Enable Ireland and the Disability Federation of Ireland have launched a discussion paper on assistive technology for people with disabilities and older people. The paper makes seven recommendations including the introduction of an assistive technology passport to streamline the way in which people gain access to equipment, training and funding
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Enable Ireland and the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) have launched a discussion paper on assistive technology for people with disabilities and older people. Ireland has an underdeveloped assistive technology infrastructure in comparison to other countries, and the paper outlines a vision where everyone with a disability and older people has access to affordable, up to date and appropriate technology that suits their needs.

The paper makes seven recommendations for Government, policy makers and service providers, including the introduction of an assistive technology passport to streamline the way in which people gain access to equipment, training and funding.

Ireland’s Digital Ambassador, Lord David Puttnam, joined the event by video link and praised the initiative as being vitally important to improving the lives of people with disabilities. “I believe in the power of technology to enable people’s lives in ways previously unimaginable. Initiatives like this, along with a lot of determination, are necessary to achieve the enormous potential that technology has to offer people with disabilities,” he said.

“Assistive technology has the potential to support people with disabilities and older people to exercise their human rights and become more active members of society. The current service provision for assistive technology is fragmented and under-resourced to meet the growing needs of this group of citizens. We hope this paper will start a discussion and prompt action on providing a more comprehensive assistive technology service in the future,” said Senator John Dolan, CEO, DFI.

“The assistive technology passport is the foundation upon which we can build a comprehensive assistive technology ecosystem of supports, from quality information provision to assessment, provision of technologies and training support. It has the potential to ensure that those who need assistive technology can get it and, as a result, experience greater autonomy in their own lives,” said Fionnuala O’Donovan, CEO of Enable Ireland.

A national online assistive technology survey was undertaken as part of the research process which informs the recommendations made. A total of 236 assistive technology users responded to the survey. The findings dispel the widely-held belief that it is expensive, with 64 per cent of respondents indicating that they used technology costing less than €1,000. 41 per cent of users reported that they had self-funded their own assistive technology. Respondents were extremely positive on the perceived usefulness of their equipment with 61 per cent reporting that they couldn’t manage without it. However, nearly 30 per cent of respondents experienced frustration and delays in the process of securing their AT. Waiting times were also highly variable, with 54 per cent reporting that they received their assistive technology in three months. However, 15 per cent had to wait over six months and 16 per cent waited in excess of a year.

‘Assistive Technology For People with Disabilities and Older People. A Discussion Paper’ is available at www.enableireland.ie and at www.disability-federation.ie

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Enable Ireland and the Disability Federation of Ireland (DFI) have launched a discussion paper on assistive technology for people with disabilities and older people. Ireland has an underdeveloped assistive technology infrastructure in comparison to other countries, and the paper outlines a vision where everyone with a disability and older people...