteem which then affects how they interact within relationships. This may lead individuals to be more active participants when it comes time to share interests outside those owed by family members only before now!

Assistive technology is a driving force behind the implementation and enforcement of equality legislation. The intention of each reform has been to ensure that no individual or group is treated unfairly. This may be the case when individuals have similar needs, but due to how assistive technology can vary from one person to another, they are unable to access the same services.

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