Global Assistive Technology Innovation

2024 ~ Present | We will be partnering with disability organizations in Rwanda.


There are more than 2.5 billion people who need Assistive Technology (AT) to live productive and dignified lives and nearly one billion of them do not have access to the AT they need. Access to AT can be as low as 3% in Sub-Saharan Africa. This VIP aims to enable students to participate in creative problem-solving toward bridging this AT access gap. Students will be introduced to concepts of inclusive design and innovation while ideating feasible ways to collect and present stories of people with disabilities who live in Sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate locally relevant AT innovation.

Issues Involved or Addressed

The issues addressed in this VIP are: For our inaugural year, we will organize a week-long student trip to Kigali, Rwanda. We will be collaborating with our local partners for this learner-focused visit. The students will learn from disability case workers, community health educators, and disability NGOs; they will interact with local AT entrepreneurs and start-ups; they will visit people with disabilities in their homes, schools, and workplaces to observe the challenges these people face. We plan this trip to be a productive experience for the students to understand the disability experience in low-income countries enhancing their cross-cultural competencies. The issues addressed in this VIP are: Disability Assistive Technology Access Gap Inclusive Innovation Locally Relevant Assistive Technology Innovation Global Development

Methods and Technologies

  • Working in teamsUX Design UX ResearchDesign Thinking Digital storytellingGeographic Information System

Academic Majors of Interest

  • BusinessGlobal Development
  • BusinessStrategy and Innovation
  • ComputingHuman-Centered Computing
  • DesignGeographic Information Science and Technology
  • DesignIndustrial Design
  • EngineeringBiomedical Engineering
  • Ivan AllenEconomics
  • Ivan AllenPublic Policy

Preferred Interests and Preparation

Experience with or interest in inclusive design and innovation for people with disabilities. All majors and skill sets are welcome and encouraged to apply! This VIP welcomes students of all levels, from sophomore level to doctoral students.

Meeting Schedule & Location

Meeting Day 

Team Advisors

Zerrin Ondin-Fraser
  • College of Design
Ellen Bassett
  • College of Design

Partner(s) and Sponsor(s)

We will be partnering with disability organizations in Rwanda.

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