SP 1: Research, Evidence and Impact

Led by GDI Hub at UCL with the support of the IIPP, ALL Institute and Leonard Cheshire Disability. Framing the economics of AT around a  mission-led approach; developing a return on  investment framework and researching what  works to overcome stigma.

A group of participants standing next to a chart with sticky notes and handwriting describing uses of various Assisive Technologies

Credits: Angus Stewart


In 2020, a new strand of humanitarian research was incorporated into this sub-programme intended to:

  • Improve understanding of the need for AT in humanitarian settings
  • Compile evidence of current provision and practice across a variety of humanitarian contexts
  • Provide case study examples of ‘what works’
  • Provide recommendations for action by key stakeholders, particularly global humanitarian coordination bodies and actors
  • Disseminate findings through working papers and conference attendance


  • What is Assistive Tech, who is it for, and what does it enable?

    Global Disability Innovation Hub
    Feb. 19, 2023

    When we use the term Assistive Technology (AT), we usually think about products like wheelchairs and walking sticks, hearing aids and eye-glasses, prosthetics and digital or mobile devices. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests a broad definition of assistive technology which emphasises services (diagnostics, fitting, ‘on-demand’ assistance), systems (infrastructure, processes), and products (eyeglasses, hearing aids, mobility aids).

  • Towards Proactive Information Retrieval in Noisy Text with Wikipedia Concepts

    UCL, Tabish Ahmed, Sahan Bulathwela
    Sept. 18, 2022

    This work explores how exploiting the context of a query using Wikipedia concepts can improve proactive information retrieval on noisy text. We formulate two models that use entity linking to associate Wikipedia topics with the relevance model. Our experiments around a podcast segment retrieval task demonstrate that there is a clear signal of relevance in Wikipedia concepts while a ranking model can improve precision by incorporating them.

  • Front cover of the world report on AT, with title text and a bright background Cover Image

    Global Report on Assistive Technology

    UNICEF, World Health Organization
    May 16, 2022

    The WHO-UNICEF Global Report on Assistive Technology (AT) was launched in May 2022. The first of it's kind - the report marked a important milestone for the profile, understanding, impact, prioritisation and reach of AT. Built on much of the work from our UK aid funded AT2030 - which submitted over 150 insight papers and co-sponsoring the report alongside ATscale.

  • Meeting AT needs in humanitarian crises: The current state of provision

    Dr Maria Kett, Golnaz Whittaker, Gavin Adam Wood, Giulia Oggero, Kirstin Lange
    Dec. 24, 2021

    This paper discusses the evidence available in the literature for the scale and quality of AT provision interventions in crises, and what is known about the challenges and facilitators of provision. We conducted a search of the academic literature and retained literature that reported on any form of AT provision following crisis, where international humanitarian response was in place, published in English between January 2010 and June 2020. We conclude by providing recommendations for urgent actions that the AT and humanitarian community must take to fill this critical gap in the provision of essential products and services for a potentially marginalized and excluded group.

  • A Preliminary Study to Understand How Mainstream Accessibility and Digital Assistive Technologies Reaches People in Lower- and Middle-Income Countries

    Catherine Holloway, Katherine Perry, Felipe Ramos Barajas, Dr Ben Oldfrey, Priya Morjaria, Tigmanshu Bhatnagar, George Torrens
    Sept. 30, 2021

    In this study, eight experts were interviewed who are established in the domain of training people with disabilities, advising on policy and facilitating access and Digital AT, and shared their diverse experiences. The insights we assimilate from these conversations should help developers of accessibility and Digital AT solutions to more effectively deliver products and services to those in need.


Headshot of Giulia smiling

Dr Giulia Barbareschi

Researcher in assistive technology
Catherine Holloway

Catherine Holloway

Co-founder, Academic Director of GDI Hub and Associate Professor at UCL’s Interaction Centre.
Maria Kett smiling

Dr Maria Kett

Co-Founder of GDI Hub, Associate Director and Head of Humanitarian and Associate Professor at UCL