GReAT Summit Summary

Themes: AT2030, Assistive Technology

On the 22nd and 23rd of August 2019 several members of GDI Hub were invited to Geneva to take part in the consultation for the Global Report on Assistive Technology (GReAT) organized by the WHO. The scope of the consultation was to bring together academics, practitioners, policy makers, and assistive technology users from different countries in the world to help shape the content for the Global Report on Assistive Technology that will be published by 2021. The GDI Hub, based on the work carried out as part of the AT2030 programme, contributed to 5 different papers which will form some of the key case studies in the Global Report on Assistive Technology. Here is a brief summary of each of the papers that have been written in collaboration with GDI Hub researchers:

  • AT Innovation Ecosystem Design – A Kenyan Case Study: This paper is based on our work on the development of the Innovate Now Ecosystem in Nairobi. The paper argues that the AT market is particularly difficult to enter for many entrepreneurs and innovators. The combination of lack of funding, complex regulation and a service delivery model that causes AT users and AT customers to often be two different entities (ATs are often bought by insurance companies or national health systems which are not the end users) creates barrier to innovation, ultimately meaning that potential users do not have access to the products they need. Our solution, implemented in the development of the Innovate Now Ecosystem, is a supportive ecosystem that features an accelerator programme to enable entrepreneurs to develop appropriate skills, Live Labs to enable allow for rapid testing of innovations and user feedback, and a scale-up fund to support the most successful innovations
  • Overcoming systematic global barriers to AT: a new methodology and quick-start testing through a £20m programme: This paper summarises the evidence gathered as part of the scoping report on the barriers to AT access, presents the methodology that guides the AT2030 programme of research and shares some of its initial results. Our evidence suggests that barriers to AT access are about far more than just cost. Issues such as undeveloped policy frameworks, inefficient or non-existent markets, poorly resourced services, stigma and discrimination can all prevent or complicate access to ATs for people who need them. To tackle these barriers the AT2030 programme established a mission led approach that sets up a framework for intervention with measurable outcomes that are relevant to end-users and funders alike. As a result of the learning from the first few month of implementation of the programme have resulted in a new Theory of Change where participation is a key element which is employed as a method as well as an outcome.
  • Mobile Phones as Assistive Technologies: Gaps and Opportunities: The research presented in this paper was carried out as a result of the collaboration between GDI Hub and GSMA within the context of the AT2030 programme. This article presents data from a survey with 1000 participants carried out in Kenya to explore how people with disabilities use mobile phones and the impact that mobile technology has on their daily lives. Findings highlight the presence of a mobile gap with many people with disability struggling to acquire and operate mobile phones independently. Most respondents had only access to basic or feature phones that lacked appropriate accessibility features and offered limited functionality. However, participants still described mobile phones as invaluable tools that could increase access to basic services and offer support in many important activities in their daily lives.
  • ATscale – Establishing a Cross-Sector Partnership to Increase Access to Assistive Technology: This paper introduces ATscale – the Global Partnership for Assistive Technology launched at the Global Disability Summit in July 2018, of which GDI Hub is a funding member. ATscale was launched with the aim with the aim of reaching 500 million more people with life-changing AT by 2030. ATscale proposes a twin-track approach that will seek to develop an enabling environment across all ATs on global, regional, and national levels and identify targeted, catalytic interventions to address both supply and demand barriers to access for priority products. This twin-track approach will kick-start ATscale’s work and inform both its coordinated investment strategy and activities in the long-term to ensure that more people worldwide are better able to access the ATs that they need.
  • Applying Market Shaping Approaches to Increase Access to Assistive Technology: Summary of the Wheelchair Product Narrative: The research in this paper was carried out as part of the collaboration between the GDI Hub and the Clinton Health Access Initiative funded by the AT2030 programme. The paper argues that market shaping interventions, strategic actions aimed to ensure that people have access to a different ranges of products at an affordable price and in a stable way, can play a role in increasing access to ATs by coordinating resources from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. A market analysis for manual wheelchairs showed in low-and middle income countries provision is highly fragmented and characterized by limited government interest, investment, and a low willingness-to-pay. Moreover, the market is dominated by cheaper, low quality wheelchairs which fail to meet the needs of end-users. To address these challenges the paper proposes strategies for integration of services, pooling of resources and funding implementation of standards for production and identification of cost effective supply systems.