Assistive Technology in India

Last week we had a guest lecture that was really interesting to me about the design of low cost wheelchairs that could be used in developing countries. I found the concept of disruptive technology fascinating in its ingenuity and also usefulness to people that could not afford current technology.

The talk got me interested in assistive technology in India; my parents are from there and I have visited plenty of times, but I have never really thought about the struggles that differently abled people may face in a country that historically has not been accepting of these differences.

Reading some of the articles that can be found online, it seems that one of the biggest challenges to AT in India is simply the fact that people with disabilities 1) don’t know that the technology exists and 2) are not properly trained in its use. Thus, it’s an interesting scenario wherein developing new, cheaper AT is great, but it’s not really doing much if people don’t know it exists in the first place.

Another point I stumbled upon is that the economics of AT are not financially attractive in India (or most places for that matter) but India specifically lacks the necessary policy to support its development. In the US we have a couple different established government programs to foster the acceptance of people with disabilities and also push for assistive technology development. India, on the other hand, is still slightly behind in this area. I would be really interested to see if you could find a class like PPAT at a school like IIT.

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