The Telecommunication and Technology Sustainability Working Group (TTSWG), an organization that aims to foster actions targeted at the subject of sustainability by coordinating synergy amongst technology and telecommunications stakeholders, has released a publication on its website addressing the lack of equity experienced by people with disabilities when acquiring assistive technology.
The paper focuses on challenges regarding access to assistive technology in Nigeria.
According to Mrs Monilola Udoh, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, said “assistive technology is important at this time as people with disabilities are at a huge disadvantage, and we hope that this publication draws the necessary attention to their needs and engender the required response”.
The pressing need and demand for assistive technology is because it has the ability to provide access to quality education as well as improve health and well-being while reducing inequality.
Unfortunately, of the one billion people estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to need assistive technology globally, only 10 per cent get access to it. It’s even worse in low- and mid-income countries like Nigeria, where national assistive product service delivery does not exist.
The paper goes ahead to emphasize the existing gaps in the delivery of assistive technology to those who need it in Nigeria and highlights how assistive technology is crucial to achieving inclusion of the entire population in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as it prevents specific members of the population (like the poor and elderly) from being isolated in poverty, poor health, and poor quality of life.
Some of the reasons for the lack of equity in the accessibility of assistive technology, as stated by the publication, include; unavailability of resources due to cost, lack of instructor training (in learning environments), lack of sufficient international and local protocols as well as laws regarding people with disabilities, lack of integration by businesses (integrating technology and data to create features that differently-abled individuals would find useful and would enable them to function independently).
Highlighting steps that can be taken to ensure more equitable access to assistive technology, the publication referred to the National Policy on Disability (2006) by the Ugandan Government and how such strategic policies by the government can make a change in the narrative and enable, as well as encourage other stakeholders to make contributions to ensure inclusivity and fairness in providing access to assistive technology.