What Means Assistive?

Definition of assistive : providing aid or assistance specifically : designed or intended to assist disabled persons assistive technology.

Assisstive devices and technologies are those whose primary purpose is to maintain or improve an individual’s functioning and independence to facilitate participation and to enhance overall well-being. Examples of assistive devices and technologies include wheelchairs, prostheses, hearings aids, visual aids, and specialised computer software and hardware that increase mobility, hearing, vision, or communication capacities.[1]

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) defines assistive products and technology as any product, instrument, equipment or technology adapted or specially designed for improving the functioning of a person with a disability. [2]

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines assistive products more broadly as any product, especially produced or generally available, that is used by or for persons with disability: for participation; to protect, support, train, measure or substitute for body functions/structures and activities; or to prevent impairments, activity limitations or participation restrictions.[2]

Assistive devices can incur significant purchase and maintenance costs, especially for children and those undergoing rehabilitation with expected improvement whose growth or changing abilities mean they will outgrow their assistive devices . Depending on your country's health system, there may be some assistive devices that are funded by your government's healthcare or by private insurers. The Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities also call upon States to support the development, production, distribution and servicing of assistive devices and equipment and the dissemination of knowledge about them.[3]

The video below shows some of the more readily available great devices out there


Barriers to Assistive Devices[edit | edit source]

UNICEF describes barriers to individuals using assistive devices as follows[2]:

Lack of awarenessLack of governance including legislation, policies and national programmesLack of servicesLack of productsInaccessible environmentsLack of human resourcesFinancial barriers

Strategies for Providing Assistive Devices[edit | edit source]

As per UNICEF[2], strategies for providing assistive technology/ devices need to consider the principles of 5 As &Q[5]:


Services and products are available in sufficient quantity as close as possible to children’s communities.

Services and products are accessible to everyone who needs them. Their delivery should be equitable to avoid discrepancies between genders, impairment groups, socioeconomic groups and geographic regions.

Services and products are affordable to everyone who needs them.

Services and products are adapted and modified to ensure they are appropriate to the needs and requirements of individuals. They need to accommodate differences in terms of individual factors (for example, health condition, body structure, body function, capacity, gender, age, ethnicity and preference) as well as environmental factors (for example, physical environment, psychosocial environment, climate and culture).

Services and products are acceptable to everyone. Factors such as efficiency, reliability, simplicity, safety, comfort and aesthetics should be taken into account to ensure that devices and related services are acceptable.

Services and products are of appropriate quality. Product quality can be measured through applicable technical standards or guidelines in terms of strength, durability, capacity, safety and comfort.

Examples of Assistive Devices[edit | edit source]

MobilityVisionEyeglasses, magnifier, magnifying software for computerCommunication cardsGPs app for walking polesHearingHearing aidsHearing loopsPositioningCommunicationCommunication cardsCommunication boards that use eye movementsPicture based instructionsCommunication electronic devices ( see video below)


Everyday lifeGPS-based navigation device.Timers: manual or automatic reminderSmartphones with adapted task listsLearningAdapted toys and gamesBraille systems for reading and writingTalking book players

The video below shows some unique assistive devices


There are outcome measures that gauge the efficiency of an Assistive Device on an individual's life. Some of them are enumerated below:

Psychosocial Impact of Assistive Devices Scales (PIADS): a 26-item, self-report questionnaire assesses the effects of an assistive device on functional independence, well-being, and quality of life[8]Questionnaire for the evaluation of physical assistive devices (QUEAD): evaluates novel physically assisting devices to support developers in their design decisions as well as users during individualizing of their assistive devices[9]PYTHEIA: is a self-reported measure subjectively assessing the assistive robotics and other assistive technology devices[10]
↑ WHO. Disability [cited 2018 09-28-2018]. Available from: http://www.who.int/disabilities/technology/en/.↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 UNICEF, WHO. Assistive Technology for Children with Disabilities: Creating Opportunities for Education, Inclusion and Participation 2015 [cited 2018 SEPTEMBER 28]. Available from: https://www.unicef.org/disabilities/files/Assistive-Tech-Web.pdf.↑ The Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities of Persons with Disabilities. New York: United Nations; 1993. www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/dissre00​.htm.↑ Care is there, geriatric management. Assistive devices for the elderly. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBA1h43J2N8&app=desktop (last accessed 26.4.2019)↑ WHO. Joint position paper on the provision of mobility devices in less -resourced settings: a step towards implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) related to personal mobility. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2011. Available from https://www.who.int/disabilities/publications/technology/jpp_final.pdf. Accessed 25 February 2019.↑ Citynews Toronto. Non verbal children with autism learning to communicate through electronic devices. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPo1H1eMU9k (last accessed 26.4.2019)↑ The superBOO. 7 unique gadgets for elderly living alone. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPRW4WiuMsg&feature=youtu.be (last accessed 26.4.2019)↑ Jutai, Jeffrey and Day, Hy. ‘Psychosocial Impact of Assistive Devices Scale (PIADS)’. IOS Press. 2002 : 107 – 111.↑ Schmidtler J, Bengler K, Dimeas F, Campeau-Lecours A. A questionnaire for the evaluation of physical assistive devices (QUEAD): Testing usability and acceptance in physical human-robot interaction. IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC), 2017, pp. 876-881, doi: 10.1109/SMC.2017.8122720.↑ Koumpouros, Y., Papageorgiou, E., Karavasili, A., & Koureta, F. PYTHEIA: A Scale for Assessing Rehabilitation and Assistive Robotics. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, International Journal of Medical, Health, Biomedical, Bioengineering and Pharmaceutical Engineering, 2016; 10, 522-526.