GREAT: Selfsustainable Assistive & Accessible Technology for Low Resource Settings

Catherine Holloway, Vicki Austin
Dec. 1, 2019

Great Summit Submission Theme 9: ‘Effective Access to AT’, overcoming systematic global barriers to AT: a new methodology and quick-
start testing through a £20m programme.

Between March and June 2018, the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI) led a consortium tasked by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) with comprehensively scoping the barriers to Assistive Technology (AT) access in order to inform the design of a
significant new global programme. This paper summarises the evidence examined in that Scoping Report; presents the methodology it proposed; and shares the early findings for the subsequent £20m funded programme, called ‘AT2030 – Access to Assistive Technology for
All’.

The Scoping Report sought to unpick the multi-layered and multi-faceted ways in which economic, social, and political factors interact to create barriers to AT for those who need it the most. The team used a mixed-methods approach which was necessarily flexible and
iterative, bringing in expertise from the broad partnership.

The data showed that the challenge of AT access represents a complex web of market and system failures, compounded by a lack of participation from AT users, that results in a supply/demand mismatch affecting almost a billion people. This makes AT access one of the
most pressing global challenges. Because of poor data on use, need and impact this ‘wicked problem’ is largely hidden from view to all but those facing the daily struggles its absence creates. Yet at an individual, family and community level there is no doubt at all about the
implications of lack of access to appropriate AT; isolation, economic and social exclusion, poor physical and mental health, and reduced life expectancy. Our evidence suggests that barriers to AT access are about far more than just cost. Issues such as undeveloped policy
frameworks, inefficient or non-existent markets, poorly resourced services, stigma anddiscrimination all play a role, often with a gender impact.

The Scoping Report proposed that the resulting global programme (AT2030) trial strategic interventions based on the principles of: building a global mission-led approach; generating better research and data; piloting market-shaping activity; delivering systems strengthening
interventions; harnessing innovation; and building community participating and capacity. Findings from the first ten months of delivery have reinforced and confirmed the need for a mission-led approach to AT, embedded within a normative framework of social
development.