Assistive Technology and the UNCRPD

Assistive Technology encompasses a broad spectrum of low level technology and high level technology, for example, walking frames, wheelchairs, hearing aids, vision aids and computer-based communication aids. These technologies play a crucial role in enabling the rights of people with disabilities under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) such as access to independent living, education and employment.

The UNCRPD recognises the importance of assistive technology in the realisation of rights in several areas. The general obligations of the UNCRPD (Article 4) say that States are to undertake or promote the availability and use of assistive technologies suitable for persons with disabilities, and to provide accessible information about mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies to persons with disabilities.

The UNCRPD obliges States to take effective measures to facilitate access by persons with disabilities to assistive technologies (or reasonable accommodations which implies some assistive technology use), including by making them available at affordable cost (Article 20), for education purposes (Article 24) and for work and employment (Article 27). It also notes that use of assistive technologies should be facilitated to enable persons with disabilities to vote in elections and public referendums (Article 29).