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Get the Right Device: The Importance of Proper Evaluation & Assessments

I know what type of assistive technology I need. Why do I need an evaluation when I can just order it from a vendor?

An evaluation by a qualified person will give you additional assurance that you are getting the product that is right for you. Assistive technology is changing at a rapid pace and it is difficult to keep up with all that is available. A qualified professional such as a AT Specialist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, or a speech and language pathologist will be able to supply you with the up-to-date information that you need. Even if you are in need of a replacement of something that you have been using for many years, an evaluation may be beneficial. There may have been improvements to the product since you last made a purchase or perhaps your specific needs have changed over the years. An experienced, qualified professional will help you to find the current technology that is best for you.

In many instances, it is best that the person evaluating you does not sell any specific product. In that way, he/she can easily give you an unbiased opinion on the type of equipment that would be right for you. If a trial of a specific brand or model of equipment is needed, then arrangements can be made with the vendor or consultant of that company to provide the equipment. If you are being evaluated at a large rehabilitation hospital or AT Center, then they may already have trial equipment on loan from the vendors.

Finally, unless you are paying for the equipment out of your own pocket, you will be required to have an evaluation. It is now a requirement of most third party payers that you have an appropriate evaluation that includes specific information about your needs and abilities. For example, the State Department of Rehabilitation will want to know how this piece of equipment will help you at your work or school. The school district will be interested in how this piece of equipment helps you to meet your educational goals. The regional centers are mainly interested in paying for assistive technology that will improve the person's quality of life. It is your responsibility, as well as the person writing the evaluation, to know what your payment source requires. In this way, you have a better chance at avoiding unnecessary denials of payment and delays.

What makes a good AT assessment?

A good AT assessment has many components. The best AT assessments are those that are driven by the individual who is looking for the technological tools. A person-centered approach in which the individual has the opportunity to try a variety of technology, to ask questions, and in which the team members facilitate rather than direct this process will ensure the best outcome.

A good Assistive Technology assessment gives you:

Next steps to acquiring the AT

You have the most important role in the process. If you are an active participant, you will be much more likely to get the AT that you need. Be sure to ask the question: "What do I need to do in order to get this equipment for myself?"