UK Government Focuses On ATech To Help Disabled People 


UK (Parliament Politic Magazine) – The government has recently released a new disability action plan aimed at increasing awareness and accessibility of assistive technology (ATech) for disabled individuals in the UK. This plan seeks to provide life-changing devices to those in need. However, there is a division among experts regarding the government’s efforts to promote the use of ATech.

Today, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the government’s Disability Unit proudly unveil the draft Disability Action Plan, which will complement the National Disability Strategy. This comprehensive plan aims to address immediate concerns by proposing practical measures that the government can swiftly implement to enhance the quality of life for disabled individuals.

Consultation On The Action Plan Is Open For 12 Weeks

The national strategy has received approval this week, despite opposition from campaigners who argue that the government did not adequately consult on the plan. Although the Court of Appeal has given it the green light, Disability News Service reports that opponents may take the matter to the Supreme Court to challenge this decision.

The consultation period for the Action Plan will be open for 12 weeks, concluding in October. Various organizations, including Scope, the National Autistic Society, Business Disability Forum, as well as assistive technology vendors and disability and access ambassadors, have been invited to contribute.

Tom Purglove, the minister for disabled people, health, and work, emphasized the significance of the plan, stating, “Not only will it position us as global leaders in assistive technology, but it will also enhance inclusivity and accessibility in areas such as sports, travel, and culture.

 Moreover, it will pave the way for long-term transformation.” The government aims to prioritize the involvement of disabled individuals in decision-making processes regarding the services it offers.

What Is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology (ATech) is a broad term encompassing various systems and services that are designed to provide support and aid to individuals with disabilities. Its primary goal is to enhance their well-being by either maintaining or improving their functioning and independence.

However, assistive technology can also manifest in the form of a website that can be easily navigated using a screen reader or a smartphone operating system that incorporates accessibility features like dictation. According to the think tank Policy Connect, which released a report on assistive technology last year, “any technology product can become an accessibility tool when disabled individuals utilize them for that purpose.” For instance, someone may choose to join a meeting via video call to manage fatigue or employ a generative AI tool to simplify the language in a document.

By embracing assistive technology, we can empower disabled individuals to overcome barriers and participate fully in various aspects of life. Whether it’s through specialized devices, software, or even everyday technology used creatively, assistive technology plays a crucial role in promoting inclusivity and equal opportunities for all.

Read More: McDonald’s Workers In The UK Speak Out Over Sexual Abuse Claims

Track Record On A Tech Is Not Consistent

According to Tech Monitor, the Policy Connect report highlights a concerning issue: the public sector’s inadequate response to the needs of disabled and elderly individuals regarding assistive technology. The report reveals that UK local authorities and the NHS are hindering the progress of IoT and smart home technology due to their lack of ambition and vision.

Furthermore, the report identifies several challenges faced by public procurement processes. Fragmented funding and a scarcity of high-quality evidence are impeding the advancement of assistive technology. Additionally, decision-making processes lack the necessary involvement of older and disabled individuals.

It is evident that the public sector’s failure to address the needs of disabled and elderly people in relation to assistive technology is a pressing concern. The lack of ambition and vision among UK local authorities and the NHS is hindering the development of IoT and smart home technology.

Moreover, public procurement processes are hampered by fragmented funding and a shortage of high-quality evidence. It is crucial to involve older and disabled individuals in decision-making processes to ensure their needs are adequately met.

In the consultation document released today, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Disability Unit (DU) have taken the chance to emphasize the government’s efforts in supporting disabled individuals. Particularly in the realm of technology, they proudly state that out of the 3,000 AI scholarships created to enhance the talent pool, 26% have been granted to disabled students.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.