Assistive technology (AT) plays a crucial role in the lives of millions of Americans.
However, it’s beyond possible that many people have no idea what it is, or what it might look like.
AT is a broad term. According to the Assistive Technology Industry Association, it includes any item, device or piece of equipment that improves or maintains the functions of people with disabilities. Some AT is easily apparent — like prosthetics, wheelchairs or custom keyboards — but others can be harder to spot.
But a new viral TikTok is helping to change that dynamic. The clip, posted by the assistive technology organization TechOWL, is drawing praise for its simple breakdown of AT and how people without disabilities can improve their understanding of it.
The video, which has nearly 8 million views, features several clips of people using various assistive technologies.
“If you see something, and you’re not sure why it exists,” the clip explains, “it might help someone who is disabled.”
TechOWL’s clip is a helpful reminder that not all disabilities are visible. When it comes to assistive technology, this fact is especially important — because you can’t know just from looking at someone if they might need help zipping their jacket, holding a pencil or taking out the trash.
The video goes on to emphasize just how dynamic these technologies can be. Some may also be helpful for older people, or children. As the clip says, AT “might even help you someday.”
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“And some disabilities aren’t visible, so you never know who might need some help,” the video adds.
TechOWL’s TikTok page is full of clips demonstrating this exact point. The organization, which is part of Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities, uses its account to spread awareness about the vast diversity within the AT space.
And the group drew plenty of praise in the process. Some of its clips have thousands of grateful comments, from users who are happy to see more people educated about how AT works.
“Thank you for this,” one user wrote. “I don’t really look disabled at all, [and because] of that I’m so scared and embarrassed to say I can’t do something.”
“Some of these are helpful even for people with no disabilities, that’s amazing,” another added.
“I use a couple of assistive devices and I’m so glad y’all are posting this and spreading awareness,” another wrote.
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