Sunday, 10 April 2011

Tutorial Eight: Assistive Technology

So this week we had a lecture and tutorial about Assistive Technologies - it is amazing the volume and variety of equipment out there and I guess this just keeps on developing considering that each person has their own individual needs.

And guess what! this post is about assistive technologies!  I will be defining the term and looking at what this definition covers and talking about one piece of equipment that I encountered during the tutorial.

Assistive technologies 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 or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities" (Cook & Hussey, 2000, pp. 5).  In other assistive technology is a piece of technology or equipment (usually required to be an electronic device) that will assist a person to perform their daily occupations for example communication or working at the computer.  A device can either be bought off the shelf..and sometimes programmed for a specific individual...or a device needs to be designed for a specific individual in mind (of course this will often be at great expense).   The Star Mobility website provides information on a wide range of assistive technology devices that are available on the market today.

In addition to specifically designed equipment for disability, everyday items (like an iPod or MP3 player for example) can also be used as assistive technologies - a great site to look at is the TechnOT blog (listed on my useful sites on the right) - here you will find a story about how Apple have developed a communication app. for their devices which is helping a child with autism.  This site looks at how iPads can be used as an assistive device.

The Xbox 360 Kinect can also be used as an assistive device.  As part of this paper/assignment, I had to write a fictional application letter for a piece of technology for a mental health community support group.  The focus of my letter was that introducing activity into the group sessions would be beneficial to the group members mental and physical wellbeing.  I chose an Xbox Kinect because it involves whole body activity and it is an easily obtained and affordable piece of technology that can be used in this health setting.  The below YouTube clip gives an idea of how the clients of this group will use the Xbox Kinect and the Sports game that I recommended as part of the purchase.

                                                                           (XboxViewTV, 2010)

So whilst it is easy to go straight to the disability market for a device that will help one of our clients..these examples highlight that we need to be creative with technology and look at devices that we use everyday too.

During the tutorial, I specifically looked at the talking photoalbum.  The one we used was A5 size (although others are available in A4 and A3 sizes) and had multiple leaves with which to display photos or pictures.  Each leaf has the function to record a 10 second individual message which a person can use to describe the content or speak an instruction.  The A5 size retails for $98.00.

During the tutorial we used the photo album to record (both verbally and pictorally) how to make a banana smoothie.  In this exercise we were seeing how this device could be used to help someone with sequencing problems and how by providing someone with both pictoral and verbal instructions the photo album can walk someone through the process of making something.  Of course there are other uses: the album would be great for someone with visual or cognitive deficits.  Visually to help someone identify what the picture is showing.  Cognitively to help someone remember what a particular photo or picture is showing for example dementia or alzheimers patients who suffer from memory loss. 

By using the album, clients with these disabilities will be able to increase their occupational capacity by partaking in an activity with the use of this device - either by being able to successfully make something or perhaps enter into a conversation with someone about the family members in their photo album. - this site talks about how the talking photo album can be used by children with disability and offers a list of examples of how and where it can be used. - this newsletter (see page 4) talks about how the talking photo album can be used in hospitals as a communication device for patients. - this is a link to a video which shows a teacher teaching a class of dyslexic children about Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot.  Sequencing is a problem for individuals suffering from dyslexia and (among other techniques) this teacher is using a talking photo album to teach the subject. - this is a link to an information sheet produced by Alzheimer's Australia describing how a talking photo album can be used for people suffering from dementia.

As these links show this product can be used in a multitude of different ways.

So this is my last post for this paper..I have surprised myself and quite enjoyed completing my entries and researching clips to post...maybe I'll do this again sometime! :)


Cook, A. M., & Hussey, S. M. (2000).  Assistive technologies: principles and practice.  USA: Mosby.

XboxViewTV (2010).  Kinect sports -E3 2010: Lifestyle debut trailerRetrieved May 11, 2011, from

Tutorial Seven - Linking of blogs of interest and exchanging comments.

So my task for this post is to find 5 blogs that relate to OT practice.  As well as listing them below, I have also added links onto my blog template (on the right hand side) for easy access :)

This blog is written by an OT that is interested in how technology can be used in the health setting and in OT practice to improve involvement in occupation...quite a perfect find for this blog that I am writing about!.

This one is not a specific blog but a really interesting website that contains multiple blogs posted by OTs.  The aim of the site Meta OT is to "aid the knowledge base of Working, Student & Research Occupational Therapists by highlighting current research, technologies and opinion pieces. As well as community driven blogs the site hosts several tools that are you are free to use and actively encouraged to help produce" (MetaOT, 2009, para. 1).  An example of a blog on this site is note writing for OTs specifically SOAP notes.

This blog is about an OT and offers a good perspective on her life and insights on what it is to be an occupational therapist.  I imagine this will be a good blog to visit to get an idea of how it is to be an OT in general.  The clip from her blog below for example is a list of the types of questions she would be asking when she is looking for a new role:

  (Answered travel questions, 2011)

Advance outlook: OT is an interesting blog site that provides the latest from the field of occupational therapy, and about issues in the field. It has an interesting and news-based approach that provides a great source of information and opinion about current issues.

This blog  by a fellow student, Cara Tate is also about occupational therapy and technology.  It is interesting how whilst both of us have answered exactly the same questions we have such different content in our blogs.  I placed a comment on Cara's blog about how interesting I found the information she had provided about assistive technology and how useful Youtube is for giving us visual information and I received a comment back: 

(Tate, 2011)


Answered travel questions (2011).  Retrieved April 11, 2011, from

MetaOT (2009).   Retrieved April 11, 2011, from

Tate, C. (2011).  Week 4 and 5 - video production sessions.  Retrieved April 11, 2011, from