Published by Taylor & Francis Online and co-written by CATCH colleagues at The University of Sheffield and colleagues in Nepal. The purpose of this paper is to analyse and critically reflect on access to Assistive Technology (AT) for persons with disabilities (PWD) in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. This analysis aims to guide the development of a contextualised generic AT service delivery model suitable for these countries, based on the best practices identified.

This paper is based on a comprehensive study conducted in Nepal, India and Bangladesh, observing mobility and hearing-related AT service delivery centres run by the government, as well as private and nongovernmental organisations, and interviews with key informants: policymakers (5), AT service providers (20) and AT service users (20) between December 2019 to February 2020. A descriptive, qualitative exploratory study design was followed. A quality assessment framework was used to structure the analysis and interpret the findings.

AT service provisions are poorly developed in all three countries. On all quality indicators assessed, the systems show major weaknesses. AT users have very limited awareness about their rights to these services and the availability of AT services, the range of services available is very limited, and eligibility is dependent on medical criteria related to visible and severe disabilities.

Lack of accessibility, eligibility, reachability and affordability are the main barriers to access AT services for PWD in Nepal, India and Bangladesh. Increased community level awareness, increased Government funding and a community based, medically informed flexible social model of AT services is a way forward to ensure access to AT services for PWD in these countries.

Please find the full paper here.