Assistive technology can be a universal enabler. Assistive technology can help people of all ages living with different disabilities to perform daily activities in their homes and communities. These technologies may be called assistive aids, devices, or products, durable medical equipment, or disability supports. Common examples include grab bars, walkers, wheelchairs, hearing or low vision aids, or medication reminders. Smartphones, tablet computers, and mobile applications are often included as well.
Canadians who may benefit from various assistive technologies may not have access to what they need. While the cost of the technologies is often a barrier to access and use, many Canadians may not know what technologies are available to help, where to find out information about the technologies, and how to acquire them. The numerous programs offered by governments and charities, and the complicated rules and procedures for each program also make it difficult for Canadians to acquire what they need.
The website AccessATCanada (https://www.accessassistivetech.ca/) was designed to help Canadians find information about funding programs for assistive technology. The website was based on research by Dr. Rosalie Wang at the University of Toronto and Dr. Michael Wilson from the McMaster Health Forum, and funded by AGE-WELL. It was created to be a central access point for people who use assistive technology and those who support people to access assistive technology such as health care providers or care partners. Anyone can search the database with over 200 government and charity programs that provide funding and services for assistive technology. The programs cover assistive technology to assist with mobility, sensory (vision or hearing), communication, cognitive, or mental health concerns and include national and provincial or territorial programs (current as of Summer 2020). The creators are looking for additional funding and resources to help maintain and update the website. If you are interested in helping out, please fill out your contact information below.
About the Guest Author: Rosalie Wang, Ph.D., OT Reg. (Ont.) is an associate professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on developing, evaluating, and implementing technology to enable daily activity participation and social inclusion of seniors and people with disabilities. As an AGE-WELL investigator, she co-led a national project on enhancing equitable access to assistive technologies.
Usability testing of the website: https://formative.jmir.org/2022/11/e36949
Jurisdictional scan (data): https://agewell-nce.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/age-well_jurisdictional-scan_2017_June-30_FINAL.pdf
Overview of research: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/08404704221113742Read More