The Assistive Technology Information Mapping project (AT-Info-Map) was funded by the Google Impact Challenge as one of the ‘big ideas that use technology to expand opportunity and independence for people with disabilities’.
AT-Info-Map’s goal was to map the availability of different types of assistive technology (AT) in 10 countries in Southern Africa. Identifying WHAT types of AT are available and WHERE those products are located sought to serve three purposes:
In Southern Africa, it is estimated that 85–95% of people with disabilities who need AT do not have access. Improving access to AT is a problem that will take concerted effort on many fronts; however, one key challenge at this stage is simply a lack of information about the availability of AT within the target countries. Although information alone will not increase access to AT, its absence is a major barrier to reducing the unmet need.
The Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) in partnership with AfriNEAD and the University of Washington, implemented the AT-Info-Map project in 10 Southern African countries, where they collaborated with national OPDs, government officials, AT providers, and local organizations that serve persons with disabilities.
I led the project team in developing and managing a data system that was used to capture, organize, and map the AT suppliers and AT service providers within the targeted countries using the AT-Info-Map Mobile App and web-based database. The AT-Info-Map app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store here or from the App Store here and installed on your Android or iOS phone, respectively.
Doing this would create the baseline against which increased access to AT can be measured. It would also bring to light the gap between availability and need. Understanding this gap would have the potential to encourage key actors to increase access to AT.