Research on the provision of Assistive Technology in Ireland 2012
The field of Assistive Technology (AT) concerns the practical tools that can support functional needs of people who experience difficulties linked to disability or ageing. It encompasses a broad spectrum of low tech and high tech technologies, for example, walking frames, wheelchairs, hearing aids, vision aids and computer-based communication aids. These technologies play a crucial role in enabling independent living and access to education and employment. The value for money that public expenditure on AT may represent and its potential to contribute cost-savings through reduced demand for more expensive services is increasingly being recognised.
This study examined the approaches to provision of AT in Ireland and a number of other jurisdictions with relatively well-developed systems. The scope of the study covered provision of AT to meet the needs of people with disabilities and older people across three core settings – home/community/ everyday life, employment and education. The main countries covered were Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Italy and the UK, as well as a more limited coverage of Germany. These were selected to reflect a number of different welfare systems and ways of funding and organising AT provision. The overall objective was to provide guidance for the future development of the Irish system in ways that would reflect established or emerging good practice in the field.