Life Changing Assistive Technology for All in Freetown and Banjarmasin

Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre, Hawanatu Bangura
Oct. 6, 2019

SLURC is part of a major new research project called AT 2030: Community-led solutions: Assistive Technologies in Informal Settlements, led by The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London, in collaboration with Leonard Cheshire Disability (UK). The sub-programme focuses on Life Changing Assistive Technology for All by learning directly from communities living in informal settlements in Freetown, Sierra Leone and Banjarmasin, Indonesia. SLURC is the local research partner in Freetown, and the Indonesian NGO Kota Kita (“Our City”) in Banjarmasin which seeks to answer the question “How can collective, and community-led responses, enable disabled people to access better life outcomes through increasing the relevance and uptake of Assistive Technology (AT)?”. The SLURC collaboration is one sub-programme of a larger project, led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub) and funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), seeking to lay the foundations for global AT access and reach 3 million people worldwide.

A pilot workshop on Assistive Technology (AT2030) for All in Banjarmasin

A two-week workshop was held in Banjarmasin in May 2019 with a team from UCL (UK), Kota Kita and Kaki Kota (Indonesia), and SLURC (Sierra Leone) as part of the project. The workshop started with site visits to the two communities (Pelambuan and Kelayan) in Banjarmasin where the AT2030 would be implemented. Participants then introduced useful presentations on the wider AT2030 project, disability, AT and informality between the two countries (Indonesia and Sierra Leone).

The workshop focused on understanding the phases of the project by agreeing timelines, milestones, outputs and agreeing the research methods. This included testing a new tool developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) called the “rapid Assistive Technology Assessment tool” (rATA). We discussed how to apply it locally and how we will feedback on the implementation of the tool to WHO. We also discussed how the research will engage with persons with disability and AT users, as well as the inclusion of local participants, such as community members, community leaders, disabled people’s organisations (DPOs), community-based organisations (CBOs), and relevant NGOs for the data collection and the research.

The tool was tested within the community of Kelayan in selected households. These included people with disabilities and representatives of local CBOs. This testing led to a mutual learning which identified how the tool could be further improved to support the effective data collection process for the project.

We also met with community leaders of the two informal settlements where the Indonesian team will be working (Pelambuan and Kelayan) to present the project, clarify the process, earn their support - especially during the data collection process in their respective communities - and to identify the gaps in the community for intervention.
Following the agreed timelines, the rATA tool will be conducted during the months of August and September 2019 by trained data collectors, many of whom will be part of the communities, in both countries. The survey will give us an initial understanding of the access and use of AT in the four communities, following this process we will explore more in-depth the aspirations of people with disabilities and their communities through a selection of participatory methods.

The first phase of the research project will conclude in a synthesis workshop at the beginning of next year in London (UK) where researchers from Indonesia, Sierra Leone and the UK will come together again to learn from both countries experiences, analyse the initial findings and plan phase 2 of the research.
Article originally published by SLURC.