Purpose: People with intellectual disabilities are deeply affected by health inequity, which is also reflected in their access to and use of assistive technology (AT). Including the perspectives of adults with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers, together with the views of local health professionals, suppliers of AT and policy-makers, this paper aims to provide an overview of factors influencing access to AT and its use by people with intellectual disabilities in Bangalore, a southern region of India.
Method: Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 15 adults with intellectual disabilities (ranging from mild to profound) and their caregivers, and with 16 providers of AT. This helped to gain insight into the current use, needs, knowledge, awareness, access, customisation, funding, follow-up, social inclusion, stigma and policies around AT and intellectual disability.
Results: Access to AT was facilitated by community fieldworkers and services to reach out and identify people with intellectual disabilities. Important barriers were stigma, and lack of knowledge and awareness among parents. Factorsrelated to continued use were the substantial dependence on the care system to use AT, and the importance of AT training and instructions for the user and the care system.
Conclusion and Implications: The barriers and facilitators related to AT for people with intellectual disabilities differ from other populations in need. The findings of this study can be used to inform and adjust country policies and frameworks whose aim is to improve access to AT and enhance the participation of people with intellectual disabilities within their communities.