Service delivery systems for assistive technology in Europe: An AAATE/EASTIN position paper

Renzo Andrich, Niels Erik Mathiassen, Evert Jan Hoogerwerf, Gert Jan Gelderblom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to indicate a framework for exploiting the potential role of assistive technology (AT) in supporting care and participation of people with disabilities and elderly people through appropriate service delivery systems (SDS). The paper is based on the findings of the AAATE/EASTIN workshop Service Delivery Systems on Assistive Technology in Europe (held in Copenhagen on May 21-22, 2012, under the patronage of the Danish EU Presidency), on the roadmaps indicated by the previous HEART Study published in 1995 by the European Commission, and on a consensus process within the Board of the AAATE (Association for Advancement of Assistive Technology in Europe) and the EASTIN Association (European Assistive Technology Information Network). The first chapter Background) discusses the reasons why a position paper on this issue was deemed useful; it also summarises the key themes of the Copenhagen workshop and recalls the HEART Study. The second chapter (The scope of an AT SDS), discusses the concept of assistive solutions-intended as individualised interventions providing users with appropriate environmental facilitators (AT products, personalised environmental modifications, personal assistance) to overcome disability and enable participation in all aspects of life-and the mission of a SDS-ensuring that all people with disabilities can access appropriate assistive solutions that are able to support autonomy in their life environment. The paper also points out that AT service delivery policies should be well coordinated with accessibility policies i.e. those related to infrastructural interventions ensuring that the mainstream environment, products and services are usable by all people, including those with reduced function or who depend on assistive technology. The third chapter (Basic features of an AT SDS) discusses why public SDS are needed for AT, what the main AT SDS models are, and how a SDS process can be described and monitored in terms of quality. The discussion is organised into answers to eight recurring questions: 1) Are assistive technology products going to disappear in the future, due to the embodiment of accessibility features in mainstream products; 2) Why shouldn't assistive technology products be dealt with as common consumer goods, purchased directly by users without the intermediation of service delivery systems; 3) Are there different approaches for AT service delivery; 4) When can a medical model, or a social model, or a consumer model be considered appropriate; 5) Independently of the model and the Country or Region, is it possible to identify common steps in the service delivery process; 6) How does each step influence the costs and the outcomes of the whole process; 7) How can the SDS process be monitored by quality indicators; and 8) How can information support the service delivery process. The last chapter (Some recommendations) provides a number of useful recommendations for those who are engaged in the design, development and implementation of AT SDS policies. The recommendations are clustered round the six SDS quality indicators suggested by the HEART Study: Accessibility, Competence, Coordination, Efficiency, Flexibility, User Influence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-146
Number of pages20
JournalTechnology and Disability
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • accessibility
  • Assistive technology
  • disability policy
  • quality assurance
  • service delivery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics


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