Is there public funding available to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the necessary assistive devices and technologies?


Habilitation and rehabilitation focus on equipping the individual with the specific knowledge, tools, or resources that he or she requires based on his or her unique circumstances and disability, such as assistive technologies, specific training, education, or skills development. Assistive devices and technologies such as wheelchairs, crutches, prostheses, mobility aides, hearing aids, visual aids, and specialized computer software and hardware (referred to as the ‘basic assistive devices’) increase mobility, hearing, vision and communication capacities. With the aid of these technologies, people with disabilities are better able to live independently and participate in their societies. This question only takes in consideration the basic assistive devices and technologies, as listed above.

In detail


47.5% respondents have replied that basic assistive devices are partly available and/or the government funds them partly or only for specific types of disability, while 22% replied there are none available or are not funded by the state. Key problems included:

  • Waiting lists: in order to obtain technology assistance, PDWs experience a time lag from 6 months to 1 year in many countries.
  • Limited selection or quantity of assistive technology: publically funded assistive technology  only encompasses basic assets, such as crutches, wheelchairs and prosthetics. Specific technological assistance such as technologies for bling people have to be provided by the individuals themselves and can only be provided by the private sector. New and more performant technology is often not offered by public provision, as budgets are limited
  • Reliance on NGO for technological assistance: Many developing countries report that government support on technological assistance is often inadequate and assistive device provision heavily relies on NGOs, volunteering, social welfare organisations and grassroots

“Only devices that assist with minimal functioning is available and that is often limited. A wheelchair may be available but a motorized wheelchair may not ve unless the person can prove absolute inability to operate a standard wheelchair. Rarely are laptops or communication devices provided. Hearing aids and glasses may have such a high co-pay to render them inaccessible.” (Frances Purdy, Director, Family Support Professional Association, US)

“In Côte d’ Ivoire, there are public and private rehabilitation facilities in the manufacturing of assistive devices. And there are funds housed at the Social Protection (DSP ) that the State makes available to people with low income. These funds are for all people, not just people with disabilities . These funds are used to help people to undertake AGR or face certain medical expenses . A commission was set up to assess the admissibility of the files of applicants for these funds. However, no specific provision is made for the disabled.” (Dapla OUATTARA, Confédération des Organisations des Personnes Handicapées de Côte d’Ivoire (COPHCI), DPI member, Ivory Coast)

“from the civil society perspective, the Joint National Association of Persons with Disability which is the umbrella body of all disability organizations in Nigeria, has made it mandatory for development agencies and partners working on disability issues to make provision to accommodate personal assistance for persons with disabilities while participating in their programs and projects.”, (Ekaete Judith Umoh, National president, JOINT NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (JONAPWD), Member of DPI, Nigeria)

CRPD Article

Article 19: Living Independently and being included in the community

“States Parties to the present Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community, including by ensuring that:

a) Persons with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement;

b) Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community;

c) Community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs.”

(UN Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities)