ATscale: Establishing a cross sector partnership to increase access to assistive technology

Vicki Austin, Alison End Fineberg, Margaret Savage, Sara Boiten, James Droop, Michael Allen, Phyllis Heydt, Dennis Sondergaard, Gopal Mitra
Aug. 5, 2019

Given existing gaps in access to Assistive Technology (AT) globally, it is important to think broadly and identify innovative approaches to overcome them. After an initial scoping in2018, involving consultations and landscape analyses, ATscale, the Global Partnership for Assistive Technology was launched at the Global Disability Summit in July 2018 with the aim of reaching 500 million more people with life-changing AT by 2030. Applying lessons-learned from other areas of global health and development, ATscale was established with the recognition that to influence the complex systems for AT access, a broad set of stakeholders is needed to invest in and coordinate a multi-faceted, systematic approach spanning market shaping, capacity development, and political prioritisation. Already, ATscale has demonstrated how a multi-sector group can come together and develop a cohesive strategy. This strategy overview has been released and shared broadly for additional consultation and feedback to further refine ATscale’s approach moving forward. ATscale has captured the attention of a diverse set of stakeholders. It now has eleven organisations within the Forming Committee and a broad community willing to inform its development. Now that it has been established, ATscale is working to move from an initial forming phase to a more formal organisation and to refine its operating model by late 2019 or early 2020. While there is significant momentum towards taking new, innovative approaches to address the gaps in access to quality, affordable AT for all, research shows that a wide range of systemic, underlying barriers and cross-cutting factors are contributing to the challenge in matching appropriate supply and demand for AT. While ATscale will address many of these, it is also going to require partnership on multiple levels with a coordinated strategic approach across a variety of stakeholders. This collective effort will enable the global community to have an impact greater than the sum of its individual parts in improving access to affordable, appropriate AT globally.