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‘Unlock the Everyday’ Takes a Global Stance on Assistive Technology

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At some point in our lives, it is more likely than not that we will need some form of assistive technology. In fact, 2.5 billion people living today are in need of some form of wheelchairs, glasses, prosthetics, hearing aids and other devices that fall under this category. Despite these numbers, only 10% of the people in low-income countries can access the technology they need to live more accessible lives; a staggering difference between the 90% of people in higher-income countries that can. Without access to these devices, millions of people are unable to work, go to school or live independent lives.

But for the first time ever, a global initiative is forming that may change these statistics forever.

Backed by the Honorable First Lady of Pakistan, Begum Samina Arif Alvi, and launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the “Unlock the Everyday” campaign is the first global campaign on assistive technology that aims to raise awareness for everyone’s right to an accessible world. The campaign is calling for global action to address the inequity of access, prioritize its importance on a global scale and call for urgent action to improve access to this technology for millions of people around the world.

“Assistive technology is a bridge that connects individuals with disabilities, aging populations and those suffering from non-communicable diseases to a world of opportunities,” the Honorable First Lady stated at the forum. “It is vital to focus on enhancing the affordability and accessibility of high-quality assistive technology, ensuring that individuals from diverse socio-economic backgrounds can equally benefit from these advancements. As a key driver in achieving numerous Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this initiative is essential to ensure inclusivity in our path towards 2030.”

While the campaign will be heavily focused on garnering support and awareness for the cause, receiving funding for assistive technology provisions is one of its greatest goals. According to research from ATscale, a nonprofit organization with a similar mission to the campaign, for every dollar invested in assistive technology, a $9 return can be expected through lower long-term health care costs, educational improvements, better paid employment and higher productivity rates among adults.

Yet there is still a large gap in funding. To ensure lifetime access to assistive technology for those in low- and middle-income countries, about $700 billion would be needed over the course of 55 years.

“Despite having the power to unlock potential and transform lives, assistive technology has historically been under-resourced and under invested in,” ATscale CEO Pascal Bijveld stated. “Not only will improving access improve the lives of millions of people, it is key to accelerating progress towards the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which all UN member states are committed to.”

Given this information, the campaign lists the following as its biggest goals:

  1. Governments around the world would commit a greater investment in assistive technology—including investing in the provision of appropriate products and services.
  2. Governments in low- and middle-income countries to implement supportive and inclusive policies that establish assistive technology as core parts of health, insurance, social protection and educational systems.
  3. Increased awareness and financial support from bilateral and multilateral donors.
  4. Improvements for assistive technology supply chains through stakeholder collaborations.

Additionally, “Unlock the Everyday” is asking policymakers and leaders to raise awareness of these issues by showing their support for assistive technology and the individuals who need it.

The campaign was launched by ATscale and is working in collaboration with UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the International Disability Alliance. It has also been endorsed by several world leaders, influential figures and business figureheads who attended and spoke at the World Economic Forum. These individuals included ATscale’s Bijeveld; actress and disability activist Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes; Professor Gilles Carbonnier, vice president of the International Committee of the Red Cross; Jorge Olague, deputy director of UNICEF; Caroline Casey, president of the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness; and Louise James, managing director of Accenture’s Development Partnerships.

“We truly believe that by uniting partners, policymakers, global decisionmakers, the private sector, communities and of course, assistive technology users themselves,” Bijveld said, “we can create a global movement that will motivate those in a position of power to take decisive action.”

Read more articles for the STEM community here.

The post ‘Unlock the Everyday’ Takes a Global Stance on Assistive Technology appeared first on DiversityComm.

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