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Using Participatory Action Research to Examine Outcomes and Effective Systems Change in Assistive Technology Financing

This article looks at the accessibility of assistive technology (AT) for individuals with disabilities, and the corresponding financial barrier that often prevents individuals from obtaining needed AT resources. "In 2000, the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) initiated a federal match competition to foster the national development of alternative financing programs (AFPs) for assistive technology." Hammel, Finlayson and Lastowski (2003) conducted a participatory action research (PAR) study to develop a shared, Web-based system for documenting outcomes from the national Assistive Technology Alternative Financing Program.

The participants in this study were, key stakeholders, including alternative financing state programs, consumers with disabilities, financial lending organizations, and federal/state policy and funding representatives. The stakeholders actively participated in identifying the key barriers, issues, and outcomes surrounding AT financing. Participants were also involved in creating, implementing, and refining the Web-based system that was developed.

The PAR study included both in-person and remote methods to gain the perspectives of stake holders and share ownership of the outcomes. This collaborative process established a shared, Web-based system for collecting and showing outcomes among state financing programs. This system was valuable in showing the impact and need for improvement for customer access to assistive technology. This study was also successful in addressing the inequities in AT access for people with disabilities as a collective minority group.

Reference: Hammel, J., Finlayson, M., & Lastowski, S. (2003). Using participatory action research to examine outcomes and effective systems change in assistive technology financing. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 14:2, 98-108.