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Rehabilitative and Assistive Technology: Condition Information

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What is rehabilitative and assistive technology?

Rehabilitative (pronounced ree-huh-bil-i-TEY-tiv) and assistive (pronounced uh-SIS-tiv) technology refers to tools, equipment, or products that can help a person with a disability to function successfully at school, home, work, and in the community.

Assistive technology can be as simple as a magnifying glass or as complex as a computerized communication system. An assistive device can be as large as an automated wheelchair lift for a van or as small as a handheld hook to assist with buttoning a shirt.1

The term “rehabilitative technology” is sometimes used to refer to aids used to help people recover their functioning after injury or illness. But the term often is used interchangeably with the term “assistive technology.”

The NICHD supports research for developing technologies, devices, computerized and robotic devices, and other aids aimed at helping people with disabilities achieve their full potential.

Rehabilitative engineering involves the application of engineering and scientific principles to study how people with disabilities function in society. It includes studying barriers to optimal function and designing solutions so that people with disabilities can interact successfully in their environments.


  1. Family Center on Technology and Disability. (n.d.). Fact sheet: assistive technology solutions. Retrieved August 9, 2012, from http://www.fctd.info/assets/assets/21/AT_solutions-may2012.pdf?1338562550 External Web Site Policy (PDF - 2.28 MB) [top]

Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 11/30/2012
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