Adaptive Device

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What is an adaptive device?


An adaptive device refers to any kind of equipment, tool, material, or machine that is used to help individuals with disabilities accomplish their activities of daily living. Activities of daily living, also known as ADL, are common tasks that are part of a person’s daily life. Some examples include eating, drinking, walking, moving about, bathing, dressing, going to the toilet, and dressing. Adaptive devices are also commonly known as adaptive technology. 


What are some examples of adaptive devices? 


There are a wide range of examples of adaptive devices that help with activities of daily living. Fundamentally, anything that helps individuals function in daily life is considered an adaptive device. 

To be able to bathe safely, grab bars and mechanical lifts are adaptive devices. For dressing, you have long-handled shoe horns and button hooks. Long straws, non-slip bowls, and adaptive utensils help in eating. To make going to the toilet more manageable, there are commodes, leg straps, and grab bars as well. 

Canes, walkers, and wheelchairs are adaptive devices for ambulation. Hearing aids help people with hearing impairment. 


What is the relevance of adaptive devices to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?


Because of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must provide reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities. Any form of discrimination against people based on their disability is prohibited.

Most people think about limited mobility, visual or hearing impairment when they think of the ADA. However, the ADA provides accommodation and protection for impairment or disability in other areas as well. This includes sensory, psychiatric, cognitive, and chronic diseases.  

In response to the ADA, employers provide adaptive devices and technology as accommodations for people with disabilities in the workplace. The primary purpose is to help them perform their work tasks efficiently. To help organizations provide adaptive devices, there are national and local programs that offer subsidies and resources. 


What is the difference between an adaptive device and an assistive device? 


Adaptive devices and assistive devices both help people in their daily lives. Because of this similarity, the two terms are often interchanged. Assistive technology or an assistive device is a broader term that refers to a spectrum of tools, systems, and equipment. These tools help improve the functional capacity of people with disabilities. Examples of assistive devices are computer software like voice recognition programs and screen readers for those who have a sensory impairment. There is closed captioning available for people with hearing impairment to watch movies. 

Adaptive devices or adaptive equipment is considered a subcategory of assistive technology. These are tools, equipment, or anything that is designed particularly for people with disabilities. Because adaptive technology is more specific, it may be easier to use. On the other hand, assistive technology may be more challenging to learn and operate. They may also require more modification. 

Both adaptive and assistive devices provide people with disabilities with tools for an opportunity to improve their daily life. Access to both kinds of devices is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if the accommodation request is reasonable.

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