2 billion people will probably need Assistive Technology by 2050
What can we do as industry leaders? We want to share some ideas about the content for the DATEurope Summit.
1. Assistive Technology Funding
We all have a right to be a part of society. Access to any technology that can help people with that integration is essential to that right, but we all know that Assistive Technology (AT) products are expensive.
To combat this, some countries have a Medicare system that provides people with the communication technology they need, but others, especially in low-and-middle-income countries, do not. According to the World Bank, 15 percent of the population in the world lives with a disability, and 80 percent lives in low- and middle-income countries. Close to 90 percent of people with disabilities do not have access to the AT they need. Luckily, affordable options like mobile phones and smartphones can be life-changing assistive technologies. Mobile phones are a cost-effective tool for people with disabilities to hold multiple assistive technologies in a single device. However, people with disabilities are less likely than those without disabilities to own mobile phones. Let’s change this!
2. Research and Innovation
Recent estimates indicate that over 1 billion users currently need assistive technology. This figure will probably reach 2 billion by 2050 as the population ages. Funding Research & Development is the key driver to push the development of new assistive technologies, but there is a need to review the AT public funding to ensure all the assistive technologies that people with functional difficulties need are fully and equitably funded and supported for education, health, work, independent living, community participation, and other contexts.
3. Emerging technologies
We have to be ready to take advantage of emerging technologies and apply them to AT solutions. AI, robotics, 3D scanning, 3D printing, or reality technologies (augmented and virtual reality) are already bringing new accessible and assistive solutions to people with disabilities, and will continue doing so in the years to come. We need to be aware of technology trends in order to push governments to support those companies interested in developing new solutions for the AT market. It’s expensive and arduous to get into the market, but people with disabilities are worth the effort.
4. Aging demographics
They say we are creatures of habit, but increasingly, we see senior citizens adopting new technology when it helps in their daily lives with independence; connection to friends and family, and safety. They welcome new tools as a part of everyday life, but often only when they see the benefit. Let’s make sure those benfits are crystal clear.
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