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According to the United States Assistive Technology Act of 1998, assistive technology (also called adaptive technology) refers to any "product, device, or equipment, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that is used to maintain, increase, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities."
Often, assistive technology will also be a "medical device" and a consumer product. Medical devices are regulated by the FDA and should not be recommended or used unless you know they comply with applicable FDA regulations. Medical devices range from simple tongue depressors and bedpans to complex programmable pacemakers with micro-chip technology and laser surgical devices. A device is:
"an instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, contrivance, implant, in vitro reagent, or other similar or related article, including a component part, or accessory which is:
recognized in the official National Formulary, or the United States Pharmacopoeia, or any supplement to them, intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, in man or other animals, or intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals, and which does not achieve any of it's primary intended purposes through chemical action within or on the body of man or other animals and which is not dependent upon being metabolized for the achievement of any of its primary intended purposes."
Link to the FDA website: http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/devadvice/312.html