Mapping AT information to increase access to AT
SAFOD will work with partners and a variety of AT stakeholders in each country to increase access to assistive technology (AT) for people with disabilities. The first strategy will be to create an information system on a mobile phone (App) that collects information on the availability and location of AT within each country in Southern Africa.
This information will help AT designers, producers and providers better meet the local demands, and increase awareness about what AT is and is not available in each region.
Alongside the App, SAFOD will also work to better understand the barriers experienced by people with disabilities in accessing AT and develop solutions to address these barriers.
Our technology partner, Dimagi, will use their technology system (CommCare) to create a customized App that collects and provides information about AT availability in Southern Africa.
CommCare is open source, designed for use in low-resource settings, and a flexible system that can be easily modified to meet the needs of different users.
- Information can be collected through all types of cell phones, tablets, or computers.
- Information will be stored and displayed online.
- Information is collected by asking users a series of questions.
- Questions can be asked and answered in text or through an audio recording.
- Questions can be asked in the local language.
The information that will be collected and displayed will be customized to meet the needs of each country where the project is implemented.
For example, the Ministry of Health may want to see what types of AT are available across the entire country, while a person with a disability may want to know where is the nearest place she can find a pair of crutches.
What is the project plan?
The project was launched in April 2016 in Botswana where SAFOD is headquartered.
The first year involves designing and testing the technology system with a small group of participants to ensure it is useful and understandable by both consumers of AT and organizations involved in supplying AT.
In the second and third year of the project, the lessons learned from Botswana will be used to expand the use of the system throughout Botswana and into nine countries in Southern Africa (Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, and Namibia).
What is the potential impact?
Within 3 years, the AT-Info-Map system plans to have over 1500 active users across Southern Africa who are providing information on AT availability.
Long-term, the project aims to help increase and improve AT access for the 11.5 million people with disabilities who reside in Southern Africa.