The Right Product for the Job

Assistive technology specialists have a lot more choice these days, but deciding which product is right for their client is subject to an evaluation process and boils down to a number of criteria.

  • Ease of Use. If two products offer the exact same functionality, assistive technology teams will likely choose the one that is the most intuitive and user friendly.
  • Compatibility with other assistive technologies. Purchasing agents at vocational rehabilitation agencies do a final check to make sure that the recommended assistive technologies work completely in tandem with each other. If they don’t, they recommend products that will.
  • Compatibility within the workplace. If the company is a PC shop that uses more complex PC-based software programs, the assistive technology team is not likely to recommend the iPad.
  • Technical support. If the product developer doesn’t provide strong help-desk support, the team will choose a different product.
  • Reliability. Some products have been around longer than others, and assistive technology specialists know that they’ll hold up over time. As a result, they’ll sometimes go with the tried-and-true over a newer product.
  • User preference. If a user doesn’t like the product chosen, they’re unlikely to use it. Assistive technology specialists work to get them familiar with and comfortable using a product, but if in the end the client doesn’t approve, the team will likely try a new option.

And cost? Surprisingly, even in an era of budget constraints, it doesn’t come into play very often.  “We try to balance cost with functionality and the client’s needs, but the bottom line is, if a purchase is going to mean that they can get a job, then generally it’s worth it,” says Terry Courts, an assistive technology specialist for the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services.

Apr 01 2011