May 19, 2021
Assistive Technology is an umbrella term related to the delivery of assistive products and services, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, and eyeglasses. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over one billion people worldwide need assistive technology, a number predicted to double by 2050. Yet, only about one tenth of the people who need these products – to learn, work, or fully participate in society – have access to them, with the gap most prominent in low- and middle-income countries. In many of these countries, assistive technology is directly donated by charities. As a result, service delivery is highly fragmented, often running in parallel to public systems and relying on donor funding that may not be sustainable.
CHAI is supporting global stakeholders towards a unified strategy for better access to assistive technology. Under the UK Aid-funded AT2030 programme, which is led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub, and to support ATscale, the Global Partnership for Assistive Technology, CHAI completed market analyses on five products and related services – wheelchairs, hearing aids, prosthetics, eye glasses, and personal digital devices – to understand what interventions may be required to support access globally and in countries. The assessments expanded the understanding of low- and middle-income country challenges and investment opportunities to provide assistive technology to those who need it.
CHAI is also working with governments to set up and strengthen systems that can create sustainable demand for appropriate assistive products. We are working with governments in ten countries, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Uganda. CHAI supports the development of data systems, national policies and strategies, procurement guidelines, product and provision standards, as well as implementing government-led programs and market-oriented interventions aimed at improving accessibility and affordability of assistive technology.