What is Assistive Technology?

By Freda Meng

Assistive technology is ‘any device or system that allows individuals to perform tasks they would otherwise be unable to do or increases the ease and safety with which tasks can be performed’ (World Health Organisation, 2004). It is a broad term referring to any low tech or high-tech tool used to assist learning and lifestyle.

Sounds complex?

It can be; however, at the same time it can be so easily integrated into our lives! In fact, it is already so entrenched in our lives that we aren’t even aware of it most of the time. Did you know that on average, an individual will encounter more than 21 pieces of assistive technology every day? Think about every time you push down a handle to open a door, turn on the computer to send an email, open a bottle on a Friday night with a jar opener to celebrate a draining week…

Most people apply technology in their daily lives: using smartphones, computers, remote controls, smart speakers to perform tasks and activities easier.


As much as assistive technology can be low tech and low cost, it can also be specialised, high-tech equipment. More extensive uses include pressure care mattress that prevents pressure sores in the body. For people with disabilities, it is critical to:

  • Their ability to communicate and learn
  • Their participation in work/social environment
  • Their independence and ensuring a decent standard of life

Assistive technology has substantially enhanced the lives of people with disability, specific examples entail:

  • voice recognition programs, screen enlargement applications and screen readers that help people with mobility and sensory impairments to use computers and mobile devices
  • automatic page turners, book holders, and adapted pencil grips to help learners with disabilities participate in educational activities
  • Closed captioning to enable people with hearing problems to watch TV, movies, and other digital media
  • Adaptive switches to allow those with limited motor skills to play games and eat

Want to find out more about assistive technology? Check out our Assistive Technology Exhibition, run in collaboration with MYMI!

Empathise, build, design, repeat!

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