The Project

The Assistive Technology Information Mapping project (AT-Info-Map) was funded by the Google Impact Challenge as one of the ‘big ideas that will use technology to expand opportunity and independence for people with disabilities’.

AT-Info-Map is a 3 year project (2016-2019) that has the goal of mapping 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 will serve three purposes:

  • Connecting persons with disabilities to the available AT near their community,
  • Supporting key actors in identifying AT needs. Key actors include public AT providers (clinics, community health centers, secondary and tertiary hospitals, schools), civil society, government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), disabled people organizations (DPOs) and businesses,
  • Informing AT suppliers, manufacturers, and designers of unmet public demand.

The Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) in partnership with AfriNEAD, University of Washington, and Dimagi are the four lead partners implementing the AT-Info-Map project. Within each of the 10 SAFOD countries, national DPOs, government officials, AT providers, and local organizations that serve persons with disabilities are invited to participate in implementation.

Assistive technology (AT) includes a wide range of technology products (often called devices or aids) that are used to improve mobility, hearing, vision, communication, and learning. The definition used in the World Disability Report is, “Any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially, off-the-shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” (United States Congress, 2004).

Examples of AT products include devices designed to improve functioning, enhance independence, improve quality of life, and restore human dignity for people with disabilities including:

  • Daily living and self-care – adaptive aids and utensils for a variety of functions (cooking, gardening, working, etc.),
  • Mobility – prosthetics, wheelchairs, crutches,
  • Hearing – hearing aids, speech-text software,
  • Vision – eye glasses, screen readers,
  • Communication – voice amplifiers, communication cards,
  • Learning – memory aids, reading software.

AT is provided through a wide variety of public and private organizations and institutions within the health, education or employment sectors.