Assistive Technology in Two Humanitarian Contexts, Bangladesh and Jordan
Despite increased focus on the need for assistive technology (AT), along with estimates of need and gaps in provision in humanitarian contexts, very little is actually known about how people who need AT are managing in these contexts. To address this need, this study explored four main questions:
- What do we currently know about the need for AT in humanitarian contexts?
- How is this need currently met?
- What gaps are there in the evidence about these needs?
- What mechanisms are needed to ensure provision of AT in humanitarian contexts?
It explored these questions through individual interviews with AT users and their families, as well as people working in the sector, in two humanitarian response contexts: Bangladesh and Jordan. In Bangladesh, we partnered with CBM Global and their local partner, the Centre for Disability in Development, and in Jordan, all those interviewed were beneficiaries of HelpAge International.
The questions focused on the areas identified as gaps in the initial literature review, and used qualitative methodologies to probe and gain further insight into gaps across the entire AT ecosystem.
The research found that it is clear that the provision of AT (in this case mainly assistive devices) is ad hoc, and largely related to the access, availability and focus of NGO-funded projects in camps or communities. This is perhaps unsurprising, given the general level of access to goods and services by refugees in both these settings. When it was available, for many of those interviewed, AT had a positive impact on their lives. However, devices alone cannot ensure wider inclusion – for that, there still needs to be attitudinal change,environmental adaptations, better provision of resources (including rehabilitation) and much wider awareness about the policies and legislation that support the rights of persons with disabilities, including those who have crossed an international border to seek safety and security.
However, there is still very little research around the nexus between social protection and humanitarian responses, particularly for persons with disabilities. Turning inclusion into action requires more connected thinking on joining up social assistance.