Assistive technology service providers help individuals with disabilities acquire and use appropriate Assistive Technology (AT) to help them participate in activities of daily living, employment and education, just to mention a few.
Assistive technology service providers may specialize in several areas of assistive technology, including assistive technology repair, job accommodations, computer accessibility, sign language, vehicle modifications, architectural modifications and home modifications, augmentative and alternative communication, environmental controls, positioning devices, seating and mobility, sensory aids, and learning accommodations. They may be affiliated with hospitals, state vocational rehabilitation programs, schools, assistive technology companies, or disability organizations.
A service provision may include analysis of the needs of consumers with disabilities, assists in selection of appropriate assistive technology for the consumerâ€™s needs, and provides training in the use of the selected device(s). As far as the AT-Info-Map project is concerned, our main focus is on services that directly impact on the lives of persons with disabilities, and we refer to those services mostly provided by disability organizations. It is in this context that we use term â€œDisability Servicesâ€.
Again, for purposes of the AT-Info-Map project, we have grouped disability services into four main categories as follows:
|Advocacy & support||At AT-Info-Map, we
believe in empowerment, advocacy, and self-advocacy of persons
with disabilities. Throughout the project, we have documented
quite a number of lessons for enhancing access to AT in the
region. Most of the lessons are directly and indirectly linked
to policy issues.
For example, we have found that in most countries in sub-Sahara Africa, the high cost of AT results in governments and other buyers purchasing fewer or selected products only. Advocating for increased budget specifically for AT in different sectors has been identified as one of the solutions, but which involves significant policy changes. We also seek to advocate for government/policy makers to mainstream the provision of AT through all relevant government departments. We are advocating for ongoing training of AT service providers on best practices regarding AT products and provision. We are advocating for many other strategies that focus on increasing access to AT in the region. To achieve this, different disability persons' organizations, advocacy services, parent support groups, can play an important advocacy role; hence we have identified â€œadvocacy & supportâ€ as one of the four categories of the disability services.
|Rehabilitation services||A person with
disability must be able to manage his or her use of the
assistive technology, depending on the nature of the task. The
greater the mastery of the tools, the greater the likelihood
that he or she will be able to handle more complex or
anxiety-inducing tasks as well. So this is where rehabilitation
plays a critical role.
The world Heath Organizations (WHO) defines rehabilitation as â€œa set of measures that assist individuals who experience, or are likely to experience, disability to achieve and maintain optimal functioning in interaction with their environmentsâ€.
The AT-Info-Map seeks to work with all stakeholders involved in the provision rehabilitation services, such as occupational, physical, speech-language therapists, as we believe that assistive technology cannot provide all answers to questions related to independent without a robust rehabilitation system.
|Schools & job training||Special schools, skill development,
employment training are some of the examples where assistive
technology play a critical role. Persons with disabilities
require different types of AT to enable them function in school,
and in workplaces.
The AT-Info-Map seeks to promotes awareness and accessibility in both schools and workplaces to maximize the potential of individuals with disabilities.
|Accessibility services||The AT-Info-Map is
committed to the principle accessibility and we believe that
that no person with a disability shall, on the basis of
disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the
benefit of services, programs or activities that enhance their
Accessibility and disability services seek to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure equal access to services, programs and activities in the communities in Southern Africa. Accessibility services include sign language interpreters, closed captioning, Braille printing, just to mention a few examples.