Assistive Technology

This page features disability news on Assistive Technology from the Debrief Library. See also news on other subjects.


Sony launches point-and-shoot camera for people with vision disabilities. (Mar, Disability Insider)

HearX hearing care by community health workers using digital technologies. (Feb, AT2030)

AT Venture Fund Playbook “This playbook was designed to help current and future fund operators and ventures learn from the work of the Assistive Technology Impact Fund (ATIF). It aims to share lessons from launching a fund in a nascent sector and working with a small portfolio of assistive technology ventures.” (Jan, AT Impact Fund)

COVID-19, access and assistive technology: The need for preparedness (Dec, Global Social Policy)

Digital Planet audio feature on is disability tech delivering? (no transcript, Aug, BBC)

Marketing Matters on how AT startups need to invest in marketing (Jul, AT2030)

The Global Report on Assistive Technology: a new era in assistive technology (Jun, Assistive Technology)

Making the direct to consumer model work for Assistive Technology warns about “unintended charitable consequences”:

“AT distribution that depends on charitable and philanthropic funding are highly vulnerable to financial cuts and changes in priorities. What’s more, AT distribution cannot be a one-off event like a vaccination camp. Distributed AT must be maintained, adapted and changed as the needs of the user change. Few charitable models are able to accommodate such a model- over time, people can be left with AT that is no longer fit for purpose, and disillusioned as to its value.” (Jul, AT2030)

A scoping review of Technologies Measuring Manual Wheelchair Propulsion Metrics (May, Assistive Technology)

From WHO and UNICEF, a Global Report on Assistive Technology. From the press release:

“A new report published today by WHO and UNICEF reveals that more than 2.5 billion people need one or more assistive products, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, or apps that support communication and cognition. Yet nearly one billion of them are denied access, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where access can be as low as 3% of the need for these life-changing products.” (May, WHO and UNICEF)

See also comment from WHO and CBM Global.

Interesting discussion on Center for Inclusive Policy on Why is access to assistive technology not a global priority? (May, CIP)

What do you call technology that's meant to be assistive but isn't? This essay explores the term Disability Dongle coined by Liz Jackson to refer to well intended but useless “solutions“. The essay explores experience of what happens when the authors call out these technologies and how their idea has spread. (Apr, Platypus)

Evidence brief on promoting access to assistive technology for individuals with disabilities in Low- and Middle-Income Settings. "Limited access to assistive technology is exacerbated by the lack of awareness about assistive technology and what the technology can offer to people with disabilities". (Dec, Disability Evidence Portal)

A systematic review of global population-based research Estimating need and coverage for five priority assistive products. “The finding of high unmet need (>60%) for each of the five APs emphasises the need to secure political prioritisation and funding to expand access to AT globally.” (Jan, BMJ Global Health)

A new book Disability Interactions: Creating Inclusive Innovations "focuses on the interactions people have with their technologies and the interactions which result because of technology use" (Dec, Morgan Claypool)

TIDAL N+ "Transformative Innovation in the delivery of Assisted Living Products and Services" - "building a transdisciplinary network" (Jan, GDI)

UNICEF to introduce 24 new assistive products into the global Supply Catalogue. "Through global tenders, UNICEF and WHO have been able to negotiate low-cost prices which will ensure these highly technical and specialized pieces of equipment can be quickly and easily ordered by field teams, partners, and governments." (Dec, UNICEF)

Measuring assistive technology supply and demand a scoping review (Dec, Assistive Technology Journal)


Emerging African Ecosystems for assistive technology: “companies must not only be an expert in AT (not an easy feat), but also need to master financing, hiring, logistics and distribution, warehousing, both physical and digital advertising, customer services”. (Aug, AT2030)


Meeting rising demand for disability devices. “Limited access to assistive technologies such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, mobility and communication devices, and a lack of trained workers remain significant challenges in meeting the needs of people with disabilities and the elderly in the Asia Pacific region.” (Sep, Eco-Business)


A scoping review of assistive technology needs, access and coverage and related barriers and facilitators. “The three key elements significantly affecting the capacity of AT systems to deliver appropriate services to potential users were the relative accessibility of the systems themselves, their financial affordability for users and the acceptability of different APs.” (Jul, Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology)


Nina’s story: How assistive technology is improving her quality of life (Jun, WHO)


Who Pays the Price When Cochlear Implants Go Obsolete? “Some cochlear implant users can’t afford to keep up with compulsory technology upgrades. After becoming dependent on the devices, they’re losing their hearing and feel abandoned by manufacturers.” (Mar, Sapiens)

Sensory Futures: Deafness and Cochlear Implant Infrastructures in India:

“In this book, I attend to becoming normal, specifically in relation to sensory normality. I argue that normalization leads to, and is a form of, narrowing. Becoming normal—a key promise of cochlear implant technology—constrains people’s sensory, modal, and relational engagements. Normative sensory configurations and communicative practices based on listening and spoken language are the desired outcomes after cochlear implantation. These desired outcomes are tethered to ideas and ideals about a “right way” to sense, communicate, and relate to others. The Indian state, families of deaf children, medical professionals, and educators, among other stakeholders, increasingly expect that these normative outcomes will occur. They work to foreclose other outcomes for deaf individuals, such as becoming sign language users or orienting to others through vision and touch. As cochlear implants become more ubiquitous in India, sensory, modal, and relational possibilities for deaf children and those with whom they engage diminish. Sensory normality, as a desired goal and outcome, results in a contraction rather than an expansion of ways of engaging with the world.” (Jun, Manifold)

From Hoping to Expecting: Cochlear Implantation and Habilitation in India (Feb, Cultural Anthropology)

Food Delivery Service With A Difference: This Motorised Wheelchair “Gives Wings To People With Disabilities” (Jun, NDTV)


Self-taught Kenyan cousins invent bio-robotic prosthetic limbs. (Jan, Mail&Guardian)


Relevance of assistive technology and the sustainable development goals to stakeholder organizations. “The cross-cutting nature of the relevance of AT underscores the importance of cross-ministerial cooperation and shared leadership in provision AT.” (Nov, Global Health Action)

Age related increase in impairment across the life course: the use of Zomba curves to estimate assistive technology needs.


The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development recently developed a four-year national roadmap on local production of standard assistive technologies for persons with disabilities. (Aug, Inclusive News)


‘Without a wheelchair my life would be useless’: Zahida Quereshi, whose organization provides thousands of custom wheelchairs. (Oct, the Guardian)


UNICEF supplies hundreds of children with life-changing hearing aids “UNICEF was able to significantly reduce the prices for these quality devices, providing them to the Government of Rwanda for $118. At this point in time, the same hearing aid can cost as much as $2,000 if buying it commercially within Rwanda.” (Jun, UNICEF)

South Africa

The effects of cognitive effort on academic performance of learners with cochlear implants. “The study highlights that cognitive effort of learners with cochlear implants influenced their capabilities to multitask and retain information”. (Oct, African Journal on Disability)


New tech glasses made in Türkiye aim to benefit persons with disability. (Jan, Daily Sabah)

United States

A Bride’s Prosthesis Made Not to Blend In, but to Shine. (Jan, New York Times)

This researcher builds ‘cool stuff for blind people.’ He’s also trying to help transform society. (Oct, PBS)

3D printing allows blind chemists to visualise scientific data. (Aug, Chemistry World)

Elderly and Disabled Assistive Devices Market Size report by Acumen (Jul, Global Newswire)

Disability At Home practical solutions and photographs that “document the ingenuity and creativity that caregivers and disabled people, including those with chronic illnesses, use every day to make home accessible.” (Laura Mauldin)

This is old, but I liked seeing this wheelchair kitted-out to plow snow with tracks and an attached blade. (2016, WOWT 6 News)