An update of some recent developments in the disability sector from Tamsin, our Head of Programmes and co-chair of the Bond Disability and Development Group.

Currently, one billion people around the world need assistive products like wheelchairs, hearing aids and prosthetic limbs – yet 90% of them are unable to access them or afford them. As a result, disabled people are often excluded from society and locked in poverty, unable to live the lives they choose.

However, Motivation (alongside other players in the sector) is working hard to change this, and the last 12 months have seen some exciting developments.

Last December, the Bond Disability and Development Group co-hosted an event to celebrate the "International Day of Persons with Disabilities" with the Department for International Development (DFID) and Microsoft. Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for international development, made a statement confirming that the government “will put disability at the heart of everything that we do.” As part of this, DFID will co-host a Global Disability Summit on the 24th July with the International Disability Alliance. Motivation welcomes the summit as an unparalleled opportunity to make important and long lasting commitments, which have the potential to transform the lives of some of the world’s most marginalised people.

The first of its kind, this summit will put disability in the spotlight and on the global stage like never before. It will provide a high profile platform where decision makers, funders and most importantly disabled people themselves will come together to define solutions that will ensure greater inclusion for disabled people around the world. This will enable them to access their rights and fully participate in all aspects of life.

The Global Disability Summit will focus on four key areas:

  • Stigma & Discrimination
  • Inclusive Education
  • Pathways to Economic Empowerment
  • Innovation & Technology

I am delighted to see the focus that the summit will place on this fourth category and the importance of assistive technology as an enabler for the inclusion of disabled people. I am thrilled to have been asked to join the working group to share Motivation’s expertise.

Together, we can contribute to the development of tangible commitments for greater access, availability and affordability of assistive technologies, such as wheelchairs. As the Summit gets closer I am really excited to see what changes will come about, and to be at the forefront of a sector that is constantly evolving and challenging the status quo.

Finally, at this year’s World Health Assembly, member states were urged to improve access to assistive technology through development, implementation and stronger policies. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) has committed to improving access to assistive technology for all. This represents a huge milestone for all of us in the disability sector.

At Motivation, we know that to achieve real and sustainable change we must crucially also work with and influence national governments so that they confirm their commitment to disability inclusion and the importance of assistive technologies in policy, which is then embedded through tangible changes in practice at a country and global level. Only with greater investment and political will can solutions for disabled people be realised so that they have access to equipment and services that allow them to fulfil their potential.

Although a lot still needs to change before people with disabilities benefit from development policies and programmes, the progress that is being made towards disability inclusion across organisations and governments has been very impressive.

If you have any questions or would like further information about the upcoming Global Disability Summit, please get in touch at [email protected].

If you would like to support Motivation's work making assistive technology available to all, you can make a donation here.