New Publication in Assistive Technology: The Official Journal of RESNA, entitled, ‘Empirical research and available data on Assistive Technology for persons with disabilities in Malawi: a review’, by Assisting Living and Learning (ALL) Institute members Ikenna D. Ebuenyi, Emma M. Smith, Alister Munthali, Malcolm ‘Mac’ MacLachlan and Juba Kafumba and Monica Z. Jamali-Phiri.
Empirical research and data are necessary for policy, planning and provision of services for persons with disabilities. Research data may be available but still not used by researchers and policy makers. The aim of this study is to explore existing empirical research and sources of data on Assistive Technology (AT) in Malawi in order to facilitate the development of an AT policy and Assistive Product List (APL). A two-stage process using a scoping review methodology was adopted to identify 1) empirical research on AT in Malawi and ii) sources of existing data on AT in Malawi. Following a narrative synthesis, twelve heterogenous studies that reported on the use, availability, sources, and knowledge about AT in Malawi were identified. Identified studies suggest that there is high unmet need for AT and services in Malawi. Five major sources of data on disability and AT were Identified. Only two out of the twelve studies had used existing sources of data. The high unmet need for AT and services in Malawi have substantial implications for persons with disabilities. Developing mechanisms that will improve the use of existing data on AT in all countries is pivotal for the efficient and effective development of AT ecosystems.