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JB, SL, POÖ and ASMAR declare that they have no competing interests. NB and AHMNK work in a non-governmental organization whose activities include provision of assistive technology. However, they have not been involved in the analysis and interpretation of data.
JB conceived of the study, participated in its design, performed the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript. SL conceived of the study, participated in its design, and helped to draft the manuscript. POÖ participated in the design of the study, helped to perform the statistical analysis, and helped to draft the manuscript. ASMAR participated in the design of the study, helped in acquisition of data, and helped to draft the manuscript. NB participated in the design of the study, supervised acquisition of data, and helped to draft the manuscript. AHMNK participated in the design of the study, helped in acquisition of data, and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
About half a billion people with disabilities in developing countries have limited access to assistive technology. The Convention on the Rights of persons with Disabilities requires governments to take measures to ensure provision of such technologies. To guide implementation of these measures there is a need for understanding health outcomes from a human rights perspective. The objective of this study was therefore to explore the relation between assistive technology use and enjoyment of human rights in a low-income country.
Data was collected in eight districts of Bangladesh through interviews of people with hearing impairments using and not using hearings aids, and people with ambulatory impairments using and not using manual wheelchairs (N = 583). Using logistic regression, self-reported outcomes on standard of living, health, education, work, receiving information and movement were analyzed.
The adjusted likelihood of reporting greater enjoyment of human rights was significantly higher among people using hearing aids compared to non-users for all outcomes except working status. Compared to non-users, users of wheelchairs reported a significantly higher adjusted likelihood of good ambulatory performance and a significantly lower adjusted likelihood of reporting a positive working status. Further analyses indicated that physical accessibility to working places and duration of wheelchair use had a statistically significant impact on the likelihood of reporting positive work outcomes.
The findings support the notion that assistive technology use increases the likelihood of human rights enjoyment, particularly hearing aid use. Physical accessibility should always be addressed in wheelchair provision.