Developing inclusive and resilient systems: COVID-19 and assistive technology
Emma M. Smith, Malcolm MacLachlan, Ikenna D. Ebuenyi, Catherine Holloway & Victoria Austin
While the inadequacies of our existing assistive technology systems, policies, and services have been highlighted by the acute and rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, these failures are also present and important during non-crisis times. Each of these actions, taken together, will not only address needs for more robust and resilient systems for future crises, but also the day-to-day needs of all assistive technology users. We have a responsibility as a global community, and within our respective countries, to address these inadequacies now to ensure an inclusive future.
Assistive technology is a critical component of maintaining health, wellbeing, and the realization of rights for persons with disabilities. Assistive technologies, and their associated services, are also paramount to ensuring individuals with functional limitations have access to important health and social service information, particularly during a pandemic where they may be at higher risk than the general population. Social isolation and physical distancing have further marginalized many within this population. We have an opportunity to learn from the COVID-19response to develop more inclusive and resilient systems that will serve people with disabilities more effectively in the future. In this Current Issues piece, we present a starting point for discussion, based on our experiences working to promote access to assistive technologies through inclusive and sustainable systems and policies.
Disability & Society; 2020