The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations International Emergency Fund (UNICEF) had published a new report, which revealed that more than 2.5 billion people need one or more assistive products, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, or apps that support communication and cognition. According to reports, nearly one billion of them are denied access, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where access can be as low as 3% of the need for these life-changing products.
The report suggests that assistive Technology presents evidence for the first time on the global need for and access to assistive products and provides a series of recommendations to expand availability and access, raise awareness of the need, and implement inclusive policies to improve the lives of millions of people.
While highlighting the importance of these innovative technologies and their important role in daily life, WHO Director was of the view that assistive technology is a life changer, it opens the door to education for children with impairments, employment and social interaction for adults living with disabilities. According to the WHO, denying people access to these life-changing tools on any pretext is an infringement of human rights, as well as an economic shortsightedness.
The existence of any disability or impureness becomes a great disadvantage for the people with disabilities in living a normal life and doing routine work in the society, while assistive technologies support the people with disabilities to perform routine work with the help of assisting devices ranging from vehicle chairs to listening and optic devices. These useful inventions had reduced the need for formal health and support services, long-term care and the work of care givers. Without the use of assisting technology, the people usually went to isolate from the society, can’t perform their essential work, which not only increases the impact of disability or disease but also affect the social fabric of the society.
In fact, the use of assistive technologies converts the persons with disabilities into a useful member of the society while denial or no provision of these technologies to the affected persons results in non-productiveness of a large segment of the society, social exhaustion and moral deaconess of the society. Although, development in modern day science had reduced the deprivation of the people through invention of the latest gadgets, even then affordability is a major barrier to access these technologies in third world countries and mostly people with disabilities rely on family and friends to financially support their needs.
According to UNICEF, currently about 240 million children have disabilities and they need access to assistive technologies to thrive while no provision or denial to the required assisting technology not only affect the individual but also deprives families and communities of their positive contribution toward society. The UNICEF Chief had called on all countries to fund and prioritize access to assistive technology and give everyone a chance to live up to their potential.
In fact, use of assistive technologies is important for the persons with disabilities as well as the people interacting with them including family members, teachers, coworkers and others, hence the UNICEF and governments around the globe must work for the unrestricted provision of assisting technologies to the deserving people so the people with disabilities can live a dignified and normal in their societies.