2.2 Describe types of support that an individual may need in order to use assistive technology

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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2.2 Describe types of support that an individual may need in order to use assistive technology

In order to use assistive technologies, an individual may need support. In this assessment criterion, we will be looking at the various ways in which a person with disabilities may require assistance from others when accessing and using technology.

There are various types or levels of support that someone with disabilities or long-term conditions may require when using assistive technology. This level of support will depend on the severity of the disability, their health condition, and what they are trying to achieve.

Some people with disabilities have a greater need for assistance than others depending on the specific assistive technologies being used and the tasks that they need to complete.

There are five main levels of support that can be provided, starting with no assistance and moving up to total assistance:

  1. No assistance – If a person does not require any assistance when using assistive technology, they may still require someone to set up or install it for them. This person might be called an ‘assistive technology coordinator’ who works with an individual on a one-to-one basis. The role of this professional is usually to help the individual choose the right device and adapt it so that they can use it independently. Therefore, even if there is no physical support required, other types of support may still be in order for the person to be able to make informed decisions about using the technology.
  2. Limited physical support – If an individual requires some physical support when using assistive technology, this might involve someone guiding their hands or arms to perform tasks. The type of task will determine how much help they need and where the professional should stand next to them. For example, if someone with sight loss is learning how to use a magnifier that has buttons on it, then they may require guidance in order to find where these buttons are positioned. However, this may not always be necessary as often people can learn how to use devices by trial and error. The level of assistance provided can therefore depend on a person’s confidence levels and what is for them in the long term.
  3. Physical assistance – If someone requires physical help to use assistive technology, for example, if they need to be moved manually, then it may be necessary for an assistant to transfer them from one seat to another so that they can carry out tasks. For example, this might involve the person having their own wheelchair and therefore requiring someone else to push them around.
  4. Total supervision – If a person needs total support when using assistive technology, then there is usually little point in implementing these technologies as the amount of effort required means that much easier options are available. People who need total support will often have very severe disabilities and health conditions. This would mean that even getting up from their chair bed may prove too difficult without assistance. Therefore, it would not be possible to use assistive technologies.
  5. Total assistance – People who need total assistance when using assistive technology will usually require someone else to complete tasks on their behalf. This can include giving them verbal instructions or guiding them physically. For example, if a person with significant physical disabilities is unable to push the buttons on a keyboard, then they may require an assistant to do this for them and transfer any information onto a computer screen that they can see.

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The level of support needed by people with disabilities does not necessarily depend on what types of assistive technology they are using and what they wish to achieve. Some equipment might make things easier and therefore require less assistance from others, whereas other devices may make things more difficult and so require greater support.

There are also other factors that affect the amount of assistance required, including:

  • The context in which assistive technology is being used (e.g. at home, work, or school) may determine how helpful someone can be with it. For example, if an individual wishes to use a computer at home but they do not have access to some types of software, then this might make things very difficult for them as they need these programs in order to use their new device effectively.
  • An individual’s health will play a big part in the type of help that is needed when using assistive technologies. Someone who has arthritis or another condition that affects their joints may find certain devices more difficult to use than someone who does not have this illness.
  • The individual’s level of ability may also make a difference as they may require more or less assistance depending on how skilled they are. For example, if someone has learning difficulties and wants to use audio-described movies, then they will require less help than someone else with similar disabilities but no literacy skills.

However, there is no one rule that dictates the amount of support needed by individuals as these factors can change according to their situation and personal preference. Assistive technologies should only be removed from an individual’s life if it becomes clear that they cannot effectively carry out tasks without them and this puts them at risk of harm.

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