Finding the Most Suitable Technology for You

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Finding the Most Suitable Technology for You
 
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For a person with a disability, finding the right piece of equipment is more than simply looking for the ‘latest and greatest’ product on the market.

It’s also about understanding the personal goals of the individual, and how technology can be incorporated into an individual’s life to achieve them.

Long before a piece of equipment is selected, clients may go through a lengthy assessment process to determine their specific needs, whether they’re physical or cognitive.

A thorough assessment ensures everyone involved in the process is clear about the client’s expectation of the technology.

‘The assessment process can be very detailed as we need to ascertain a person’s physical, sensory and motor skills as well as their communication and interpersonal skills. This helps us create a snapshot of the person who will be using the technology’ – Jo Ford, Divisional Manager, LifePoints and Technology Services

Once the team has this information, they can begin working on solutions and trialling equipment.

The Assessment Process

To assess a person’s equipment needs Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s TASC (Technology Solutions for Computer Access, Seating and Communications) team use the SETT (Student, Environment, Tasks and Tools) framework developed by Dr Joy Zabala. To find the best solutions, assessors ask a series of questions to ascertain the client’s environment and understand the tasks they want to accomplish with the technology.

Student/Self

First, information is gathered about the person to work out why and how they want to use a piece of equipment.

We try to be very clear about a person’s goals and what is the end use of the equipment. Everybody involved in the process needs to be clear about what that end goal is as well ‘For example, a person may want to use a computer to email friends, record school work or access games and the Internet.

Environment

These questions focus on the short and long term uses of the technology – can they use the technology independently or do they require a support team to help them learn about and use it.

It’s during this part of the assessment process that some clients discover they’re already using the best equipment to meet their needs. All that is required is some extra training for the support team or the person themselves.’

It’s also important to analyse the environment in which a piece of technology will be used and the person’s attitudes and expectations of the technology.

People have varying degrees of success and failure using technology, so we need to ensure that everyone’s on board. If the attitude isn’t there to embrace the technology, then it just won’t work.

Tasks, Tools and Testing

This is the stage where the team look at the tasks that a person will be doing with the technology and what equipment and tools are available that have all the necessary features.

‘Sometimes we may not even use technology or we may use a combination of low and high tech solutions to come up with the best outcome.’

A person then needs to trial the equipment to see how well it works for them. ‘It’s not until it actually goes into the workplace, university or the school, that you can tell if it’s going to meet the need or not.

Finding the perfect match

If a piece of equipment has caught your eye and you want to know if it will meet your needs, what do you do next?

  • Call your therapy team – think about your goal, not just the technology solution.
  • Remember the assessment can be a lengthy process – there may not be an immediate solution.
  • Be prepared to trial a few pieces of equipment before finding the right one.

Contact our technology experts to find out which assistive technology can help you achieve greater freedom and independence.