At Kennedy Krieger's Assistive Technology Clinic, innovative technologies and the expertise of our specialists allow children and adults to enjoy many of the same activities as their peers.

Professionals from the disciplines of speech language pathology (SLP) and occupational therapy (OT) collaborate to help patients with a variety of communication, learning, and mobility needs communicate and build independence.

The first step in the clinic is an evaluation of each individual to determine which form of technology will best meet their specific needs.  These assessments often address communication, power mobility, computer access, phone access, and environmental control needs.

Communication Challenges:

When an individual has a communication disorder, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) strategies may assist with improving communication.  AAC strategies range from low-tech solutions like picture communication boards to high-tech communication systems with speech output and a variety of access methods. Access methods may include use of switch scanning, a head mouse, or eye gaze. The Assistive Technology Clinic has a variety of AAC devices to trial during evaluations. Our skilled SLPs are experts at matching individuals’ communicative needs with current technologies and vocabulary options. 

Mobility Options:

Occupational therapists with expertise in mobility solutions will complete a seating and power mobility evaluation. Our professionals are experts in finding solutions for individualsof all ages that best fits their needs. We offer a team approach by working with wheelchair vendors to make recommendations. Additionally, we will work to fit the wheelchair and seating system upon delivery to ensure that the equipment provided works as needed. Our staff matches and customizes devices for individual clients’ unique abilities, needs, and methods of access. 

Computer and Phone Access:

Individuals with motor and visual motor impairments often need help to improve their independence when accessing computers and smartphones. Additionally, individuals with learning disabilities may need computer-based accommodations for reading, writing, organization, and memory. Computer access, phone access, and learning technologies could include:

  • Adaptive keyboards and mice
  • Touch screens
  • Voice commands
  • Switch scanning
  • Text to speech
  • Apps for memory and organization

Environmental Controls:

Our experts identify the best-suited technology so the client  can live more independently. Some examples include: controls for lights, televisions and phones.

Primary Goals:

Kennedy Krieger's Assistive Technology Clinic is dedicated to the notion that through the use of technology, individuals with disabilities can greatly improve their independence and ability to communicate, to access computers, and to move through the world. The Assistive Technology Clinic offers the following services:

  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication evaluations
  • Power Mobility evaluations
  • Computer and phone access evaluations
  • Environmental Control access evaluations
  • Programming of assistive technology equipment
  • Training for clients and their caregivers on use of recommended assistive technology equipment

Success Story:

Ryan first came to the Assistive Technology Clinic at age 13. He has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, a bilateral hearing impairment, and severe dysarthria of speech, a condition that left him unable to communicate verbally.  After completing an in-depth assistive technology team evaluation with a speech language pathologist and an occupational therapist, the clinic team recommended that Ryan receive a dynamic augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device with alternative access methods that included the use of a  keyguard and  head-pointer.  After trying out several power chair driving components, the occupational therapist recommended a power wheelchair, controllable with a combination of head and foot switches.  The clinic assisted in funding this equipment through Ryan’s insurance company.

When the equipment arrived, the speech-language pathologist loaded a customized vocabulary on Ryan’s new AAC device.  Ryan quickly learned the locations of words in order to produce phrases; and attempted to say words out loud that he wanted added to his device.  The occupational therapist made a custom head pointer for use with a keyguard, to improve Ryan’s accuracy in pointing and adjusted Ryan’s power wheelchair control system to ensure that he could drive the chair independently around corners and through tight spaces, using both the head array and foot control switches. 

Ryan is now 32-years-old and is using his fourth AAC device with a customized version of WordPower 100.  He is a self-described tech geek. He lives in a supported apartment and enjoys watching movies, sending emails, spending time with friends, and participating in social media. Ryan especially enjoys sending text messages and participating in video calls to stay connected to his family and friends through his AAC device.   As an adult, Ryan relies even more heavily on use of assistive technology to maximize his independence.  He continues to come to the AT clinic at Kennedy Krieger periodically for his power mobility and communication needs.  During his follow up visits, clinic specialists assist Ryan with programming his AAC device, provide updates and modifications to his AAC and power mobility equipment, and help him to be more independent when accessing his cell phone, computer, and environmental controls.

Assistive technology has increased Ryan’s independence and opened a world of connectivity for him.