Adaptive and assistive devices

Assistive and adaptive devices refer to any device, system, or tool that improves the performance of a person with a disability. There is a subtle difference between the words, assistive, and adaptive.

Assistive devices

The word “assistive” is a general term to describe all devices that facilitate and improve any activity that a person wants to do.

Adaptive devices 

The word, “adaptive” refers to devices that adapt existing tools so that a person with a difficulty can use it. For example, an eating utensil with a built-up handle is an adaptive device. On the other hand, a wheelchair or a cane is not an adaptive device but it is an assistive device. These aids can either be a low-tech one such as a cane or a very high-tech one such as a robot assistive speaking tool.  

Device classification

We can classify these aids into several groups such as below; 

  • Mobility devices: scooters, power chairs, wheelchairs etc 
  • Communication devices: the devices that facilitate speech, writing, typing, vision, hearing, listening, reading etc. 
  • Computer access devices: hardware and software tools including apps 
  •  Daily living aids: the devices that facilitate dressing, eating, cooking, home chores, toileting, bathing, switching etc. 
  • Prosthetics and Orthotics 
  • Recreation and leisure assisting devices: sports assisting tools, games, toys etc. 
  • Robots 
  • Cognitive aids