Project Type: Research

Themes: Assistive & Accessible Technology

Assistive Technology Need Data Repository

About the project

This project aims to find and present data that inform on the population-level need for assistive products (APs). The methods employed include reviewing literature, extracting data, and entering it into a data repository that will be publicly accessible and informative, particularly to stakeholders in the AT sector. Initially, a standardised set of indicators that measure access to APs was developed and applied when extracting findings from relevant literature and was further instrumental when designing the layout of the data repository. These indicators allow the comparison of findings across different study designs and assessment approaches, generating novel insights between different study settings. Information extracted from the literature and presented in reviews and the repository also align with key terms and definitions utilised in the WHO’s rapid assistive technology assessment survey and the forthcoming World Report on Assistive Technology.

The challenge

A comprehensive understanding of global assistive technology (AT) marketplaces is essential to identify unmet needs, argue for political prioritisation, attract innovation and investment, develop best practices for AT delivery, and ultimately expand access to AT. Yet data on assistive technology (both products and associated services) are challenging to identify and compare, limiting their potential use for informed decision-making. This is the result of barriers at market-level and in the research sector.

A centralised repository of empirical and grey literature would begin to address this multi-faceted problem by mapping what has already been done and what learnings can be applied to settings with knowledge gaps. This foundation can further be used to streamline AT research efforts by identifying underrepresented populations and providing key stakeholders with examples of effective research designs for a particular context. An exhaustive collection of AT literature made accessible by interactive data visualisation and mapping tools, lay summaries, and added detail on study methods, will advance this sector while addressing key data collection gaps.

The research

In the spring of 2020, a systematic literature search was started to capture all records of estimates of AP need or coverage at the population level, globally. A locally hosted data repository was also designed to facilitate data extraction. Records receiving approval during the abstract review were included in a scoping review that focused on study design components and high-level data, characterising the body of existing research in the sector. At present, findings reported in records receiving full text approval, specifically AP indicators, have been extracted and are being collated in a more focused systematic review. After the conclusion of the main work on this review, the client-side of the data repository will be developed to include interactive visualisations and assessed for accessibility.

The outputs

The scoping review will be published in the RESNA journal in a special edition designed as a companion to the 2022 World Report on Assistive Technology. The systematic review is being prepared for submission to academic journals in September 2021.

The data repository’s client-facing side is under development, with a keen aim to present all extracted data through informative visuals that are interactive and accessible to as many as possible. These include maps, figures, tables, and summaries, with further research on the development of these accessible visuals, different users’ interaction experiences, and the role of AI in generating lay-summaries from a set of literature.

Project Partners

GDI researchers are leading this project with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's International Centre for Evidence in Disability and insight from the World Health Organization, with partners at Maynooth University and Universidade de Sao Paulo.


  1. Scoping Review: Danemayer, J., Boggs, D., Smith, E.M., Delgado Ramos, V., Battistella, L., Polack, S., Holloway, C. (Accepted April 2021) Measuring Assistive Technology Supply & Demand. Assistive Technology: The journal of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America.
  2. Systematic Review: Danemayer, J., Boggs, D., Delgado Ramos, V., Smith, E.M., Kular, A., Bhot, W., Ramos, F., Polack, S., Holloway, C. (forthcoming) Estimating need and coverage of five priority assistive products: A systematic review of global population-based research

Project Team

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Emma Smith

Assisted Living and Learning Institute, Department of Psychology, Maynooth University, Maynooth, IE
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Vinicius Delgado Ramos

Hospital das Clinicas HCFMUSP, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, BR
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Dorothy Boggs

International Centre for Evidence in Disability, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
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Sarah Pollack

International Centre for Evidence in Disability, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK