06 | Assistive technology

Assistive technology

Assistive Technology is a term used to refer to practical tools that can support functional needs of people who experience difficulties linked to disability or ageing.

The most widely used definition of Assistive Technology today is probably the definition of ‘Assistive Products’ used by the International Standards Organisation (ISO): Any product (including devices, equipment, instruments and software), especially produced or generally available, 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.

Examples of Assistive Technology in the Home:

  • Automated entrance/internal door/s.
  • Automated control of devices in the home such as TV, heating, curtains.
  • Intercoms between rooms.
  • Video intercom at front door.
  • Flashing devices, e.g. a doorbell, which alerts the deaf or hard of hearing person that there is someone at the door through a flashing light.
  • TV Listening devices, which allow the person with hearing loss to adjust the TV volume independently and to eliminate background noise.
  • Amplified telephones, which provide amplified and higher quality sound that assist some people with hearing loss to use the telephone.
  • Vibrating pillow pads, which alert people while sleeping. This can include an alarm clock, doorbell or fire alarm.
  • Stand-alone devices such as memory aids and alarms.
  • Linked sensors which can control devices such as shutting off the cooker.
  • Devices which can communicate an early alarm to a remote support team such as fire or flooding.


  • DeafHear, (online). Deafhear provide a specialist assistive technology service for deaf and hard of hearing people. Available at: https://www.deafhear.ie/DeafHear/home.html. (Accessed August 2018).
  •  Assistireland, (deaftech) (online). Assistireland can advise on making buildings and services accessible for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in compliance with Part M of the Building Regulations, the Equal Status Act and the Disability Act. Independent Living Ireland is a non-profit social enterprise that provides technology devices to assist the elderly, disabled or those discharged from hospital that includes assessment, procurement and on-going management. Available at: http://www.assistireland.ie/eng/. (Accessed August 2018).
  • The National Council for the Blind in Ireland, (online). The National Council for the Blind in Ireland provides assistance for people with vision impairments. There is a section on the site dedicated to assistive technology. Available at: https://www.ncbi.ie/.  (Accessed August 2018).
  • National Disability Authority, (online). Irish National IT Accessibility Guidelines National Disability Authority guidelines for accessible products and services, including:
    – Descriptions of high level accessibility goals and the difficulties faced
    by users
    – Prioritised guidelines for each technology
    – Motivation and justification for each guideline
    – Guidance on design techniques and testing methods.
  • Available at: http://universaldesign.ie/Technology-ICT/Irish-National-IT-Accessibility-Guidelines/. (Accessed August 2018).