Access to Assistive Technology and Single Entry Point Programs
People with disabilities experience greater social and economic barriers and higher levels of poverty than people without disabilities. Assistive Technology (AT) helps address barriers and can positively impact on the health of people with disabilities. However, disparities in provision of AT services and supports remain. This exploratory study sought to understand the barriers consumers faced in acquiring and being satisfied with AT in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL). Evidence on efficacy of single entry point systems (SEP) was reviewed for future planning and policy change.
The mixed method design employed descriptive analysis of a survey of adults with various disabilities who were using AT devices or supports (n=49), and thematic analysis of individual interviews with disability service providers (n =8) in community and post-secondary settings throughout NL.
Consumers and service providers recognize the benefits of AT but express dissatisfaction with programs and services. Lack of knowledge, training and funding subsidies were the most significant barriers to accessing AT supports. The potential benefit of a single entry point (SEP) system and subsidy programs, modeled after Canadian and Australian initiatives, is considered. Both initiatives have the potential to improve access and utilization of AT, in a region where health disparities are associated with geographical, social and economic differences. These findings may be relevant to other regions where the population is located in small urban, rural, remote areas.
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