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News Study findings will inform the World Health Organisation’s global report on assistive technology

Families across Staffordshire are being urged to take part in a survey about the use of assistive technology in their day to day lives.

“Worldwide, one billion people need assistive technology to lead productive, inclusive and dignified lives and yet only 1 in 10 people have access to the equipment they need.

Professor Nachi Chockalingam, Centre for Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Technologies.

Reponses to the new study, which is being coordinated in the UK by Staffordshire University’s Centre for Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Technologies, will contribute to the development of the first Global Report on Assistive Technology – a mandate of the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution on improving access to assistive technology.

Assistive technology includes any device, software, or equipment that helps people complete their daily activities including glasses, hearing aids, prostheses, wheelchairs and text-to-speech software.

The survey will gather information on the demand, need and the barriers to access assistive technology. Locally, health and social care workers have been recruited to conduct the surveys among service users, patients and colleagues. Proxy interviews will be used for children and household members who cannot respond to the survey themselves.

Professor Nachi Chockalingam, who is leading the study, explained: “Worldwide, one billion people need assistive technology to lead productive, inclusive and dignified lives and yet only 1 in 10 people have access to the equipment they need.

“As the world population ages, that need will continue rising and yet despite the urgency, little data has been collected and analysed to understand both the need and gaps in various populations.”

Data collection will take place in Staffordshire and the wider Midlands throughout March and April to provide valuable information on the use of assistive technology in the general population.

Associate Professor Aoife Healy added: “The short survey has been developed by WHO and will be carried out by our trained enumerators using their digital devices.

“The data will provide valuable information on the use of assistive technology broken down on age, gender and product. This will then be used for research purposes alongside completed surveys from countries around the world and help to influence future government policy.”

Co-Investigator Ms Esther Dakin-Poole said: “We would like to hear from everyone, whether or not they feel they need assistive technology. Once we have their details, one of our enumerators will give them a call back to ask a few simple questions”.

Dr Wei Zhang from WHO Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE) initiative added: “The Global Report on Assistive Technology will be relevant for our global stakeholders, and will present informative data from worldwide”.

The project is supported by the Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE) initiative at the WHO and the advisory board for this initiative includes Lord Shinkwin, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology (APPGAT), Dr Lisa Cameron MP, another member of APPGAT and Mark Nicholas, Chief Social Worker at NHS Digital and Health Education England.

If you are interested in contributing to this survey, please read the information sheet and register your interest by completing this form.

Contact ratasurvery@staffs.ac.uk for further information.

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