It has been estimated that 54 million people or 20.6 percent of all Americans have some level of disability. Assistive technology (AT) can be defined as any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. (29 U.S.C. Sec 2202(2)).
According to the Interagency Committee on Disability Research 2001-2002 Report to the President and Congress (October 2003), individuals with disabilities use AT to accommodate limitations due to their disabilities. A few examples include:
- A computer that can be programmed to talk for individuals who cannot speak
- Wheelchairs, both manual and power, for individuals who cannot walk due to paralysis or weakness in their legs
- Hearing aids and other amplification devices for individuals with hearing loss
- Large screen computers for individuals with visual problems