Assistive Technology and Devices
High tech and low tech solutions for life with dysautonomia
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Assistive technology and assistive devices are broadly called "AT". AT refers to items, pieces of equipment, or computer programs/applications that are used by individuals to increase, maintain, or improve their functional capabilities. For example, using a computer program that reads text out loud can be helpful for people who have difficulty looking at or reading text on a screen.
AT can be high tech, like a smart phone app; or low tech, like a rollator or a shower chair. AT solutions can be as simple and low cost as changing a setting on your computer or purchasing a long-handled shoe horn. However, some AT solutions may involve purchasing a piece of more expensive equipment or software.
On this page you will find both high tech and low tech AT which our DSN leaders and members have found helpful for people with dysautonomia and related conditions. Because some AT items can be expensive, we have also included information on community resources in the United States where you can try out AT, borrow AT, obtain used AT, or receive assistance with a private purchase of a product.
Please note that this information is provided as a consumer review, not as endorsement of a specific product.
High Tech AT Solutions
Operating System Accessibility Features
All computers and mobile devices have operating systems, software that allows users to interact with their devices' hardware and programs. Most modern operating systems have built in accessibility features, which can be adjusted so that users with disabilities can use their devices more easily. Some examples of operating system accessibility features include:
Dictation/Speech recognition; Text-to-speech
Display customization such as adjustable display contrast, font size, size of icons, and other characteristics
Multimode alerts, which provides visual notifications for users who can't hear auditory alerts
Keyboard customization, such as changing the length of time a key must be pressed in order to be registered
Please refer to the website of your device's operating system for more information on built in Accessibility features:
Screenreaders & Magnifiers
These programs are often used by individuals with low vision or blindness. These programs modify the visual interface of the computer, sometimes by magnifying everything with mouse or keyboard focus (some editions of ZoomText); sometimes by providing for an entirely non-visual interface for the user (NVDA, JAWS). Some of these programs are expensive. Funding or assistance may be available for qualifying individuals through state vocational rehab or assistive technology resources, please review the Community Resources section for links.
Less powerful magnification options are available through some operating system accessibility features.
Reading, Writing & Web Browsing
Memory & Executive Function
Diet and Weight Trackers
Although the documentation for many of these apps is clearly biased towards weight loss goals, these apps can be used for tracking nutritional status (calories, protein, carbs, and fat intake) for people who are trying to gain or maintain weight as well. This can be helpful for people with gastroparesis and other functional GI problems that go with dysautonomia.