LIRNEasia’s engagements on disabilities and assistive technologies began in 2015 when we conducted our first study on persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Myanmar to understand the accessibility challenges of ICT use by PWDs.

Working with Disabled Persons Organizations, and in collaboration with our local partners, LIRNEasia identified policy and practical solutions to these problems, in particular solutions enabled by Myanmar’s rapid take-up of smartphones. The recommendations were disseminated widely, to 23 Members of Parliament from the Myanmar Union Parliament, Members of the Yangon Regional Parliament, and the local media.

LIRNEasia repeated the exercise in Nepal in 2017-19, conducting a qualitative study to understand the challenges faced by PWDs. This was supplemented with two additional steps: a nationally representative (quantitative) survey on PWDs which explored their experiences and quantified PWDs by type of disability, barriers and other variables related to education, transport and livelihood, and a hackathon that yielded two mobile apps that could assist those with speech/hearing disabilities.

Working with our local partners, LIRNEasia proposed simple, immediately actionable ways to promote independent living by PWDs with the release of eight white papers to support our engagements with key policy stakeholders in May 2019 in Nepal.

Through our current research cycle, we are seeking to replicate this exercise in Sri Lanka and India. We seek to build on this work by not just prototyping assistive digital solutions for PWDs, but also catalyzing the roll out at scale by connecting developers with social impact investors.


  • Assistive Technologies Aided by ICT (Report)

    The two primary objectives of this report are to introduce a framework to assess and contextualize the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) based Assistive Technologies (ATs) that aid persons with disabilities (PWD), and to provide a comprehensive list of what can be considered as AT products with ICT components. The aforesaid framework is based on the Human Activity Assistive Technology (HAAT) Model which highlights that in disability, the technology should follow the activity-needs of the person rather than vice-versa.

  • Accelerating High Impact Assistive Technology for Independent Living (Project Report)

    One out of every forty Indians live with a disability, yet they remain far underrepresented in all segments of daily life: experiencing lack of access to information, living with scarce livelihood opportunities, inaccessible healthcare and assistive caregiving support, confronting stigma in public infrastructure and transport, and non-contextual or unaffordable assistive tech solutions, the rights and diverse concerns of people with disabilities remain underserved. While technology has been an enabler in resolving challenges in human existence, Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and Assistive Technologies (AT) have mainly casted exceedingly niche solutions in response to the needs of persons with disabilities. To this effect, despite having a flurry of assistive tech solutions, most of them only partially meet the requirements of persons with disabilities at best and fail to achieve higher impact, as often users are forced to adopt more than one solution to actualise their potential. Such approaches to solution building underline the gaps and deficiencies inherent in the disability ecosystem that go beyond the challenges of underserved financing ie. limited demand side insights and infrastructure, a distance of dialogue between persons with disabilities and stakeholders and severely under-developed capacity for service delivery and scaling solutions. A consortium between Vihara, and […]

  • Stewarding Situational Awareness Technology for Safety of People with Disabilities (Report)

    Disasters wreak havoc and destroy full-scale infrastructures, homes, schools, hospitals, communication systems, and disrupt access to food, clean water, electricity, and transportation. Individuals with disabilities are disproportionately affected in disaster, emergency, and conflict situations due to inaccessible evacuation, response (including shelters, camps, and food distribution), and recovery efforts (Robinson, 2020; Samant Raja et al., 2013; Stough & Kang, 2015; Wolbring, 2009).  The primary focus of this study was reviewing literature on PWD and DiDRR (Disability inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction) specifically involving Asian countries to find gaps in inclusive crisis communication Additionally, the study explored other relevant literature all of which is discussed in the literature review. Thereafter, the method involved synthesizing the findings to propose a conceptual architecture for ICT-enabled assistive technology in support PWDs facing crisis situations.  

  • ICT access and use by Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in Sri Lanka (Presentation)

    ICT access and use by Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in Sri Lanka

  • Innovations for Independent Living among People with Disabilities in India (Report)

    Report of a study of ICT use among PWD in India, conducted for LIRNEasia by VIHARA

  • Social innovation with impact (Presentation)

    Presented by Prof. Rohan Samarajiva at SLAAS / SLIC Conference “From Innovation to Impact” 2019 on 22nd November 2019. Colombo, Sri Lanka

  • Supporting independent living by Persons with Disabilities through ICTs and enabling policy [PRESENTATION]

    Prof. Rohan Samarajiva Kathmandu Marriott Hotel, Nepal May 02 2019 Workshop on ‘Enabling the disabled: ICT access and use by the persons with disabilities in Nepal’

  • Making public transport user-friendly for people with disabilities [Policy Brief] – Nepali

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