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Technology Access in Resource-Limited Environments

Whirlwind Wheelchair International (WWI) is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities in the developing world. Whirlwind is a program of the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, San Francisco State University.

Responding to an undeniable need for non-anecdotal information on which to base the development of new assistive technology (AT) programs as well as the need to encourage governments to fund them, WWI formed a research group. The members, chosen for their research experience, familiarity with AT, and practical experience in the developing world, represent leaders and organization in six countries where the project will be conducted.

The project aims to evaluate factors that affect awareness of, access to, and acquisition of high-quality, low-cost AT for people with disabilities in resource-limited environments within developing countries and U.S. tribal lands. In addition, the project means to identify factors influencing AT provision; successful AT models as collectively perceived by manufacturers, distributors, and service providers, as well as users and their families or caregivers; and create such programs.

Beginning in October 2009, the first two years of research will include conducting surveys of stakeholders and designing an Assistive Technology Access System Guide (ATAS) to help governments and international development agencies implement cost-effective interventions.

From years three to five, researchers will collaborate with local partners, to design and implement three demonstration projects to test out the ATAS guide. Subsequent project implementation will be led by the local partners.

Marc Krizack, Whirlwind Wheelchair International, Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, San Francisco State University

Key words: disability, international, technology

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Last Updated: May 06, 2016