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Original Research Articles

‘Enabling Access’: A Pilot Study on Access and Use of Assistive Products in the Northern Province, Sri Lanka

Authors:

Shyamani Hettiarachchi ,

Department of Disability Studies, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, LK; School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin, IE
About Shyamani

Shyamani is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Disability Studies, Faculty of Medicine of the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. She is a Visiting Research Fellow at the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin, Ireland. Her research interests include the intersectionality between disability, gender, culture and poverty.

 

 

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V Subramaniam,

Organisation for Rehabilitation of the Handicapped (ORHAN), Vavuniya, LK
About V

The author is associated with the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin, Ireland

 
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Emil Rajah,

Caritas-Valvuthaym, Centre for Disabled (CFD), Mannar, LK
About Emil

The author is associated with Organisation for Rehabilitation of the Handicapped (ORHAN) in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka

 

 

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Paramaguru Gowritharan,

Speech & Language Therapist, Mannar Base Hospital, LK
About Paramaguru

The author is associaated with Caritas-Valvuthaym, Centre for Disabled (CFD), Mannar, Sri Lanka

 

 

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Shamra Nizar,

Freelance Speech & Language Therapist, LK
About Shamra

Shamra works as a Speech & Language Therapist at Mannar Base Hospital in Sri Lanka

 

 

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Shakeela Saleem

Department of Disability Studies, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, LK
About Shakeela

Shakeela works as a Freelance Speech & Language Therapist in Sri Lanka

 

 
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Abstract

Purpose: The need for suitable assistive technology is growing all over the world, not only for people with disabilities but also for the ageing population with functional decline and non-communicable diseases. Access to assistive technology promotes access to education, employment and active societal participation. The aim of this study was to assess the self-reported need by persons with disabilities and by people who were 65 years and older without disabilities in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, for assistive products; and to identify barriers to accessing these assistive products.

Method: This mixed-methods pilot study included 76 participants who were either persons with disabilities or their caregiver or persons 65 years and older, from the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, affected by the now-ended 30-year civil war. To ascertain trends in the local need for assistive products, a translated version of the World Health Organisation's Priority Assistive Products List of 50 items was used. In addition, semi-structured interviews with key participants were conducted, to gain some insights into the barriers to accessing assistive products.

Results: The most widely used assistive products among persons with disabilities were connected to war-related injuries. In contrast, those used by the older age group of persons without disabilities were connected to non-communicable diseases and age-related frailty. The assistive products requested by both groups were aids to promote independence in daily activities and to support access to education and employment. The emergent themes included affordability, employment, independence in activities of daily living, stigma and psychological impact, and a lack of awareness and guidance in the use of assistive devices.

Conclusion: The findings highlight the need for policies and practices to be informed by local socio-cultural, historical and geographical realities.

How to Cite: Hettiarachchi, S., Subramaniam, V., Rajah, E., Gowritharan, P., Nizar, S. and Saleem, S., 2020. ‘Enabling Access’: A Pilot Study on Access and Use of Assistive Products in the Northern Province, Sri Lanka. Disability, CBR & Inclusive Development, 30(3), pp.82–112. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5463/dcid.v30i3.842
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Published on 27 Jan 2020.

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