Assistive Technology

The main project objective is the development of an innovative framework of Assistive Technology by a joint action between research, industrial, institutional and social sectors.

The project intends to provide End Users with autonomy, thus enabling dehospitalization, staying in places of origin and avoiding to break the bonds with families. This will reduce costs to the National Health System.

Assistive Technology (AT) is a term with a very broad meaning that groups all those devices, objects, hardware and software solutions, intended for people with disabilities and/or elders, and whose purpose is to improve the performance of all those daily activities that otherwise they would be very difficult or even impossible to them, with consequent benefits on their independence, well-being, social inclusion and quality of life in general.

In other words, AT allows people with impairments and disabilities living healthier, more independent and more dignified lives, thus encouraging them to a more active participation in education, working world and civic life. Moreover, AT may help in containing costs related to health and support services, long-term care and the work of caregivers.

The range of disabilities includes, but is not limited to: mobility impairment and disabilities, cognitive disabilities, blindness and low vision, deafness and hard of hearing, autism spectrum disorders, dementia, communication disorders, diabetes and stroke, any gradual functional decline.

Examples of AT ranges from hearing aids, wheelchair, communication aids, prostheses and memory aids to hardware, software, and peripherals that assist people with disabilities in accessing computers or other information technologies, such as screen readers, screen magnification software, speech input software, alternative input devices. Another example includes therapeutic footwear for diabetes, which can help in reducing the incidence of foot ulcers, preventing lower limb amputations and the associated burden on health systems.

The World Health Organization has estimated that “with an ageing global population and a rise in noncommunicable diseases, more than 2 billion people will need at least 1 assistive product by 2030, with many older people needing 2 or more”.