Disabled People’s Rights And Their Access To Assistive Tech

Many people with disabilities do not have access to assistive technology, which can mean the difference between feeling included in any type of activity and being excluded. Assistive products for low-vision are unavailable to 200 million people who have low vision. More than 75% of low-income countries lack trained orthotic professionals even though 75 million people need wheelchairs.

The critical factors that impede access to assistive technology include the geographical location of the people with disabilities, technology accessibility, and financial means. Improving access to assistive technology can help millions worldwide live happier and more independent lives due to these factors and others.

The right to access assistive tech

The Business Disability Forum recently released a report titled “Assistive Technology In Employment” focused on providing employment within the United Kingdom. The submission led to a fascinating idea shift, suggesting that perhaps the world has reached the point where assistive technology can no longer be seen as a privilege but a right. A “lifelong provision” approach would be more appropriate and relevant, relying on the welfare system and educational outreach programs. This model is already in use in the U.K.

The Motability Scheme, which the submission directly references, allows people who receive higher rate disability benefits due to their significant mobility impairments to lease cars (including specialist vehicle adaptations), scooters, or power wheelchairs. It would seem logical to extend this option for people with special needs who need assistance with their computers at home. In addition, providing access to online information, education, commerce, and leisure services, might assist in closing the disability employment gap.

Unfairness in disability schemes

The digital divide provides a historical framework by which to identify current disparities in the provision of technology and AT to African Americans with disabilities in the United States. Digital inequality reflects long standing social inequalities affecting how citizens believe and expect ICT to impact their lives. Research reveals that the digital divide allows historically privileged groups and economically advantaged individuals to gain greater access to the Internet and assistive technologies. In the U.K., a benefit sanction policy which requires claimants, including those with disabilities and long-term difficulties, to seek employment and report back, is also in place.

By assuming a standard but failing to provide at least the necessary tools, unfairness has already arisen, especially in an environment where two tiers of workers exist, those who can purchase specialist software and others who do not. Often, people may not even be aware that tools exist to boost their quality of life, much less access them.

The role of donations

Medical equipment, including crutches, braces, boots, and walkers, are often necessary when someone becomes injured. Even though it’s usually a wonderful feeling when those devices are no longer required, one may not always know what to do with old orthotics after the injury is healed. To someone in need, users can make a world of difference by donating. A disabled student who receives orthotics can attend school, gain employment through education, and participate actively in their community and family.

In the U.S., orthopedic supplies are accepted by two national organizations, Samaritan’s Purse, and MedShare. Materials can be shipped in either case, but a donation form must be filled out before accepting the materials. Across the world, people can make donations to their local Goodwill or Salvation Army chapter or the neighborhood church, senior center, community center, or shelter.

A comfortable quality of life for seniors and disabled people is dependent on their ease of accessibility to assistive technology. Despite this fact, no adequate systems, policies, or infrastructures exist to ensure that all people with disabilities have access to the appropriate technology. Donations, fundraising, political advocacy, and other approaches can be taken by individuals and organizations to create positive change.

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