Assistive technology for successful inclusion

What is assistive technology?

Assistive technology is used as an umbrella term for both assistive products and related services. Assistive products are also known as assistive devices.

What are the benefits of assistive technology?

When appropriate to the user and the user’s environment, assistive technology is a powerful tool to increase independence and improve participation.

It helps individual children become mobile, communicate more effectively, see and hear better, and participate more fully in learning activities.

Moreover, assistive technology supports children to access and enjoy their rights; do things they value; and bridges disparities between children with and without disabilities.

It provides the means of access to and participation in educational, social and recreational opportunities; empowers greater physical and mental function and improved self-esteem; and reduces costs for educational services and individual supports.

Benefits in areas such as health, mobility and education have been linked to the use of assistive technology.

By improving access to education and increasing achievement in school, assistive technology can have a positive socioeconomic effect on the lives of children with disabilities.

By facilitating the participation and inclusion of children with disabilities in all aspects of life, assistive technology can impact on self-image, self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

“Given opportunities to flourish as others might, children with disabilities have the potential to lead fulfilling lives and to contribute to the social, cultural and economic vitality of their communities”.

Assistive technology reduces costs when it supports early childhood development and educational achievement, and avoids repetition of learning missed due to educational barriers. It reduces costs by supporting independent functioning and access to healthcare in lieu of personal support services, and independent community living in lieu of institutionalization. Assistive technology may “reduce the need for formal support  services, … reduce the time and physical burden for caregivers, … [and prevent] falls, injuries, further impairments and premature death” .

The link between school dropout and unemployment is clear, and fre­quently leads to high costs for society. An educated child with a dis­ability supported by assistive technology will have better opportunities for employment.

This results in less dependence on welfare and social se­curity measures, greater contribution to the country’s economy and gross domestic product (GDP), and a return on investment that goes beyond an individual family to the larger nation.

For example, in Sweden, the cost for assistive technology for a student is recovered if he or she is able to enter the labour market just one month earlier due to this technology. Thus, assistive technology is an important part of any development strategy

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