Steps to Assistive Technology Provision

Original Editor - Robin Tacchetti Top Contributors - Robin Tacchetti, Jess Bell and Rishika Babburu

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Assistive technology (AT) is a broad term used to describe products whose primary aim is to improve or maintain an individual's independence and function.[1] [2] AT can be used for many types of impairments (e.g. vision, hearing, mobility, self-care) and by people of all ages. AT solutions can range from very simple, low-tech devices to highly complex, expensive products. The range of products makes AT provision a complex process. This process is further complicated by the fact that AT provision is not a one-size fits all; it must be tailored to the individual.[2]

Provision[edit | edit source]

Assistive technology provision is a process aimed at ensuring that each user obtains the most appropriate and beneficial AT solution for their impairment. The fundamental elements of AT provision are listed below:[2]

  • Users need to know that AT solutions exist
  • Quality products must be available and affordable
  • Professionals are required to provide the following services:
    • Assessment
    • Training
    • Follow-up[2]

Four Steps To Provision[edit | edit source]

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described four steps that are necessary when providing assistive technology.[3] Proceeding through each step allows the user to gain the most benefit from the product and ensure safety. The four steps to AT provision are: select, fit, use and follow-up.[3]

This video by the WHO summarises the four steps to assistive technology provision:

Select[edit | edit source]

The select phase of service provision is essentially the assessment. During the assessment, it is important to involve the user and their family or caregivers. This will ensure that the choice of AT is appropriate and tailored directly to the individual and their requirements.[4] The WHO has a range of assessment forms for various assistive products that help determine the best device for the individual.[4] Information that can be gathered during the select phase includes the user's:

  • Health
  • Ability
  • Activity level
  • Where they will use the device
  • Support services nearby
  • Their knowledge of/experience with the device

Having a wide variety of assistive products will make it easier to match a device to the individual's specific needs.[3]

Fit[edit | edit source]

After the assistive product has been selected, the next stage in the provision sequence is to ensure a proper fit. This is a crucial step as the device needs to fit well in order to be safe and not cause harm. Additionally, if the fit is not adequate, the user will not gain the intended benefit. The WHO recommends checking the following when fitting an AT device for a user:[3]

  1. Is it properly assembled?
  2. Is it adjusted to the right size?
  3. It is comfortable and safe for the person to use?[3]

When fitting individuals with a selected assisted device, always ask for feedback from the user. The device may need to be modified or adjusted at this time.[3]

Use[edit | edit source]

The use stage can also be referred to as the teaching stage. It is when the user and/or their caregiver learns how to use the assistive device. The WHO recommends that the following steps are included in this stage:

  1. Explain
  2. Demonstrate
  3. Practise[3]

Follow-Up[edit | edit source]

The follow-up step is crucial to ensuring that an AT product is still meeting the user's needs. If it is not meeting their needs, a reassessment or an outside referral may be warranted. Coming up with a solution with the user is the best course of action in this scenario.[3]

Follow-up is also a time to check that the product is in good condition and does not require any repairs.[3] Many times this step is left out and users will not have access to repair services, especially in low-income settings.[4]

The WHO recommends checking for the following:

  • Has the individual grown? Does the product no longer work for them because of this?
  • Has the individual's posture changed? Does the product no longer work for them because of this?
  • Are their any screws or bolts that are loose?
  • Is their any rust or are there broken pieces?[3]

This video by the World Health Organization demonstrates how to look for broken components in an assistive device:

After this visit is completed, make an appointment for the next follow-up visit.[3]

Putting it all Together[edit | edit source]

The video below by Momentum Wheels for Humanity demonstrates the WHO 8 steps to wheelchair provision.

Resources[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. MacLachlan M, Scherer MJ. Systems thinking for assistive technology: a commentary on the GREAT summit. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology. 2018 Jul 4;13(5):492-6.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 de Witte, L., Steel, E., Gupta, S., Ramos, V.D. and Roentgen, U., 2018. Assistive technology provision: towards an international framework for assuring availability and accessibility of affordable high-quality assistive technology. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology, 13(5), pp.467-472.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 World Health Organization. Training in Assistive Products Module. 2020. Available from:
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Oldfrey, B., Barbareschi, G., Morjaria, P., Giltsoff, T., Massie, J., Miodownik, M. and Holloway, C., 2021. Could assistive technology provision models help pave the way for more environmentally sustainable models of product design, manufacture and service in a post-covid world?. Sustainability, 13(19), p.10867.