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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Common Assistive Technologies

This guide provides resources on traumatic brain injury.

What are assistive technologies?

The Technology Related Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 described an assistive technology device as "any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities."

Assistive technologies can be "high tech" and "low tech:" from canes and lever doorknobs to voice recognition software and augmentative communication devices (speech generating devices).

Communication Skills

People who have a traumatic or acquired brain injury may experience a wide variety of communication difficulties. Brain injuries can cause conditions like aphasia, which affects a person's ability to express and understand written and spoken language. The following assistive technologies may assist those with a brain injury communicate.

Speech Generating Devices

A speech-generating device is "a portable that contains one or more panels or switches that when depressed will activate pre-recorded digitized or synthesized speech output." These may be a standalone device, usually very small and light, or it can be software that is installed in a tablet or phone.

Recording Devices

Recording devices can be useful for people with a brain injury in situations such as classes or work. Some symptoms of brain injury might make it difficult to take notes and keep up with teachers or presentations. A recording device can allow a person with a brain injury to go over recorded moments with less pressure and more control.

Many smartphones have recording capabilities, but often the sound recordings are not high quality. Other options include:

Writing Assistance

Traumatic/acquired brain injuries can affect a person's fine motor skills and also their ability to understand and communicate. The following assistive technologies can help people who have a brain injury that may have stronger oral abilities or need help with vocabulary while writing.

Employees with Brain Injury

Finding Assistive Technology