The Assistive Technology Information Mapping (AT-Info-Map) Project was funded by the Google Impact Challengeas one of the ‘big ideas that will use technology to expand opportunity and independence for people with disabilities’.
The project was officially launched in April 2016 and started in Botswana where SAFOD is headquartered as a one-year pilot. The first year involves designing and testing the technology system with a small group of participants to ensure it is useful and understandable by both persons with disabilities and organizations involved in supplying AT.
In the second and third year of the project, the lessons learned from Botswana will be used to expand the use of the system throughout Botswana and into nine countries in Southern Africa (Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, and Namibia).
In our project, we will develop a data system that will be used to capture, organize, and map the current availability of AT within the targeted countries. Doing this will create the baseline against which increased access can be measured. It will also bring to light the gap between availability and need. Understanding this gap has the potential to encourage key actors to increase access to AT.
Our technology partner, Dimagi, has developed the technology system (CommCare) that will be used in this project to collect and provide information about AT availability. CommCare is open source, is designed for use in low-resource settings and is a flexible system that can be easily modified to meet the needs of different users.
In CommCare, information can be collected through all types of cell phones, tablets, or computers, and will be stored and displayed online. Information is collected by asking users a series of questions. Questions can be asked and answered in text or through an audio recording, and in the local language.
WHAT – At a minimum, information will be collected on what types of AT are available and any details about the AT that will be useful such as quantity of supply and cost of product.Other useful details about providers such as type of organization and what insurance covers the provider may also be collected.
WHERE - Information will be collected on the geographical location of the AT providers.
The specific types of information that will be collected and displayed will be customized to meet the needs of each country and community where the project is implemented and can be adapted as needs change. For example, the Ministry of Health may want to see the big picture of what types of AT are available across the entire country through public hospitals, while a person with a disability may be want to know where is the nearest place she can find a pair of crutches and how much those crutches will cost.