Assistive technology has been defined as ‘any product or service that maintains or improves the ability of individuals with disabilities or impairments to communicate, learn and live independent, fulfilling and productive lives’.
Through powerchairs that provide access to the outside world, computer technology that provides a gateway to the online world, and communication aids that quite literally provide a voice, assistance technology has the power to transform the lives of young disabled people.
Despite this, young disabled people struggle to find out what assistive technology may be available to them and how to get it. The assessment process is often complex, time consuming, stressful and unaffordable.
In 2014-2015, Trailblazers surveyed 100 young disabled people, asking about their experiences of using assistive technology. The results were published in our report Switched On.
Our report revealed:
- A third of survey respondents felt isolated because of a lack of assistive technology
- Three-quarters of respondents said they did not have the assistive technology they need because they could not afford to self-fund it
- A third of respondents had to find more than £5000 (either their own money, or asking their families to help) to obtain and maintain the technology they needed
- Over half cited the NHS’ assessment process as being a barrier to obtaining the technology they needed.
Having assistive technology is very useful. It makes my life a lot easier and gives me the freedom to operate a wide variety of devices without the need to rely on anybody. Without assistive technology I don’t think I’d be able to manage things on my own.
Mithun Soul, West Midlands
Trailblazers are calling for:
- the NHS to ensure all young disabled people receive the right equipment, consistently and throughout their lifetime.
- the Government to work with the industry to provide an up-to-date database of assistive technology that is available to the public, is easy for young disabled people to access, use and understand, and which clearly outlines how they can acquire these items of technology.
- the Government to increase health and social care funding towards items of assistive and specialist equipment, so that young disabled people only need to apply to charities for funding as a last resort.
You can read the full report here. Trailblazers continues to campaign on improving access to assistive technology. If you are affected by these issues and would like to share your experiences or be a media ambassador, contact us here.
If you would like to apply for a grant towards assistive technology equipment you can find out more here.