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16 May 2024
10:00 UK / 05:00 EST

Consensus workshops: Assistive Products Repair [16 May 2024] - prosthetics, orthotics, mobility devices

Two in-person consensus workshops to explore the complexity of repair and maintenance of Assistive Products in the UK, and how it relates to the rest of the value chain (from the industry, commissioners, and users under-represented by current repair strategies - to the barriers to optimising Assistive Products provision).

The challenge

The climate crisis and concerns about environmental sustainability have led to a huge increase in recycling. However, while recycling may recover raw materials used to produce a product, the considerable value added to products through design and manufacture is lost. This represents a major financial and environmental cost, which has focused attention on the importance of repairing existing products: a range of initiatives have been introduced at the enthusiast and community levels, within the larger economy, and at the policy level.

The Right to Repair is being implemented in a growing number of countries. However, the repair of assistive products presents a number of particularly challenging issues for industry, commissioners, and users which are not adequately addressed by current repair strategies. Repair has to be connected with a whole system of production and regulation. It’s a very complex issue to address effectively: no one actor can achieve what is needed. This is a problem not only for the environment. It also represents a huge barrier to optimising the provision of assistive products, and poor repair services impact on users in complex and under-researched ways

Register now for these two full-day, in person workshops to explore these issues in relation to different types of Assistive Products.

The events

These events will be in-person only. They are not hybrid events so there is no option for delegates to join remotely (though overseas guest speakers will be able to present remotely).

Symposium / consensus workshop #1: P&O and mobility devices

  • Date: 16 May 2024
  • Location: Salford University (Media City Campus): Room 3.10 / 3.11, MediaCity B4, Orange Tower, Salford Quays, M50 2HE
  • Time: 10am to 5pm (t.b.c.)
  • Focus: repair of prosthetics and orthotics, and other mobility devices, including walking aids

Symposium / consensus workshop #2: Wheelchairs

  • Date: 21st June 2024
  • Location: UCL, Marshgate (UCL East Campus): 7 Sidings St, London E20 2AE
  • Time: 10am to 5pm (t.b.c.).
  • Focus: repair of wheelchairs

These workshops are a collaboration between UCL’s Global Disability Innovation Hub, along with Salford, Strathclyde, Loughborough and Nottingham Trent Universities as part of the EPSRC funded TIDAL N+ to explore the complexity of repair, production and regulation of Assistive Products (AP) and Assistive Technologies (AT).


Mapping the system

We want to understand what repair means to different people, to build a clearer picture of how these perspectives intersect, and what the value of repair is to each stakeholder. This will enable us to begin to map the actions required and the value of repair across different parts of the system: before we can theorise about solutions, we need to understand the status quo better.

Consensus building

We want to identify future research directions and what actions could be taken to improve the place of repair in the system. We aim to produce a perspective article or blog post based on the discussions that take place.

Building a repair community

From these events we hope to develop, as a community, both a long-term vision for repair and some clear, tangible next steps we could take to get there. This community will continue beyond the workshops, as mechanism to bridge expertise and collaboratively advocate for the importance of repair and maintenance across the AT space.


In these workshops we will explore repair as a system activity.

We will begin with short talks from a range of perspectives on repair. These sessions will be interactive, with an opportunity to ask questions and discuss the issues. There will also be breakout sessions in the afternoon with topical roundtables. Participants will be actively encouraged to share their knowledge, experience and reflections on the talks and related issues, with the intention of developing some next steps on what we can do.

Who are these events for?

We would love you to join us if you have an interest in or knowledge/experience of the following. Professionals, repair enthusiasts and AT users are all welcome:

  • Repairable assistive product design
  • Current NHS clinic-led service models of repair of AT
  • Current private clinic-led service models of repair of AT
  • Current clinic-led service models of repair of AT
  • Informal community-based repair strategies for AT
  • Repair focused initiatives and approaches from other sectors that could be applied to AT
  • The move to product-service systems
  • The impact of repairs on users and/or clinicians
  • Relevant AT repair work in LMICs that we might learn from
  • Any other related area of research or practice

We would particularly encourage the following to attend:

  • Users of assistive technology
  • Clinicians, health professionals and other service providers
  • Manufacturers
  • Designers / engineers
  • Repair enthusiasts / members of the grassroots repair community
  • Start-ups interested in incorporating repair-focused strategies
  • Academics working on repair of AT, or circular economy topics
  • Representatives across the value chain

Do you qualify for reimbursement of travel and accommodation expenses?

If you are a UK-based ECR (less than 5 years post-doc, not counting career breaks such as parental leave), assistive technology user, or member of a grass-roots community repair organisation, and don't have access to funds to cover your travel and accommodation costs, we may be able to make a contribution towards travel costs within the UK and a single night’s accommodation.

  • We have limited funds for this so can't guarantee to meet your travel and accommodation costs, but depending on how many people apply we may be able to meet some or all of the amount.  Funds will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. 
  • If you would like to apply for assistance with travel costs, please let us know the grounds on which you are applying (are you an ECR / AT-user / grass-roots community repair member) and the travel costs for your journeys to and from the event/s, on the registration form (link below).
  • If you would also like to apply for assistance with accommodation costs, please explain why it is not possible for you to get to the venue for 10 am without travelling the day before the event. If you are travelling from Scotland to London we would encourage you to travel overnight on the sleeper train.
  • Costs should normally be for standard class train and/or other public transport. We can't fund first class, air travel, fuel costs or parking, other than in exceptional circumstances. Such circumstances would usually be a disability or a health condition which makes it very difficult or impossible for you to use public transport. If that's the case, you should state that, alongside costs for your chosen means of transport. (You don't have to name your disability or health condition, just state that your disability or health condition means that using public transport is not an option for you.)
  • We can only refund travel costs actually incurred, up to the amount requested, after you have actually attended the event, and will require payment receipts or other proof of payment.
  • If you are relying on us to meet the costs, please do not purchase tickets until we have confirmed whether we can do that. Remember also that we can only reimburse costs after you have actually attended the event. 

Call for short presentations

Would you like to speak at the event? We want to hear from people interested in presenting a short talk at either of these events. Please email a short proposal (~150 words) outlining your topic to no later than 5th April please. This is an in-person event, however overseas speakers will be able to present remotely via Zoom.