BATA was one of a number of organisatiions called on by MP Paul Maynard, founder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Disabled Young People, to discuss how disabled young people can get better access to assistive technology.
The meeting marked the publication of a report called Switched-On, based on interviews with 100 young people, and published by Trailblazers, part of Muscular Dystrophy UK.
The report revelaed that assistive technology can greatly reduce the social isolation of young disabled people, while improving confidence, wellbeing and independence.
“Through powerchairs that provide access to the outside world, computer technology that provides a gateway to the online world, and communication aids that quite literally provide a voice, assistive technology has the power to transform the lives of young disabled people,” said the report.
“Yet despite this, young disabled people struggle to find out what assistive technology may be available to them and how to get it. The assessment process is often complex, time consuming, stressful and unaffordable. Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers believe this needs to change.”
Gadgets such as adapted smartphone controls, equipment to manage home environment and voice recognition and eye-reading technology, remain financially out of reach for too many young people with three quarters saying they don’t have the assistive technology they need because they can’t afford it.
The report found that young disabled people are struggling to find out about technology that could make a difference to their lives, with no single source of information on assistive apps, gadgets, hardware and software available.
It found that of the young people involved in the investigation:
- Three-quarters do not have the assisted technology they need because they cannot afford it
- A third felt isolated because of a lack of assistive technology
- Three in four said technology helped them with daily activities at home
- Fifty percent said assistive technology helped them with education
Trailblazers called on the Government, the NHS and technology firms to look at ways of making life-enhancing technology more affordable; and to help young disabled people find out about what is available for them.