Rapid assistive technology assessment (rATA)
Measuring access to assistive technology in countries
- Collect data: obtain data on population access to assistive technology at a regional, national, or sub-national level;
- Inform policy and programme design: support the design, planning, or prioritizing of assistive technology initiatives;
- Raise awareness: advocate and raise awareness among governments and civil society about the need and unmet need for assistive technology as well as access barriers and facilitators.
The questionnaire was developed based on widely used questionnaires in disability, rehabilitation, and health system studies, and in consultation with global stakeholders in assistive technology, including experts in research, policy making, and program development from both high and low-middle-income countries, and WHO regional and country advisors in disability and health products. The questionnaire was tested in two districts in Bangladesh in 2018, and in Pakistan in 2019. The final rATA questionnaire has been examined for face/construct validity by domain experts.
Successful implementation of rATA requires Government leadership with technical support from the WHO country office, regional office, and WHO headquarters. The government should appoint a national data coordinator to lead the process.
The survey can be implemented by trained enumerators, who may come from various backgrounds and experiences and across cultures and contexts. A digital data collection tool for mobile devices has been developed by WHO to support field data collection using the ArcGIS Survey123, although other digital data collection tools may be used. This interviewer-administered household survey can be used alone, or incorporated into other surveys, and/or in a national census.
The rATA survey tool was first used to inform the first Global report on assistive technology published in 2022. A data collection effort by 1,700 enumerators across 35 countries, who used rATA to interview nearly 330,000 people in 28 languages, provided the first global snapshot of assistive technology access. The data from this data collection initiative carried out from 2019 to 2021, is available on the Global Health Observatory.
To build on the success of the rATA, WHO conducted a consultative review of the 2019 to 2021 rATA implementation process to identify the tools’ strengths, and areas for improvement, and to guide rATA survey refinement for future implementation.
WHO encourages the use of rATA by countries to build both a national and a global understanding of the status of assistive technology access.
Section C of the questionnaire measures the self-reported need for assistive technology and was adapted from the Short Set of Disability Questions developed by the Washington Group on Disability Statistics (WSDS), which has been validated in various studies and used in censuses in 69 countries for measuring functional difficulties. The WSDS has published a report on data collection using the tool from countries in 2018. A recent publication from the World Bank recommended the tool, especially for low- and middle-income countries for measuring functional difficulties.
The questions in sections D and E measure the self-reported current use of assistive technology and a series of queries on how the users of assistive technology access their products and services, as well as their satisfaction with various aspects of the provision and use of their products. The sections also measure the self-reported unmet need for assistive technology. All products on the WHO Priority Assistive Product List are included in the questionnaire to obtain a broad picture of self-reported current use and unmet need for assistive technology.
The rATA survey is currently available in seven languages.