Making Decisions Regarding Assistive Technologies
Since so many of us have a difficult time choosing an appropriate assistive technology device for ourselves or our loved ones, here are some helpful guidelines put together by the Illinois Assistive Technology Project in Springfield, Illinois.  Use these questions to think about what will help you or your family members make better decisions about using an assistive technology device. 
Deciding on Assistive Technology That's Right for You
Figuring out what device will work best for you can be easier if you follow these steps:
1. Conduct your own AT needs assessment
Get a better understanding of what AT can do for you. By answering these questions, you will be able to effectively communicate your AT needs to a health professional.
  • Why do you want to use AT? Examples: To increase independence; to improve quality of life; to increase productivity at work or in school; to enhance function; to save energy; other. 
  • For what activities will you be using AT? Examples: complete homework for school; use database at work; transportation; answer the telephone; eating; communicate with others; other.
  • How are you completing these activities now? Consider: any technologies you're using to complete these activities; the different types of equipment that could be used to complete them; your level of independence in completing them and the amount of assistance required; as well as the amount of energy you spend.
  • Consider your daily routine. When and how often would you use AT throughout a typical day? Examples: 1-3 hours; 3-6 hours; 6-9 hours; 9 + hours.
  • What goals do you plan on achieving by using AT? Examples: Use computer to surf the Internet or check email; drive car to work; communicate independently; other. 
  • Consider where, as in what environment you'll be using AT. Examples: home; workplace; school; community; other. Are these environments accessible for AT? Consider: Whether assistance is required for setting up the AT; whether the AT can be easily transported to the desired environment.
  • Picture yourself using AT to complete your activities in your environment(s). Consider: How you will feel about the equipment aesthetically; how you will feel using this equipment with family, friends, coworkers and others; if you can realistically see yourself using the AT.
2. Physician's referral
You must have a physician's referral before you can be evaluated for AT by an Occupational or Physical Therapist for medical purposes. You will also need a physician's referral if seeking a speech generating device out of medical necessity. You may not need a physician referral for other types of evaluations.
3. Evaluation 
You may be asked several of the questions listed in the needs assessment (above). In addition the evaluator may test range of motion, strength, endurance, coordination, positioning, vision, hearing, communication skills, cognitive skills, psycho social issues, or other areas relevant to you and your specific AT product. 
4. Intervention/Trial
The intervention phase may or may not be a part of the evaluation. In this phase, the professional will arrange for you to try some equipment. During an AT trial, the professional is looking to see how functional you are with the use of the equipment and whether or not you like using it. 
The professional may adjust the equipment or modify your positioning to find out what works best for you. After you and the professional determine the appropriate piece of equipment for you, the professional writes a report and letter of justification for funding. The report, letter of justification and prescription (if necessary) are forwarded to the funding source.
5. Training/Modification
Once the equipment arrives, the evaluator or the equipment vendor usually provides the training. A Rehabilitation Technologist may be present as well to make any equipment modifications. During the training session, the professional may adjust the equipment, arrange for follow-up visits and indicate who should be contacted for questions, repairs and servicing. The amount of training provided varies according to the type of equipment, your individual abilities and the amount of training covered by your funding source(s). 
Other Resources:
Tips for Choosing AT Products for YourselfGuide produced by AbleData.