Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD)

The Assistive Technology Information Mapping (AT-Info-Map) Project

Assistive Technology Information Mapping Project

Project duration (total months):

36 Months (3 Years)


Southern Africa


Google Inc.


  1. Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD)
  2. University of Washington
  3. Dimagi
  4. African Network for Evidence-to-Action on Disability (AfriNEAD)


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.

Summary Description

Strategic Goal:

AT-Info-Map is a 3 year project (2016-2019) that has the goal of mapping the availability of different types of assistive technology (AT) in 10 countries in Southern Africa.

Strategic Objectives:

Identifying WHAT types of AT are available and WHERE those products are located will serve three purposes:

  1. Connecting persons with disabilities to the available AT near their community,
  2. Supporting key actors in identifying AT needs. Key actors include public AT providers (clinics, community health centers, secondary and tertiary hospitals, schools), civil society, government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), disabled people organizations (DPOs) and businesses,
  3. Informing AT suppliers, manufacturers, and designers of unmet public demand.


In Southern Africa,it is estimated that85-95% of persons with disabilities who need assistive technology (AT) do not have access. Improving access to AT is a problem that will take concerted effort on many fronts; however, one key challenge at this stage is simply lack of information about the availability of AT within the target countries.  Although information alone will not increase access to AT, its absence is a major barrier to reducing the unmet need.

  • Lack of information on what AT is and is not available makes it impossible for advocates, suppliers and policy makers to develop the best strategies to address unmet needs.
  • Lack of information for persons with disabilities means that they are not aware of what AT is available, do not know what AT they need or where to find it.

Without access to AT, persons with disabilities are less likely to realize other basic human rightssuch as access to education, health care, employment, information, communication, and activities of daily living. In this context, the project will therefore contribute towards the achievement of a number of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) – these area new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies over the next 15 years.

For example, Goal Number of 4 of the SDGs focuses on guaranteeing equal and accessible education by building inclusive learning environments and providing the needed assistance for persons with disabilities, and the ATs plays a very significant role in this regard.

The project will also contribute to achieving Goal Number 8 which focuses on promoting inclusive economic growth, full and productive employment allowing persons with disabilities to fully access the job market. Without AT, most persons with disabilities would find it hard to “fully” access the job market as ATs enhance their functionality within workplaces. Similarly, Goal Number 10 emphasizing the social, economic and political inclusion of persons with disabilities which can be even more feasible when persons with disabilities are accorded the opportunity to access ATs.

To address the inadequate supply of AT in Southern Africa, AT designers and producers must also be informed of what quantity the local market is demanding and requiring. Increases in quantity must be accompanied by increases in quality to ensure the new products are appropriate for persons with disabilities within their local environment.

To learn more about the project, as well as stay informed about the project updates, please click here: