A scoping review of quality guidelines for Assistive Technology provision
The definition of ‘Assistive Technology’ (AT) includes both assistive products and the services or actions necessary for safe and effective provision of the assistive products to people who need them. International standards and product specifications exist for assistive products. Despite huge unmet need for effective AT provision, a variety of service delivery models across different countries, and a shortage of personnel trained in this field, no widely useable and accepted AT service provision guidelines currently exist. Aligned with contemporary global initiatives to improve access to AT, a scoping review was commissioned to inform the development of globally useable provision guidance. The aim was to deliver a rapid scoping review of the literature regarding quality guidelines for AT service provision.
The rapid scoping review utilised a two-tiered approach to identifying relevant publications: 1) systematic search of academic databases; 2) consultation with assistive technology organisations. The review was conducted in March 2023 across four databases (Medline, CINAHL, SCOPUS and Google Scholar) with no date limitations. Systematic outreach to international and global AT networks was used to access expert informants. Non-English publications were included utilizing Google Translate and support from expert informants to verify content. Analysis was guided by the body of work on quality AT provision and service delivery processes in Europe, as well as the World Health Organization-GATE 5P framework for strengthening access to AT.
The search strategies yielded 41 publications from diverse countries, and directed at differing assistive products, personnel and provision contexts. Results are reported from the charted data through to the data extraction framework, including type of publication, study design, audience and reach. We report on the type of AT and the AT provision ecosystem elements discussed, and service delivery process or steps and quality criteria service delivery.
This review did not find established guidelines or standards for service provision, but it did identify key service delivery steps which may form part of such guidelines, and many of the publications included mentioned the need for practice guidelines. Despite different contexts such as type of assistive product, recipient of the guidance, language, location and authorship, core elements of AT provision including service delivery steps can be identified. Consideration regarding the nuances of vocabulary, of process, and of enabling flexible foci, is recommended in systematizing globally applicable guidance. This review offers a strong starting point for developing guidance for assistive technology provision to meet global need.
Read a summary from GAATO: Summary of Scoping review of quality guidelines for Assistive Technology provision