Technology For Life: what it means and why we need it
In 2020, Business Disability is first proposed Technology For Life: a new concept which would see disabled people given access to assistive technology throughout their lives.
For disabled people, getting the right assistive technology in place at the right time can be extremely difficult. Support with accessing assistive technology is only available for two specific stages of life: university and work. It’s not continuous, it’s not permanent, and it’s not transferable.
But this is what people need with assistive technology: solutions for life, not just for university and work.
This is why Business Disability Forum has proposed the idea of a lifelong scheme for providing assistive technology. This would be:
• a funded service supplying assistive technology to people throughout their lives
• tailored for an individual person’s life circumstances,
• reassessed as a person’s circumstances change so they always have the right support in place
Currently support with, and provision of, assistive technology is only available for people if they are in work or studying at university. This comes from either Disabled Student’s Allowance for disabled people in higher education, and Access To Work for people in employment. But the two schemes are not joined up.
There is no scheme to support disabled students at school, or those who need assistive technology for day-to-day life. Support is also unavailable for disabled people who wish to volunteer – for example, for public appointments – or run for political office.
However, a joined-up support concept like Technology For Life has already been proven to work, with the Motability scheme for adapted vehicles.
We think our similar idea for assistive technology would also:
• Ensure people have access to assistive technology when they need it, not just when eligibility allows
• Save time on assessments and applications, both for applicants and government departments
• Reduce delays in receiving support due to having to reapply or wait to become eligible
• Eliminate inefficiencies caused by the same support being provided by different departments (Department for Education (DfE) for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for Access to Work (ATW))
Read more about Business Disability Forum’s ideas for better assistive technology support:
“I have good support now, but it was a long, tough process. I knew what I needed, and it was a fight”.
“For years I had gone through education without a diagnosis. I knew something was wrong. I could not be ‘me’ because I could not keep up with the work. It took a mental and physical toll. I could not get people to understand that I could do my job, but I needed help. I have come to realise this is not a unique experience”.