1. Instructional technology
2. Assistive technology
3. Medical technology
4. Technology productive tools
5. Information technology
1. Instructional technology: Instructional technology is a systematic way of designing, carrying out, and evaluating the total process of learning and teaching in terms of specific objectives, based on research in human learning and communication, and employing a combination of human and nonhuman resources to bring about more effective instruction.
2. Assistive technology: Assistive technology employs the use of various types of services and devices designed to help people with disabilities function within the environment. Assistive technologies include mechanical, electronic, and microprocessor-based equipment, non-mechanical and non-electronic aids, specialized instructional materials, services, and strategies that people with disabilities can use either to (a) assist them in learning, (b) make the environment more accessible, (c) enable them to compete in the workplace, (d) enhance their independence, or (e) otherwise improve their quality of life.
Assistive technologies may include commercially available or "home made" devices that are specially designed to meet the idiosyncratic needs of a particular individual (Blackhurst & Lahm, 2000). Examples include eyeglasses, communication aids, alternative computer keyboards, adaptive switches, and services such as those that might be provided by speech/language pathologists.
3. Medical technology: The field of medicine continues to amaze us with the advances constantly being made in medical technology. In addition to seemingly miraculous surgical procedures that are technology-based, many individuals are dependent upon medical technology to stay alive or otherwise enable people to function outside of hospitals and other medical settings. It is not uncommon to see people in their home and community settings who use medical technology.
For example, artifical limbs and hip and knee implants can help people function in the environment. Cochlear implants can often improve the hearing of people with auditory nerve damage. Some devices provide respiratory assistance through oxygen supplementation and mechanical ventilation. Others, such as cardiorespiratory monitors and pulse oximeters are used as surveillance devices that alert an attendant to a potential vitality problem. Nutritive assistive devices can assist in tube feeding or elimination through ostomies. Intravenous therapy can be provided through medication infusion and kidney function can be assumed by kidney dialysis machines (Batshaw & Perret, 1992). In addition to keeping people alive, technologies such as these can enable people to fully participate in school, community, and work activities.
4. Technology productive tools: As the name implies, technology productivity tools are computer software, hardware, and related systems that enable us to work more effectively and efficiently. For example, computer software such as database programs can be used to store and rapidly retrieve information; word processing programs can be used to easily edit text material; FAX machines can facilitate the transmission of written documents over long distances; expert system computer programs can aid in decision making, such as weather forecasting; and video conferencing facilities can reduce the need for travel.
5. Information technology: Information technologies provide access to knowledge and resources on a wide range of topics. The Internet, and its World Wide Web component, is the most prominent example of information technology. The Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) is another example. The ERIC system enables people to search and locate much of the world's educational literature on a given topic. More information about the ERIC System is available elsewhere on this Web site.