The funding landscape for Digital AT in Europe.

A session promoted by DATEurope

This session outlines a methodology to address the question of “How are digital assistive technologies funded by European states?” and “Which systems are proving most effective in ensuring that persons with disabilities have access to the digital assistive technology they require?”

In seeking to understand the breadth and depth required, we build upon research (Banes 2016, DFI/Enable Ireland 2017, Thompson 2018), which stressed the vital role that assistive and accessible consumer technologies play in the lives of those with a disability, including access to education and employment and improving the quality of daily life.

Such technologies are increasingly built upon consumer technologies such as mobile phones, tablets and smartspeakers and include communication tools, low vision aids including magnification, navigation and guidance tools and access to mEducation, mHealth and a wide range of social, cultural and leisure activities.

Banes et al. (2019) highlighted funding models as a significant barrier to access to such devices and related products and services. Many funding channels were limited to technologies designed specifically for people with a disability and precluded mainstream devices which could be customised and enhanced for people with a disability. Information regarding such products and features was incorporated into the GSMA MISTT toolkit to promote access to social media and devices’ accessibility features.

More recently, the need for change in this area has been raised with UN agencies including WHO, UNICEF and UNESCO in consultancy work related to AT capacity in low- and medium-income countries, access to AAC solutions and analysis of the life stories of people with a disability from across the globe.

To address these issues the session will outline data related to funding streams for Digital Assistive Technologies across Europe with an analysis of those approaches that are most effective. This will include:-
• How are digital devices used by persons with disabilities (including consumer technologies) funded by the target states?
• How are additional hardware peripherals designed for use by persons with a disability funded by the target states?
• How are assistive software and apps for mobile and portable devices funded by the target states?
• What variations in funding and provision can be identified due to the context of use, such as health, education, social welfare (independent living)?
This should include whether there is any variation in funding as a result of other funding mechanisms or systems such as a charitable or philanthropic model, NGO’s or direct payments such as that of the NDIS in Australia, the proposed AT Passport in Ireland and other funding mechanisms that provide for both dedicated devices and capacity to fund a combination of the technology platform and necessary software or peripherals. This may lead to identifying an integrated model of provision

Announced speakers

Christoph Jo. Müller

Emma Smith 

Sabine Lobnig 

Siobhan Long