Handheld Technology as Aids for Daily Living

Handheld Technology (PDA, GPS) as Aids for Daily Living


Excerpt from Assistive Technology for Kansas presentation.

(See attached documents.)


The goal of assistive technology (AT) is to help persons with disabilities or chronic health conditions to live, learn and work more independently. Newer handheld technologies such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) and global positioning systems (GPS) can be major aids for persons with cognitive, learning, organizational or memory disabilities.


Today’s electronic technologies, including computers, cell phones, Internet, and electronic organizers, hold great promise for individuals with disabilities (Hart, O’Neil-Piozzi & Morita, 2003.) These digital tools can help the individual to improve organization and retrieval of information, to organize tasks so timelines can be established and met, increase communication, and improve way (direction) finding skills.


A basic PDA can assist with the tracking of medical and therapy appointments,

handling finances, time-lining of multi-step projects, organizing to-do lists, linkiing work tasks to a calendar, and keeping track of phone numbers and addresses. A student may like a PDA for its organizational and memory function, while a landscape business owner may use the device to keep his supply list on his memo pad, his customers’ phone numbers in the address book, and monitor his invoices with an Excel spreadsheet.


Global positioning systems are available as pre-installed equipment on automobiles or as hand-held navigation devices. They have preloaded maps and can be used with a touch-screen interface, or with voice announcements of directions. GPS also provides addresses and points of interest (nearest restaurant or pharmacy, for example.)

GPS technology supports independent action for persons with memory or cognitive issues and way-finding problems. It can help individuals to travel familiar routes and new routes independently. This permits them to work flexible hours on their own. It also allows them to change their mind in mid-route and still successfully resume independent travel.


GPS technology can make the difference between moving about safely in known and unfamiliar areas. One woman who is blind explains how her GPS “points of interest” feature enhances a simple walk through town by “saying” the names of the restaurants as well as the street names. A farmer with a head injury can check his fence lines and still get home by using two preprogrammed locations on his farm with his GPS.


Why now?


Millions of PDAs, handheld computers and converged mobile devices (Treo, BlackBerry) are shipped globally every quarter. As technology improves, people want to upgrade. AT reuse projects should put strategies in place to collect PDA and GPS donations from individuals, businesses and manufacturers. Many large businesses are heavy users of handheld technology.


For more information, see the attached presentation and handouts.



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Other Information

Title: Handheld Technology as Aids for Daily Living
Module: Marketing/PR
Author: Assistive Technology for Kansans
Audience: Implementer
Sub Title: Using PDAs and GPS
Procedure: Getting donations of PDAs and GPS
Organization Source: Assistive Technology for Kansans
Last Reviewed: 10-25-2009 7:22 PM