About Rehabilitative and Assistive Technology

Rehabilitative and assistive technologies are tools, equipment, or products that can help people with disabilities 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 digital communication system. An assistive device can be as large as a power wheelchair lift for a van or as small as a handheld hook that assists with buttoning a shirt.1

Tools to help people recover or improve their functioning after injury or illness are sometimes called “rehabilitative technology.” But the term is often used interchangeably with the term “assistive technology.”

NICHD supports research on developing and evaluating technologies, devices, instruments, and other aids to help people with disabilities achieve their full potential.

Rehabilitative engineers use scientific principles to study how people with disabilities function in society. They study barriers to optimal function and design 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 July 1, 2017, from https://www.fhi360.org/resource/family-information-guide-assistive-technology-and-transition-planning external link
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