Could Assistive Technology Provision Models Help Pave the Way for More Environmentally Sustainable Models of Product Design, Manufacture and Service in a Post-COVID World?
2. Aims of This Paper
3. Methods and Content
- Section 4.
- The Relationship between Disability Inclusion and Environmental Sustainability.
- Section 5.
- Circular Model of AT Provision.
- Section 6.
- Potential Opportunities in a Systems Approach to Local Production of AT.
- Section 7.
- Innovation Opportunity Areas that Could Allow Increased and Sustainable AT Provision:
- Section 7.1.
- Potential of Digital Fabrication;
- Section 7.2.
- Repair of AT;
- Section 7.3.
- Reuse Strategies;
- Section 7.4.
- Material Efficiency and Recovery from AT.
- Section 8.
- Section 8.1.
- What needs to be done;
- Section 8.2.
- Concluding Summary and Final Remarks.
4. The Relationship between Disability Inclusion and Environmental Sustainability
5. Circular Models of AT Provision
6. Potential Opportunities in a Systems Approach to Local Production of AT
AT2030 Case Study: Wazi
The Ugandan company, Wazi, are being supported through the AT Impact Fund. Wazi have a specific goal of localising eyeglasses frame production within Uganda as currently there is a complete lack of regional manufacture, and all components are imported, mostly from China. These imports come with high taxation and customs duties, as eyeglasses are deemed to be luxury items, increasing the price of these ATs that are a requirement for nearly 2 million people per year in Uganda. This includes both adults and children and takes into account the spectacle replacement rate for different groups.
A lack of local production also means a lack of local design, and for eyeglasses, aesthetic is of high importance, no matter the income setting–it has a significant influence on the stigma associated with visually impairment, which carries more connotations in low resource settings compared to high for various social reasons. It is also important to keep in mind that eyeglasses are a medical device and once frames have the prescription lenses glazed in them, not only does the perceived benefit for them increase, they have the potential to increase someone’s productivity and quality of life over a life course . Such small batch, local manufacture is not specific to LMICs, Cubitts in the UK manage this eyeglass manufacturing model while residing in central London where property prices are some of the highest in the world.
7. Innovation Opportunity Areas That Could Allow Increased and Sustainable AT Provision
7.1. Potential of Digital Fabrication
7.2. Repair of AT
7.3. Reuse Strategies
7.4. Material Efficiency and Recovery from AT
AT2030 Case Study: Amparo
Frequent socket replacement is especially common in the earliest stages of becoming a prosthesis wearer, as the residual limb shrinks and stabilises over the first few years of prosthesis wear . Prosthetic service delivery models, therefore, need to be set up for the initial prescription process, and the continued needs of maintenance and adaption. In LMICs, scarce resources, limited-service delivery locations and a lack of trained experts make the delivery and continued maintenance of prosthetics challenging.
Amparo’s leading innovation is a mouldable prosthetic socket which prosthetists can reshape multiple times to fit a wearer’s residual limbs as they naturally change shape. Additionally, the socket is not fitted using the traditional plaster-casting method, it uses a novel direct to limb vacuum moulding technique.
While addressing the user requirements was primary for the Amparo team, the potential for increased environmental sustainability through better material efficiency is significant for the approach they have taken. Not only does their fitting process remove the material usage during the plaster casting process and prototyping, but the continued reshapability means the same socket replaces multiple discarded sockets over the first few years of a user’s journey through rehabilitation. There is also a high degree of reduction in overall machinery requirements meaning less footprint associated with upkeep and eventual replacement.
8.1. What Needs to Be Done?
8.2. Concluding Summary and Final Remarks
- People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change, which will also likely exacerbate the difficulties of AT provision globally.
- Localised models of AT production could increase user and context specific AT innovations, while concurrently enabling circular approaches that reduce their environmental impact as well as bringing economic benefit to local communities.
- Localised models of AT could enable the potential of much needed service aspects of AT provision such as reuse and repair-increasing stable, reliable access to devices, and prolonging the useful life of products, and reduce the environmental impact of AT.
- AT needs to be designed with end of life in mind, this means designing for a system where the materials and components can easily be recovered and recirculated to the local points of production.
- Resilient, stable, and importantly equitable access to AT are an imperative and will become more so as climate change intensifies. The circular approaches we have outlined in this paper are the foundation of a systems approach to reducing the impact of climate change while increasing AT provision.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Oldfrey, B.; Barbareschi, G.; Morjaria, P.; Giltsoff, T.; Massie, J.; Miodownik, M.; Holloway, C. Could Assistive Technology Provision Models Help Pave the Way for More Environmentally Sustainable Models of Product Design, Manufacture and Service in a Post-COVID World? Sustainability 2021, 13, 10867. https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910867
Oldfrey B, Barbareschi G, Morjaria P, Giltsoff T, Massie J, Miodownik M, Holloway C. Could Assistive Technology Provision Models Help Pave the Way for More Environmentally Sustainable Models of Product Design, Manufacture and Service in a Post-COVID World? Sustainability. 2021; 13(19):10867. https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910867Chicago/Turabian Style
Oldfrey, Ben, Giulia Barbareschi, Priya Morjaria, Tamara Giltsoff, Jessica Massie, Mark Miodownik, and Catherine Holloway. 2021. "Could Assistive Technology Provision Models Help Pave the Way for More Environmentally Sustainable Models of Product Design, Manufacture and Service in a Post-COVID World?" Sustainability 13, no. 19: 10867. https://doi.org/10.3390/su131910867