Navigating the AT Ecosystem as Users: Findings from IDA’s Assistive Technology Survey

International Disability Alliance, Global Disability Innovation Hub
March 27, 2024
AT2030 Resources

Assistive technology (AT) plays a pivotal role in transforming the lives of persons with disabilities, offering a pathway to increased independence, enhanced participation and inclusion, and improved overall quality of life. In settings where access to resources and services may be constrained, AT emerges as a critical enabler, bridging gaps in accessibility and fostering inclusive societies.

The potential of AT in everyday life extends far beyond overcoming physical and communication barriers. It has the potential to act as a catalyst for societal transformation, empowering persons with disabilities to advocate for their rights and inclusion across various aspects of life.

Despite the increased efforts to drive AT user participation and engagement, there is still a large gap in the amount, type and quality of data required to understand the scale and nature of the challenges experienced with several contributing factors. Moreover, there is a significant difference in the availability of assistive technology worldwide. Those with broader access to AT (mainly located in the Global North) face different challenges to those with less access to AT, who are largely located in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). The former
generally tend to have far greater global advocacy reach, power, and influence.

To bridge the stated gap in collecting data specific to LMICs, and assessing access to AT, IDA and GDI Hub developed an online survey with focused dissemination efforts across LMICs. The survey aimed to collect data on the general prevalence of assistive products and AT need among AT users and potential users, and identifying the barriers that limit the access to AT in LMICs.

This report is the collective work of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub).

The International Disability Alliance is an Alliance of global and regional organisations of persons with disabilities who advocate at the United Nations for a more inclusive global environment for everyone. IDA brings together over 1,100 organisations of persons with disabilities and their families from across eight global and six regional networks. IDA promotes the inclusion of persons with disabilities across global efforts to advance human rights and sustainable development and supports organisations of persons with disabilities to hold their governments to account and advocate for change locally, nationally, and internationally.

This report was part of a project with the Global Disability Innovation Hub, as part of AT2030, a programme funded by UK Aid and led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub. AT2030 will test ‘what works’ to improve access to AT and will invest £20m to support solutions to scale. With a focus on innovative products, new service models, and global capacity support, the program will reach 9 million people directly and 6 million more indirectly to enable a lifetime of potential through life-changing assistive technology.

This work received additional support from ATscale, which supported webinars and in-person workshops which greatly increased the responses to this survey. This report, and its base survey, also benefitted greatly from the contributions of the IDA-GDI Hub AT User Fellows, namely Ahmed Abdallah, Banya Ojok, Elizabeth Campos, Nayem Molla, and Yusra Gilani. Several user testers from IDA’s community of practice supported the enhancement of this survey, with their contributions making the survey accessible to numerous respondents.The views expressed in this report are those of the International Disability Alliance and GDI Hub and do not necessarily reflect the perspectives of the donor organizations. Any responsibility for any errors, interpretations, or omissions lies solely with the author(s).

A word version of the report can be found on the IDA's website.