Seeking information about assistive technology: Exploring current practices, challenges, and the need for smarter systems
Ninety percent of the 1.2 billion people who need assistive technology (AT) do not have access. Information seeking practices directly impact the ability of AT producers, procurers, and providers (AT professionals) to match a user's needs with appropriate AT, yet the AT marketplace is interdisciplinary and fragmented, complicating information seeking. We explored common limitations experienced by AT professionals when searching information to develop solutions for a diversity of users with multi-faceted needs. Through Template Analysis of 22 expert interviews, we find current search engines do not yield the necessary information, or appropriately tailor search results, impacting individuals’ awareness of products and subsequently their availability and the overall effectiveness of AT provision. We present value-based design implications to improve functionality of future AT-information seeking platforms, through incorporating smarter systems to support decision-making and need-matching whilst ensuring ethical standards for disability fairness remain.