The Assistive Technology Information Mapping project (AT-Info-Map) was funded by the Google Impact Challenge as one of the ‘big ideas that will use technology to expand opportunity and independence for people with disabilities’
AT-Info-Map is a 3 year project (2016-2019) that has the goal of mapping the availability of different types of Assistive Technology (AT) in 10 countries in Southern Africa. Identifying WHAT types of AT are available and WHERE those products are located will serve three purposes:
- Connecting persons with disabilities to the available AT near their community,
- Supporting key actors in identifying AT needs. Key actors include public AT providers (clinics, community health centers, secondary and tertiary hospitals, schools), civil society, government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), disabled people organizations (DPOs) and businesses,
- Informing AT suppliers, manufacturers, and designers of unmet public demand.
The project was officially launched in April 2016 in Botswana where the project is currently being piloted for the initial now year. The first year will involves designing and testing the technology system with a small group of participants to ensure it is useful and understandable by both persons with disabilities and organizations involved in supplying AT.
In the second and third year of the project, the lessons learned from Botswana will be used to expand the use of the system throughout Botswana and into nine countries in Southern Africa (Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, and Namibia).
Within 3 years, the AT-Info-Map system plans to have over 1500 active users across southern Africa who are providing information on AT availability, and using this informing to increase AT access.
It is estimated that at least half of the 23 million persons with disabilities in Southern Africa (11.5 million) are in need AT products. In the long-term, this information system can be used to help increase AT access to meet this large and growing need.