- Specialized design based on accepted dimensional requirements that is added to or used in lieu of typical everyday products, spaces, and technologies to remove barriers to people with specific types of disabilities (Sanford, 2012).
- “A design process in which the needs of people with disabilities are specifically considered. Accessibility sometimes refers to the characteristic that products, services, and facilities can be independently used by people with a variety of disabilities” (DO-IT, 2015).
Activity: “The execution of a task or action by an individual. It represents the individual perspective of functioning” (WHO, 2001, p. 213).
Adaptive devices: “Any structure, design, instrument, contrivance, or equipment that enables a person with a disability” to improve function (Mosby, 2009). “Adaptive device” is synonymous with “personal assistive device,” “assistive technology,” and “assistive technology device.”
Assistive technology: “[T]echnology designed to be utilized in an assistive technology device or assistive technology service.”1
Assistive technology device: “[A]ny item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is
1 Assistive Technology Act of 2004, Public Law 108-364, § 3(3), 118 Stat. 1710 (2004).
used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.”2
Assistive technology service: “The term ‘assistive technology service’ means any service that directly assists an individual with a disability in the selection, acquisition, or use of an assistive technology device.”3
Augmentative and alternative communication devices: Computer- and non-computer-based electronic or nonelectronic technologies “that provide individuals whose natural speech is not functional with a means of communication” (AAC Institute, 2015).
Body functions: “The physiological functions of body systems, including psychological functions. ‘Body’ refers to the human organism as a whole, and thus includes the brain. Hence, mental (or psychological) functions are subsumed under body functions. The standard for these functions is considered to be the statistical norm for humans” (WHO, 2001, p. 213).
Body structures: “The structural or anatomical parts of the body such as organs, limbs and their components classified according to body systems. The standard for these structures is considered to be the statistical norm for humans” (WHO, 2001, p. 213).
Cognitive assistive technologies: A subclass of assistive technology “that is designed to ‘increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities’ for individuals whose cognitive [abilities] limit their effective participation in daily activities” (adapted from Scherer et al., 2005, p. 197).
- International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health definition: “An umbrella term for impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. It denotes the negative aspects of the interaction between an individual (with a health condition) and that individual’s contextual factors (environmental and personal factors)” (WHO, 2001, p. 213).
- U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) definition: In adults, “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity . . . by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months” (SSA, n.d., see also SSA, 2012).
2 Assistive Technology Act of 2004, Public Law 108-364, § 3(4), 118 Stat. 1710 (2004).
3 Assistive Technology Act of 2004, Public Law 108-364, § 3(5), 118 Stat. 1710 (2004).
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) definition: “The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability. The ADA also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on that person’s association with a person with a disability” (ADA National Network, 2017).
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition: “Any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions)” (CDC, 2016).
- State vocational rehabilitation definition: “State vocational rehabilitation (VR) offices define a person with a disability to be eligible for VR services if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that constitutes or results in a ‘substantial impediment’ to employment for the applicant” (DOL, 2017).
Durable medical equipment:
- Medicare definition: “[Durable medical equipment] meets these criteria: durable (can withstand repeated use), used for a medical reason, not usually useful to someone who isn’t sick or injured, used in your home, [and] has an expected lifetime of at least 3 years” (CMS, 2017).
- SSA Program Operations Manual System definition: “Durable medical equipment is equipment which can withstand repeated use, . . . and is primarily and customarily used to serve a medical purpose, . . . and generally is not useful to a person in the absence of an illness or injury, . . . and is appropriate for use in the home” (SSA, 2014).
Environmental modifications: Any “alterations, adjustments, or additions to the . . . environment through the use of specialized, customized, off-the-shelf, or universally designed technologies; low- or high-tech equipment, products, hardware controls and cues, finishes, and furnishings; and other features that affect the layout and structure” of the built environment (adapted from AOTA, 2016).4
Health care disparities: Differences in access to or availability of facilities and services.
Health inequalities: Differences in health status or in the distribution of health determinants among different population groups.
Health status disparities: Variation in rates of disease occurrence and disabilities among socioeconomic and/or geographically defined population groups.
Hearing assistive technologies: “Encompasses a wide range of products—from traditional hearing aids regulated as medical devices to consumer-technology products and hearing assistive technologies—with the overall goal of enabling the user to hear and communicate better in their homes (e.g., television), in public spaces (e.g., movies and lectures), and through phones or other communications products and systems” (NASEM, 2016, p. 149).
Impairment: “A loss or abnormality in body structure or physiological function (including mental functions). Abnormality here is used strictly to refer to a significant variation from established statistical norms (i.e., as a deviation from a population mean within measured standard norms) and should be used only in this sense” (WHO, 2001, p. 213).
Orthoses: Externally applied devices “used to stabilize or unload joints, normalize motion and stresses on tissue, substitute for muscle weakness or paralysis, and assist in normal growth, development and function. Orthoses can be applied to the head, neck, trunk, or limbs” (adapted from University of Pittsburgh, 2017).
Participation: “A person’s involvement in a life situation. It represents the societal perspective of functioning” (WHO, 2001, p. 213).
Personal assistive device: Any device that improves or compensates for loss of body function to improve the capacity of persons with disabilities. “Any device designed or adapted to help people with physical or emotional disorders perform actions, tasks, and activities” (Assistive device, n.d.).
Prostheses: Artificial limbs “used to replace missing limbs or portions of limbs, and to restore more normal function of the upper or lower extremities” (University of Pittsburgh, 2017).
Surgically implanted devices: “Medical implants are devices or tissues that are placed inside or on the surface of the body. Many implants are prosthetics, intended to replace missing body parts. Other implants deliver medication, monitor body functions, or provide support to organs and
tissues. Some implants are made from skin, bone or other body tissues. Others are made from metal, plastic, ceramic or other materials. Implants can be placed permanently or they can be removed once they are no longer needed” (FDA, 2015). Cochlear implants are an example of a surgically implanted device.
Transition: A coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that (1) is designed to be within a results-oriented process and is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child to facilitate movement from school to postschool activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation; (2) is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account his or her strengths, preferences, and interests; and (3) includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other postschool adult living objectives, and if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
Universal design: The design of all products and environments “to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible” without the need for adaptation or specialized design (adapted from Mace et al., 1991, p. 156).
Wheelchair: A “wheeled mobility device with a seating support system for a person with impaired mobility, intended to provide mobility in a seated position as its primary function. Includes manual and power wheelchairs. Excludes: Devices such as prone mobility carts that provide mobility in a non-seated position” (Waugh, 2013, p. 20).
Wheeled mobility devices: Medical devices with wheels that are intended to provide mobility and function to persons with restricted or no ability to ambulate without assistance from technology.
Workplace reasonable accommodations: “The term reasonable accommodation means: (i) modifications or adjustments to a job application process that enable a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position such qualified applicant desires; or (ii) modifications or adjustments to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enable an individual with a disability who is qualified to perform the essential functions of that position; or (iii) modifications or adjustments that enable a covered entity’s employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits
and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.”5
AAC Institute. 2015. What is AAC? http://aacinstitute.org/what-is-aac (accessed January 26, 2017).
ADA National Network. 2017. What is the definition of disability under the ADA? https://adata.org/faq/what-definition-disability-under-ada (accessed January 27, 2017).
AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association). 2016. Home modifications and occupational therapy. http://www.aota.org/about-occupational-therapy/professionals/rdp/homemods.aspx (accessed January 27, 2017).
Assistive device. n.d. McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine, 2002. http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/assistive+device (accessed January 30, 2017).
CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 2016. Disability overview. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/disability.html (accessed March 21, 2017).
CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services). 2017. Medicare.gov: Durable medical equipment (DME) coverage. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/durable-medical-equipment-coverage.html (accessed January 27, 2017).
DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology). 2015. What is the difference between accessible, usable, and universal design? http://www.washington.edu/doit/what-difference-between-accessible-usable-and-universal-design (accessed January 26, 2017).
DOL (U.S. Department of Labor). 2017. Frequently asked questions. https://www.dol.gov/odep/faqs/general.htm (accessed February 13, 2017).
Fagan, L. A., and J. A. Sanford. 2004. Home modifications: Assessment, implementation, and innovation. Presented at the 84th Annual Conference & Expo of the American Occupational Therapy Association, Minneapolis, MN, May.
FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). 2015. Implants and prosthetics. http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics (accessed January 27, 2017).
Mace, R., G. Hardie, and J. Place. 1991. Accessible environments: Toward universal design. In Design intervention: Toward a more humane architecture, edited by W. E. Preiser, J. C. Vischer, and E. T. White. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Publishers. Pp. 155-175.
Mosby. 2009. Mosby’s Medical Dictionary, 9th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier.
NASEM (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine). 2016. Hearing health care for adults: Priorities for improving access and affordability. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Sanford, J. A. 2012. Design for the ages: Universal design as a rehabilitation strategy. New York: Springer.
Scherer, M. J., T. Hart, N. Kirsch, and M. Schulthesis. 2005. Assistive technologies for cognitive disabilities. Critical Reviews in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 17(3):195-215.
SSA (U.S. Social Security Administration). 2012. DI 00115.015 Definitions of disability. https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0400115015 (accessed January 26, 2017).
SSA. 2014. HI 00610.200 Definition of durable medical equipment. https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0600610200 (accessed January 27, 2017).
SSA. n.d. Disability evaluation under social security; Part I—General information. http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/general-info.htm (accessed January 26, 2017).
5 29 CFR § 1630.2.
University of Pittsburgh. 2017. Prosthetics & orthotics: About. https://www.shrs.pitt.edu/po/about (accessed January 27, 2017).
Waugh, K. 2013. Glossary of wheelchair terms and definitions, Version 1.0. https://www.ncart.us/uploads/userfiles/files/glossary-of-wheelchair-terms.pdf (accessed January 27, 2017).
WHO (World Health Organization). 2001. International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Geneva, Switzerland: WHO.
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