The introductory note argues that there is limited research available about the challenges that people with disabilities may face in accessing appliances. This is especially true for low-income and developing country settings. As such, energy access surveys must aim to identify how people with disabilities use appliances and access energy. In addition, programmes that focus on expanding access to appliances compatible with off- and weak-grid systems need to encourage inclusive product design.
The report outlines suggestions to follow when conducting research. First, surveys must aim to reach those whose functional needs are not currently being met across a diverse range of disabilities, requirements and backgrounds. To prioritise this, consulting users with varying needs at the product design stage would help ensure a ‘design-for-all’ approach. This can be achieved by carrying out observational studies, utilising research aids adapted for different formats, and including caregivers or family members on behalf of people with communication difficulties, for example.
Additionally, the report offers next steps for off- and weak-grid product appliance companies and energy access programmes. These include building diverse and accessible workplaces, creating accessible content, and fostering research and development in the sector. Read the recommendations here.
Longer term, collaboration is needed to improve the affordability, accessibility and quality of assistive technologies. Off-grid solar product and appliance companies already have substantial expertise in designing and distributing appliances that are able to perform in harsher environments. Therefore, disability and energy access stakeholders could benefit from joining efforts in enabling access to powered assistive products in rural developing countries.
You can read the full report ‘How can energy access programmes address the needs of people with disabilities? An introductory note’ here.