Consumer Technology as AT

In recent years, consumer technology manufacturers have begun integrating robust accessibility features into their devices. Individuals with disabilities are now able to use a tablet computer with switch scanning to communicate, control their home, learn, or entertain themselves without needing a full suite of adaptive software. In some cases, individuals are able to use voice control. Consumer technology has evolved to a point where we’re seeing new devices launched every day and with each new device comes new possibilities for individuals with disabilities.

Why would someone want to use consumer technology as assistive technology?
In some cases it brings a sense of normalcy to the user. Think of a student using a dedicated speech generating device. In the past, this could have been a large clunky plastic box, but now it can be the same sleek iPad the rest of their peers use. In some cases for those educators and professionals who have to support the use of assistive technology, they are already familiar with the technology and it is not a far leap to implement the accessibility features. Lastly, consumer technology is readily available from local retailers at a fairly low cost.
With all of the good, there are some downsides to using consumer technology as assistive technology. In some cases, consumer technology can be far less durable than technology made specifically for use by individuals with disabilities. Because consumer technology is designed for the masses, it can come with bugs that are not quickly addressed by the manufacturer or only be accessible to a certain point. Lastly, consumer technology manufacturers now follow a rapid upgrade schedule. Consumer technology is now updating to newer models every 12 to 18-months, which can be costly to keep up with.
The possibilities for consumer technology to be used as assistive technology continue to grow. Explore some of our favorite consumer technology that can be used as assistive technology.
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