We are very proud of this case study written for the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in partnership with Stellenbosch University. 

(Submitted for publication, awaiting reviewer comments)


Appropriate assistive technology and personal assistance have the potential to considerably enhance quality of life, access to health and education, and social and economic participation for people with disabilities. However, although the vast majority of disabled people reside in low resource settings and low- and middle-income countries, access to these forms of support in these  parts of the world are severely lacking. In addition, there is a lack of evidence regarding contextually relevant approaches to describing and meeting these needs, particularly in African countries. This article provides a case study of a South African social enterprise which has designed and manufactured mobility and seating devices for children with disabilities since 1992. 

The Shonaquip Social Enterprise (SSE) has since expanded their work and now builds capacity among a wide range of stakeholders (including caregivers, rehabilitation health workers, educators, government, and communities) to better acknowledge and advocate for the wellbeing and inclusion of disabled children. Using examples from the SSE’s work, we highlight a range of principles that ought to be used when considering how best to provide for the needs of people with disabilities in all contexts but particularly in low-resource settings. While access to assistive devices is of great importance, these devices have limited capacity to improve participation if the broader environment is restrictive and stigmatising. Devices ought to be one of a range of broader, more holistic efforts to improve the inclusion and participation of people with disabilities. 

Keywords: childhood disability, assistive devices, inclusion, participation, low-resource settings, South Africa

Authors/contact information: 

  • Zara Trafford¹*, Erna van der Westhuizen², Shona McDonald², Margi Linegar², & Leslie Swartz¹
  • ¹Psychology Department, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • ²Shonaquip Social Enterprise, Cape Town, South Africa
  • * Correspondence: traffordz@sun.ac.za
  • Received: TBC; Accepted: TBC; Published: TBC

Download the full article here

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