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Ireland’s minister for disabilities, Anne Rabbitte, has announced €2m for 11 projects under the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) CREATE initiative, which aims to improve access to digital and assistive technologies for people with disabilities.

The Cooperative Real Engagement for Assistive Technology Enhancement (CREATE) initiative seeks to ensure that service users and providers work together to identify what will make a real difference to individual users of digital and assistive technology.

Anne secured €2 million for the initiative in Budget 2022, with the funding now awarded to 11 projects following an evaluation of 79 submissions, following the announcement of the funding back in December. Some of the projects that received funding include Ireland’s first Sit-to-Stand Wheelchair Service, a service for disabled people with access and communication needs, and support for disabled people living independently in the community.

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Projects were assessed on the extent to which they were person centred, as well as how they demonstrated a willingness to work collaboratively across different service providers and to really engage with digital and assistive technology users through a clear process of co-design.

Announcing the allocation of the funding, Minister Rabbitte said: “I am delighted to see this funding supporting a range of innovative projects which will greatly assist people with disabilities. Digital and Assistive Technologies are a crucial tool to allow people with disabilities to live a more independent life of their own choosing.”

CREATE projects support people with sensory, cognitive, physical, and intellectual disabilities, across all age ranges, across different settings and across Ireland.

Anne continued: “The great thing about these projects is the synergies that they create. By working cooperatively, we can achieve much better outcomes for people with disabilities, increasing their independence and enabling them to live ordinary lives in ordinary places. What is important for me is that the learning from these projects will be disseminated widely and integrated into future health and social care policies and practice.”

One of the projects receiving funding is the Brothers of Charity Services, which is establishing a pilot digital and assistive technology team. The team will develop a new multidisciplinary service focusing on communication and access needs, linking with local advocacy groups for people with disabilities.

Another project that has been awarded is the Central Remedial Clinic, which will establish Ireland’s first Sit-to-Stand Wheelchair Service. This will allow wheelchair users to stand without the need of assistance. For people with spinal cord injury and Duchenne muscular dystrophy, this may have a range of physical and psychological benefits.

In addition, Enable Ireland, along with several partner organisations, will develop a prototype Assistive Technology passport, comprising a web portal and app, that will help users navigate the digital and assistive technology system and access information and opportunities regarding the technologies they use.

The full list of the 11 assistive technology projects that received funding can be found here.

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