Assistive Technology (AT) Laboratory
by The Faculty of Disability Management and Special Education (FDMSE) of Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute, Coimbatore Campus.
Assistive Technology (AT) is any device, tool, aid adapted, customized, acquired off the shelf, manufactured, designed or a service or technique adapted for maintaining, enhancing the functional capabilities, appreciating the potential inherent abilities of a person with physical or intellectual limitations due to barriers in the living, learning or working environment. It assists in mobility, orientation, communication, access to information resources, processing and presentation of information or knowledge acquired or in maintaining or improving the experience gained in the process.
Assistive Technology can be a
- No Tech, existing service or technique is adapted to suit, enhance the functional capabilities. For example, adaptation in positioning, seating, workplace accommodation or method of teaching, unaided communication techniques like gesture or sign language, adapted games and others.
- Low Tech, a device or tool designed, manufactured or assembled with no or low cost by using the materials in the living environment or in a mass manufacturing condition. For example, play and learn aids, abacus, crutches, calipers, white cane, braille slate, signage for direction and information, teaching learning materials, adapted play equipments and others.
- Mid Tech, a device or tool designed, manufactured or assembled to operate on a power source with more cost involved in production and serves as an alternative method of information storage or presentation to use the inherent or maintain or enhance the functional capabilities. For example, audio players, braillers, digital magnifiers, lifts and hoists, amplification, communication and alerting devices, dictation devices, audio signals, sports equipments and others.
- High Tech, a device or tool designed, manufactured or assembled to operate on a power source that has a storage provision, process, manipulate, and presenting capacity based on user input / interaction to use the inherent or enhance the functional capabilities. For example, computers, tablets, embossers, 3D printing, assistive software and apps, input devices like adapted keyboards, mouse, switches, touch screen, motorised, propelled wheelchairs, interactive and instructional videos, information displays, websites, and accessibledocuments for information dissemination, training and others.
Assistive Technology (AT) Laboratory is a place that facilitates and promotes access to such available AT devices, creates awareness and advocates by experiencing on usage, research and development towards empowerment in education, employment and in daily living of persons with disabilities. It promotes inclusion and functional equivalence in a mainstreamed society. An Assistive Technology laboratory can be setup and implemented to meet the needs of various disabilities like sensory impairments (vision loss, hearing),cognitive impairments, developmental disabilities, locomotor and multiple disabilities, learning and other types of disabilities.
Faculty of Disability Management and Special Education (FDMSE) has one such Laboratory setup for the use of teacher trainees doing special education courses, and children with special needs supported by FDMSE with therapy, vocational and academic services.
Assistive Technology in AT Lab
The AT Laboratory has low tech to high tech Assistive Technology that comprises devices, software and tools, presentation on disability prevention, teaching and learning materials, training resources. The lab has assistive devices and tools that are
- Voice enabled like computers, tablets with apps for assessment, daily living and education, learning typing, talking clocks, calculators for persons with total vision loss, facilitates desktop magnification devices, optic and non-optic magnifying devices and alternative keyboards for reading and writing, working on computers for low vision. Mobility devices like white cane, smart cane and guidance apps in tablets. Braille writing aids, tactile graphics, abacus, taylor frames and other maths learning aids, braillers and high tech refreshable braille display for reading and communicating in braille.
- Communication boards, Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) devices, high tech apps installed in tablets. Assistive listening devices, alarms and speech therapy tools for those with hearing and speech impairments.
- The AT Lab promotes inclusive and encourages inquisitive learning for those with cognitive and intellectual difficulties with adapted literacy support software, apps installed tablets, play and learn aids, devices for eye and hand coordination improvement, organising and scheduling tasks, timers, games for fun and learning to engaging hyper active and functioning children.
- Mobility aids, wheelchairs of different types, adapted object holders, reading, writing aids and games for those with locomotor impairments.
- It facilitates different learning strategies addressing the difficulties, to improve and ease the learning process, procedures through customised adaptations for children with specific learning difficulties.
- The AT Laboratory also has a display of prevention measures, assessment and remedial methods, tools for assisting parents, special education trainees and children for advocacy as well as to create awareness in disability management.
The devices, software and tools gets updated, added regularly in the laboratory on requirements and advancements happening in the Assistive Technology field.
Assistive Technology Services
Assistive Technology Laboratory
- Conducts workshops for hands on training for persons with disabilities before procurement and implementation, as well as special educators to implement in future with their school or higher education children with special needs for a technology aided living, education and employment. The training and demonstrations given in AT lab have created an impact among the special education trainees, children, parents and those visiting the university for other workshops, conference and other routines.
- Disseminates Information on latest developments, research happenings and updates in Assistive Technology and Disability domain is being propagated through social media, and other collaborative networking resources.
- Enhances skill development opportunities for children, parents, care takers, special educators, and professionals working for persons with disabilities.It supports to gather data, evaluate assistive technology developed out of research in disability domain,and participate in interdisciplinary studies & services with respect to disabilities. A weekend certificate course on Assistive Technology is being conducted for this purpose.
- Knowledgesharing and awareness about various governmental policies, legislations, and schemes providing services like Assistive devices is being doneto parents and stakeholders.
- Research&Development service provided by the AT laboratory focuses on generation of low cost, cost-effective devices involving technology expertise, developers, service providers that are modifications or adaptations of traditionally existing devices or new; to create greater acceptance and easy affordability.
In Picture: Teacher Education Trainees, the future special educators are getting demonstrations on various low, mid, high tech level Assistive Technology that could help them in their instructional, communication and teaching methods for children with special needs
In Picture: Children with intellectual disabilities learning computer operations as part of their vocational training programme on pre-employment skills
In Picture: Low tech Book reading stand for persons with low vision, positioning difficulties is being demonstrated by the developer in Certificate Course for Assistive Technology class.