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Minister of State for Disabilities Anne Rabbitte from the Government of Ireland has announced a call for projects under a new once-off €2 million Digital and Assistive Technology Fund, which aims to enrich the participation and independence of people with disabilities.

The fund will be managed by the National Clinical Programme for People with Disability (NCPPD) and Disability Operations areas of the Health Service Executive (HSE), which will assess projects to ensure they meet the objectives of the fund.

Objectives of the fund include: improving access to digital and assistive technologies (DAT) for people with disabilities, improving independence and participation, and reducing social isolation; facilitating a person with disability and their service provider-led approach to delivering more accessible and efficient DAT services in the disability sector; and initiating broad systems strengthening, greater interoperability and sharing of DAT resources across organisations providing services to people with disability.

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Commenting on the fund, Minister Rabbitte said: “I am delighted to be able to launch this fund today, which I think will aid many people with disabilities to participate in society and claim their rights as equal citizens through the use of digital and assistive technologies (DAT).

“Assistive technologies can range from wheelchairs, a magnifying glass for someone with a visual impairment, a smartphone app, or a smart speaker. The Irish government has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and an important part of this is right of people to access DAT.

“This fund however is also about creating broader systems strengthening, greater interoperability and sharing of resources across organisations.”

The HSE will now contact all HSE and HSE-funded agencies that have the knowledge of service user DAT needs and unmet needs. These agencies will work with the NCPPD in accordance with the specific terms and conditions of this project of engaging in joint working and co-designing systems improvements with service users and other service providers.

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