About the Southern Africa AT Database
This Assistive Technology (AT) Database is one key component of the Assistive Technology Information Mapping Project (AT-Info-Map). The AT-Info-Map is funded by the Google Impact Challenge to make the world more accessible for persons with disabilities by increasing access to assistive technologies. Attainment of most human rights affecting persons with disabilities may not be achieved without high-quality affordable assistive products and/or information thereof globally.
AT includes a wide range of technology products that are used to support persons with disabilities as they work, learn, play and live in their communities. Some examples of AT include: crutches, wheelchairs, ramps, hearing aids, Braille printers, adaptive software, communication devices, just to mention a few. This project serves to map the current availability of different types of AT in ten countries in Southern Africa, and works with local disability organizations to address gaps in AT availability.
In southern Africa, it is estimated that 85-95% of people with disabilities who need assistive technology (AT) do not have access to it. Without information on availability of AT, these needs will continue to go unmet. It is in this context that the AT-Info-Map project was initiated in April 2016 to help redress the existing information gap in the immediate term, and help improve access to AT by persons with disabilities in Southern Africa and beyond.
The four lead partners implementing the AT-Info-Map project are the Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD); the African Network for Evidence–to–Action in Disability (AfriNEAD), and the University of Washington.
This innovative project is currently capturing, organizing, and mapping availability of AT in 10 countries in Southern Africa using a mobile data system. Within the 3-year contract period, we recruited field officers – also known as admins – in Angola, Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These admins helped us collecte data and feedinto the mobile app. Through this mobile data system, we aim to inform AT designers, producers, service providers, and policymakers about the local availability of AT so that we can influence the increase in access to AT for people with disabilities.
The development of the AT-Info-Map App inspired the idea of developing a web-based AT Database in the first quarter of 2018, which mirrors the mobile app in terms of content, listings of AT suppliers and AT service providers, mapping of such information on the Google map, just to mention a few. The rationale was to provide users with multiple options so that they are able to access the same information they would access via mobile app through the website. So te web database compliments the mobile app.
The idea to develop the online database was as a result of the consultations with various stakeholders during the App design, which involved multiple rounds of data gathering and synthesis, as part of the iterative process of App design and testing. Synthesis documents were reviewed and analyzed by presenters to identify and organize the lessons learned. We recognize that AT-Info-Map is a groundbreaking project in Southern Africa, hence the need to ensure that it reaches out to as many users as possible, as well as stakeholders such as governments, Disabled Peoples Organizations (DPOs), policy makers/planners, researchers, etc.
To learn about assistive technology and the 17 categories of AT that we have used to group different types of AT in this database/project, please access the click here.
To learn about the four categories we have used to describe and group the AT-related services that are provided by DPOs and other disability service organizations, please click here.