The Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute is conducting an evaluation study of the Smart Homes Program – the introduction of digital devices to improve quality of life and promote independence among people with disabilities. The program was initiated by JDC-Israel Unlimited in partnership with Digital Israel headquarters at the Ministry for Social Equality, as well as the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Services, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ruderman Family Foundation. The study includes a review of access and provision programs of assistive technology in selected countries. The review focuses on existing programs in Australia, Denmark, the Canadian province of Ontario, and the US state of Illinois, and on the main components of each of these programs: The general background and legislation, target population, goals, the definition of assistive technology in each country, the implementation of the program, the role and training of professionals involved, funding, etc.
The goal of the review is to learn of provision systems around the world in the field of access and provision of assistive technology for people with disabilities, and of the components of the provision process in order to help the Smart Homes Program formulate procedures for optimal implementation.
The data presented were collected from official program websites, and program reports and information that the researchers received from program staff upon request. The program characteristics are presented separately for each country, as well as comparatively, by main aspects.
The review revealed that different countries adopt different models of access and provision of assistive technology, which diverge in several aspects. Some are comprehensive programs offering a personal package in which assistive technology is one of many components meeting individual needs; some focus solely on the provision of assistive technology, and some are limited to several services of assistive technology such as the provision of information, the demonstration of the devices, or help to obtain a loan to purchase equipment. The programs also diverge at the level of individual involvement
in the choice of technology, funding, ownership of the equipment, and the actual definition of assistive technology. Some are based on an itemized list of devices, some – on categories of devices, and some – dispense with a list of devices altogether.
We believe that familiarization with the models and mechanisms of the provision of assistive technology devices in developed countries can serve as a basis to examine a range of components and implement an effective program for the home environment in Israel.